And so began Hawk Knob Hard Cider and Mead. Bennett and Lewis are committed to producing a high-quality beverage in the most traditional manner, with old time variety blends, wild yeasts and used bourbon barrels. They source the apples locally, from local farms in the Greenbrier Valley and Bennett’s own family farm in Pocahontas County. West Virginia bees supply the honey for the mead.

Hawk Knob upholds the diverse, yet simplistic essence of West Virginia. Its artisan ciders and meads provide a memorable experience that offers a glimpse of Appalachian culture and heritage, and harks back to the pre-prohibition era when cider was the number one beverage consumed.

Our Role

Bennett and Lewis needed a little help getting Hawk Knob off the ground, and turned to The Conservation Fund’s Natural Capital Investment Fund (NCIF). NCIF first provided assistance with business plan development through its Value Chain Cluster Initiative (VC2), which helps strengthen food and farm businesses in West Virginia. NCIF then loaned Hawk Knob much needed working capital to purchase equipment and start-up costs. In 2015 Hawk Knob officially opened as West Virginia’s first cidery, and its ciders and meads are now sold at their facility and at restaurants, shops and festivals throughout the state.

Why This Project Matters

A conservation organization supporting a cidery may seem like an unlikely partnership, but we’re a different group of conservationists. Take a look at NCIF’s profile companies and you’ll see a common thread that is the heart of our mission and weaves through everything we do: using natural resources responsibly, improving economic stability in underserved and rural areas that need it most, and finding creative and innovative solutions to complex challenges.

Learn More