Take the Certified Pommelier Exam at CiderCon 2022!


American Cider Association’s 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. One way to fulfill this mission is through the Certified Cider Professional Program–a program aimed at educating the front-line of cider sales (distributors, retailers, bartenders and more!). 

The intro-level certification (CCP Level 1) is an online test that can be taken at any time. The more advanced level of certification–the Certified Pommelier™ exam–is a sit-down hand-written exam: part short answer, part essay questions, and part sensory and taste evaluation questions. *CCP Level 1 is a prerequisite for Certified Pommelier. 

Certified Pommeliers™ must have a fundamental understanding of all topics covered in CCP Level 1, but must also be able to think critically and use the basics to demonstrate a higher understanding of the elements of cider. The exam consists of five types of questions: short answer, fill in the blank, matching, essay and blind sensory (based on tasting). 

The test is meant to be challenging. Studying is highly recommended. 

The topics covered in the exam are: 

  • Apples, the Orchard & History
  • Cider Making
  • Flavor & Evaluation
  • Cider Families
  • Keeping & Serving
  • Food & Cider
  • Social Responsibility.

*If a test-taker passes only the written or only the tasting portion of the exam, they are permitted the opportunity to retake the un-passed portion of the exam at a future date (within 18 months).


Cider is a beautifully nuanced beverage with a diverse set of elements that are often misunderstood by food and beverage professionals. Certifications are increasingly used in the professional realm to set oneself apart as an individual with specialized knowledge, though cider is often covered in a cursory manner by most certification programs, if at all. Although there are already more than 1,700 Level 1 Certified Cider Professionals, being recognized as a Certified Pommelier™ will put you in the vanguard of verified advanced cider specialists in this ever growing category.


For ACA members, the exam is $125 per attempt. There is a discount code that members can access to receive the exam at the membership rate of $125. That discount code can be found here. For non-members, the exam is $200.  Should it be needed, test takers can retake future written or tasting portions of the exam at a separate sitting with a 25% discount.


Test takers must provide either proof of full vaccination against COVID or negative PCR test results received no earlier than Sunday, January 30. One these two things is required for entry, and there will be no refunds if you are unable to provide them. Test takers will be socially distanced and will wear masks unless actively evaluating a cider. Cider evaluations will take place in a separate room from the written theory portion of the exam. The full CiderCon Health & Safety Guidelines can be downloaded HERE.



500 E Broad St

Richmond, VA 23219


  • What is the COVID-19 protocol during the Certified Pommelier™ test? Test takers must provide either proof of full vaccination against COVID or negative PCR test results received no earlier than Sunday, January 30. One these two things is required for entry, and there will be no refunds if you are unable to provide them. Test takers will be socially distanced and will wear masks unless actively evaluating a cider. Cider evaluations will take place in a separate room from the written theory portion of the exam. The full CiderCon COVID-19 protocol can be downloaded HERE.
  • Are there ID or minimum age requirements to enter the event? YES- You must be 21 or older and you must provide an ID to prove you are who you say you are.
  • Do I need to pass the level 1 CCP exam to take the Certified Pommelier™ test? Yes. Passing the Level 1 CCP exam is a prerequisite. If you have not yet taken the Level 1 exam, you can purchase the Level 1 bundle on demand HERE.  The bundle includes an on-demand webinar, study guide, and access to the online exam.
  • What can I bring into the event? Nothing may be brought into the exam room. Cell phones must be left at the door. Pencils and drinking water will be provided.
  • How can I contact the organizer with any questions? Please contact CCP contributor and proctor Jennie Dorsey at jennie@ciderassociation.org.
  • What’s the refund policy? We will refund test takers up until January 26, 2022. Eventbrite doesn’t give us the option to issue refunds through the system so checks will be issued.
  • Is there a training workshop? This is not a workshop, but an exam only. Once you register for your exam, study materials including webinars and study guides will be emailed to you. There is also a dedicated Facebook Group (that is open for all to join) with prep materials and in depth peer conversations. STUDY! We highly recommend interviewing cidermakers and cider tenders to help prepare. Blind tasting flights are also good prep.
  • Is it ok if the name on my ticket or registration doesn’t match the person who attends? If you are transferring registration to another person, please email us in advance.
  • Is there a tasting section on the test? Yes. You will be asked to evaluate ciders from multiple cider families.
  • How long does the test take? It takes most students 2-3 hours to complete.
  • If I sign up for this exam, do I have to register to attend CiderCon? No. This exam is an independent event and does not have to be purchased in conjunction with CiderCon tickets.

Thanks to our CCP and Certified Pommelier™ sponsor:

Quarter 2: A Year After The Great Stockpile

Included in your benefits as an active member of the American Cider Association are quarterly market trend reports that break cider out into regions, packaging type, flavor, draft and more. Today we are releasing the Quarter 2 data provided through our partnership with Nielsen. Year over year comparisons for the second quarter of 2021 are not very helpful for most CPGs, because what were consumers doing in April, May and June of 2020? Stockpiling goods. Cider was no exception—according to Nielsen, retail sales of the total cider category were up 13.8% for Q2 of 2020 and regional cider brands were up a shocking 40%. So what can we say about Q2 of 2021 with the knowledge that Q2 2020 deserves an asterisk?

In Nielsen-measured retail channels:

  • Regional brands of cider became the majority of cider’s market share in Q4 of 2020. That pattern persists in Q2 of 2021. These brands were only 25% of the market as recently as 2017.
  • Regional cider brands are up 34.5% compared to Q2 of 2019. They are down slightly at -3.5% when compared to Q2 of 2020 which actually highlights what cider is best at: share preservation.
  • Comparing YOY, regional cider brands are still positive for the trailing 52 weeks and will likely enjoy traditional Q3 seasonal growth. 
  • 6 packs of cans are the packaging type of choice for the moment.
  • Flavors that are up for regional brands when compared to Q2 2019 include apple, pineapple, cherry, berry and sours, but the “other” flavor category is up 42% when compared to Q2 2019.

The data included in the Q2 packet compares to 2020. Keep that in mind when drawing your own conclusions. My conclusion is that cider is sustaining a big portion of the growth it saw in 2020 to preserve its share of the market. With regional cider brands comprising the majority of cider’s market share, we may start to see overall share growth in the context of the beverage alcohol segment.

Retailers who are taking cider off the shelf right now are missing a huge opportunity. Fall cider sets are a big winner—”From summer to fall of 2020, cider’s share of the beer category grew from 4.3 percent to 5.2 percent” (Drizly). I wonder what the increase is for regional cider? Probably much greater.

There is a lot of discussion of “nostalgic” flavors at the moment. This may be a chance for cider to push apple-driven products as we see brands like Seattle Cider and Bold Rock doing.

As far as the return of on-premise? When on-premise came back on board last spring, all “beer” segments experienced growth. We learned from our webinar last month that cider had the greatest YOY growth of all the “beer” sub-segments (*Q2 volume share Nielsen 12w 2021). National cider brands lead the growth, with a 751% increase for drafts sales for Q2 YOY. Apple-driven ciders experienced the most growth of all the flavor segments.

Cider won’t quit.

For more information on regional, packaging and flavor trends, get the Q2 data package included in your membership.

BONUS: For a fun analysis of GLINTCAP winners in the fruit cider category, check out this blog from Old Orchard.

CiderCon® 2022 Will Feature Four Virginia Cider Tours

The American Cider Association is pleased to announce that in collaboration with the Virginia Wine Board and Virginia Association of Cider Makers there will be four tours available for attendees of CiderCon® 2022. The tours will feature Albemarle County, Nelson County, the Northern Shenandoah Valley, and Richmond’s Jackson Ward.  

Albemarle County TourSOLD OUT

Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, Albemarle County has been an apple growing and cider making region since the earliest days of European settlers. Join the tour of this historically rich area and taste the wide variety of ciders produced here. The tour will begin with a cidery tour and tasting with Don Whitaker at Castle Hill Cider. Next up will be a cider and local charcuterie tasting with Andy Hannas at Potter’s Craft Cider, followed by lunch from Plenty Cville. The day will wrap up with a cider tasting and tour with local legend Chuck Shelton of Albemarle CiderWorks before the bus heads back to Richmond.

Nelson County TourSOLD OUT

Enjoy the rich orchard heritage of Nelson County. The tour starts with the Virginia outpost for Blue Toad Hard Cider. Todd Rath will host a cidery tour and tasting at their facility at the base of Wintergreen. Next up will be a tour at Bold Rock Hard Cider with a tasting of ciders not widely distributed. Followed by lunch at their tasting barn. Then, the tour will travel down the road to Silver Creek Orchards, a multi-generational apple grower and longtime supporter of the Virginia cider industry.  Adam Cooke will give a tour of their orchards and custom crush operation. Coyote Hole Ciderworks will be on hand for a final cider tasting before heading back to Richmond. 

Northern Shenandoah Valley Tour

The Shenandoah Valley, nestled between the Blue Ridge and the Allegheny Mountains, is the heart of historic Virginia apple country. Come join a tour of some of the valley’s orchards and discussions on growing apples and cider production techniques in the valley. Six cideries will be visited on the two-day tour. The tour will start at Lost Boy Cider for lunch on January 31, 2022. Following orchard visits, dinner will be at Winchester Ciderworks and also feature the Old Town Cidery. Accommodations will be at the George Washington Hotel, a Wyndham Grand Hotel. After breakfast at the hotel on February 1, 2022, there will be stops at Old Hill Cidery, Sage Bird Ciderworks for lunch and Cider from Mars as you meander your way back to Richmond.

Jackson Ward Tour

Celebrate Black History Month in Richmond’s Jackson Ward, once known as Black Wall Street for the many financial services, cultural icons, and entrepreneurs who made the neighborhood thrive. This guided bus and walking tour includes history, food and of course cider, most of it within walking distance of the conference in case you want to circle back for more on your own.

Tour Registration

Tour registration will be available as an add on when CiderCon® registration opens. To learn more about pricing and what is included in the tours, check out the CiderCon® Tours webpage.

CiderCon 2022® will take place in Richmond, Virginia from February 1-4, 2022. For more details about CiderCon® activities, follow @cidercon on Twitter or head to the CiderCon® website

ACA Announces Diane Flynt as CiderCon® 2022 Keynote Speaker

The American Cider Association is pleased to announce that award winning cidermaker Diane Flynt will be the keynote speaker at CiderCon® 2022 set to take place in Richmond, Virginia from February 2-4, 2022. Her keynote presentation will highlight the history and legacy of southern apples and cider. There are many lessons that can be learned from that past that can apply to creating a more sustainable future for the American cider industry. 

Flynt’s own history in the cider industry began in 1997 when she founded Foggy Ridge Cider, the first licensed cidery in the South, by planting cider apples, including many southern varieties. From 2004-2018 Foggy Ridge Cider produced 5300 gallons a year of orchard-focused ciders that was distributed across 15 states. 

Since its first production, Foggy Ridge Cider gained a national reputation for high quality cider. Foggy Ridge was featured on CBS Sunday Morning Show, and in publications including Gourmet, Imbibe, Saveur, Garden & Gun, Esquire and Martha Stewart Living. Food & Wine magazine named Foggy Ridge a “Small Batch Superstar” in 2010. MADE: In America awarded Foggy Ridge a 2012 American Treasurer’s Award, recognition for artisan producers. Foggy Ridge Cider received many “best of” awards, including a top rating from the New York Times for its Serious Cider blend. 

Flynt herself was nominated for the James Beard Award for Outstanding Beverage Professional in 2015 and 2016, and was a finalist for this award in 2017 and 2018. She speaks on cider, farming and food culture in national and regional forums.

“We are thrilled to have Diane Flynt joining us in Richmond at CiderCon 2022 as our keynote speaker,” says American Cider Association Executive Director Michelle McGrath, “Her wealth of knowledge and experience in the cider industry is impressive and I know that attendees will walk away from her talk with new inspiration for ways to move forward sustainably in their own cider businesses.”

After moving to an online format for CiderCon® in 2021, the American Cider Association is looking forward to hosting an in-person event for CiderCon® 2022, presented by premier ACA sponsor, FruitSmart. Planning for sessions, the extensive trade show, several regional tours, and various local cider events is well under way and the ACA believes that Richmond will be an exciting city in which to be located. The rich history of southern cider will provide a broad focus on a regional lens and Flynt and other speakers are expected to address the role enslaved people, such as George and Ursula Granger, played in the development of cider in the United States. 

Anne Shelton of Albemarle Ciderworks and the Virginia Cider Association President comments, “The Virginia Cider Association is pleased to welcome CiderCon® to the Commonwealth of Virginia. VCA members have been working hard to make CiderCon® 2022 a memorable experience for cider producers and cider enthusiasts both from the US and abroad.”

The ACA will be forming a COVID-safety plan for CiderCon 2022 to ensure that all attendees can participate with as little risk as possible. Both CDC and Virginia guidelines will be considered. The plan will be announced when ticket sales launch later this month.

CiderCon® is the premier conference for cidermakers in the United States. For more information about CiderCon® or the American Cider Association please contact Michelle McGrath. Follow @cidercon on Twitter for the latest news or head to the CiderCon® website for updates.