Virginia apple country includes the mountainous region of the northern Shenandoah Valley through the Roanoke Valley, the rich countryside of Albemarle and Rappahannock counties and the southwest counties of Patrick and Carroll. The majority of apples trees are grown in the Shenandoah Valley.
Virginia is the sixth-largest producer of apples in the United States. Virginia has more than 150 commercial apple growers and this year’s harvest should be normal, even if slightly off the five-year average of 5 million to 5.25 million bushels, according to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Most orchards are expecting a larger crop than last year overall. There has been plenty of good rains here lately ... the water makes the fruit big and then the sunshine makes it sweet and you need both. Problems with insects and stinkbugs in particular were not as bad this year from a state perspective.
ALBEMARLE PIPPIN, the most famous of Virginia apples, originated in 1700 near the village of Newtown on Long Island, New York. Col. Thomas Walker of Castle Hill brought scions of the variety back to Albemarle County as he returned from service under General Washington at the battle of Brandywine in 1777. It was grown widely in Virginia by the end of the18th century by agriculturists, including George Washington, John Hartwell Cocke, and Thomas Jefferson. The crisp, juicy, firm flesh and very distinctive taste, along with its excellent keeping qualities, made the Pippin the most prized of American dessert apples from the early 18th century. It grows especially well in the Virginia Piedmont. It is difficult to find today, but when well-grown, remains one of the world's finest apples. Unfortunately, the Pippin is not easy to grow, and as its export market shrank, and food distribution came to be dominated by large chains, it was superseded by easier to manage crops such as the now ubiquitous Delicious varieties. For the connoisseur who prizes a rich, complex flavor and firm, juicy texture, this apple has few peers.