ACA Announces Release of New Certified Pommelier Textbook

The American Cider Association is very pleased to announce the release of its new textbook for candidates preparing for the exam to become a Certified Pommelier™. Certified Pommelier™ is the second level of the ACA’s Certified Cider Professional program, the world’s most comprehensive and in-depth cider education program for beverage professionals. 

“Cider is a broad and complex category,” commented ACA chief executive officer Michelle McGrath. “Our program is designed to give professionals in the beverage and hospitality industries a thorough knowledge of cider, the how and why as well as the what, empowering them to not only improve their ability to help advise customers but to create and grow whole cider programs. It is really the equivalent of any of the other well known and respected professional certification programs such as Cicerone® or the Court of Master Sommeliers. It is clear how much having those credentials can enhance someone’s career prospects, and we’re seeing that with the CCP program, too.”

The Certified Pommelier™ exam has two separate parts, one examining theory and the other a candidate’s ability to taste and accurately describe a cider. Study materials geared toward the theory portion of the exam have previously been made available through the ACA’s website, but these materials are now considered obsolete. Those interested in preparing for the exam can purchase the new textbook on

You can learn more about our Certified Cider Professional Program on our website.

Thinking about studying for the exam? Join our Certified Pommelier™ Facebook group.

For more information, contact Michelle McGrath at


2023 Annual ACA Membership Meeting

The American Cider Association is pleased to invite our members to join us for the Annual Membership Meeting. The meeting will take place Tuesday, April 18, 2023 at 11:00 AM Pacific via Zoom.

We will review last year’s accomplishments, examine our strategic plan, and share what’s in the works for the year ahead.

We look forward seeing all of you virtually and hearing your ideas for how we can promote the US cider industry.

You must be an Active ACA Member to participate in the Annual Membership Meeting. You can join or renew your membership here.

We will provide you with the Zoom link prior to the beginning of the meeting on April 18, 2023.

Open That Cider Bottle Returns February 25

Open That Cider Bottle is back and better than ever on February 25! This year the ACA will be offering prizes for various categories and everyone who participates will be entered to win a wine (ahem, cider) suitcase. Read on to learn more about what we’re looking for and get ready to share your cider story with us!

A Little Background

Open That Cider Bottle began in 2022 when we stumbled upon Open That Bottle Night. Open That Bottle Night was started back in 2000 by two Wall Street Journal columnists, Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher. Held on the last Saturday in February of each year, this day encourages folks to open up that special bottle and share memories.

While they may have been talking about wine, we know that there are a lot of special bottles of cider with great stories sitting on shelves and in cellars just waiting to be opened and have their stories told. So we’re once again asking you to open one of those special bottles and share your cider bottle story on Instagram.

Is it a bottle from the first batch you ever made? Does it have a unique apple variety that you’ve been wanting to try? A cider you stumbled upon while on vacation? A cider gift from a friend that you’ve been saving? A cider that you fell in love with the first time you tried it and had to add it to your collection? Silly or poignant, we want to hear them all and there’s a chance to win some awesome prizes! 

Did We Say Prizes?

Yes, we did! Besides the aforementioned wine suitcase that all who participate have a chance to win, we will also be offering prizes to our favorites in the following categories:

  • Most likely to make you 🤣
  • Most likely to warm your ♥️
  • Most likely to 🤯
  • Most likely to make you 💲 a 🍾

So tell us and the world your cider bottle story and post it to Instagram with the hashtag #openthatciderbottle and tag us @pickcider on Saturday, February 25, 2023!

Cellar Looking Empty?

This holiday is a great excuse to support a local bottle shop. Pick up a bottle of a cider that excites you and join us in seizing the day!

2023 Cider Excellence Award Winners Announced

The American Cider Association announced the award winners at CiderCon® 2023 in Chicago

The American Cider Association (ACA) was pleased to announce the recipients of their annual Cider Excellence Awards at CiderCon® 2023 in Chicago last week. CiderCon® is the ACA’s annual conference and took place in Chicago, Illinois from January 31 – February 3, 2023 this year. The ACA established these annual awards at CiderCon® 2015 to honor individuals, businesses, and organizations from around the country for their achievements in and contributions to the U.S. hard cider industry. The highest honor given each year is the award for Significant Impact on the Cider Industry, and the ACA awarded Ria Windcaller of CiderChat and Sean and Malaika Tyson of CiderSoms these honors this year. In addition, Elizabeth Ryan of Hudson Valley Farmhouse Cider was awarded the Apple Advocate Award.

“Each year at CiderCon® we gather together as an industry and a community. It’s both an opportunity to learn and to celebrate,” says Michelle McGrath, CEO of the ACA. “The awards we give out each year reach to all corners of the industry and are an incredible way to highlight the contributions of so many.”

Part of the ACA’s mission for their awards is to celebrate the retailer and wholesaler tiers of the cider industry. Many of the awards go to restaurants, bottle shops and distributors who are doing well in their efforts to promote the diversity of the cider segment. As cider is highly regionalized and heavily dependent on local markets, most of the awards are given by region. 

Each region includes the following states:

  • East: CT, MA, ME, PA, NH, NJ, NY, RI, VT
  • Midwest: IA, IL, IN, MI, MN, MO, OH, WI, KY
  • Mountain West: AZ, CA, CO, NM, NV, UT, WY, SD, ND, KS, NE, OK, TX
  • Pacific Coast: CA, HI
  • Northwest: OR, WA, ID, MT, AK
  • South: AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA, WV, MD, DE, DC 

The ACA Cider Excellence Awards fall into seven categories: Best Cider Retailer Award; Best Cider-Focused Establishment Award; Best Cider Distributor Award; Outstanding Pommelier Award; Member Appreciation Award; Significant Impact on the Industry Award; and the Apple Advocate Award. With the exception of the Member Appreciation Award, Significant Impact on the Industry Award, and the Apple Advocate Award– all other awards are given to one individual or organization within each member region.

Learn more about the 2023 Cider Excellence Award winners below.

Photo by Brandon Buza

Significant Impact on the Industry | Ria Windcaller is the producer and cider emcee at Cider Chat, a weekly podcast with over 350 archived episodes with makers, cider enthusiasts, and folks in the cider trade around the world. She founded Totally Cider Tours in 2018, leading both national and international group cider tours yearly. In 2022, she produced CiderDays 2.0, a three-day event held in western Massachusetts complete with tastings, workshops, author talks, a cider pop up, cider tap takeover and a cider dinner focused on celebrating women in cider. She is also an award-winning hobbyist cidermaker and cidermaking instructor.

Photo by Brandon Buza

Significant Impact on the Industry |Malaika and Sean Tyson fell in love with cider in 2006 and soon after began their blog Cider Soms  to introduce wine lovers to cider. Since then, they have become an integral part of the cider community through their dedicated coverage of cider and cidermakers through their blog and social media channels. In addition, they have spearheaded conversations about increasing cider’s diversity and have volunteered countless hours in support of the ACA and the cider industry.

Photo by Brandon Buza

Apple Advocate | Elizabeth Ryan is the producer of Hudson Valley Farmhouse Cider. She is a renowned fruit grower and cidermaker and has studied cider making in Somerset and Hereford in England. She has a degree in Pomology from Cornell University. She made her first barrel of cider there as a student in 1980. She is one of the founding GrowNYC Greenmarket farmers. She received the Cornucopia award from Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture and was a Smithsonian Fellow. She was a keynote speaker at the NY State Governor’s Alcohol Summit where she pushed policy that would support small-scale hard cider production.

A full list of winners follows.

Best Cider Retailer Award (Non-Cidery Off-Premise)

Best Cider-Focused Establishment Award (Non-Cidery)

Best Cider Distributor Award

Outstanding Pommelier Award (Bartender, Retailer or Distributor Representative)

Member Appreciation Award

  • Schilling Hard Cider, Portland, OR
    • Awarded for their support of CiderCon® and invaluable cider networking
  • Yonder Cider, Wenatchee, WA
    • Awarded for their leadership with our equity and inclusion programming
  • South Hill Cider, Ithaca, NY
    • Awarded for their leadership with our educational programming and regional ambassadorship

Significant Impact on the Industry Award

  • Malaika and Sean Tyson, The Cider Soms
    • Awarded for spearheading conversations about improving cider’s diversity, for promoting cider through their blog, and for being tireless volunteers 
  • Ria Windcaller, Cider Chat Podcast
    • For creating a source of learning and a space for storytelling in the cider community with her podcast since 2015

Apple Advocate Award

  • Elizabeth Ryan, Hudson Valley Farmhouse Cider
    • For telling the stories of New York apples, for growing apples, for being a pioneer orchardist and cidermaker

Further information, media interviews, award recipient bios and photos available upon request. Please contact Michelle McGrath at

About the American Cider Association

The American Cider Association is an organization of cider and perry producers in the United States.  It gathers and shares information about cider production, regulations and cider apple growing to help members improve their operations, raise awareness and advance cider in the market. The organization was founded in February 2013. Learn more at


Meet Your 2023 Board of Directors

The American Cider Association is pleased to announce the results of this year’s board elections. Congratulations to new board members Sarah Hemly and Breanne Heuss, and welcome back returning board members Dave Takush, Philippe Bishop, Marcus Robert, Talia Haykin, and John Behrens.

The board also re-elected Eleanor Leger as Board President, Brooke Glover as Board Vice President, Dave Takush as Board Secretary, and John Behrens as Board Treasurer.

Visit our About Us page to learn more about all your American Cider Association board of directors. 

Director-At-Large Seat

Dave Takush

2 Towns Ciderhouse

Corvallis, Oregon

Director-At-Large Seat

Philippe Bishop

Alpenfire Cider

Port Townsend, Washington

Northwest Regional Chair

Tieton Cider Works

Yakima, Washington

Pacific Coast Regional Chair

Sarah Hemly

Hemly Cider

Cortland, California

Mountain West Regional Chair

Talia Haykin

Haykin Family Cider

Aurora, Colorado

Midwest Regional Chair

John Behrens

Farmhaus Cider Company

Hudsonville, Michigan

Large Cidery Seat (>1 million gal/yr)

Breanne Heuss

Golden State Cider

Sebastopol, California

CiderCon® 2023 Fact Sheet

  • The 13th annual CiderCon® was held in Chicago, Illinois from January 31 – February 3, 2023, celebrating a return to Chicago after a four year absence.
  • 965 people registered for CiderCon 2023, including attendees, vendors, volunteers and speakers.
  • Attendees were from 40 different states including Alaska and Hawaii.
  • New York had the most registrants followed by Michigan, Illinois, California, Washington, and Virginia.
  • Attendees from 9 different countries participated in CiderCon®, including Austria, Canada, France, Guam, Ireland, Korea, New Zealand, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
  • The ACA welcomed keynote speaker Sunny Gandara, former Global Wine Director for the Mathew Kenney Restaurant Group and the founder and owner of The Plant Curious Table, a digital dual-purpose education and wine consulting company, to CiderCon® 2023. Her talk explored vegan market growth and trends, who plant-based consumers are, why cider is perfect for this growing group, and how to market to these consumers.
  • There were 38 educational sessions held during CiderCon® covering topics in the areas of Better Business, Cider Production, Branding, Marketing & Sales, Orcharding, and Apples, Flavor & Terroir. The Cider Institute of North America helped to develop the cider production track sessions once again. The schedule can be downloaded HERE.
  • There were 12 tasting sessions, including a traditional perry tasting with Claude Jolicoeur, author of the recently released Cider Planet and of The New Cider Maker’s Handbook, which has been acclaimed worldwide as a major reference on the topic of cidermaking. Other tasting sessions included orchard trials from New York state, sensory analysis sessions, and sessions addressing pet nat cider, carbonation, blending, and spontaneous fermentation.
  • There were several data driven sessions featuring speakers from the National Beer Wholesalers Association, Market Technology, Sovos ShipCompliant, 3 Tier Beverage, CGA Strategy, and Good Beer Hunting.
  • Mary Guiver of Whole Foods Market Inc and Mark Venegoni of SpartanNash joined CiderCon® 2023 on our retail panel discussing how to create positive relationships with chain retailers.
  • The ACA once again offered its Certified Pommelier™ exam at CiderCon® 2023. The Certified Pommelier™ is an advanced second level designation of the ACA’s Certified Cider Professional program geared toward beverage and hospitality industry professionals. Close to 40 people sat for the challenging test that includes a blind sensory evaluation section. The new cohort of Certified Pommeliers will be announced in 6 weeks. 
  • About 150 individuals participated in tours for CiderCon® 2023, including tours featuring Chicago’s cider scene, an historical tavern tour, a Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and cider tour, and a tour of the Bronzeville neighborhood, beloved as a center for African-American life and culture in Chicago.
  • There were numerous networking opportunities, including a Newcomer Networking session, a BIPOC Cider Professional Meetup, a Pomme Pride Meetup for LGBTQIA+ cider industry professionals, and an Orcharding Meetup.
  • The TTB and the FDA both held sessions at CiderCon® 2023 and were available to attendees to answer questions regarding topics ranging from labeling to licensing to recipes.
  • The Trade Show sponsored by FruitSmart featured 92 vendors from around the country and the world, and featured several new vendors as well as many who have returned year after year to support the cider industry.
  • The American Cider Association’s annual board elections happen concurrently with CiderCon®. Newly elected board members were announced during lunch on Friday. New board members welcomed are Sarah Hemly of Hemly Cider as Pacific Coast Chair and Breanne Heuss of Golden State Cider, and newly re-elected board members are Dave Takush of 2 Towns Ciderhouse and Philippe Bishop of Alpenfire Cider, both to At-Large Seats, Marcus Robert of Tieton Cider Works as Northwest Chair, Talia Haykin of Haykin Family Cider as Mountain West Chair, and John Behrens of Farmhaus Cider as Midwest Chair.

CiderCon® 2024 will be held in Portland, Oregon from January 16-19, 2024.

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.