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We started our antique heirloom apple orchard from scratch in December 2009, right after we closed on the property.  And when we say “from scratch”, we mean it. The site we chose for the orchard was perfect. But it was also a blank canvas, a rock-strewn sloping pasture that was completely uncultivated and wild. We started by clearing rocks (they don’t call it Rockbridge County for nothing!) and digging holes by hand, one-by-one. The trees were another issue altogether.

Seven years earlier, Rick had purchased a single 1-yr old Albemarle Pippen for the backyard of our Northern Virginia townhouse from a small family-owned nursery supply company in Bristol, VA – the Urban Homestead Nursery. Rick traveled to Bristol in the far southwest corner of Virginia to meet the owner, Tim Hensley. That visit laid the groundwork for what was to become many years later, the Nettle Creek Farm Orchard.

Some of our trees came from sources in NC and GA, and from one or two other nurseries in VA, we even have a few second-hand trees successfully transplanted from friends no longer in the business. But, the vast majority of our trees came from Tim Hensley.

Sadly, Tim passed away in December 2015 after a long illness. Over the years, Tim provided wonderful trees and sage advice. We maintain our orchard in honor of Tim and imagine he’d be proud of our organic efforts. If you are interested in a single tree or a dozen, Tim’s son Ayden has plans to carry on the business and will help you find what you need. We recommend you give The Hensley family a call or better yet, stop by for a visit but do call ahead to plan your stop. And tell them Rick at Nettle Creek Farm in Vesuvius, VA sent you. You can find the Hensley’s wonderful southern heirloom apple trees at

A map of our apple orchard is at Orchard Map.pdf

Here are some descriptions of our trees and their origins – they are all of varied age and stage of production and nestled quietly on the slope at Nettle Creek Farm as you read on…

Also known as Newton Pippen or Yellow Newtown. Thomas Jefferson wrote of this apple from France, “They have no apple to compare with our Newtown Pippen.” And the same may be said today. Not an attractive fruit: medium-size, squatty, dull, greenish-yellow skin. But its yellow flesh is rich, crisp, and fine-flavored. Ripens October through November and keeps well into the winter. Good for pies, cooking, or eating out of hand. Originated in New York in the early 1700’s. A classic Blue Ridge apple. (Urban Homestead)

Favorite apple of George Washington. Farmed in the 19th Century as the apple that launched American apple exports with private shipments to Queen Victoria. Noted for its brisk aromatic rich pineapple flavor. Favored pie apple that mostly holds its shape. Found on estate of Gershwin Moore, Newtown, Long Island, and well known by 1759; introduced to England by Ben Franklin.

Albemarle Pippin, the most famous of Virginia apples, originated in 1700 near the village of Newtown on Long Island, NY. Col. Thomas Walker of Castle Hill brought scions of the variety back to Albemarle County as he returned from services under General Washington at the battle of Brandywine in 1777. It was grown widely in Virginia by the end of the 18th century by agriculturists, including George Washington, John Hartwell, and Thomas Jefferson. The crisp, juicy, firm flesh and very distinctive taste, along with its excellent keeping qualities, made the Pippin the most prized of American dessert apples from the early 18th century.  It grows especially well in the Virginia Piedmont and attracted great notoriety when Andrew Stevenson, the American minister to St. James, presented the young Victoria with a gift basket of the apples in 1838 from his wife’s Albemarle Country home, Enniscorthy. “Never did a barrel of apples obtain so much reputation for the fruits of our country,” Sallie Coles Stevenson reported. As a gesture of appreciation, Parliament permitted the Virginia apple to enter Britain duty-free, and the Albemarle Pippin became an important export, commanding premium prices in the English market. After World War I, Parliament levied duties again on non-Commonwealth fruit, and the Pippin’s market waned. It is difficult to find today, but when well-grown, remains one of the world’s finest apples. Unfortunately, the Pippin is not easy to grow, and as its export market shrank, and food distribution came to be dominated by large chains, it was superseded by easier to manage crops such as the now ubiquitous Delicious varieties. For the connoisseur who prizes a rich, complex flavor and firm, juicy texture, this apple has few peers. (Vintage Virginia Apples) 

First described in 1859, this apple is prized for its early ripening period, good flavor and beauty. The tree is vigorous and productive. The fruit’s size is medium, its skin yellow with many red stripes and possibly a red blush on the side facing the sun. The flesh is juicy, crisp, and fine-grained. The apples ripen in early to mid-July.  “One of my favorites”. (Century Farm Orchards)

In 1985 apple historian and author Lee Calhoun found an old Bevan’s Favorite tree growing in Alamance County, NC. He went on to return this tasty summer-ripening variety to commerce, an effort for which all apple lovers should be quite grateful. Also called “Bivins”, “Early Bevans” and “Striped June”. It appeared at some point in 1849 in the vicinity of Salem, NJ. (Burford) 

A spicy and aromatic variety, prized for fresh eating, cider and apple butter. Ripens October. Weeping form. Noted at a1914 Georgia Horticultural Society meeting as disease resistant. We highly recommend this full-flavored apple. (Urban Homestead)

Morgan Richards attributed it to a Winesap seedling near Rhea Mills, Arkansas, with commercial introduction in 1868; Burford identifies its origin as an 1830 seedling from a farm near Fayetteville, TN. Popular around the turn of the century in the south; especially central VA, but dropped by the1930s for poor yields. (Apples)

Limbertwig is a category of apple that can be more characterized by the distinctive flavor than the form of the tree, or shape or color of the fruit. The Black Limbertwig (also known as Old Fashioned Limbertwig), which may be the oldest of the Limbertwig varieties, according to Lee Calhoun in Old Southern Apples, likely originated in the late 18th or early 19th century. He describes it as a good keeper that is good for eating fresh, making pies and cider, and is somewhat rough-skinned greenish-yellow apple with a red blush. We also have Victoria Limbertwig, which has not yet produced fruit for Vintage Virginia Apples. (Vintage Virginia Apples)

Beautiful red flesh inside crimson skin. One of the venerable Tom Burford’s discoveries, this apple is crisp, juicy and tart. Great for ciders and makes lovely red/pink sauces and chutneys. Fruit sweetens in storage. Fall foliage is a glowing, awe-inspiring orange-red. (Trees of Antiquity)

Burford’s Red Flesh is a tree discovered by Tom Burford, growing in Amherst County, Virginia near Clifford. It is distinguished by dark red foliage, and the apples have a characteristic red flesh. Found growing on the home site of Patrick Henry by Henry Burford. Can be used for cider, ripens mid September. (Apple Luscious Catalog)

This old variety is still quite popular in the South. It is one of the best early cooking apples. Fruit small, red over yellow. White flesh is sometimes stained red near the skin like a Rome. Good for pies and eating out of hand. Ripens over a long period and does not keep well. One of our better selling apples. (Urban Homestead)

We have the Red June back! My, have people been asking for this old time variety that is of medium size with a mostly red coloring. The flesh is crisp and very white with a slightly tart flavor. It is great for fresh eating, cooking and cider (Johnson Nursery)

A North Carolina apple originating before 1800, this apple is perhaps the best eating apple to ripen before July. A cute, small to medium apple, its beauty is exceptional for such an early apple. It was prized for its cooking quality as well. The tree does well on many different soils, is productive, and tends to bloom late, assuring a crop in most years. (Century Farm Orchards)

This noted nineteenth century pomologist A.J. Downing, describes Early Harvest as “the finest early apple’ and says the smallest collection of apples should comprise this and the Res Astrakan.” Early Harvest ripens over a period of about a month, and in the South may begin ripening as early as June 1st.  The yellow fruit sometimes cracks and drops prematurely. Best for pies and sauces. Has a rich sprightly flavor. (Urban Homestead) 

Also called Yellow June, Yellow Harvest, Harvest, Prince’s Harvest, Yellow Juneating, Early Juneating, July Pippen, Large White Juneating, Bracken, Early French Reinette, Glass Apple, Sinclair’s Yellow, and Maralandica. Early Harvest is one of those apple varieties that does well in most apple-growing areas. It has been praised from New England to Texas and points beyond, both for cooking and fresh eating. An 1859 Virginia nursery catalog says: “Taking all its qualities into consideration, it has no superior among early apples.” I well remember asking an aged North Carolina farmer about an old apple tree standing in his field. “That’s a Harvest apple,” he said. “It is the second best apple there is. The best apple is the Magnum Bonum.” 

Early Harvest apples were not much grown for commercial purposes in the South. The thin yellow skin shows bruises easily, and the fruit has a short keeping period. Early Harvest was largely an apple for the home orchard, grown near almost every farmhouse and prized for eating and cooking. (Old Southern Apples)    

Also called Snow Apple because of its white flesh. Thought to be a parent of McIntosh. Dates to the late 1600’s from French seed planted in Canada. Tends to biennial bearing. Ripens late summer to early autumn. One of the best mid-season apples in our orchard. (Urban Homestead)

Snow Apple (Fameuse) from Canada prior to1824. One of the oldest and most desirable dessert apples, a parent of the aromatic McIntosh. (Trees of Antiquity)

Fameuse is called Snow, or Snow Apple, and is also known as Snow Chimney, Chimney Apple, Red American, Royal Snow, Pomme De Neige and Chimney Point. Chimney Point is a village within the town of Addison, Vermont, built by the French, who likely planted Fameuse there from seedlings or seed brought from Canada. The variety was noted in Canada in 1739, where it also speculated to have originated in a seedling orchard from seeds brought from France. However, some European pomologists claim it originated in Canada. Snow is the probable parent of McIntosh. It is reported in Historic American Trees that during the American Revolution, a contingency of Hessian soldiers planted an orchard about three miles north of Winchester, Virginia, of Fameuse apple trees. Sixteen of the trees survived into the 20th century and were still bearing fruit in the 1930s. Snow is one of the few apple varieties that end to produce its likeness from seed. (Vintage Virginia Apples)   

Tree vigorous with leathery leaves; fruit red over faint yellow. A sprightly, full-flavored apple. A superior, all-purpose type. Developed at Cornell. One of the best new apples on the market. (Urban Homestead).  A Macoun x Antonovka cross, this tree is resistant to fire blight, mildew, cedar-apple rust, scab and other diseases. (Trees of Antiquity)

Hold onto your hats! This chance seedling is from the orchard of Clyde and Ginger Harvey of Livingston, VA. When I met Mrs. Harvey at an apple meeting in Richmond, she told me that it was the perfect southern apple named for the perfect southern lady. Well, Mrs. Harvey is the perfect southern lady. The Ginger Gold outdistances the field in quality and flavor for fresh eating, cooking and keeping qualities. A must addition to anyone’s orchard. (Johnson Nursery).   

This Co-op 17 x Golden Delicious PRI 1994 cross is the best of the disease resistant cultivars for taste and storage. Yellow-green, round-conic fruit. Flesh is hard, very crisp and breaking, flavor intense and memorable. Quite tart off the tree, but heavenly come the start of the new year. (Phillips 2011)  

Writes Roger Yepsen, “ Goldrush delivers one of the most stimulating experiences to be found on a tree…[It] has a tart, winy, clean edge that feels effervescent on the tongue, with just enough sweetness to keep the apple from being too aggressive.” Keeps up to ten months. Immune to scab, resistant to powdery mildew and fireblight, susceptible to cedar apple rust. Blooms late. Developed a Purdue, released 1994. (Urban Homestead)

Year after year, many are thrilled by this apple’s rich, complex flavor. This tree’s rustic yellow apples are both sweet and tart. The firm, crisp apples are produced almost every year, so the tree may require thinning. The tree will produce fruit at an early age. It ripens in mid-October and stores well. It has good disease resistance, though it is susceptible to cedar apple rust. (Patented) (Century Farm Orchards)   

Medium to large golden yellow apple with a rich, spicy-sweet flavor. Delightful aroma. A longtime favorite for home use. Good for juice, cider, and eating out of hand. Ripens October, keeps until January. Like Golden Delicious, it is an excellent pollinator. Dates to 1804, Brook County, West Virginia. No home orchard should be without this tree. (Urban Homestead)

A West Virginia apple originating around 1800, this apple was widely grown throughout the south and is known as the parent of the modern day Golden Delicious. It is a fine eating apple and makes an excellent cider. It tends to bloom late, making heavy crops most years and light crops other years. “One of my favorites”. (Century Farm Orchards)  

Grimes Golden was found by Thomas Grimes in Brooke County, West Virginia, in 1804, near the town of Fowlersville. This town is near Wellsburg, West Virginia, where John Chapman, better known as Jonny Appleseed, and his brother established a nursery. Grimes Golden is believed to be one of the parents of Golden Delicious. A good all-purpose dessert and cooking apple, it contains 18.81% sugar and ferments to a 9% alcohol, and was popular for the making of hard cider in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.  Trees of this variety are found in abandoned orchards in Virginia, and after 50 years of neglect, are still bearing small, sooty-blotched fruit of extraordinary flavor. (Vintage Virginia Apples)       

“This is the most celebrated cider apple ever grown in the South, making a dry cider unsurpassed in flavor and keeping ability.” writes Lee Calhoun. Fruit small, round, green. Ripens fall or winter in most of the South, mid-August in the deep South. Rich flavor Notes an 1879 North Carolina nursery catalog, the cider [from the Hewe’s Crab]…keeps perfectly sweet all winter long and is clear and sparkling.” (Urban Homestead)

This apple originated in Virginia, most likely during the early 1700s. Its taste is unique. In most of the south, it is the finest cider apple. It makes a dry cider that is usually mixed with other varieties. Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson knew this apple’s qualities quite well. The fruit is very small, green with a dull red, and a flesh that is firm and acidic. It ripens in September. (Century Farm Orchards)   

Virginia (Hewe’s) Crab is also known as Hewe’s Crab, Hugh’s Crab and Hughes Crab. The Virginia Crab is well described by Coxe in A View of Fruit Trees, 1817, as: “The apple is of small size; the form nearly round, the stem long and thin, the skin a dull red mixed with faint streaks or greenish yellow, and numerous small white spots. The flesh is singularly fibrous and astringent; in pressing, it separates from the liquor, which runs through the finest flannel like spring water…my own practice is to mix the crab pomace in the vat with that of strong rich cider apples, which makes an improved liquor…The tree is of small size, the leaves though small, are luxuriant growth…the wood hard and tough, never breaking with the load of fruit, usually produced every second year. The origin of this apple is satisfactorily traced to Virginia, where trees nearly one hundred years old are now standing…” Coxe continues…”The apple called Hewe’s Virginia Crab differs so much from all others that the liquor extracted from it requires a system of management adapted to the peculiar qualities of the fruit.” Before the development of hybrid rootstocks, the Virginia Crab was often used as an under stock because of the hardiness, compatibility to many varieties, and vigorous growth. The Virginia Crab was one of the major cider varieties that Thomas Jefferson planted in the north orchard at Monticello. It makes a very high-flavored dry cider, with maintains its quality for a long time and ferments very slowly. In Central Virginia, it ripens in September. (Vintage Virginia Apples)   

Developed at the Univ. of Minnesota, this variety is developing quite a following. It is mostly red over yellow color, with an aromatic sweet flavor. The flesh is crunchy, juicy and holds its texture for good storage. Used for fresh eating, cooking and cider. (Johnson Nursery). Regarded by some as the best eating apple of all time, it falls apart in the mouth and springs with juice because its cells are actually larger than those of denser apples. It has a mottled yellow-red skin and is popular for its satisfying crunch. (Parade Magazine) 

Developed by the Univ. of Minn from a Macoun x Honeygold cross as a winter-hardy variety; released in 1991. (Apples). It is one of the highest quality dessert apples, especially in the northern United States. (Vintage Virginia Apples)

This is the beauty queen of the russet apple world. Robert Nitschke of Southmeadow Fruit Gardens in Michigan sent me this highly defined russet and I was impressed not only but its good looks but also by the remarkably intense and complex flavor which surpasses that of Golden Russet and Roxbury Russet. It appeared around 1960 in Otway, Ohio. It was a bud mutation from a Golden Delicious tree found in the Hoople Fruit Farm orchard by the owner, Harry Hoople, who sent it for propogation to Southmeadow Fruit Gardens in Baroda, Michigan. (Burford) 

First noted in America in 1869, this apple was grown by our great-grandfather, C.C. Davis, and is still being grown today by our grandfather, Paul Davis of Rose Hill, Virginia. A small, dull red apple, Hyslop does not inspire enthusiasm until it is converted into a delicious light-pink jelly. Sometimes used as a landscape specimen. (Urban Homestead)

Hyslop Crab is of an unkownn origin and was recorded in 1869. It is also called Hyslop Crabapple and is sometimes spelled Hislop. From Beach’s Apples of New York, 1905: “Fruit large, very brilliantly colored, dark red or purplish overspread with thick blue bloom; borne in clusters. It is subacid and astringent and contains 11.84% sugar that ferments to about 5% alcohol. Particularly good for jelly, pickling, and cider blending, it ripens in late August in Virginia. (Vintage Virginia Apples)

Found growing wild in a fence row in Washington County, Arkansas, 1893. Thought to be a cross of Arkansas Black and Jonathan, this variety retains the good qualities of both parents. One of the most flavorful apples we offer. (Urban Homestead)

King David is speculated to be either a Jonathan x Ark. Black or Jonathan x Winesap cross that was found in a fence row on the farm of Ben Frost in Durham, Washington County, Arkansas, in 1893. Stark Brothers Nursery of Missouri introduced it in 1902. A solid deep red, but sometimes a pale green overlaid with deep dark red, it is subacid and slightly sweet in flavor. The vigorous growing tree is spreading and tends to be very bushy, and there seems to be some resistance to the major apple diseases.  The bark is reddish-olive color, and the dull, course leaves have sharp serrations. Fruits hang on the tree long after ripening, and the red color will brighten. For the highest flavor, it should be harvested when fully-colored on the tree. King David ripens in October.  (Vintage Virginia Apples)

Medium-sized fruit, red all over. Firm, juicy, flavorful flesh. Tree vigorous, heavily spurred, productive. Resistant to blight, scab, mildew and rust. Highly recommended. Pairs nicely with Freedom. Developed at Cornell, 1978. Lineage includes Macoun, Wealthy, Jersey Black, McIntosh, Rome, Malus foribunda, and P.R.I. 54-12. Who says apple breeding isn’t fun? (Urban Homestead).

Touted to be the greatest disease resistant-free variety ever developed. Liberty became a popular choice for homeowners beginning in the 1970s, particularly because of its high resistance to apple scab. Even unsprayed, Liberty will prominently display clean foliage in backyard plantings while the leaves, buds and fruits of nearby scab-susceptible varieties become covered with dull black or grey-brown lesions. (Burford)

The Liberty also goes by NY 55140-19; the result of a cross between Macoun with Perdue 52-12 in 1955 at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva and was released to the public in 1974. The name “Liberty” was suggested by Bernadine Aldwinckel of the Experiment Station’s Entomology and Plan Pathology departments to denote the freedom from disease. The Pollen was supplied by Dr. Ralph Shay of Purdue University, Indiana. The disease resistance comes from Malus floribunda. (Burford)

The large, round-oblate apple has a short stem. The yellow skin usually has a red blush over most of the surface but coloration will vary depending on the growing region. The creamy white flesh is slightly course, crisp, juicy, and sweet. It ripens in mid-fall and is used for dessert and cider, the storage is fair and flavor is enhanced during the storage period. The tree is vigorous, with a round spreading form. The tree bears heavy annual crops and must be thinned to produce large fruit. (Burford) 

According to the 1870 Report of the American Pomological Society, Thomas Jefferson encouraged the propagation of Ralls Genet. As the story goes, Jefferson obtained cuttings of the apple from his friend, Edmund Charles Genet, the French ambassador to the United States, and passed them on to another friend, nurseryman, Caleb Ralls, to graft. The Ralls then went on to become very popular in the Ohio Valley. And in 1939, it was crossed with Stark’s Red Delicious by the Japanese. The resulting apple has claimed a significant share of the commercial market as the now poplar Fuji. Flesh crisp and juicy. Ripens late. Recommended for frost pockets as it blooms two weeks later than most other varieties, thus the nickname, Neverfail. Its twiggy growth habit and tendency to overbear demands careful, annual pruning. (Urban Homestead)  

Dense, crisp and tender. When cut, the flesh exudes a sweet aroma. Found growing on the farm of Caleb Ralls in Amherst County, VA in the late 1700’s. Scored 6.2 (out of a possible 9 points) at the October 2010 Heirloom Apple Tasting, held at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello Estate. (Wall Street Journal) 

This tree is a red-fleshed version of the Stayman Winesap from our friend Tim Hensley at Urban Homestead in Bristol, VA.  

Scions of this tree come to us from Ron Joyner of Lansing, North Carolina. Perhaps the same apple as “Virginia Spice”, sold in 1859 by Hopewell Nurseries of Fredericksburg, Virginia. This tree is new to us but with a name like Spice of Old Virginia, we think that it is much more than a pig in a poke. (Urban Homestead)

Spice of Old Virginia is something of a mystery. Tom Burford believes it may be Olde Towne, which dates back to the 17th century. There are a number of Spice apples grown throughout the southern states in the 19th century. Henry Morton of Tennessee has this cultivar, and noted that it makes wonderful apple butter, richly aromatic and flavorful. Vintage Virginia Apples looks forward to fruiting and testing this apple. (Vintage Virginia Apples)

For many years I took this spicy apple for granted, but even among the hundred or so varieties available in my backyard, it was always enticing and thought provoking. The distinctive sprightliness sets it apart, as well as the allure that is might be centuries old. The fruit is excellent for dessert, drying, apple butter and applesauce and keeps well. (Burford)  

Thomas Jefferson’s favorite apple – known also as the Esopus Spitzenberg. Described by one writer as the “finest apple in the world when perfectly ripe.” A must variety for the connoisseur of Old Virginia dessert apples. (Urban Homestead). The classic American dessert apple; rich and juicy. Originated in Esopus, NY in the late 18th century. A favorite of Thomas Jefferson, planted at his home. Voted Best-Tasting Apple at the October 2010 Heirloom Apple Tasting, held at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello Estate with a score of 7.7 out of a possible 9 points. (Wall Street Journal). Excellent in pies and possible inspiration for Waldorf Salad. Planted in Uster City, NY prior to 1790; favorite of Thomas Jefferson; widely planted in 19th century US.  (Apples)

Esopus Spitzenberg originated in Esopus, Ulster County, New York, in the latter part of the 18th century and has the reputation as a favorite dessert apple of Thomas Jefferson. He ordered 12 trees of the variety from William Prince’s Flushing, Long Island, Nursery in 1790 to plant at Monticello. “Spitz” is likely one of the parents of the Jonathan and is classified in the Baldwin apple group. (Vintage Virginia Apples)

STAYMAN WINESAP (technically, “Stayman”)
It is told that Joseph Stayman, a country horse and buggy doctor from Leavenworth, Kansas, would eat a Winesap apple at the end of the day and save all the seeds for planting in the spring. Besides enjoying the apple, it was his motive to find a new variety of merit. In 1866 he made the selection and called it Stayman. (Burford) 

Seedling of the original Winesap, introduced by Dr. Stayman of Kansas, 1866. Now popular, Staymen is described in one of our great-grandfathers, Elmer Davis’s, nursery lithographs as “the coming apple”. Our trees are grafted from a tree in our grandfather, Paul Davis’s orchard – and they are, in our opinion, one of the best testing apples we offer. (Urban Homestead)

Juicy, moderately acidic with a wine-like taste. Discovered on the Kansas farm of Dr. J. Stayman in the mid-1800’s. Scored 6.2 (out of a possible 9 points) at the October 2010 Heirloom Apple Tasting, held at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello Estate. (Wall Street Journal). In Virginia, the Stayman Winesap is often called just Stayman, and at one time, was a major commercial dessert apple in the state, especially in the Valley. (Vintage Virginia Apples)

An apple of striking beauty with its purple color and white dots. Very juicy, rich sweet flavor, excellent quality. Rated tops for fresh eating. (Urban Homestead). A well-developed specimen of “Vicky”, as some familiarly call it, is often stunning -- and the more purplish red it becomes the more attention it attracts. Also known as “Harpole” and “Sweet Limbertwig”. It was known before 1860 and comes from either Grundy or Warren County, Tenn. It was promoted by M.M. Harpole of Warren County.  (Burford)     

A chance seedling from Carroll (then Grayson) County, Virginia, 1828. Wonderful for eating out of hand, and a fine keeper. Very popular in Southwest Virginia – one of our best selling trees. We heartily recommend this apple to every home orchardist. (Urban Homestead)

The original tree grew before 1820 in what is today Carroll County in southwestern Virginia. The name implies an attractive apple, but it is also an excellent eating and dessert apple. In 1914, F.H. LaBaume, a Virginia farmer and fruit grower, wrote to the U.S. Department of Agriculture saying of the VA Beauty; “It has a distinct flavor all its own that clings to the palate and lingers in the memory for a lifetime.” (Century Farm Orchards)  

Virginia Beauty originated on the property of Zach Safewright in Piper Gap area of Carroll County, Virginia. Originally, Carroll County was a part of Grayson County. The apple variety was disseminated throughout southwest Virginia originally with the name Zach or Zach Red, and in the 1850s, it was given the name Virginia Beauty. In the early part of the 20th century, the Virginia Beauty was popular not only for dessert, but also for processing, especially for apple preserves. Virginia Beauty and Shockley were always reserved for that purpose in Central Virginia. (Vintage Virginia Apples)    

This apple is a cross between Newton Pippen and Golden Delicious and was created in 1976 at Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, VA). It has rated highly at apple tasting events at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home. With such great parents, both of which can be detected when eating, it is easy to understand why this apple is so highly praised. (Century Farm Orchards)

From New York (1847) -- Flesh is fine grained, white and juicy. Flavor is subacid and aromatic, reminiscent of Northern Spy. Very juicy, excellent cider apple. Cooks down to a very fine sauce. Hangs on tree late and is said to improve in flavor after frost. (Trees of Antiquity)

When heat is applied to Wagener it melts, or froths up as described by a London chef friend, which I’ve found to be a worth quality for pie making.  When combined with Winesap (or another variety that retains its shape well when cooked) the frothiness of Wagener will coat the whole slices to produce an exemplary apple pie. Also known as “Wagener Apple”, “Wagener Price Apple”, and “Wagoner”.  It was found in 1791 near Penn Yan, NY. A man named George Wheeler grew it and then gave it to Abraham Wagener for propagation. The Wagener apple is a parent of Idared and possibly Northern Spy. The fruit ripens in fall, is fairly resistant to the major apples diseases, stores well without shriveling and can be used for dessert, apple butter, pie making, applesauce and cider. (Burford)

According to the “Apples of New York” the Wagener was considered an apple of superior excellence. It was considered best for “culinary uses, but especially esteemed for dessert”.  The first published reference to the Wagner was in the 1847 report of the New York State Agricultural Society. But the history of the apple can be traced into to the 1700s. In the spring of 1791, George Wheeler came from Duchess County to Penn Yan. He brought apple seeds with him and planted an orchard. Five years later, in 1796, Abraham Wagner, a member of the pioneer family of Penn Yan, bought Wheeler’s orchard and transplanted trees to his farm. One of those trees was still producing fruit in 1848. It continued to bear fruit until 1865. About this time, the Wagner apple gained quite a bit of notoriety and soon was popular throughout the country, especially in Virginia. By 1892, it was grown in most places except in the North Mississippi valley, the Rock Mountains and the Plains from Nebraska to Texas. (Belluscio)

We are now offering two strains of what we presume to be old-time Winesaps – one from Lee County, Virginia and the other from Johnson City, Tennessee. These trees are hardy and productive. The apples are dark red, medium to large. Their rich, vinous flavor has an explosive quality, from which your taste buds will never recover. (Urban Homestead)

Winelike flavor that keeps well in storage. Originated as a chance seedling in New Jersey around 1817.  Scored 6.33 (out of a possible 9 points) at the October 2010 Heirloom Apple Tasting, held at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello Estate. (Wall Street Journal) 

This original USA (1817) apple gets its name from its spicy, wine-like flavor and aroma. Top quality, multi-purpose apple noted for the crisp, very juicy yellow flesh and its blend of sugar with high tartness. (Trees of Antiquity)

Winesap is also named American Wine Sop, Banana, Hendrick’s Sweet, Holland’s Red Winter, pot Pie Apple, Potpie, Red Sweet Wine Sop, Royal Red of Kentucky, Texan Red, Winter Winesap and Refugee. There are dozens of strains, including the Virginia Winesap, a darker sort, found at the Garland Orchards in Troutville, Virginia, in 1922, and marketed by Start Brothers. Winesap was first described as a cider fruit by Dr. James Mease in Philadelphia in 1804, and in 1817, William Coxe illustrated and described it in A View of the Cultivation of Fruit Trees. It was known during the colonial period in Virginia, and Coxe wrote of it as popular for cider making in New Jersey, but there is no documentation as this time of its place of origin. The blossoms of the Winesap are pink instead of the white of most varieties. An exceptional keeper, it ripens in Virginia in October. (Vintage Virginia Apples)       

An old Georgia apple dating to 1813. Small fruit, white skin mostly covered with shades and stripes of dark red. Flesh tinged red, very juicy. Superb spicy flavor. Ripens late and keeps extremely well. A top winter cider apple for the deep south. (Urban Homestead)

Yates has other names: Jates, Red Warrior and Yates Winter. It originated with Matthew Yates of Fayette County, Georgia, about 1844. Highly suitable for cider making as well as dessert. Yates stores exceptionally well and ripens in October. (Vintage Virginia Apples)

Often known by its original name, Johnson’s Fine Winter – or the corruption, Jonathan Winter. Originated near York, Pennsylvania, 1830. The fruit is easily to recognize because of its lopsided (or more properly stated) oblique form. Good for cooking or eating fresh through the winter. Charles Downing described York in the 1850’s as an “imperial keeper”. If I were going to plant only three trees in my orchard, one of them would be a York. (Urban Homestead)


Author: Frank Browning
Northern Point Press; 1998

Apple Luscious Catalog
Belluscio, Lynne
“The Wagener Apple”
LeRoy Pennysaver & News
October 31, 2010

Tom Burford
Apples of North America
Timber Press
Century Farm Orchards
David C. Vernon
1614 Rice Road
Reidsville, NC  27320
Phone 336-349-5709
Johnson Nursery, Inc.
1352 Big Creek Road
Ellijay, GA  30536
Toll free: 888-276-3187

Old Southern Apples
Creighton Lee Calhoun, Jr.
Chelsea Green publishing

Orchard Gems Nursery
Parade Magazine
“Search for the Perfect Apple”
Author: Jacquelyn Mitchard
August 30, 2009; page 8

Phillips, Michael
The Holistic Orchard: Tree Fruits and Berries the Biological Way
Chelsea Green Publishing Company

The Apple Grower: A Guide for the Organic Orchardist
Chelsea Green Publishing Company
2005 (Revised and Expanded Edition)

Sutton Elms
“Red-Fleshed Apples”; A List of Varieties

Trees of Antiquity LLC
20 Wellsona Road
Paso Robles, CA 93446
Phoen 805/467-9909

Urban Homestead Nursery
Ayden Hensley
818 Cumberland Street
Bristol,VA 24201-4172
Phone: 276/466-2931

Vintage Virginia Apples
P.O. Box 210
North Garden, VA 22959
Phone: 434/297-2326
Wall Street Journal
“Before the Mac, Vintage Apples”
Author: Anne Marie Chaker
October 27, 2010; pages D-1 and D-6

Update: Includes new plantings as of April, 2016