New cidery has its orchard in unusual shape

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ROCKBRIDGE CO., Va. (WDBJ7) Some people plant a garden when they retire, but this retired architect living in Rockbridge County went a lot bigger.

The Halcyon Days Cider Company near Natural Bridge includes an orchard unlike most.

“It’s modeled on the Chartres Labyrinth in France," Larry Kreietemeyer said. "And if you walk to the center it’s about 1.7 miles to the center.”

If you’re expecting the average apple orchard here, you’re going to be in for a real experience.

"We’ve planted about 2,500 dwarf apple trees. They’re all espalier," said Kreietemeyer, showing the carefully groomed plants. "So we’re training the limbs to create walls in the form of a labyrinth.”

“Our thought was," Kreitemeyer says, "We’re going to plant an orchard, so maybe take it a step farther to make it a bit interesting.”

Unfortunately, the trees are still a little young, but they are already blooming and producing baby apples.

“We’ll need to start picking and pressing in the fall," Kreietemeyer said. "And we will ferment and mature through the winter, and we hope to be open early next spring as pour target date.”

Then you’ll be able to walk the labyrinth, and celebrate with a cider in the log cabin they brought down from the mountains nearby.

“If we were going to do it, we wanted to be handcrafted from the very beginning," Kreietemeyer said. "So in essence, it’s our hands that planted every tree we’re going to use. We’re going to pick every apple we’re going to press. We’re going to press all our own juice and ferment it in the production facility, which is an old milk shed barn that was on this property, built in the 1940s.”

Making every aspect of what Larry Kreitemeyer hopes will be his own halcyon days a special experience we’ll get to share.