Old Fashion Winesap

Anybody have more information on Old Fashion Winesap?

Lee Calhoon mentions it in his book “Old Southern Apples”

David Vernon at Century Farm Orchards sells the trees which is where I got my trees.

My OFW are very different from my Virginia Winesap - which is a small, weak tree with small apples in my area.

I saw lots of Winesaps growing in orchards in central Va last week, but none of the growers I spoke with were familiar with the term “Old Fashion Winesap”


I think that is a synonym for (the old, original) Winesap, to keep it apart from Stayman Winesap, Turley Winesap, etc. I don’t have Lee’s book handy so cannot check with his nomenclature.

Thanks Scott.

My Va Winesap apples are very small and so are the trees, so I would not recommend them.

I found a lot of references to Winesap apples in books that predate the introduction of the Va. Winesap variety.

I believe part of the confusion is the fact that Winesaps were a very popular apple in central Virginia area so sometimes they were refered to as Virginia Winesaps before the actual sport from Troutville, VA named “Virginia Winesap” was introduced.

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I can only envy you lucky growers with such a long growing season. When I was just out of college, a few of the very old orchards I worked at had winesap apples.
The owners would sigh when telling me what they were. The reason was they only fully ripened in the shorter growing season we have in SE WI about 2 out of 5 years.

Not sure if they were plain winesap, stayman or whatever strain but it still brings tears to my eyes recalling how delicious they were when we had a long frost free growing season. Nobody around my area plants them anymore because of this.
Wish our local supermarkets at least offered them but I have not seen them for sale in about 10 years. Does nobody grow them much commercially anymore?
Or does nobody ship them into Wisconsin for sale to supermarkets? I often wonder why they no longer seem available.


Did this tree fruit for you yet? Thinking of adding it. Have Stayman right now and just trying to compare the two. Thanks

Anyone fruit the old fashion winesap yet?

I’m growing Old Fashion Winesap from Century Farm Orchard. It was planted in 2019. I’m hoping it’ll fruit for the first time next year.


I got mine from mehrabyan. It was just listed as winesap. I don’t know if that makes it old fashioned or not

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Have you gotten any OFW apples off your trees yet?

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We have fruited OFW for about 10 years. It’s a large apple that ripens late much later than a typical Winesap. Very productive. More resistant to insects and disease than anything else we tried. Unfortunately, it’s not a great tasting Apple but it improves some with storage. We are located in the county next to where Lee Calhoun discovered the Apple. Several commercial Apple growers that I spoke with who have grown Winesaps for generations in central VA had not head of OFW.


I may be wrong but I believe that the original Winesap has generally been replaced by ever redder strains. Tom Burford often used the word old or old strain preceding several varieties that have been replaced by newer sports. He even called his favorite Stayman Old Stayman on a list of disease resistant apples he compiled years ago. The list put the word old in partenthesis following Winesap so he obviously believed that an older strain had been generally replaced by “improved” versions (maybe better of maybe worse but redder). I doubt it was to differentiate it from Stayman.

I’ve been in orchards where there are at least 3 strains of Yellow Delicious growing, and as sometimes but not always is the case, the older strains of YD tend to be sweeter and better tasting. In the case of YD they tend also to be more prone to russet.

My favorite strain of Jonagold is Jonaprince, a newer and redder variety that is difficult sometimes to differentiate from Honeycrisp to non-experts, although I believe Jonaprince to be the superior apple for culinary use and it’s certainly a little easier to grow here, although both are prone to corking or rots. .

I’m not experienced enough to evaluate the “evolution” of Winesap, but the strain ACN carries is decent sized, dark red and a vigorous tree., .

When I started in this business nurseries did sometimes sell Stayman as Winesap, just as they’d sell something like Kidd’s Orange Red as Cox Orange Pippin. I wouldn’t know if some nurseries still do this.


Here’s a zoomed in view from CF open house of OFW fruit.


In 1965 it was reported that there were 51 varieties of Winesap and 14 mutations of Stayman. Depending on where you look, 1804 is mentioned as the first time reported by that name and was being grown in New Jersey as a cider apple. Many plantings were made from Winesap seeds over the years so the opportunities arose to select and propagate the better ones for dessert quality.


Off the tree, a horse might eat it, but by May, it’s really good in my opinion. And, watercore or other apples going bad in the bag don’t seem to affect them terribly.


Although it’s not a great Apple the PYO folks pick every one each year so we are planting another 100 trees. It’s interesting to watch customers pick the OFW and skip over the Goldrush.

We have learned that most customers prefer the red apples. Most are not Apple connoisseurs and are really just looking for entertainment and a pleasant day in the country.

We still store a few bushels of OFW, Goldrush and Pink Ladies in an old refrigerator until December when we take Elderberry cuttings and put them in the old fridge.


They can’t be as sour tasting as green Goldrush that are all plied high for sale. Everywhere I went this fall always had plenty of Goldrush as it seemed no one was buying them.

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Why do you assume various seedlings, instead of the usual venue of sports, or mutations? Where I’ve read that to be a common occurrence is with self-fertile varieties, such as Gravenstein, which is said to have caused a lot of variation in the state of CA from volunteers closely resembling their mother-fathers.

Seedlings of trees pollinated by another parent very rarely end up producing fruit a lot like the mother’s, but sports are relatively common and easily tested because there might be one small branch on a tree in a commercial orchard with improved appearance or flavor that the owner might end up using as grafting wood. A seedling would likely be given another name.
. .https://www.orangepippintrees.com/search.aspx?ps=34

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I have been reading the archives of USDA. Some of their Yearbooks of Agriculture going back over a hundred years have brief histories of various fruits. Winesaps were popular with settlers moving westward in the mid1800’s. Taking a bagful of seed for cider trees on what for many was unknown journey was the only choice. Judging by all the named cultivars of Winesap, it must have had a reasonable chance to find some good ones sown around the homestead.

I’ll check my search history when back at my office after the holiday and find the story of one successful orchard that was based on seeds.
Merry Christmas!

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My understanding is that the homesteaders used most of their apples for cider or in processed forms like apple butter and dried apples as a cheap sweetener. Johnny Appleseed (Chapman) made his living selling seedling apple trees to settlers and then selling the land his nursery was on to move on to where the settlers hadn’t yet arrived and would repeat the process. His idea of uncomfortably crowded was different than most of us.

The wave of new varieties in this country during the settler expansion was the result of all those seedlings planted (not just Johnny’s of course, probably most started their trees themselves and there were likely others doing what he was). Grafting was widely practiced, so when a superior variety from the collection in the homestead orchards was recognized it would be widely grafted at least within that orchard. The best of the best would proliferate regionally and then nationally. The very best of the best might end up being exported to other countries.

I’ve read a lot of the history myself, which is why I questioned your comment. If that is part of the history of Winesap, it seems strange to me because for other varieties I’ve read about, some even coming before the 16h century, where there are several versions, its always been explained in my reading as being sports.

Of course, there’s always new stuff to learn, and I don’t know.

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