Press Release: Certified Cider Professional Program Expands to Asia


The American Cider Association (ACA) is pleased to announce the expansion of its Certified Cider Professional (CCP) education and certification program to Asia. Lee Reeve, founder of inCiderJapan and organizer of the prestigious Japan Cider Cup, has joined the ACA team as an educator for the Level 1 Certified Cider Guide in Japan, China, Korea, and elsewhere in Asia. The first in-person class for candidates studying for the Certified Cider Guide exam is scheduled for August 31, 2024 at Antenna America Kannai in Yokohama, Japan. Registration for the class will open in July.

Lee Reeve, Certified Pommelier and ACA Licensed Educator

“The American Cider Association’s Certified Cider Professional program is the world’s leading cider education program,” states Reeve. “It is an invaluable tool and certification that can benefit anyone with an interest in cider: from enthusiasts to those working in the food and beverage sector, and especially professionals within the cider and drinks industry.”

“Lee has been keen to bring the CCP program to Asia for some time,” says ACA CEO Michelle McGrath. “With his extensive knowledge of cider and the Asian cider market, and his many contacts in the region, we are very excited by what he will bring to the program.”

“As cider continues to grow and become increasingly relevant to the Asian region,” continues Reeve, “so will the thirst and desire for quality information and knowledge regarding all things cider. As such, making the CCP available in Asia is an exciting and welcome opportunity and win-win for everyone. As someone who has been promoting cider and cider education since 2017, and also a Certified Pommelier, I very much look forward to helping the ACA reach out and empower others through learning about this historic and future significant drink.”

While Asia is not commonly thought of as a cider region, Japan has a growing number of enthusiastic cidermakers as well as a robust and fruitful track record in the breeding of new apple cultivars, which are an important crop in several parts of the country, including Aomori and Nagano. In addition, China grows more apples than any country in the world, and while the market for cider there is relatively new, the possibilities are enormous.

The American Cider Association is a not-for-profit trade organization of cider and perry producers in the United States. The Certified Cider Professional program is helping the ACA reach its vision for the industry by increasing the understanding and appreciation of these historic beverages. 

For more information about CCP in Asia, contact Lee Reeve at For more information on the global CCP program, contact the ACA’s Education Operations Manager, Jennie Dorsey, at


Press Release: ACA Welcomes Six New European Certified Pommeliers

The American Cider Association is pleased to welcome six new European Certified Pommeliers after completion of the first certification exam offered outside of the United States. The new Certified Pommeliers are some of the key members of the European cider community, and their embrace of the Certified Cider Professional program is another step forward in the realization of the ACA’s vision for the industry through increasing the understanding and appreciation of cider and perry. 

The new Certified Pommliers hale from countries across the continent including the UK, Italy, France, Germany, and Lithuania. They are Adam Wells, who was on the shortlist for 2024 Fortnum and Mason’s Drink Writer of the Year for his work at Cider Review, Marco Manfrini, president of the Associazione Pommelier e Assaggiatori di Sidro,  influential cider writer (Cider Explorer) Natalia Wszelaki, historian, writer and maker at Kertelreiter Cider & Perry Barry Masterson, cidermaker at Sodo Sidrinė Donatas Genys, and wine and cider scientist and consultant Yann Gilles.

Donatas Genys

Yann Gilles

Marco Manfrini

Barry Masterson

Adam Wells

Natalia Wszelaki

“The response to the exam was amazing,” shares the ACA’s CEO Michelle McGrath, “and to have such a distinguished group now part of the growing global CCP community is a testament to the CCP program’s role in supporting the growth of cider within the larger beverage category. It is a rigorous exam, and you could tell that all who sat for it had taken their studies seriously though they are all already playing significant roles in the cider industry. We are so grateful to Christine Isensee-Kiseau, Michael Stöckl, and the whole Cider World Frankfurt team for partnering with the ACA to make this exam happen and hope we can do it again next year.”

Education and certification programs such as those run by Cicerone, the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, and the Court of Master Sommeliers, have done much to increase the understanding of the beverages they cover and enhance the professional standing of the individuals that complete them. With its CCP program, the ACA is poised to do the same for cider, raising the drink’s profile within the larger hospitality community as cider’s share of the global beverage market continues its steady growth. Continuing education is an important part of staying relevant in a rapidly changing hospitality environment.

For more information about the CCP program contact Education Operations Manager Jennie Dorsey at or visit the ACA website at For information about CCP classes in Europe, contact European CCP representative Gabe Cook at


Press Release: ACA Reaches 100 Certified Pommeliers Following New York Exam

The American Cider Association is thrilled to announce that 100 individuals have now attained the prestigious Certified Pommelier designation following the exam held at ACA member cidery Wölffer Estate in Sagaponack, New York on April 18. This benchmark is meaningful for the Certified Pommelier program because the exam is rigorous with robust theory and sensory evaluation sections . The new Certified Pommeliers are Hannah Keggins, Cidermaker at Westwind Orchard, Alicia Pelkey, Cidermaker at Red Apple Farm, and Charlee Oddo, Cider Expert at Ancona’s Wines & Liquor.

Hannah Keggins

Alicia Pelkey

Charlee Oddo

“We are beyond excited to celebrate that we now have 100 Certified Pommeliers. To see the dedication of so many in the beverage community equip themselves with advanced skills to guide consumers through the wide variety of ciders available is truly inspiring,” comments ACA CEO Michelle McGrath.

Early on, the American Cider Association recognized the need to promote specialized knowledge about the cider category. Most food and beverage certification programs cover cider in a cursory manner or not at all. With cider being a beautifully nuanced beverage with a diverse set of elements often not known by culinary and hospitality professionals, the establishment of the Certified Cider Professional (CCP) program in 2016 was a strategic maneuver to educate professional audiences.

Today, the CCP program is educating those on the front-line of cider sales, making it the world’s most comprehensive and in-depth cider appreciation program for food and beverage professionals worldwide.

“We know that consumers respond to engaged servers, and that confident recommendations go a long way in influencing their purchase decision. Our theory of change is that cider enthusiasm is contagious–CCP is how we keep the flame growing,” adds McGrath. 

Certified Cider Professional Program Benchmarks as of May 21, 2024:

  • Number of Level 1 Certified Cider Guides: 2,602 
  • Number of States with Certified Cider Guides: 49 including DC
  • Number of Countries with Certified Cider Guides: 20
  • Number of Level 2 Certified Pommeliers: 100
  • Certified Pommeliers Around the World: United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, Italy, New Zealand and the UK

More about the Certified Cider Professional Program and Upcoming Opportunities

The CCP program begins with a Certified Cider Guide (CCG) Level 1 certification to help industry professionals develop a fundamental understanding of cider. The Certified Pommelier (CP) Level 2 takes it a step further by encouraging cider professionals to think critically and showcase a higher level of understanding of the elements of cider. The rigorous testing process consists of four types of questions, including short answer, fill in the blank, essay, and blind sensory–which is based on tasting.

The ACA is dedicated to ensuring that all information tested on the exam is made accessible to anyone who desires to learn. To that end, the ACA released a textbook in March of 2023 to help candidates prepare to take the exam with just one comprehensive resource. The second edition of the textbook was released in March of 2024 to present a more global view of the cider industry as well as including new sections covering important emerging sectors such as low and no-alcohol products.The textbook is available for purchase through Kindle Direct Publishing. Additionally, the ACA offers sensory analysis practice webinars and a Facebook study group continuously updated with resources for exam candidates. Interested candidates can find links to all Certified Pommelier resources on the ACA website.

For those interested in attaining their Certified Pommelier designation, there are several upcoming exams to choose from:

In addition, there is a live sensory analysis webinar scheduled for June 27 from 4:00 – 6:00 PM Pacific featuring Brooklyn Cider House. Those interested in attending can find all the details on the ACA website. Taking advantage of sensory analysis webinars is highly encouraged for those interested in taking the Certified Pommelier exam. 

Contact the ACA’s Education Operations Manager Jennie Dorsey if you have questions about the Certified Cider Professional program or are interested in taking either the Level 1 Certified Cider Guide or Level 2 Certified Pommelier exams. You can also learn more at


USA Featured as Guests of Honor at CiderWorld in Germany

Darlene Hayes Recognized for Her Efforts to Develop the Category

The 16th annual CiderWorld took place in Frankfurt, Germany last week. The combined competition, celebration, and cider expo welcomed the United States as the Guest Country of Honor this year. In addition, the ACA was able to partner with CiderWorld to offer the first Level 1 Certified Cider Guide Workshop & Certification and the first Certified Pommelier Exam in Europe.

CiderWorld’s expo was held at the Palmengarten and featured over 100 exhibitors from 17 countries who shared their cider with attendees.The American Cider Association joined member cideries ANXO and Vander Mill at the USA’s spotlight booth. The ACA also poured cider from Alpenfire Cider, Bauman’s Cider, Metal House Cider, Raging Cider & Mead and Tanuki Cider, highlighting the diversity and range of American Cider to German consumers. 

“Many of the visitors to our cider booth were shocked to hear about the size of the American cider industry and taste the quality of some of the ciders made there. It was an incredible experience to share these ciders with German consumers who drink a lot more cider than the average American,” reflected Michelle McGrath, CEO of ACA.

Every year at CiderWorld an individual is recognized as the Cider Star of the Year. The ACA is thrilled to announce that this year the honor went to Darlene Hayes, ACA Educational Content Manager. Darlene was recognized for her efforts to raise awareness of the cider industry around the world, her research into the history and roots of cider in the U.S., and for her work with other cider specialists to develop a consensus on knowledge and standards.

“Darlene Hayes’ extensive knowledge of science and law, as well as her exceptional palate, make her the ideal partner when it comes to the growth and development of the cider industry,” says Michael Stöckl, Managing Director of CiderWorld.

Norman Thatcher Scharpf, U.S. Consul General, joined the CiderWorld award ceremony to meet U.S. cider producers and celebrate the U.S. being the guest country of honor. He formally addressed the audience with remarks on the growth and significance of the U.S. cider market. 

Frankfurt and the Hessen region are steeped in centuries of cider culture that have not only persevered but flourished, symbolizing a cherished heritage and a testament to the region’s love for its local produce and traditional crafts. Known locally as “Apfelwein” in German, this cider has been a staple of Hessen culture, deeply ingrained in the social fabric of the region. The art of cidermaking in Hesse evolved from the abundant apple orchards dotting the countryside, with families passing down time-honored recipes from generation to generation. Frankfurt, in particular, emerged as a hub for cider production and consumption, giving rise to cozy “Apfelweinwirtschaften” (apple wine taverns) where locals and visitors alike can gather to enjoy local cider. 

It was a great honor to participate in the CiderWorld competition and expo. The ACA hopes that more U.S. cideries will enter the CiderWorld competition in the future. 


ACA Announces International Expansion of Certified Cider Professional Program


February 26, 2024

Contact: Michelle McGrath


The American Cider Association is pleased to announce the expansion of its beverage professional education and certification program to the global cider community. The Certified Cider Professional program was launched at CiderCon® 2016 with a particular focus on the United States. Since then, the certification program has developed to become the most robust and thorough cider appreciation and education program for beverage professionals in the world. Most recently the ACA has revised study and exam materials to have a broader scope, and the ACA’s Certified Cider Professional program is now applicable to anywhere in the world that cider is made and sold.

“We have been getting an increasing number of inquiries about the CCP program from all over the world,” says Jennie Dorsey, ACA Education Operations Manager. “A number of candidates for the second level of certification, Certified Pommelier, have even made a trip to the U.S. just to sit for the exam, so clearly there is an unmet need out there and no other comparable education program available.”

Award winning educator and global cider expert Gabe Cook, aka The Ciderologist, has joined forces with the ACA to help expand its certification program to a global audience. Cook says, “I am delighted to be teaming up with the ACA through CCP to increase the knowledge, respect and passion for one of the world’s truly great and ancient drinks.” He continues, “Now is the time for a unified education program that is applicable and open to anyone and everyone from Seattle to Somerset to Sydney. It is a true reflection of the globalization of cider and indicative of this being an incredibly exciting time for cider.”

Additional updates geared toward program growth include CCP branding. The ACA has newly retitled CCP’s introductory level to “Certified Cider Guide,” and has updated the CCP branding to better distinguish the two offered CCP levels–(1) Certified Cider Guide and (2) Certified Pommelier. 

The first international in-person Certified Cider Guide training workshop and exam was held in Melbourne, Australia in the fall of 2023 with the support of Cider Australia. The exam took place following the Australian Cider awards and ten individuals earned the title of Certified Cider Guide.

 Additional in-person classes and exams are planned for Europe in the coming months. On-demand virtual training and Certified Cider Guide exams are also available at any time. 

The inaugural international Certified Pommelier exam is scheduled to be held in April 2024 to coincide with the Cider World event in Frankfurt, Germany. To earn their title Certified Pommeliers are rigorously tested on their cider knowledge with a written theory exam and a sensory evaluation exam. 

“We are very confident in our educational programming, and these recent steps will help us reach more US beverage professionals as well as international ones,” says ACA’s CEO Michelle McGrath. “Gabe Cook is uniquely suited to helping us grow the program overseas, and we’re really excited about the partnership. He works tirelessly for the cider category,” McGrath adds. 

There are currently 2,480 Certified Cider Guides and 97 Certified Pommeliers. 

The American Cider Association is an organization of cider and perry producers in the United States. The Certified Cider Professional program is helping the ACA reach its vision for the US cider industry which includes but is not limited to the following aspirations: (1) Throughout America, it is widely understood that cider pairs exceptionally well with food, (2) America’s most talented chefs and beverage professionals are promoting cider and food pairings on their menus, in their public relations and on television, (3) US cider is the most coveted cider in the global marketplace.

Visit to learn more about CCP training and exam opportunities around the world. International certification inquiries can be made with Gabe Cook at North America based inquiries can be made with Jennie Dorsey at


Additional Information:

Certified Cider Professional Logos: CLICK HERE

Certified Cider Professional Photos: CLICK HERE

Gabe Cook Photos and Bio: CLICK HERE

“Cider Excellence Award” Winners Announced at CiderCon® 2024 in Portland, Oregon

The American Cider Association (ACA) announced the recipients of their annual Cider Excellence Awards at CiderCon® 2024 in Portland, honoring individuals, businesses, and organizations from around the country for their achievements in, and contributions to, the U.S. hard cider industry. 

Award winners this year included:

  1. Award for Significant Impact on the Industry | Emily Ritchie, Executive Director, NW Cider Association
  2. Award for Significant Impact on the Industry | Brighid O’Keane, Executive Director, Cider Institute of North America
  3. Apple Advocate Award | Representative Earl Blumenauer, Oregon
  4. Apple Advocate Award | Jake Mann, Five Mile Orchard, California
  5. Member of the Year | Ploughman Cider, Pennsylvania 
  6. Member of the Year | Seattle Cider, Washington 

The highest honors given each year are the awards for “Significant Impact on the Cider Industry,” which this year went to Emily Ritchie of Northwest Cider Association for her admirable work promoting the cider industry for the Northwest region (OR, WA, ID, MT & British Columbia), and Brighid O’Keane of Cider Institute of North America for her global efforts to provide rigorous education on quality cider production.

In addition, US Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon was awarded the “Apple Advocate Award” for his enduring commitment to level the playing field for cideries through legislation, as well as orchardist Jake Mann for his ongoing partnership with the cider community through his historic family ranch in California, Five Mile Orchard. “Member of the Year” awards were given to both Seattle Cider of Washington and Ploughman Cider of Pennsylvania for their ongoing efforts to give back to their communities and the cider industry. 

“This is one of my favorite moments at CiderCon® each year, when we gather together as a community to celebrate people committed to moving the dial for cider,” says Michelle McGrath, CEO of the ACA. “It’s truly humbling to see how much passion and hard work goes into supporting and growing this industry.”

Now in its 9th year, the Cider Excellence Awards were held on January 18th, 2024 at CiderCon®, the ACA’s annual conference, which took place this year in Portland, Oregon from January 17 – January 19, 2024.

2024 Cider Excellence Awards from the American Cider Association 

Emily Ritchie, NWCA

Significant Impact on the Industry | Emily Ritchie is the Executive Director of the Northwest Cider Association, a trade nonprofit that brings cideries and cider lovers together to learn, experience, and enjoy the Northwest cider culture. Representing 100 commercial cidermakers from throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and British Columbia, the group is dedicated to supporting, promoting, and growing its thriving industry. Emily’s vision of a vibrant, collaborative industry where anyone can share in the success and joy of cider, is brought to life through her strategic thinking and hard work. Her efforts have successfully helped put the Pacific Northwest at the heart of the craft cider movement. 

Brighid O’Keane, CINA

Significant Impact on the Industry | Brighid O’Keane is the Executive Director of the Cider Institute of North America (CINA). CINA is a nonprofit organization of cider industry professionals and educators with a mission to create a quality-driven and sustainable cider industry through education and research. Brighid’s dedicated work to develop curriculum and procure funding for research has helped grow the cider industry by empowering cidermakers through expertise and experience around the globe. Her extensive efforts have helped usher improved quality through CINA education for new and experienced cidermakers alike, thus helping to elevate the reputation of the US hard cider.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (OR)

Apple Advocate | Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR) is a US Congressman (OR-D) who has advocated for the US Hard Cider Industry for more than a decade by introducing impactful legislation. In 2015, he introduced the Cider Act, which supported American cideries by lessening an unfair tax burden, removing unnecessary red tape, and allowing cider to be more competitive internationally. And this year, he has introduced the Bubble Tax Modernization Act, to amend a minor carbonation tax disparity that has historically had major negative impacts to cidermakers. Earl Blumenauer has championed small businesses and spoken at length about the immense positive impact craft industries have on the economy. (Find out more about the Bubble Bill here:

Jake Mann of Five Mile Orchard

Apple Advocate | Jake Mann (CA) is rooted in farming. His family has been growing apples in the fertile Pajaro Valley two hours south of San Francisco near Watsonville since the mid-19th century. This unique place has long specialized in growing Newtown Pippins. Jake also actively pursued relationships with cidermakers so that more and more Newtown Pippin single variety ciders made by cideries throughout Northern California proudly announce the Five Mile Orchard as the source of their fruit. An active participant in CiderCon® for many years, Jake is always ready with a smile and an infectious eagerness to continue his family’s legacy by growing amazing apples for cidermaking. 

Photo by Brandon Buza

Member of the Year | Ploughman Cider (PA) is a Pennsylvania-based cidery with a long history of supporting their community and helping lift up the cider industry in their state. As active leaders in their state’s cider guild, Ploughman Cider has had a tremendous impact on shaping the local industry. They have also served as an incubator for fledgling cidermakers with their creative collaborations. They are actively committed to the ACA’s mission and mission-related programming, and the ACA is proud to recognize Ploughman Cider for their contributions to both Pennsylvania and the cidery industry at large.

Photo by Brandon Buza

Member of the Year | Seattle Cider (WA) is a Washington-based cidery that has repeatedly stepped up as a leader in the cider world. Their commitment to giving back to their community through thoughtful collaborations, like their partnership with the nonprofit City Fruit, has lifted the bar for what’s expected. They proactively work to create a welcoming environment for all through their taproom programming and several of their team members serve on committees and boards for both the American Cider Association and the Northwest Cider Association. Seattle Cider is being recognized as Member of the Year for their immense contributions to their local community and the cider industry. 

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 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

Reps. Blumenauer & Kelly Introduce Bubble Bill

Representatives Blumenauer & Kelly Introduce the Bubble Tax Modernization Act

‘Bubble Bill’ Will Spur Innovation for Sparkling Co-fermented and Fruited Cider, Wine, and Mead

Washington, DC—Earlier today Representatives Earl Blumenauer (OR-D) & Mike Kelly (PA-R) introduced the Bubble Tax Modernization Act of 2024 (HR 7029) to the 118th Congress. The bill will amend a minor carbonation tax disparity for lower alcohol wine, cider and mead made with fruit. 

Despite the popularity of bubbly beverages, the carbonation tax–colloquially called the ‘bubble tax’ on fruit wine, fruit cider, and fruit mead makes carbonating these agricultural products at sparkling levels cost prohibitive. Most craft beverage entrepreneurs can’t afford to carbonate these products at the level the market wants. The result is that an important American agricultural sector is falling flat. 

The cider industry is a quintessential American story. Pioneers taking what the land gives them and creating something magical. We must take every opportunity to support cidermakers, especially as the craft beverage industry recovers from the ravages of the pandemic. Right now, it is not a level playing field for cider, which is taxed more heavily than other carbonated, fruit-based beverages. My common-sense proposal will ensure cidermakers can create products for their customers, not the tax collector,” Rep. Blumenauer says.

Amie Fields, partner and sales manager at Botanist & Barrel Cidery & Winery in North Carolina, says the bill will enable innovation for their business. 

We are known for creativity and producing unique pet nats and bottle conditioned cider and wine with a range of ABVs, but recently we have been working on a series of lower alcohol content beverages. However, the carbonation tax currently disincentives our creativity, which hampers our ability to fully explore more sessionable beverages and boost our revenue by appealing to new customers,” explains Fields.

Current tax rates for low-ABV carbonated fruit wine, cider, and mead are $3.30 or $3.40 per gallon. Meanwhile low-ABV carbonated grape wines have a current tax rate of $1.07 per gallon. In addition, fruited beers, seltzers, hard kombucha, and ready-to-drink canned cocktails are carbonating freely to give consumers the bubbles they want.

Raising the floor of the carbonation tax threshold to include ALL low-ABV wine, cider, and mead to 0.64 grams of carbon dioxide per hundred milliliters will allow producers to compete more fairly in the evolving beverage market. The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act of 2020 achieved this for grape-only wines, but fruit-based craft beverages were overlooked. This created an excise tax disparity of $2.00 to $3.00 a gallon depending on the product.

Blumenauer’s legislation will address this disparity by changing how carbonation taxes are assessed. It will reduce a barrier for more innovative cider, fruit wine, and mead. In addition, it will create more economic opportunities for craft beverage makers, allow for small producer collaborations, create more opportunities for farms to stay viable with value-added products, and allow for diversification that could help farms and businesses mitigate disasters such as fires, droughts, floods, or disease.

HR 7029 is supported by the American Cider Association, the American Mead Makers Association, and Wine America


The American Cider Association is an organization of cider and perry producers in the United States. Our 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. You can learn more about them at

ACA Announces Cider is for Everyone Scholarship Recipients

PORTLAND (December 29, 2023) – The American Cider Association (ACA) is thrilled to announce the awardees of the 2024 Cider is for Everyone Scholarship. Recipients are Genevieve Regalado (Benny Boy Brewing), Robert Freeman (EsoTerra Ciderworks), Britt Evans, Javier Naranjo (Oklawaha Brewing Company), Tasmine Fraser (Girl with a Cider Review, Cider Canada), Rae Adams (Wehrloom Honey & Meadery), Emily Ptasinski (Republic of Cider), WIlliam Santiago (Crafted Concoctions), Jonathan Osei (Artisanal Brewing Ventures), and José Sabas (Grape Ape). Full recipient bios can be found below.

This scholarship is designed to bring individuals from historically marginalized populations within the beverage industry to CiderCon® to increase the accessibility of cider education and catalyze the careers and ownership-pathways of these burgeoning cider professionals. Now in its third year, the scholarship received almost four times the number of applications than in the previous two years combined.

Each scholarship includes registration, travel and lodging to attend CiderCon® 2024 in Portland, Oregon. Additionally, scholarship recipients receive a year of ACA membership and study materials and waived exam fees to pursue recognition through the Certified Cider Professional and Certified Pommelier™ education and certification program offered by the ACA. The ACA is grateful for support from Yonder Cider, Seattle Cider Co, Nine Pin Ciderworks, 2 Towns Ciderhouse, Alma Cider, the Great Little Box Company, John’s MarketplaceBeer Kulture and Lifting Lucy to make the Cider is for Everyone Scholarship possible.

This scholarship is part of a broader effort by the ACA to advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion within the cider industry. In 2019 the ACA launched the Antiracism, Equity and Inclusion Committee, which recognizes diversity, equity and inclusion as important and necessary principles for the present and future successes of the cider industry. This committee structures its work around a belief that existing structures of power, privilege and discrimination must be actively questioned, evaluated and reformed in order to create equitable opportunities and foster an environment that embraces and values our differences. Its members, in conjunction with the rest of the organization, strive to create events, opportunities and organizational policies that embody these principles, and work to continue evaluating these practices for sustained growth and improvement.

“This scholarship is one of our best tools for fostering a more diverse cider industry,” says Michelle McGrath, CEO of the ACA. “The scholarship needs to work in lock step with our efforts to create a more inclusive industry so that, as we have more diverse CiderCon® attendees, they are surrounded by a welcoming community and equitable environment.”

“There is a stark difference between being invited to an event and actually belonging in a space. The American Cider Association is doing the difficult and meaningful work of building a culture within the organization and the industry at-large that fosters true belonging by challenging itself to thoughtfully and carefully evolve and expand. The rapid growth and development of this scholarship program is both a testament to that thoughtfulness and indicative of the program’s importance. Its transformative impact on the lives of not just the individuals who receive it, but also the industry professionals who interact with recipients, spans far beyond the CiderCon® experience. This program, its participants, its sponsors, and its supporters collectively demonstrate that cider is, indeed, for everyone,” says ACA Scholarship Coordinator Olivia Pener, a recipient of the scholarship in 2023.

CiderCon® is the world’s premier networking and educational event for the professional cidermaking community. CiderCon® 2024 will take place in Portland, Oregon from January 17-19 at the Oregon Convention Center. Registration is now open and available at

Further information, media interviews, awardee bios and photos available upon request. Please contact Michelle McGrath at Interested in helping support the Cider is for Everyone Scholarship? Please contact our Scholarship Coordinator Olivia Pener at

Meet Our Scholarship Recipients

Britt Evans

Britt Evans is a proud West Philadelphian who started her journey in the city’s bustling food and beverage industry in 2010. In 2015, Britt developed a love for craft beer which led to a brewing position with Love City in 2021, making her one of the first Black Women to brew professionally in the city of Philadelphia. In the summer of 2023, Britt joined a collaboration with Farmer Jawn and Ploughman Cider, creating the successful “Uptown Cookout” blend for Barrel & Flow Fest. Now open to the beautiful world of apples and cidermaking, Britt is excited for the next phase in her journey. She hopes to explore the world and collaborate with fellow brewers/cidermakers, continuing to open doors and create safe spaces for Black Women in fermentation.

Emily Ptasinski

Hailing from the vibrant island of Taiwan, Emily Ptasinski has carved a unique path in the world of craft beverages as the co-owner and tasting room manager of Republic of Cider. Alongside her husband, they laid the foundation for their cidery in 2018, driven by a passion for redefining the boundaries of cider craftsmanship. Emily’s dedication to reshaping cider culture is reflected in her belief that inclusivity not only enriches flavors but also strengthens the very essence of craft beverages.  To that, Emily has helped incorporate the distinct flavors of the Asian palate into their portfolio of ciders, even crafting her own Taiwanese plum wine, based on her own mother’s recipe.  Embracing the significance of diversity, she champions the integration of varied perspectives and cultures into the fabric of craft beverages. Recognizing the pivotal role of representation, Emily actively promotes cider within the Taiwanese community, aiming to bridge cultural gaps and foster a sense of belonging.

Emily Ptasinski來自充滿活力的臺灣島,

作為蘋果酒共和國的老板娘和品酒室經理,她在手工飲料領域開闢了一條獨特的道路。 在重新定義蘋果酒工藝界限的激情驅使下,他們與她的丈夫一起在2018成立了,蘋果酒聯合國公司。 Emily致力於重塑蘋果酒文化,這反映在她的信念中,即包容性不僅能豐富風味,還能強化精釀飲料的精髓。 對此,Emily幫助將亞洲味覺的獨特風味納入了他們的蘋果酒組合,甚至根據她母親的食譜製作了自己的臺灣李子酒。 她擁抱多樣性的重要性,倡導將不同的視角和文化融入手工飲料的結構中。 Emily了解獨特性的重要,特別在西雅圖臺灣社群積極推廣蘋果酒,旨在彌合文化差距,培養歸屬感。


Genevieve Regalado

Genevieve Regalado, the General Manager at Benny Boy Brewing in Los Angeles, CA, found her passion for cider kindled by the unique balance of dryness and sweetness in Benny Boy’s offerings. This pleasant surprise, given her background in the craft beer industry, not only sparked her creativity in imagining new flavor combinations but also inspired her to delve deeper into the world of cider. Motivated by her curiosity, she became the first on her team to pass the CCP 1 exam, thereby setting a precedent and guiding the development of a cider education program at Benny Boy. Currently, she is studying to pass her Certified Pommelier™ exam, demonstrating her commitment to continuous learning in her field. Genevieve is already infusing her creative ideas for new flavor profiles, featuring indigenous fruits and plants, into the team’s work. These ideas hold the potential to inspire new blends with Benny Boy’s beloved Pippin apple cider. As a proud member of the Latino community, she is weaving elements of her heritage into Benny Boy’s offerings and programming, fostering a broader appreciation for cider among diverse audiences.

Javier Naranjo

Javier Naranjo, a seasoned fermentation professional with a BS in Chemistry, began his journey at Flat Rock Cider Company, refining his craft for two transformative years. Transitioning to Oklawaha Brewing Company, where he currently serves as a Brewer, Javier has been part of a dedicated team that achieved notable success. Together, the team has secured prestigious medals from the North Carolina Brewers Guild and the U.S. Open Beer Championship, contributing to the elevated recognition of Hendersonville, NC’s burgeoning brewing scene.

Jonathan A. Osei

Jonathan A. Osei, Manager of Solutions Design & Delivery at Jobs For the Future, blends his Arizona roots and Ghanaian-Black Southern heritage to fuel his passion for community work and craft beverages. His journey in the nonprofit social impact space is intertwined with his love for diverse cultures and flavors.

While studying at Duke University, Jonathan’s interest in the craft beverage scene blossomed, with Durham introducing him to a variety of craft drinks that broadened his palate. This experience sparked a particular fondness for cider, beginning with Bold Rock Cider and later, Bull City Ciderworks.

In Washington, D.C., Jonathan’s enthusiasm led to his role as a DC Brand Ambassador for Artisanal Brewing Ventures, sharing exceptional craft beverages. He is committed to diversifying the craft beer and cider industry, actively promoting local Black brewers through the Black Brew Movement and fostering inclusivity and collaboration. Jonathan’s goal is to enrich the craft beverage culture with diverse flavors and perspectives, bringing people together to enjoy unique and delightful beverages.

José Sabas

José Sabas orginally hails from Coachella, California. He is currently the chef at Grape Ape, a natural wine bar in Portland, Oregon. José just recently started his journey in cidermaking and is focused on low intervention and co-fermentations, using only produce from the Pacific Northwest.

Rae Adams

Rae Adams, from Chicago, IL, moved to Western North Carolina in hopes to work with a farm futuristic enough to be using traditional farming technology without harmful chemicals and pesticides. Entering the professional world directly from a Liberal Arts program, with a concentration in Physics, was an exciting leap into the corporate hustle but was not the card best suited. She has since been a strong part of the Customer Service and Entertainment industries, including management teams of bars, music venues and restaurants in Chicago and Western North Carolina. Currently, Rae is the Director of Sales for Wehrloom Honey & Meadery in Graham County, Robbinsville, NC. The Wehrloom team philosophy is that no one holds any one title; they’re all Beekeepers, Mead Makers, and Packaging and Sales Specialists: Aron, Garret, Ted, Jessica, Gayle, Abby and Anna. Working at Wehrloom is more than a profession, it’s a passion.

Robert Freeman

When Robert Freeman was 18 he got a tattoo on his arm that has an apple in an eye, to signify a promise to himself to always proceed with intention and chosen purpose. All his intents and purposes have led him here. Nowadays, all he sees are apples. He is passionate about the potential and the future of apples and the cider industry in America. Robert currently works at EsoTerra Ciderworks. Getting this opportunity to go to CiderCon®, to become a member of the ACA, and to have the chance to become a Certified Pommelier™ – is a literal dream come true for Robert.

Tasmine Fraser

Tas Fraser is a Canadian cider enthusiast and social media content creator located in the Niagara region of Ontario, Canada. She is the founder of @girlwithaciderreview on Instagram where she shares her reviews of ciders from around the world. She started her Instagram in 2018 and has since developed many exciting projects. Throughout the pandemic, she created the IGTV show #ciderandlife to showcase local and global cideries making an impact in their communities. In 2021, she launched #noappleogies project to empower and highlight the work of women in cider and tackle issues of sexism and racism in the industry. The movement was intentional, reaching many corners of the world and generating conversation via podcasts, articles, and social media, and including some educational workshops on creating safe spaces in the beverage industry. Tas is currently a part of the CiderScene team and a member of the Cider Canada Board of Directors (and member of the Equity Committee). Outside of cider, she is pursuing her Masters in Social work, and working in the field doing preventative work and supporting survivors of gender-based violence.

William Santiago

Born in Puerto Rico, William Santiago is an award winning bartender currently working at Crafted Concoctions in Tavares, Florida. He has more than 10 years experience in the beverage alcohol industry. He is WSET certified in both Wine and Spirits level 2, a cocktail educator, and a spirit and cider enthusiast. 

CiderCon® 2024 Aims to Tell Cider’s Story

Orchardists and Cidermakers Take Center Stage for Keynote Lineup

Portland, OR (December 14, 2023) – The American Cider Association (ACA) has announced the keynote speaker lineup for CiderCon® 2024, sharing that apple growers and cider producers will deliver opening remarks for the global industry event. This year’s theme, Connecting to Consumers in an Age of Endless Choice, will highlight the important and historic agricultural roots of cider in the US, and around the world. 

“Our aim for the opening session is to celebrate American apple growers as integral members of the US cider supply chain,” says Michelle McGrath, the ACA’s CEO. “Storytelling is increasingly important in today’s consumer packaged goods industry, and cider’s story is deeply rooted in agriculture. The growers are critical to our industry.” 

CiderCon® is the world’s largest professional hard cider conference, and the event welcomes cidermakers, apple growers, and beverage professionals worldwide to gather in Portland, Oregon, from January 17-19, 2024.

To kick-off the event, multigenerational orchardists Kaitlyn Thornton (Tonasket, Washington) and Randy Kiyokawa (Hood River, Oregon), along with cidery owner Lara Worm (Bivouac Cider in San Diego, California), will dig deeper into the theme for this year’s CiderCon®: Connecting to Consumers in an Age of Endless Choice. Following these three mini-presentations, Zoe Licata of Brewbound will host a panel discussion investigating the state of the hard cider industry with a selection of cidery representatives from around the country: Aaron Sarnoff-Wood (2 Towns Ciderhouse, Oregon), Eleanor Leger (Eden Specialty Ciders, Vermont), Caitlin Braam (Yonder Cider, Washington), Shannon Edgar (Stormalong Cider, Massachusetts), and Casey Baxter (Blake’s Cider, Michigan). McGrath will contribute remarks as well.

The ACA hopes to inspire attendees to hold deeper conversations with fellow conference-goers about how cider can reach new consumers in today’s beverage alcohol environment.

Over three days, CiderCon® attendees can choose from 40 educational sessions about cidermaking and cider business, attend a specialty trade show with over 120 vendors, and sample cider from around the country and the world at the opening reception, called Cider Share

“We’re really excited to host the cider industry in Portland. We know the regional beauty, phenomenal food and plethora of cideries will be remembered by visitors when CiderCon® is over,” says McGrath. “Oregon is true cider country!”

Tickets for CiderCon® are still available through with discounted tickets offered to ACA members. The ACA reports that registration is outpacing all prior years, and they anticipate they will declare the event sold out in early January. The ACA is a 501C(6) nonprofit dedicated to supporting and protecting the U.S. hard cider industry.


Kait Thornton

Kait Thornton is a 4th generation orchardist from North Central Washington. She shares her passion for the ins and outs of farm life & how apples/pears are grown to her over 450,000 followers on TikTok. She recently graduated from Washington State University and is on a mission to connect consumers to the food her family produces. You can find her on Tik Tok and Instagram.

Randy Kiyokawa

Randy Kiyokawa is a third-generation orchardist from Parkdale, Oregon, whose grandfather emigrated from Japan in 1905, and through hard work started farming in Hood River in 1911. After college Randy returned to the family orchard of more than 200 acres. While weathering many challenges, in 1989 Randy removed three acres of 80-year-old pear trees and planted 28 varieties of apples. Over time, customers requested different varieties that could not be found in stores or farmers markets, which has led to his offering now of over 120 varieties of apples. Randy’s diversification efforts expanded to Farmers Markets and direct sales to stores, restaurants, bakeries, schools and CSAs. Randy also credits his 45+ employees – many of whom have been with him for over 25 years — with the high-quality fruit for which Kiyokawa Family Orchards is known. You can follow Kiyokawa Family Orchards on Instagram.

Lara Worm

Lara Worm, co-founder, CEO, and self-described “Adventure Guide” of Bivouac Ciderworks, has taken an untraditional path to cider. The trial lawyer turned craft beverage entrepreneur who grew up in a multi-generational family restaurant business knows that there are two components to every great product: the ingredients and the story. Bivouac Ciderworks, established in 2017, was among the first commercial cideries in the craft-beer mecca of San Diego. Bivouac, telling their story through their active adventure lifestyle brand, set out to make approachable ciders that taste as great at the top of a mountain as they do with a fine meal. Bivouac’s brand, and North Park tasting room & restaurant has received great acclaim since its inception, earning recognition as one of U.S.A. Today’s “10 Best Cideries,” San Diego Magazine’s “best new brewery,” (before there was a cider category), and “Best ‘Alt-Drink’” (still, no cider category). Most recently, Lara was recognized as a “Food & Beverage Pioneer,” in San Diego, for her work introducing a wider audience to the possibilities in craft cider. In early 2024, Bivouac will open it’s newest concept, the “Adventure Lodge,” with a grand cider tasting bar and market featuring the finest cider from America and around the world. There, guests can enjoy a curated cider tasting program that leans in to the history, education, apple varietals and regions, and tasting notes found in cider. Lara says “cider is as approachable as beer, but as nuanced as wine,” and she intends to prove it. Follow Lara on Instagram.

ACA Welcomes 12 New Certified Pommeliers™ After October Exams

The American Cider Association is proud to announce that twelve individuals successfully passed the Certified Pommelier™ examination in October 2023. The new Certified Pommeliers™ are Ann Bliss of Mullers Cider House, Bryan Barry, Christian Rodriguez, and Tom Hansen of Angry Orchard, Katie Black of DSSOLVR, Johnny Rice of Orchard Hill Cider Mill, Don Whitaker of Castle Hill Cider, Henry Johnson of Bold Rock Hard Cider, Chris Jackson of Treasury Cider at Fishkill Farms, Aaron Gore of Fresh Pitch Beverage Consulting, and cider enthusiasts Sabrina Nencetti and David Lindsey.

The rigorous exam, held in both New York and North Carolina last month, tested candidates on their understanding of cider production, history, and sensory evaluation. As a result, these newly Certified Pommeliers™ are now equipped with advanced skills to guide consumers through the wide variety of ciders available and to help elevate the cider industry at the point of sale.

Early on, the American Cider Association recognized the need to promote specialized knowledge about the cider category. Certifications are increasingly being used to set food and beverage professionals apart. However, most certification programs cover cider in a cursory manner or not at all. With cider being a beautifully nuanced beverage with a diverse set of elements often less understood by food and beverage professionals, the establishment of the Certified Cider Professional (CCP) program in 2016 was a strategic maneuver. Today, the CCP program is designed to educate those on the front-line of cider sales, making it the world’s most comprehensive and in-depth cider appreciation program for food and beverage professionals.

The CCP program begins with a Certified Cider Guide (CCG) Level 1 certification to help industry professionals develop a fundamental understanding of cider. The Certified Pommelier™ (CP) Level 2 takes it a step further by encouraging cider professionals to think critically and showcase a higher level of understanding of the elements of cider. The rigorous testing process consists of four types of questions, including short answer, fill in the blank, essay, and blind sensory–which is based on tasting.

The ACA is dedicated to ensuring that all information tested on the exam is made accessible to anyone who desires to learn. To that end, the ACA released a textbook in March of 2023 to help candidates prepare to take the exam with just one comprehensive resource. The textbook is available for purchase through Kindle Direct Publishing. Additionally, the ACA offers sensory analysis practice webinars and a Facebook study group, continuously updated with resources for exam candidates. Interested candidates can find links to all Certified Pommelier™ resources on the ACA’s website.

The next Certified Pommelier™ Exam will be held at CiderCon® 2024 in Portland, Oregon on January 17, 2024
Contact the ACA’s Education Operations Manager Jennie Dorsey if you have questions about the Certified Cider Professional program or are interested in taking either the Level 1 or Certified Pommelier™ exams. You can also learn more at