Elisabeth and Kevin Oelhafen don’t want to hurt you with their hot salsa. “I’m not like that,” says Elisabeth, 51. “I wanted something that appeals to people who appreciate spice, but aren’t looking for pain.” The three varieties of Pennacook Peppers Porch Party Salsa, made in the Oelhafens’ Virginia Beach kitchen, pack plenty of heat. But while most mass-produced fiery dips draw all their heat from one source (usually a hostile jalapeño), Porch Party Salsa is made with a beautifully balanced blend of eight different hot peppers. It’s a more complex flavor, says Elisabeth, “so you feel it in different parts of your mouth without ever being overpowered.” Pennacook Peppers started in 2011 and now has its products in about 40 stores—and that number keeps growing. “It’s amazing to me that people are buying stuff that we made in our kitchen,” says Elisabeth. But the success of Porch Party Salsa is testament to keeping the focus on carefully calibrated flavor, even when the competition is focused on turning up the heat. $6 per jar.
See all the Made in Virginia 2015 Winners!
Fern and Roby, Richmond
Monolith Studios, Charlottesville (category winner)
Huger Embroidery, Richmond
Duvall Designs, Millwood
Owen Suter's Fine Furniture, Richmond
Shockoe Atelier, Richmond (category winner)
Rockbridge Guitar Company, Charlottesville
Melissa Lew Jewelry, South Riding
North End Bag Co., Virginia Beach
Belle Isle Craft Spirits, Richmond (category winner)
Early Mountain Vineyards, Madison
Texas Beach, Richmond
LUMI Juice, Charlottesville
Brown Dog Handcrafted Premium Ice Cream, Cape Charles (category winner)
S. Wallace Edwards & Sons, Surry
Swover Creek Farms, Edinburg
Pennacook Peppers, Virginia Beach
Click here to see 2014 winners.
Click here to see 2013 winners.
Click here to see 2012 winners.