CiderCon® Scholarships Continue for 2023 Conference

Yonder Cider, Beer Kulture and the American Cider Association have partnered to continue CiderCon® scholarship opportunities this year. These scholarships are designed to bring new BIPOC individuals into the cider industry. The scholarship includes: registration to CiderCon®; travel and lodging; Certified Cider Professional Level 1 bundle (including the exam); two Certified Cider Professional Sensory Webinars; and the registration fee for the Certified Pommelier™ Exam. Applications can be found here and the deadline to apply is December 10, 2022. Recipients will be contacted to schedule a brief interview and winners of the scholarship will be notified on December 21, 2022. CiderCon® 2023 takes place January 31 – February 3, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois.

Cider Share at CiderCon® 2023

Join us for our beloved welcoming reception, Cider Share, at CiderCon® 2023! The Cider Share reception will take place Wednesday, February 1 from 5:00 to 8:00pm.

Haven’t been to a Cider Share before? Here’s what to expect:

50 (yes 50!) cideries from around the country and the world will be serving their ciders for attendees to enjoy. Learn about the ciders from the cidermakers and their staff, meet fellow cidermakers from your region, mingle with other CiderCon® attendees to connect with old friends or make new ones! Cider Share will be limited to 400 people this year so make sure to add Cider Share during the registration process! Tickets are $20.

Want to serve your cider at Cider Share? Here’s how:

Featured cideries will be chosen using a lottery along with considerations of geography and style. If you would like to be considered as a featured cidery at Cider Share 2023, please select that choice during the CiderCon® registration process. The lottery drawing will be held in early December and those selected will be notified via email with further details.

ACA Welcomes Wine Industry Professional Sunny Gandara as CiderCon® 2023 Keynote Speaker

The American Cider Association welcomes wine industry professional Sunny Gandara, DipWSET, CWE as the featured keynote speaker for CiderCon® 2023. Sunny is the 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. Sunny has nearly 20 years of experience in the food and wine industry with a focus on plant-based foods. Her expertise is connecting with “plant curious” clientele over her wine knowledge. She is a Certified Wine Educator and Specialist of Spirits through the Society of Wine Educators and a holder of the WSET Diploma. She is a professionally trained chef through the Institute for Culinary Education (ICE) in New York and a Vinitaly Italian Wine Ambassador.

According to the Plant Based Foods Association, “one-third of Americans are actively reducing their meat and dairy consumption. While a small number of Americans identify as vegetarian or vegan, flexitarians represent the largest growth opportunity for plant-based foods.” 60% of Gen-Z wants to eat more plant-based foods and 79% eat plant-based 1-2 times a week. This is where Sunny’s “plant curious” lens can help open new markets up for cider.

 As the keynote speaker, Sunny will explore 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.

CiderCon® 2023 will take place in Chicago from January 31 to February 3, 2023, at the beautiful Hilton Chicago. Early registration closes November 9. Learn more about all our fantastic speakers at www.ciderassocation.org.

ACA Announces Registration is Now Open for CiderCon® 2023!

The American Cider Association is pleased to announce that CiderCon® 2023 will take place in Chicago, Illinois from January 31 – February 3, 2023. With tours, tastings, educational workshops, demos and more, CiderCon®’s Chicago homecoming is set to be an educational celebration of all things cider. Registration opened on September 29, 2022.

After a four year hiatus, the return of CiderCon® to Chicago has been much anticipated and the ACA has been working with folks on the ground in the Windy City to make the homecoming spectacular. This includes four exciting tour options: a look at Chicago’s history through the lens of taverns, a tour of the Bronzeville neighborhood in Chicago’s historical south side, a tour visiting three unique Chicago-based cideries, and a cider and architecture tour featuring the stunning works of world-famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

A full range of educational sessions will cover topics of cider production, marketing, sales, branding, sensory evaluation, compliance, business strategy, orcharding and more. Speakers include Claude Jolicoeur (author of Cider Planet), Yann Gilles (cider and wine consultant from France), Lester Jones (Chief Economist from NBWA), Julie Rhodes (Not Your Hobby Marketing), Mary Mills (3 Tier Beverage), Dr. J Nikol Jackson-Beckham (Brewer’s Association and Crafted for All), Elizabeth Ryan (Hudson Valley Farmhouse Cider), Bryan Roth (Good Beer Hunting), Liz Garibay (Chicago Brewseum), Elizabeth Garofalo (Red Tomato Food Hub) and many more, plus new presenters joining every day. 

“We have so many amazing sessions already lined up and others in the works, “ said ACA Executive Director, Michelle McGrath. “We’re emphasizing cider quality, terroir and retail strategy this year. It’s been rewarding to think about the impact of CiderCon® on the industry, and to rise to the challenge of deepening that. CiderCon® is very special and we’re committed to improving it every year.” 

The extensive trade show, presented by longstanding ACA partner FruitSmart, will feature many beloved vendors excited for the return of CiderCon® to Chicago and welcome several first time vendors eager to join the cider community and meet conference attendees. 

Tickets to CiderCon® are just $425 for for ACA members if booked by October 22. After October 22, member registration rates become $475. Public tickets are $725 for early registration and $775 after October 22. 

More information about the wide array of events and educational sessions being offered and registration can be found on the CiderCon® website and you can follow @cidercon on Twitter for the latest news. CiderCon® is an ACA event produced with the generous support of our members and ACA’s premier sponsor, FruitSmart

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Next Certified Pommelier™ Exam Will Be At CiderCon® 2023

TAKE THE CERTIFIED POMMELIER™ EXAM AT CIDERCON® 2023!

Are you ready to take the next step in your professional development in the cider industry? Already passed the Certified Cider Professional Level 1 Certification and looking for that next challenge? Now’s your chance! The American Cider Association is pleased to announce that the next Certified Pommelier™ Exam will be at CiderCon® 2023 in Chicago, Illinois! The exam will take place February 1, 2023 starting at 8:30am at CiderCon® 2023. Read on to learn more about the Certified Pommelier™ Exam and how to prepare, what to expect, and how to register! (P.S. There’s a discount code available for ACA members who want to take the test. You can find that code HERE by logging in to your account.)

WHAT IS THE CERTIFIED POMMELIER™ EXAM? 

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).

WHY BECOME A CERTIFIED POMMELIER™?

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.

HOW MUCH DOES THE TEST COST?

For ACA members, the exam is $200 per attempt. There is a discount code that members can access to receive the exam at the membership rate of $200. That discount code can be found here. For non-members, the exam is $275.  Should it be needed, test takers can retake future written or tasting portions of the exam at a separate sitting with a 25% discount. Price now includes access to a pre-recorded introductory webinar to the updated sensory form and sample sensory forms from key cider regions. The webinar can be accessed at any point to prepare for your exam.

FAQs

  • 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 two weeks before the exam.
  • 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. In addition, two new upcoming sensory webinars will be released in fall of 2022 and available for purchase.
  • 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? You are given 2 hours to complete the theory portion of the exam and 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete the sensory portion.  There will be a 15 minute break in between exam portions.

Refund and Opt Out Policy

Refunds will be offered up to 2 weeks before the exam.

Any purchaser can opt out of the exam up to 72 hours prior to scheduled time.  If opt out is chosen, another exam date must be chosen within 18 months. No refunds will be given.

Space Still Available for CiderCon® 2023 Trade Show

The American Cider Association is seeking vendors to join our CiderCon® 2023 Trade Show. CiderCon® is the premier conference for cider industry professionals in the United States, drawing around 1000 attendees annually and we’d love to have your company join us.

Are you a business selling goods or services that would be beneficial to cidermakers? Do you know a company or type of product or service you would like to see at CiderCon® 2023? Let us know by filling out this contact us form.

Space is limited and booths are filling up quickly, so be sure to reach out to our Trade Show Coordinator Ellen Husch via this contact us form to learn more about booth space and sponsorship opportunities.

CiderCon® 2023 – Call for Proposals

CiderCon® is the world’s premier networking and educational event for the professional cidermaking community. CiderCon® 2023 will take place in Chicago, Illinois from January 31 – February 3, 2023.

We invite presentation proposals from qualified experts who meet the criteria of being able to educate cidermakers, apple growers, cidery owners, retailers, wholesalers, marketers and other cider industry professionals about best practices, new trends, research, and improving processes.

Successful proposals will state clearly:
-Target Audience – role in industry as well as business model.
-Also include if material is best for beginner/intermediate/ or advanced audience members.
-Educational Goal – what skill, tool or new understanding will attendees walk away with?

COMMITMENT TO INCLUSION
We are committed to ensuring CiderCon® is a safe and welcoming space for all regardless of race, ethnicity, age, gender, disability or sexual preference. We strongly encourage BIPOC, LGTBQIA+, veterans and speakers with disabilities to submit proposals.

Additionally, we invite speakers from outside but related industries to cider. Our industry will be strengthened with fresh perspectives.

Particular topics of interest we seek applicants for through this RFP: Compliance, Branding, Marketing, Distributor Relationships, Chain Retail Sales, DtC Sales, Market Trends, HR, Finance, Operational Safety, Team Leadership, Equity & Inclusion.

Proposals are due to the CiderCon® committee by June 17. Approved speakers receive a complimentary pass to CiderCon® which includes lunch for 2 days.

CiderCon® 2022 Fact Sheet

Photo by Matt Windle
  • The 12th Annual CiderCon® took place in Richmond, Virginia from February 1 to February 4, 2022. This was a return to an in-person event after holding CiderCon 2021 in a virtual space. CiderCon® is the American Cider Association’s annual event. This year’s theme was Southern Cider. 
  • On the main two days of the conference, 37 workshops presented information on 8 tracks. The tracks were: apples and orcharding, cidermaking, flavor and terroir, sales and distribution, marketing and trends, better business, legal and compliance, and history. The schedule can be downloaded here.
  • 36 states and DC were represented with Virginia, New York, Washington, California, Oregon, and Pennsylvania sending the most attendees.
  • 805 people attended the conference, and there was an increase in the number of regular ticketed attendees participating compared to the last in-person conference in Oakland, CA in January 2020.
  • This year’s trade show featured 73 vendors including several veterans from past CiderCons®, as well as an impressive number of first time exhibitors who were excited to meet professionals from cider’s growing industry.
  • James Beard finalist and multi-nominee Diane Flynt of Foggy Ridge Cider was the event’s keynote speaker. She discussed the history of Southern apples and cider and the lessons that modern growers and cidermakers can learn from that history.
  • There were 11 tastings sessions in total for CiderCon® 2022 including sensory evaluation and food pairing workshops, crab apple cider tastings, Southern apple cider tastings, a sensory review of Northern Michigan ciders, low-abv cider cocktails and more.
  • 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 9 sessions on topics from producing cider using wild fermentation to fruited cider to creating ciders with residual sugar. The Cider Institute of North America trains cider makers through their educational programming in partnership with universities like Cornell.
  • In addition, CiderCon® held several orcharding sessions for growers. Beginning sessions included an introduction to holistic orcharding practices and a hands-on grafting workshop. Advanced concept sessions included integrated pest management solutions for both diseases and insect pests.
  • Sessions also focused on lessons that can be learned from other craft beverage industries, including tourism, sustainability practices, clubs, and barrel aging.
  • The American Cider Association offered its Certified PommelierTM exam at CiderCon® 2022, an advanced second level designation of its Certified Cider Professional program geared toward beverage and hospitality industry professionals. More than 30 people sat for the challenging test that includes a blind sensory evaluation section. The new cohort of Certified PommeliersTM will be announced in 6 weeks. 
  • More than 150 people took one of 5 tours during CiderCon® 2022. The first overnight tour was offered to the Northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, in addition to tours to the Virginia apple growing regions of Albemarle County and Nelson County. There was also a tour of Richmond based cideries and a tour of the historic Jackson Ward area of Richmond–once known as Black Wall Street. The tours were coordinated the  Virginia Association of Cidermakers and the Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office.
  • The ACA launched an equity pledge at CiderCon® and two sessions directly addressed methods for building a more inclusive cider industry. Day Bracey, founder of Barrel & Flow (formerly Fresh Fest), discussed how he and his team built one of America’s most inclusive brew festivals and the initiatives behind it. Dr. J. Nikol Jackson-Beckham of  Crafted For All and the Brewer’s Association returned to CiderCon® to cover a variety of practical pipeline development strategies to help cider business successfully increase the breadth, depth, and diversity of its pool of qualified job applicants.
  • CiderSoms hosted CiderCon®’s first ever BIPOC Cider Professional Meetup and Pomme Pride hosted their first meetup for LGBTQIA+ cider industry professionals.
  • Richmond Cider Days, an unaffiliated list of cider events sponsored by the Virginia Association of Cidermakers, took place during the week of CiderCon® with 30 events ranging from single varietal tastings, to tap takeovers, to cider pairing dinners. 
  • The American Cider Association’s annual board elections happen concurrently with CiderCon®. Newly elected board members were announced during lunch on Friday and include: Christine Walter of Bauman’s Cider in Oregon to an At-Large Seat, and David Glaize of Glaize & Bro. Juice Co. and Old Town Cidery in Virginia as the Southern Chair. Eleanor Leger of Eden Ciders in Vermont was re-elected to Eastern Chair and Ben Calvi of Vermont Cider Co. was re-elected to a Large Cidery Seat.
  • The American Cider Association’s board recognized Diane Flynt of Foggy Ridge Cider in Virginia and Dan Pucci of New York, co-author of American Cider, for their significant contributions to the cider industry. 

CiderCon® 2023 will be held in Chicago, IL from January 31 through February 3, 2023.

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.

NEW! Additional Richmond Tour Added for CiderCon 2022!

That’s right cider people! There was so much demand for tours that we decided we needed to add one more. A big thanks to the Virginia Wine Board and Virginia Association of Cider Makers for their work in planning this new tour! Now, what do you need to know about this new tour?

Richmond Cider Tour

9:00am – 4:00pm Departure from Richmond Marriott Hotel

$75 includes transportation, lunch, and tastings at 5 cideries

Enjoy getting to know the Richmond area and cider scene with this tour of five cideries. You’ll start out your day with tastings at Bryant’s Small Batch, then head on to Hardywood Craft Brewing to taste their line-up as well. Following lunch (and cider) at Courthouse Creek Cider you’ll take a tour of their facility before heading on to taste at Blue Bee Cider. The day will wrap up with a tasting at Buskey Cider before returning to hotel.

Already registered for CiderCon® 2022, and you’d like to add this tour? You can buy a ticket for this tour HERE.

Not registered for CiderCon® 2022? You can add this on during the registration process. You can register HERE.

CiderCon 2022 Health and Safety Guidelines

The American Cider Association is taking utmost precautions to create a safe CiderCon environment. Our health and safety guidelines require all persons present at CiderCon 2022 to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by January 21 or to provide a negative PCR test within 3 days of arrival or to provide a negative antigen test within 24 hours of arrival. One of these two things, proof of vaccine or a negative test result within the above timeframe, will be required to attend CiderCon 2022. Verification will happen outside registration at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. Absolutely no exceptions will be made.

Per Virginia Department of Health and CDC recommendations, we are currently strongly urging attendees to receive booster shots against COVID-19 by January 21, 2022. The CDC recommends receiving a booster shot if it has been 6 months since your second mRNA or first Johnson & Johnson shot. 

Additional precautions:

  • Masks must be worn at all times at indoor CiderCon events with the exception of during meals and tasting events where specific safety protocols will be in place. This includes tour buses. 
  • Security and staff will enforce mask adherence. 
  • CiderCon staff and volunteers will participate in daily health screenings.
  • At this time, the hotel and the Greater Richmond Convention Center require their staff to wear masks.
  • Tasting sessions will be in expansive rooms and will be socially distanced as much as possible.
  • The Cider Share welcome reception is being divided into two sessions, with featured cideries rotating off. We will be capping attendance of Cider Share to 200 per session. The room has the capacity for 600, and we will encourage social distancing. 
  • Thursday’s and Friday’s lunches are box lunches so you can easily opt to eat where you would like. Tables will be set at less density than normal. 
  • Please do not attend CiderCon with symptoms. 

We are working closely with the hotel, the Greater Richmond Convention Center. and the Virginia Department of Health to ensure all possible safety precautions are taken. The list above is not exhaustive and we will be sure to update registrants as things evolve. 

We are carefully monitoring the COVID-19 restrictions in Richmond and Virginia. Your safety matters to us.

Let’s take care of each other, get boosted, wear our masks, and have the safe in-person CiderCon reunion we are all craving! 

You can read our complete Health & Safety Guidelines here.