2020 American Cider Association Board Candidates

It’s almost election time for your 2020 board of directors. We’ll be sending out electronic ballots to all of our Cidery-level active members on Wednesday and the ballot will be open until Friday morning, so keep your eyes peeled for that!

We want to thank Eric Foster of Stem Ciders, Brian Shanks of Bold Rock and Dan Young of Tandem Cider for their dedication and service to the board for the last 3 years. All three brought passion to their roles that helped us evolve the association to what we are today. Thank you for your contributions!

Please meet your 2020 board candidates:

At Large

Phillippe Bishop, Alpenfire Cider, Washington

I am a partner in Alpenfire Cider, a small, family-run cidery based in Northwestern WA. We planted our orchard back in 2003 specifically for making cider and have seen lots of growth and changes in the industry since then. I primarily handle the sales side of things in and out of our region, but with any small company we all wear many hats. I believe the American Cider Association has been doing a good job operating as a megaphone for the whole industry nationwide.  I have worked with the association on projects like the CCP and Lexicon, as well as spoken at CiderCon in the past. I now feel it is time for me to step up and take a more vocal role in the national community.

A couple goals I would like to work on is increasing communication with the on and off premise trade and distribution side of things, making it easier for them to sell our products to the trade or to the consumer with proper language that can be easily understood. Part of my background is working for a small craft focused distributor and seeing the challenges and frustrations on both sides of the sales and producers game. I would like to help the association come up with economical and straightforward ways to remediate that. Additionally, being a grower producer from an apple growing region we know there are a lot of wonderful apple growers and varieties not being utilized. I would like to find way to bridge the gap between grower and producer. Due to our size we have to turn away fruit every year that could make some exciting cider and I would like to find a way to make it easier for growers to find producers and vice-versa.

Lyndon Smith, Botanist and Barrel, North Carolina

I am a co-founder of Botanist and Barrel. In 2009, I launched a natural wine distribution company.  I left to follow my passion for agriculture.  Along with my family, I created Cedar Grove Blueberry Farm and Botanist & Barrel’s Farmhouse Cidery in 2015.  I established NC’s first wild and spontaneous festival, and Funk Down on the Farm. I love research, analytics, supporting local farms, native fruits and southern terroir.

As a board member I’d bring innovative and creative ideas with a rising tide mentality.   As cider pros we have our own language to describe different styles of cider; BUT do these terms mean anything to consumers? To grow our market, we need to identify consumer preferences through focus groups and learn what consumers listen for as they choose cider.  We must develop the vocabulary, the marketing & the imagery that resonates with cider drinkers to expand the cider audience as a whole. We can develop and create actionable promotional materials and packaging by reverse engineering how we talk about cider using empirical data.  For example “brewing hard cider” was the 16th most searched for term on google in the last 30 days, so we have our work cut out for us. 

We all produce amazing beverages.  Let’s make sure we can prosper.

Ned Lawton, Ethic Ciders, California

Together with my wife, I brought Ethic Ciders to life in 2015 after purchasing a farm and old apple orchard in Sebastopol, California. Five years into tending to the land through regenerative farming practices, our orchard is now 100-percent organically certified and has been declared by the NCRS a test site for implementation of the first ever carbon-farming apple orchard. I believe that cider can be a leader as a sustainable land-based beverage and as a healthy choice for consumers. As a board member, I would identify opportunities to share this message. I also believe the association can be a tremendous resource for small cideries when it comes to compliance, the TTB, regulations and policy, and I would champion these efforts. My goal would be to engage with the board and the government affairs committee as a voice for small orchard-based cideries. I love cider because of the potential for it to connect people with the land, and I think I can bring that perspective to the board. I’m inspired to lend my contributions to the association and work together to pursue our market growth as a long-term strategy that celebrates all sectors of cider, including small orchard-based operations.

Mountain West: AZ, CO, NM, NV, UT, WY, SD, ND, KS, NE, OK, TX

Talia Haykin, Haykin Family Cider, Colorado

I am the co-founder of Haykin Family Cider with my husband, Daniel. Prior and concurrent to that, I run my freelance marketing company and served as the Chief Marketing Officer for large non-profits in Denver. I developed a social media Masters program for DU. Within our business, I do every job from bottling to shipping to selling to marketing. Every successful market is stratified and that is important for our cider market as well. However, all types of producers should feel like they have a voice. I’d like to bring a small, harvest-based producer voice to the association, advocating on behalf of apples and smaller producers. That being said, collaboration/cooperation/camaraderie are key. A rising tide lifts all boats and a successful cider industry, benefits us all.

Casie Wiginton, Texas Keeper, Texas

I am the Taproom Manager of Texas Keeper Cider in Austin, a level 1 CCP and currently in pursuit to be a Certified Pommelier. With a 22-year background in the industry and large reaching organizations like the American Cheese Society, I believe an emphasis on education and community engagement are necessary to broaden the reach of the cider world. I bring a unique perspective to the American Cider Association’s Board of Directors by providing a bridge to business owners, their staff, and customers. I am not a Cidermaker nor CEO but an advocate for education, community engagement, and broadening the reach of the craft world. I intend to develop resources to nurture and grow a diffuse circle of artisans into a robust community in touch with those they affect and inspire. I believe that my passion and skills honed thus far will drive a flow of communication and engagement across the Mountain West region, necessary for continued growth of our industry.

Pacific Coast: CA, HI

Sarah Hemly, Hemly Cider, California

In 2015 I co-founded Hemly Cider in Courtland California as an estate grown cider company with a unique passion for pears . I run the cider company and my husband grows the fruit.   If elected, I bring to the board experience with getting pear pumice on every inch of my clothing. Today, we in the cider industry have a unique opportunity to create a movement, grow our market and impact the global economy.  An important point of differentiation from other alcoholic beverage industries that is notably relevant in today’s market. The one thing every one of us in the cider industry has in common: Trees.  Here in California companies like Ethic Cider are brilliantly promoting the fact that apple trees contribute to carbon sequestration.  Recently, Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot proposed planting and preserving trees as a tool to combat global climate change.  Can we, as an industry unite under one cause, promote cider, disrupt the market and stand for something bigger than ourselves?   #DrinkCider, better for you, better for the planet.  

Nicole Todd, Santa Cruz Cider Company, California

I began my fermentation career in 2005 at Bonny Doon Vineyard, then changed gears to work at a brewery and found my love for cider with a truck bed of found apples. I started Santa Cruz Cider Co with my husband and my sister in 2013. We have grown slowly and organically by building our cidery from the ground up.  Having my own small business keeps me involved in every step of the industry, from orchards, pressing, packaging and selling. I have worked closely with other local cidermakers and growers to create a community that shares resources to help us all grow.  I would like to help create this for the Pacific region of the American Cider Association by building a network that all Pacific cidermakers (and beyond) can benefit from. We can accomplish this by growing the educational platform, promoting cider legislation and by sharing information and resources on fruit sourcing, packaging materials, equipment, etc.  This in turn will create a stronger community that represents all of us. 

Pacific Northwest: OR, WA, ID, MT, AK

Marcus Robert, Tieton Ciderworks, Washington

I am the Cider Maker and Co-Owner of Tieton Cider Works.  I am a fourth-generation farmer and still own and operate the same family orchard I grew up on in the Yakima Valley.  My wife and I also own a small winery where I have been making and selling wine for nearly two decades.   Our Northwest Region is particularly special in that we grow more than twice as many apples than the rest of the nation combined.  We also have the highest per capita consumption of cider in the country.  Our overall investments and opportunity in the Northwest cider market is enormous, legislation permitting.  Whether we know it or not, the rules and regulations that our industry abides by are the limiting factors to getting our products to our consumers.  My goal is to help ease those regulatory factors while keeping the purity of product secure.  I will continue to push for legislative changes that provide our members with real and lasting value.

Midwest: IA, IL, IN, MI, MN, MO, OH, WI, KY

John Behrens, Farmhaus Cider, Michigan

I am the co-founder and owner of Farmhaus Cider located in Hudsonville, Michigan along with my wife, Megan.  I also serve as the President of the Michigan Cider Association as well as recently helping to oversee GLINTCAP, the world’s largest cider competition.  Prior to starting Farmhaus, I worked as a CPA for 10 years, first in general practice and then transitioning into corporate roles, experiences that I believe would be valuable to the board. I believe the cider industry has built a very solid grassroots foundation, but for us to get to the next level we need to work together to market cider to a much wider audience.  We are uniquely positioned as an industry to capitalize on changing consumer tastes, but for that to happen, cider in a wide variety of styles needs to go mainstream.  The American Cider Association has an important role to play in helping achieve that goal.

I also feel a strong legislative presence is important to the continued growth of cider.  If we are going to even the playing field with beer, wine and spirits we need to appear just as important to our representatives in Washington.  I believe the American Cider Association has done a lot of good work in this area, but more work remains.  

Large Cidery (>1M gallons)

Dave Takush, 2 Towns Ciderhouse, Oregon

My passion for fermentation led me to join two childhood friends in starting 2 Towns Ciderhouse in Corvallis, Oregon where I am co-owner and head cidermaker. Now one of the largest cider producers in the nation, 2 Towns has over 100 employees and is dedicated to producing quality craft cider from 100-percent, fresh-pressed Pacific Northwest apples. I am so darn excited to be running for the large cidery board position for the American Cider Association. As a board member, I intend to help promote positivity and unity within the cider community. I will focus my efforts on encouraging legislative initiatives that will bring positive change for all industry members.

Fresh-pressed Member Updates: January

CiderCon® is less than two weeks away! We have conference updates to share, but there is so much more to tell you about. First thing first, though…

  • CiderCon®! 
  • Winter Member Webinar
    • On February 7 we are thrilled to have Maria Pearman of Perkins & Company speak with our members about how to take advantage of the savings in the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act. This webinar is free for members and $30 for non-members. Sign up here. 
  • New Sales Tools
    • Our marketing committee has developed these handouts to help you educate your accounts about cider. Take a look at our brand new on-premise tool, complete with food pairing tips, and our updated off-premise tool. You can find these at any time on the resources page of our website. Stay tuned for more tools like this! 
  • Certified Cider Professional program
  • New Swag
  • Dry Cider January
    • We list over 200 0g sugar ciders in our Dry Cider Directory now! If you haven’t uploaded your no-sugar ciders yet, please do that here. Note that inclusion in the directory is for members only. 

CCP Program Updates

We have some exciting announcements about the Certified Cider Professional (CCP) program! We first launched the CCP program in 2016, and it has continually evolved to meet the needs of our ideal audience in allied industries. What do food and beverage professionals need to know about cider to sell more of it to happy consumers? That remains our guiding question.

Here are some of the exciting changes we’ve made!

  • We evolved our style guide into a cider lexicon. It was industry input that lead us to these changes. The lexicon is still open for feedback and you can preview it here. Please reach out with questions at lexicon@ciderassociation.org. It is a developing tool, but our exams and study guides are now emphasizing five cider families instead of styles. Additionally, we focus on the established scientific classifications for apples: bittersweet, bittersharp, sweet and sharp.
  • We launched Version 3 of the introductory Certified Cider Professional exam to reflect the above changes and refine questions. We’ve updated our study guide accordingly. Exam links on the CCP website now direct you to the updated test.
  • We adapted the Certified Pommelier™ exam and study guide to reflect the new direction of the lexicon project. These can also be found on the CCP website. The next test, taking place in Oakland, California during CiderCon®, contains these changes. The exam emphasizes these topics in order of relative importance: (1) Flavors and Families (2) Apples & The Orchard (3) Cider Making (4) Food Pairing (5) Evaluating Family (6) Keeping & Serving.
  • We’ve redesigned the sensory portion of the Certified Pommelier™ exam. After much review, we felt that doctored samples were not representative of the skill we were hoping to test: the ability to evaluate a cider and all its characteristics. The flaw identification portion of the exam has therefore changed. Instead of being asked to id flaws students will be asked to evaluate three ciders. These ciders may or may not contain characteristics perceived as flaws. They will not be doctored. A structured sensory analysis worksheet will be provided for the exam. You can view a sample of that worksheet and learn more here. (Students should still know specified flaws and their causes).
  • We created a Facebook group for potential Certified Pommelier™ test takers. The emphasis is on peer learning. We are encouraging Certified Pommeliers to join the group and share their wisdom and for those studying to share their resources.

In 2020 you can expect:

  • More opportunities to take the Certified Pommelier™ exam
  • The launch of an online training for the introductory Certified Cider Professional program
  • Announcements about specialty certificates in topics like draft systems for cider
  • The development of more published study materials for both the introductory level and the more advanced Certified Pommelier™
  •  New tools such as a CCP directory

Watch our website for the announcement of future exam possibilities. Demand for the CCP program is growing, and we are rising to meet that demand!

Visit here to sign up for the Certified Pommelier on January 28 in Oakland.

Dry Cider Directory

We’re collecting the 0g sugar ciders of all our members and loading them into the air table below! Explore the directory filters and sorting options and learn what you can seek out in your area. Join us in the conversation about no-sugar ciders on Instagram with #pickdrycider. Please confirm nutritional information with the cideries themselves.

Dry Cider January Announced by Cider Association

The American Cider Association is launching a month long campaign called Dry Cider January to promote their members’ ciders containing 0 grams of sugar. They will list the ciders on their website and will be promoting them through the association’s social media channels with the hashtags #dryciderjanuary and #pickdrycider. 

The list will be updated regularly and can be found here.

“The brain has a hard time distinguishing fruity from sweet. Many ciders with absolutely no sugar in them can still be fruit-forward,” explained the association’s executive director, Michelle McGrath. “You’ll find there are a multitude of dry ciders available when you start seeking them,” she added. 

Alcohol is created when yeast converts sugar into alcohol through fermentation. A cider that contains no residual sugar has been fermented to absolute dryness. Sometimes cidermakers will blend a completely dry cider with fresh juice for acid/sugar balance, but other times they leave the cider entirely dry. These dry ciders are what the association is listing on their website for the campaign.

“It’s fairly common for cidermakers to list a dryness scale on their packaging nowadays. Although the definition of ‘dry’ may vary, a 0g sugar cider will generally be marked as such on the back label. ‘Bone dry’ is another term some companies may use to distinguish their 0 grams RS ciders from their dry ciders with only 1 or 2g,” McGrath shared. Some dry ciders, like Brut from Virtue Cider, include nutrition labels that indicate 0g sugar. 

The list of ciders on the association’s website demonstrates the flavors and styles possible not only in the cider category, but in ciders with 0g sugar.  From single varietal ciders showcasing specific apple varieties and served in a 750ml bottle to ciders aged on rose and hibiscus petals and served in a 12 oz can, the range is impressive. They are adding to the list daily throughout January. Follow along on their Instagram account @pickcider to learn more about the featured products. 

The American Cider Association is developing additional campaigns for 2020 to showcase their members and highlight the diversity of flavor and style in the category. 


Active members of the American Cider Association may submit their 0g sugar ciders to be featured here. Consumers can participate with the hashtags #dryciderjanuary and #pickdrycider.