By Taylor Hudson
On any given day, JMU’s Edith J. Carrier arboretum boasts picturesque landscape, a calming atmosphere, and a plethora of prosperous and beautifully tended plants. Although, on Friday, August 30th, the arboretum offered more than just a beautiful stroll; it gave JMU students, faculty, and local residents a chance to indulge in locally created refreshments.
“Wine and Cheese in the Trees” is an event hosted by the arboretum staff twice a year—once in the spring, and then again in the fall. The treats offered are typically centered around seasonal foods.
As the title suggests, the event offered many types of wine and cheese. But, at this autumn inspired event, apples were the true stars of the show. Tables of locally brewed hard-ciders along with homemade apple cider doughnuts gave this event a unique twist.
Misty Newman, Assistant Director in the Office of Community Service Learning, claims that she was excited to learn about the introduction of ciders at this typically wine-centered event. “It’s a great way to celebrate the end of the first week of classes,” Newman says. “You hear a lot about a lot of wine and beer pairings, but you don’t often hear of cider pairings. It’s nice to enjoy something different.”
Approximately seventy-five people attended the event, which included JMU students, faculty, and local residents—all obviously over the age of twenty-one. Each guest was given two tickets upon entry, and then, could exchange a ticket for beverage. The beverage menu included wines from Stone Mountain Vineyards and Barboursville Vineyards—both Virginia-native wineries. The hard cider was from a relatively new cidery in Timbersville, Virginia called Old Hill Cider, owned by Showalter Farms.
The owners of the cidery, Shannon and Sarah Showalter, attended the event as well. They stood up in front of the crowd and discussed the history of their farm, the process of creating a hard cider, and the different types of cider created. This family-owned cider business is still in its beginning stages, but, according to the Showalters, its progress has leaped beyond their expectations—the revenue has already tripled from what was expected in their business plan.
Laura Williams, a Ph.D. student in the JMU Assessment and Measurement program, tried both ciders—Cidermaker’s Barrel and Yesteryear. “The Cidermaker’s Barrel Cider has more depth of flavor, almost a multi-flavor. It’s much richer,” she explained.
In addition to a beverage menu, there was an abundance of sweet treats. To compliment the hard ciders, homemade apple doughnuts were offered. Elizabeth Forsland, former JMU E-Hall pastry chef and current manager of Festival, put on a cooking demonstration. She walked guests through the process of making three different glazes—chocolate, white chocolate, and white chocolate maple. Each time she completed a glaze, guests could indulge in a taste-test of the warm, freshly made doughnuts.
All in all, the event was relaxed, enjoyable, and merely gave guests an opportunity to enjoy good company and great food, under the trees, on a warm August evening. What more could you ask for in a visit to the arboretum?
For more information on upcoming events in the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum, visit their website at http://www.jmu.edu/arboretum.