CiderCon® 2020 in Oakland Declared Resounding Success

Wine glasses with cider in a row
Students evaluating ciders for the Certified PommelierTM exam at CiderCon® 2020.
Photo by Brandon Buza.

Facts & Info for CiderCon® 2020

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  • The 10th annual CiderCon® took place in Oakland, California from January 28 to January 31, 2020. The program can be downloaded here.
  • 35 states were represented, with California, New York, Michigan, Washington, Oregon, Massachusetts and Virginia bringing the most attendees.  
  • Members from 11 countries attended, including cider professionals from Canada, South Korea, Ireland, Japan, the United Kingdom, Russia, Kazakhstan, Spain and Switzerland.
  • 1029 people attended. The conference has attracted more than 1000 people each year since 2016. The association moves the conference around the country to allow cideries from different regions the opportunity to participate. 
  • This year’s trade show was the largest CiderCon® trade show to date. The association has plans to continue growing the show. New features this year included an apple art gallery and chair massages. The Michigan Cider Association sponsored the cider game lounge in the trade show once more.
  • Jill Giacomini of Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. was the conference’s keynote speaker. She discussed the creamery’s value-based approach to innovation for growth. The general session included a selection of the creamery’s cheeses paired with a single varietal Gravenstein cider from Golden State Cider. The apples for the cider were grown less than thirty miles from the creamery. 
  • The featured international cider makers this year were from Ireland. Tempted, Cider Mill, Legacy and Stonewell shared their ciders with attendees during the grand toast, including a keeved cider and a dessert cider made in the style of a digestif.
  • There were 14 total tasting sessions at CiderCon® 2020.
  • The American Cider Association offered its Certified PommelierTM exam at CiderCon® 2020, an advanced second level designation of its Certified Cider Professional program geared toward beverage and hospitality industry professionals. More than 40 people sat for the challenging test that includes a sensory evaluation section. Certification passage rates will be announced later this month. This was the third seating for the test.
  • Nearly 200 people participated in CiderCon®’s tours this year. Buses took attendees to explore the terroir of Sonoma County & Pajaro Valley cideries and orchards. Additionally, a tour of East Bay’s Filoli Gardens explored the history of Californian orchardist Albert Etter, including tasting ciders made from apples he cultivated in the early 1900s. A fourth bus met with individual cideries and cider bars to dive deep into cider and food pairing techniques.
  • The American Cider Association partnered with the Cider Institute of North America to co-develop a large production oriented and technical-in-nature workshop track with 11 sessions on topics from developing an in-house sensory evaluation program to aging ciders. The Cider Institute of North America trains cider makers through their educational programming in partnership with universities like Cornell.  
  • Additionally, the American Cider Association had several popular sessions on orcharding that included orchard tours, techniques for elevating apple character, carbon farming, dry farming, seedling identification, grafting and more. The association was thrilled to expand its orchard-based education at CiderCon® and is excited by how popular it was. 
  • Nielsen, Social Standards and ISWR presented in three separate sessions on market trends data at CiderCon® 2020.
  • Nielsen reported that the cider market is 10 times bigger than it was 10 years ago. Regional/local ciders sales are up +15% YOY and their share is now 40% nationally in off-premise sales. Regional/local ciders are almost half of on-premise sales. Many, many top brands are growing and seeing double digit growth.
  • Five legal and compliance sessions were also offered in addition to a ½ day workshop with the TTB, the federal agency responsible for regulation cider taxes and labels. 
  • The Pomme Boots Society partnered with the Association to offer unique content for CiderCon® this year. Pomme Boots Society is an organization for women working in the cider industry. Susanna Forbes of Little Pomona Cider in the United Kingdom addressed a packed room as the guest speaker at their annual meeting. 
  • The American Cider Association was honored to have “Dr. J” Jackson-Beckham present techniques and strategies for authentically engaging underrepresented populations in the cider industry. Dr. J is the Diversity Ambassador for the Brewers Association and the Founder and Executive Director of Craft x EDU. 
  • CiderCon® 2020 took place during the first annual Bay Area Cider Week, a series of cider-based entertainment and education events throughout the greater Bay Area. More than 50 events were coordinated by California’s cider community. 
  • The Cider Association’s annual board elections happen concurrently with CiderCon®. Newly elected board members were announced during lunch on Friday and include: Phillippe Bishop of Alpenfire Cider in Washington (At Large seat), Nicole Todd of Santa Cruz Cider in California (Pacific Coast chair), Talia Haykin of Haykin Family Cider in Colorado (Mountain West chair), John Behrens of Farmhaus Cider in Michigan (Midwest Chair), and Dave Takush of 2 Towns Cider House in Oregon (Large Cidery seat). 

CiderCon® 2021 will be in Chicago, Illinois – February 2-5.

CiderCon® was created to offer the commercial cider industry an outlet to meet, share ideas, collaborate and affect positive changes in cider making and cider fruit production best practices, the cider market and cider regulations. CiderCon® is organized by the American Cider Association whose mission is to grow a diverse and successful U.S. cider industry by providing valuable information, resources and services to our members and by advocating on their behalf.