2023 Good Food Award Finalists from Virginia

A close up view of chocolates in a box. The chocolates have a pattern of orange slices on the the top.

IMAGE: River Sea Chocolates

We’re all about celebrating the GOOD in good food, and this year, we are excited to share that 10 products from 8 companies in Virginia have been selected as finalists for the 2023 Good Food Awards. 

The Good Food Foundation is dedicated to recognizing and supporting sustainable farming and local food production. Each year the organization awards the most exemplary products for quality and flavor. Founded in 2008, the Good Food Awards honor exceptional taste, sustainability, and social responsibility in America’s favorite foods. This annual event recognizes and celebrates the craft food producers who are leading the way in creating a strong, vibrant, and sustainable good food economy.

Every year, a panel of culinary experts selects regional winners from across the country who are making a difference with their products, from honey to farmstead cheese to bread and beer. The 2023 finalists have been announced, and the products from Virginia are truly remarkable! 

The Significance of The Good Food Awards

The Good Food awards program was created to help promote local producers and craft food brands while encouraging sustainability and social responsibility within the food system. Producers who are recognized with a Good Food Award gain visibility and credibility in the marketplace, making it easier for them to grow their businesses and expand their reach. Through this recognition, producers can better contribute to the growth of the good food economy. 

Being a Good Food Award Finalist is more than just a symbol of quality and excellence in the industry. It’s a mark of achievement that sets winners apart from others and demonstrates their commitment to creating responsible and delicious food products. These products have undergone a rigorous review process to ensure that they meet the high standards of quality and sustainability set by the Good Food Foundation. The finalists now face the last round of judging, and this year’s winners will be announced during the awards ceremony on April 21, 2023.

The companies that make it to the Finalist selection exemplify the Good Food Awards’ mission—making delicious and ethical food. Read on to find out more about the finalists from Virginia, and join us in cheering them on!

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Afterglow Coffee Cooperative

Afterglow Coffee Cooperative is a Virginia-based coffee roasting company dedicated to creating a responsible, sustainable supply chain for coffee farmers. This year, they are a finalist for their product Democratic Republic of the Congo SOPACDI. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a region known for its high-quality beans. However, it has also seen political unrest and economic instability. Afterglow Coffee Cooperative has established direct relationships with the smallholder coffee farmers of the DRC, offering them transparency and financial stability. The farmers are paid a fair price for their beans, and the profits are reinvested in the local community. Through this approach, Afterglow Coffee Cooperative has created a more responsible and sustainable supply chain for coffee farmers in the DRC.

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Black Narrows Brewing

Located in Chincoteague, Virginia, Black Narrows Brewing is a finalist in the beer category for its How Bout It Pale Ale. The husband and wife team of Jay and Liza Hundley founded Black Narrows out of their passion for brewing excellent beer and for contributing to their community. They believe every beer should be crafted with quality, care, and attention to detail. Their flagship beer, How Bout It Pale Ale, is an American-style pale ale with a clean malt backbone, abundant hop aromatics, and subtle fruit character. This beer has earned recognition from multiple awards, including the 2018 Virginia Craft Beer Cup Gold Medal and the 2019 Great American Beer Festival Bronze Medal. Being recognized by the Good Food Awards signifies that Black Narrows Brewing is recognized as a leader in responsible, ethical sourcing and practices within the craft beer industry.

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Castle Hill Cider

Castle Hill Cider, located in Keswick, Virginia, has not one but three ciders being considered for the Good Food Awards this year. The team at Castle Hill Cider prides itself on its dedication to the craft cider-making process that results in a final product full of flavor and complexity. That’s why they plan and manage their orchards specifically for cider production, choosing heritage apples that are developed for cider and not for eating. Their use of heritage apple varieties gives their ciders unique flavor profiles, much like grape varietals produce unique wines. Like wine, the growing location and the season strongly impact the finished product. The award finalists, Sunday Muse, Dry Hopped, and Silver Bough, are all beverages made with apples from their own orchards on the property.

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Deep Roots Milling

Deep Roots Milling is proud to have been selected (again!) as one of the finalists in the 2023 Good Food Awards. This year’s nominee is their Blue Clarage Grits. This unique and delicious product is made with grains grown in the Shenandoah Valley, stone ground in small batches, and naturally fermented. The Blue Clarage Grits are a testament to their commitment to the craft food movement and their dedication to creating Virginia-made products that are good for people and the planet.

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Grapewood Farm

Grapewood Farm is a family-owned and operated sustainable farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Founded by the Obenschain family, the farm produces heritage grain products with minimal impact on the land. This year, they have been recognized as a finalist for the Good Food Awards for their Virginia Hard Red Winter Wheat Berries product. This heritage grain is a distinct variety of wheat grown in Virginia since the early 1800s. It is renowned for its high protein content, which makes it ideal for baking bread, cakes, and other baked goods.

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River-Sea Chocolates

River-Sea Chocolates has made it to the Good Food Awards 2023 Finalist list with their Thailand 72% bar. Krissee and Mariano D’Aguiar have been dedicated to crafting delicious products that are responsibly sourced and produced with respect for the environment since their business started in 2018. The beans sourced for Thailand 72% are supplied by the Chumphon Collective. The collective is on a mission to empower and improve farmers’ lives, their families well-being, and the community they live in. This may be your new favorite if you enjoy light and citrusy chocolates! 

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Valhalla Organics

Newly relocated to their sustainable farm near Richmond, Virginia, Valhalla Organics is a small-batch craft food producer dedicated to making high-quality products with the utmost attention to detail and flavor. Using locally sourced ingredients, they make all of their products by hand with sustainable practices. Their Pickled Okra was chosen as a finalist because it is fresh, flavorful, and has a unique balance of spices. For Valhalla Organics, being selected as a Good Food Award Finalist is a great honor and a validation of their decision to move away from Oregon and resettle here in Virginia. Welcome to the family!


Winchester Ciderworks

Winchester Ciderwork’s flagship cider, VA-Ginga, is a blend of apples from Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. This cider was created to reflect the richness of Virginia’s natural landscape and local resources. It has a light, fruity flavor with notes of ginger and lime and is fermented dry and crisp. The VA-Ginga cider is available in cans and bottles, so you can enjoy it at home or on the go. Visit their website or follow them on Instagram for more information about their unique ciders and other products.

Some Neighborly Love

Local food can cross state lines, and this year, a handful of our neighbors are also in the running. Farmer’s Daughter from West Virginia has two products in the running, Provencial Ham and Pickled Pepper Head Cheese. The Appalachian Beekeeping Collective is also a finalist with their Salted Cacao Creamed Honey. Finally, Sangfroid Distilling from Maryland has two products in the running – Maryland Rye Whiskey and Wild Apple Brandy. We can’t forget to mention Dancing Star Farms, Deep Roots Milling’s used their Ohio Blue corn that was used for the Blue Clarage Grits. These products demonstrate a commitment to quality, sustainability, and deliciousness and represent the best of what the region has to offer. We’re proud to recognize them as finalists for the 2023 Good Food Awards and offer a hat tip across the fence.

You Can Support the Good Food Movement

The Good Food Foundation is a beacon of sustainability and responsible practices within the food industry. These Virginia-made products are crafted by some of the best craft food brands, and their recognition as finalists in the 2023 Good Food Awards is a testament to their commitment. Their hard work shows up not just in completed products but in products that taste good, too. You can help continue the mission by shopping from them, sharing their content, and gifting their products to friends and family. By supporting these businesses, you will make a positive impact on the good food economy and help create a sustainable future.

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