Mt. Defiance Cider Barn & Distillery Mounts a Revival
Mt. Defiance Cider Barn sits atop a hill approaching Middleburg, Virginia. The Barn is a beautiful merger of traditional and contemporary design framed on two sides by deep covered porches. Inside the expansive new space, all walls are natural wood, the same wood that is underfoot and that sprawls across a lofty ceiling bearing numerous fans and associated pulleys of vintage origin. A large stone hearth and fireplace graces one side, the barn’s width-wide bar stands a distant opposite. Such an interesting space for the subtle showcasing of a collection of intricately power-tooled wood carvings, each a curious small square or rectangle, maybe humorous rather complex work of an elderly, now retired Japanese artist, Nori Morimoto. “Aesthetics are important to me”, says the Managing Partner at Mt. Defiance while directing my attention toward an enormous polished stone sculpture on the outside patio. There, facing a distant landscape, is a massive stone square many feet high. A cube has been carved out of its center, leaving a frame for the view beyond. The dense extracted cube has been placed at an artful distance for sitting, gazing, meditating.
Marc Chetien, Retired Attorney, Paratrooper, current Vermont Art Gallery Owner, and former Political Advisor to Combat Commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan is the owner and Managing Partner at Mt. Defiance. Partnering with Marc is Peter Ahlf, former NASA engineer, 22 years with the US Space Program, a genuine rocket scientist, a woodworker and herb gardener. The two men pair their experience and passions: Marc’s, knowledge of the blending and crafting of cider and Peter’s science, engineering, distilling and botanicals insights. Just up the road from the Cidery Barn in downtown Middleburg is the Mt. Defiance Distillery where Peter produces a range of spirits including bourbon, vermouth, apple brandy, amaretto, almond liqueur, and Mt. Defiance’s own award winning cassis, absinthe, and dark rum.
Mt. Defiance Cider Barn always has four ciders on draft, one dry, one light and two others that change. Choices for our visit included a Farmhouse blend which was said to be dry and beer-like, Old Volstead, Ginger which was cider infused with fresh ginger and Apple Pie which was definitively apple. The selections are changed by trial and error, by season, and by customer input. Farmhouse tends to be the biggest crowd favorite. Also available are specialty drinks like the Vermouth Spritzer made of Sweet Vermouth Defiance-made, soda water and orange peel, a crafted White Wine and Defiance’s Apple Brandy which is aged for one year, and the historic French blend called Pommeau which is Sweet Cider and Apple Brandy. And there’s my personal favorite, Cider Koo which is a blend of Cider and Mt. Defiance’s own Cassis.
Mt. Defiance Cider Barn offers traditional and crafted cider blends, a broad selection of infused and co-fermented ciders and more, tastings by the glass or bottle, charcuterie plates, outside seating during milder weather, musical events to be noted on their website, and they permit leashed dogs. The Distillery offers tastings of both spirits and ciders and focuses on the revival of the classics handcrafted in small batches which allows for significant attention to detail.
Mt. Defiance Cider Barn is located at 495 East Washington Street, Middleburg, VA 20117; 540-883-3176; Monday-Tuesday closed; Wednesday-Friday 12pm-6pm; Saturday-Sunday 12pm-6pm
Mt Defiance Distillery is located at 207 W. Washington Street, Middleburg, Va 20118; 540-687-8100; Monday closed; Tuesday-Friday 12pm-6pm; Saturday-Sunday 112pm-6pm