Written by Lia Hobel
Photos by Michael Butcher
Cobbler Mountain is especially beautiful in autumn with vibrant tree canopies dotting a family heirloom now in its third generation. It’s a majestic, peaceful getaway from the hustle and bustle of everyday life for visitors and even the owners. “Every season on Cobbler Mountain is a gift of nature, wildlife, and changing plant life,” said owner Laura McCarthy Louden.
A Celtic symbol is etched on the welcome sign and branded material. It’s a permanent marker designed by Louden, to emphasize the family connectedness that stemmed from her father’s heart when he purchased the mountain in 1959. Louden remembers her father, Lawrence Daniel McCarthy’s, dream to make it into a family working farm. His Irish heritage gave him a strong work ethic and love for nature. He taught in the countryside at a school in nearby Marshall. “He was a forward-thinker in the early 60s, inviting families with children in wheelchairs, walkers, and limited by sight or sound to explore Cobbler Mountain on hikes and camp-outs,” Louden shares.
Shortly after meeting the future Mrs. McCarthy, he was recruited to direct a facility in South Carolina in 1967, where Louden and her sibling would grow up. Her father passed at the age of 42, but her mother held onto the Cobbler Mountain farmland to save for her grown children.
In 2011, Louden and her husband, Jeff, made her father’s aspiration for the land a reality. They opened Cobbler Mountain Cidery out of their basement with a couple of ciders and a few wines and became Fauquier’s first cidery. Her husband’srecipes started in their South Carolina home where his craft hobby first developed. In 2006, they took the leap to move close to the Virginia farm to start researching the opportunity. After three years of planning and paperwork, a new infrastructure of road, electricity and wells began in 2008 followed by their hilltop house construction in 2009. By 2015, with the growing popularity of their ciders, the Loudens chose to focus on them exclusively and constructed a separate building for larger operational use and visitor space.
Today, guests who come to the mountain can sip on a hot toddy or choose from one of the two dozen handcrafted ciders on the seasonal menu. Currently, autumn flavors are bountiful with the Harvest Pumpkin, Kickin’ Cinnamon, Ginger Snap, Cinnamon Pumpkin, Cider Donut, and Maple Stout. Other in season ciders include the Jammin’ Cranberry Ginger, Cranberry Hard Tea, Cranberry Hard Seltzer and the Red Sangria. These are in addition to other ciders including the Pomegranate Black Currant, Wild BlackBerry Hop, Original Honey, Traditional Jeffersonian, Mountain Top Hop, Golden Pineapple Sunset, and Razzle Dazzle Raspberry.
On the drive to the cidery, visitors will travel across Thumb Run Creek. The creek runs to the Shenandoah mountains and finally to the Chesapeake Watershed but originates from a neighboring spring dating to the 1700s, explains Louden. There is a second spring on the mountain above their residence that offers spring water used in the hard seltzer and hard cider production. “Many say it is the best water ever tasted,” she shares. Around the creek, guests can spot n year-round wildlife visitors, including resident families of black bear, deer, fox, raccoon, skunk, wild turkey, heron, and many birds including the pileated woodpecker all of which are featured on the cider bottle labels.
With over 90 wildlife-protected acres, the cidery is much more than a place to stop through for a crisp beverage. All guests, including children and pets, are welcome to hike the 45-acres of wooded trails with scenic vistas, as well as picnic on the sprawling grounds. For precautions, Louden notes that hikers are required to sign-in to the guest log, as well as leave their ID and sign out upon return. They are also encouraged to hike with a partner or group.
To enhance the outdoor seasonal experience, warm campfires await guests and are scattered about the hillside. Louden recommends walk-ins come early to grab a spot, but they are available to reserve for larger groups or special occasions. “Throughout November, December, and January, many regular customers bring family and friends to celebrate the holidays,” she says. Children are welcome to visit the “little bear cub playhouse,” which is hidden under the staircase of the cidery. There are also table games, like checkers, and options for coloring at the tables in the back game rooms. As an added treat for little ones, every September, a fresh batch of non-alcoholic cider juice is pressed and served on tap until sellout (usually by March). Year-round, youngsters may also order root beer on tap or the non-alcoholic sparkling fruit spring waters which have flavors changing each season.
As their award-winning cidery continues to grow, the Loudens’ twin son and daughter, Daniel and Olivia, have also joined the cidery business, making it the family operation their grandfather had hoped for. ML
Cobbler Mountain Cidery
5909 Long Fall Lane, Delaplane, Va 20144
The cidery is open year-round for walk-ins on Saturdays 11:00-5:00pm, Sundays 12:00-5:00pm and weekdays by appointment. Groups of all sizes are welcome with advance planning.
Local dog groups meet monthly; the Fauquier Scottish Heritage Society hosts Game Outings; plus many special occasions are celebrated throughout the year.