Good To The Core

Virginia’s Mount Defiance Cidery Creates ‘Golden’ Opportunity

Perched on a hilltop surrounded by 12 rolling acres at the edge of historic Middleburg, VA, the Mount Defiance Cidery's beautiful post-frame design earned the National Frame Building Association’s 2017 Judges’ Award for Building of the Year.

Named for a Civil War battle site less than a mile away, Mount Defiance opened for business the last week of September 2017 after 180 days of construction. However, the building was unofficially christened before that, during the wedding of managing partner and cider maker Marc Chretien’s daughter.

The cidery’s post-frame design allowed for the high ceilings needed for cider tanks and gave the tasting room an airy, barn-like ambiance, Chretien says.

Boasting 6,000 square feet of space, the first floor of the cider barn houses the main tasting hall. During northern Virginia’s cold winter days, visitors can pull up a rocking chair next to the floor-to-ceiling, wood-burning stone fireplace. The cidery’s large porch outside gives guests a place to enjoy Middleburg’s warm summer breezes and views overlooking the grounds and growing orchard. Upstairs, a private tasting room and bridal party suite offer additional event space.

Planting The Seed

“The final design came together with a combination of artistic views compiled over many years,” says John Fuog, president of Fuog/InterBuild Inc., which built the property. “After seeing our vision, the owner then added a fully finished upstairs with an office, bride and groom rooms, and a balcony.”

Fuog/InterBuild has been in business for more than 35 years and is licensed in Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. The company has won numerous awards for its post-frame buildings.

The cider barn was constructed with 6-by-6-foot solid-sawn and glulam (glued laminated timber) posts with pressure-treated boards and southern yellow pine. The interior was finished with tongue-and-groove rough-sawn, cedar-wrapped columns and beams, as well as drywall. The exterior finish was done with board-and-batten cedar with a standing-seam metal roof. The final cost per square foot was $163.50.

“My favorite design feature is the catslide roof over the front and rear porches,” Chretien says. “It gives the barn a classic look and is aesthetically pleasing.” A catslide roof continues below the height of the main eaves and allows a building to have greater depth without increasing the ridge’s height.

Post-frame construction allowed Fuog/InterBuild to build the structure’s framework in less time and gave the barn’s standout features, such as its large, open tasting hall.

The cidery’s post-frame construction simulates post and beam, so the interior resembles an old barn. Outside, Fuog/InterBuild completely changed the topography of the land from heavily wooded to terraced, using materials available on site.

Mount Defiance Cidery is so impressive that it received the NFBA’s Judges’ Award — the association’s top honor —presented annually to the most exceptional post-frame building in the country.

“I feel very appreciative of the award — that a group of artisans felt our barn should have the award,” Fuog says. “I certainly felt great to have been able to build such a nice project.

“As a company, we’re always looking for new ways to help and improve the post-frame market — to establish it as the ‘go-to’ type of building for all of its features.”

Fermenting A Future

Until its own orchard is mature, Mount Defiance Cidery gets its apples entirely within the state of Virginia at a fourth-generation orchard in Stephen City. When ripe for the picking, the cidery’s orchard will feature “antique” varieties of apples, such as Grimes Golden and Ashmead’s Kernel.

Mount Defiance also owns a distillery, built in 1949 in downtown Middleburg, where lead distiller Peter Ahlf handcrafts classic spirits such as rum — one of the most popular liquors during the town’s Colonial era. He also explores the world of “lost spirits” such as absinthe and cassis liqueur, which have fallen out of favor because of post-Prohibition mass production methods or out-of-date laws.

Before becoming Mount Defiance’s distiller, Ahlf was a real-life rocket scientist with the U.S. space program for more than two decades. After that, he did custom woodwork until joining Mount Defiance in 2015.

Combining his knowledge of engineering and craft, as well as his hobbies of herb gardening and home brewing, Ahlf has been able to develop the distillery’s wide range of flavorful spirits.

Chretien got his start in the business as an original investor/partner in Vermont’s Stowe Cider, where he learned the art of blending apple varieties to make a classic hard cider.

He was inspired to build Mount Defiance while serving as a State Department diplomat and political advisor to combatant commanders in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“I wanted a more peaceful pastime for my retirement years,” he says.

Learn more about post-frame construction and find a provider in your area.