ACA Announces June Dates for Virginia Cider Ed Road Show

The American Cider Association (ACA) is hitting the road to partner with Virginia cideries and chefs to teach food and beverage professionals about the diversity and versatility of Virginia hard ciders. Workshops will be held in Alexandria, Charlottesville, Richmond, and Hampton during the week of June 6-9, 2022. The events will be free, but sign up is required to participate in these introductory cider education sessions.

Each workshop will be tailored to the cidery and city where it’s taking place with a focus on exploring ciders made with Virginia grown apples, crafting trendy cider cocktails, and mastering delicious cider pairings. Jennie Dorsey, a Certified Pommelier™ and the Cider Education Outreach Manager for the ACA, will be leading the cider learning, tasting and pairing experiences.

The ACA hopes to draw a wide swathe of participants from the food and beverage industry, including bartenders, servers, kitchen staff, distributors, bottle shop owners, and anyone else interested in learning more about cider. 

“This is a great opportunity for Virginians to learn more about the cider being made here and help support the growth of the industry in Virginia and beyond,” says David Glaize, a Virginia apple grower and cidermaker who was recently elected to the ACA board of directors. 

The ACA is able to offer this opportunity through a grant from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, in partnership with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Serves and the Virginia Wine Board.

“We see education as vital to the continued growth of the cider industry across the United States. We hope that these events will be something we can recreate in states across the country to help educate food and beverage professionals about cider,” comments ACA Executive Director Michelle McGrath. “But there is something very special about Virginia’s cider–the apples,” she added.

Learn more about the Virginia Cider Ed Road Show and sign up for one (or more) of the events at: https://ciderassociation.org/virginia-cider-ed-road-show/. If you have questions about the Road Show or other cider education opportunities please contact Jennie Dorsey at jennie@ciderassociation.org.

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ACA Announces Results of Inaugural Harvest Driven Cider Survey

Cider is a beverage category, not a beverage style. This is a leading rallying cry by the American Cider Association, who recently released the results of their new annual survey looking at the segment of cidermakers making cider once a year during harvest season much like a winery.  The survey was undertaken in an effort to measure the size and growth of these makers, which the ACA names as harvest driven cideries. These ciders are usually made by small producers, are typically packaged in glass bottles, and are sold through channels that are usually not measured by retail scanner data providers such as IRI. The survey revealed 2021 was a year of significant growth for US harvest driven cidermakers. 

For the purposes of the survey, harvest driven cidermakers are defined as those who make 75% of their cider with apples or pears that are pressed at or close to their harvest date and aged at least 3 months prior to packaging. Michael Uhrich of Seventh Point Analytic was chosen to undertake creating and analyzing the survey results.

The conclusion is that the harvest driven cider segment is small but growing. Nearly one million gallons of harvest driven cider was produced in 2021 alone. The harvest driven cider segment share grew by one third from 2020 to 2021, from 1.8% to 2.3% of the US domestic cider market. Production of harvest driven cider also increased dramatically from 2020 to 2021 with an average production increase of 26%.

“This corner of the cider market has been around for decades and has produced some of the more storied brands in our industry, yet we have never had a mechanism for measuring its growth and progress.  We are excited to release these first results of what will be an annual survey, and celebrate the growing success of this segment,” says Eleanor Leger, board president of the ACA.

Uhrich also looked at packaging, club, fruit and channel trends for the segment. Uhrich’s webinar report is available to ACA members, but there is a Harvest Driven Cider Fact Sheet available for download here. Please contact Executive Director Michelle McGrath with any questions regarding the harvest driven cider survey process or results.

ACA Receives Grant for “Year of the Apple” in Virginia

Bryant’s Cider, Roseland, Virginia

The American Cider Association is proud to announce a new partnership with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services through a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant awarded for $70,012. Starting in early 2022, the American Cider Association (ACA) and their partners in Virginia cidermaking and agriculture will launch “The Year of The Apple,” an integrated public awareness, food industry professional outreach and market research campaign.

Virginia is the country’s 6th largest producer of apples and home to 48 independent cider makers, from the celebration-worthy bottles to adventure-ready cans. Virginia also boasts perhaps the longest and most storied history of cidermaking in North America, with apple orchards that date back to the 1600s. Yet both the restaurants and food lovers of Virginia don’t choose home-grown cider enough—Virginia has lower sales-per-capita than other cider making states.

Virginia Association of Cider Makers President Anne Shelton is excited about the opportunity the grant may bring. “Our state has a bountiful array of homegrown apple varieties, a deep history of cidermaking, and a super talented community of cidermakers crafting a wide variety of styles. We hope this grant can increase awareness around this with consumers and buyers and promote Virginia apples.”

In addition to creating awareness and understanding around Virginia cider, the grant will pay for survey research to learn more about the supply of the unique mix of apples that grow best as well as more about the state of the cider industry in Virginia.

From Shenandoah peaks to gentle ocean beaches, Virginia is home to a uniquely American diversity of landscapes, people, and ciders. “With just a little reminding, I think the drinkers of Virginia are ready to embrace the diversity and deliciousness of our uniquely Virginian ciders,” says ACA member Courtney Mailey of Blue Bee Cider in Richmond.

ACA Launches 2nd Annual Dry Cider January

The American Cider Association (ACA) is once again launching their month long campaign called Dry Cider January to celebrate ciders containing 0 grams of residual sugar. The ACA hosts a dry cidery directory on their website to promote their members’ ciders. The association is encouraging others to join the campaign through social media with the hashtags #dryciderjanuary and #pickdrycider.

The ACA’s Dry Cider Directory  will be updated as members submit new product releases. The  directory can be found here on ACA’s website. The list can be filtered and sorted so consumers can find no-sugar ciders local to them.

Alcohol is created when yeast converts sugar into alcohol through fermentation. A cider that contains no residual sugar has been fermented to absolute dryness. Sometimes cidermakers will blend a completely dry cider with fresh juice for acid/sugar balance, but other times they leave the cider entirely dry. These dry ciders are what the association is listing on their website for the campaign.

“The brain has a hard time distinguishing fruity from sweet. Many ciders with absolutely no sugar in them can still be fruit-forward,” explained the association’s executive director, Michelle McGrath. “You’ll find there are a multitude of dry ciders available when you start seeking them,” she added. 

The list of ciders on the association’s website demonstrates the flavors and styles possible not only in the cider category, but in ciders with 0g sugar. From single varietal ciders showcasing specific apple varieties and served in a 750ml bottle to ciders aged on rose and hibiscus petals and served in a 12 oz can, the range is impressive.

Follow the association on their Instagram account @pickcider to learn more about the campaign. 

Are you a cidermaker and want to add a cider to the directory? Fill out the form HERE! Have a picture and description of your cider ready to go before you fill out the form.

BREAKING NEWS: TTB Approves Additional Wine Standards of Fill

In a special edition newsletter sent to subscribers on December 28, 2020, the TTB announced new rules regarding standards of fill. The additional volumes approved for wine are:

  • 355 ml (12 oz)
  • 250 ml
  • 200 ml

As all ciders are regulated as wine by the TTB, the above sizes are now being added as approved for cider. This means ciders above 7% will be able to be packaged in a 12 oz can or bottle for the first time. Previously, a state exemption was required to package ciders over 7% ABV in 355 ml packaging.

“These new container sizes will provide bottlers with flexibility by allowing the use of the added container sizes, and will facilitate the movement of goods in domestic and international commerce, while also providing consumers broader purchasing options,” the TTB writes in their newsletter.

The TTB newsletter included a final draft of the rule. The rule includes several mentions of submitted commentary from cidermakers and the American Cider Association (ACA) (formerly United States Association of Cider Makers).

An excerpt: “These producers note that, in the production of cider, apples often naturally ferment to an alcohol by volume (abv) level just above 7.4%, so producers often take steps to lower the abv below 7% so that the standards of fill regulations will not apply, enabling them to use 355 milliliter containers. They state that sugar levels in apples vary widely depending on climate and other factors, making final alcohol levels difficult to predict. They argue that being able to use the 355 milliliter container size will eliminate this uncertainty.”

“The ACA government affairs committee worked to make this happen,” said Michelle McGrath, executive director of ACA. “Additionally, so many of our members came together to provide comments. Our united voices made the difference.”

“ACA believes that this will help apple-focused cidermakers and others with packaging flexibility and compliance,” McGrath added.

The addition of 200 ml containers is also a win for US ice cider producers. “This will help our ice cider business, where 200ml has been a traditional ice wine bottle size outside the US for decades, and we have not had access to that format,” said ice cider producer and ACA board member, Eleanor Leger.

“There are many styles of cider, and packaging flexibility will allow us to deliver the right cider to the customer in the right package.  We are excited that we can finally put ciders produced with heirloom and tannic varieties in a more accessible format for customers,” Leger added.

The American Cider Association is grateful to the TTB for providing a platform for industry and public comment. “We are very pleased that the TTB continues to work with industry to evaluate regulation and its relevance to current market conditions,” ACA board President Paul Vander Heide said. “Broadening standards of fill gives our members increased flexibility to serve their customers.”

Cider Tax News

UPDATE: On 12/27/20 President Trump signed the bill making the reform included in the CBMTRA permanent.

On Monday night, Congress took the important step to pass permanent Federal excise tax credits for the nation’s cideries, meaderies, wineries, breweries, and distilleries. The tax reform measures for alcohol producers were originally introduced on a two-year basis in 2017 and renewed for one year late in 2019. The renewal was set to expire on December 31, 2020, but thanks to the inclusion of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (CBMTRA) in the most recent COVID relief bill, the excise tax credits are now permanent. The transition from temporary tax bill to permanence was relatively rapid thanks to enormous bipartisan popularity in both the Senate and House of Representatives as well as unprecedented collaboration of cider, wine, beer, spirits, and mead.

The bill removes prior barriers to growth by increasing the defining production threshold of a small cidery or winery and maintaining tiered tax credits as cideries grow and meet those thresholds.

“Many cideries feared exceeding the original small producer threshold. The permanent passage of the CBMTRA removes that fear,” said Michelle McGrath, executive director of the American Cider Association (ACA).

CBMTRA had many Congressional champions that ensured its success including the Senate co-sponsors Senate Finance Ranking Member Senator Wyden (D-OR) and Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), House co-sponsors Representative Kind (D-WI) and Representative Kelly (R-PA), House Ways and Means Committee Chair Representative Neal (D-MA), House Ways and Means Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-TX), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), Senate Finance Chair Charles Grassley (R-IA), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

“America’s cidermakers can take a deep breath knowing that not only will their Federal excise taxes not go up on January 1, but the annual cycle of uncertainty regarding those taxes will stay behind with 2020,” said Brooke Glover, vice president of the American Cider Association.

“These tax credits were passed relatively recently, but many new cideries have never known any other way. I’m grateful they aren’t facing a tax increase come January 1. This can provide a bit of much needed confidence to do business in 2021,” said McGrath.

ACA played a supportive role in the craft beverage coalition that lobbied to make the credits permanent.

“Our members have worked hard to host members of Congress at their cideries, visit their offices in DC and participate in collaborative days of action. I was really proud of ACA’s membership,” McGrath said. “We are also extremely grateful to our colleagues in wine, beer, spirits and mead for including us in the beverage coalition.”

The American Cider Association encourages its members to make sure they are taking advantage of these tax credits and to let the ACA know how they are investing the savings. The Association will be rolling out educational resources to explain the nuances of how the CBMTRA benefits cider businesses in the coming weeks.

“Thank you to our members for renewing your membership year after year. Your small annual investment in the ACA has added up to much bigger permanent tax savings for you,” added McGrath. “Cider has a seat at the table. We have increasing numbers of Congressional champions. Our association is working.”

The bill now heads to President Trump for his signature and he is anticipated to sign. In a time when it is desperately needed, the CBMTRA supports jobs, farms and craft manufacturing.

Our Executive Director Made Wine Enthusiast’s Top 40 Under 40 Tastemakers List!

PRESS RELEASE: For Immediate Release
Contact helenkanebaldus@gmail.com for follow up or images
Article Link: https://www.winemag.com/content/40-under-40-2018-michelle-mcgrath/
Featured image by Scott McDermott

Cider Association Executive Director Makes 40 Under 40 Tastemakers List By Wine Enthusiast 

Portland, OR [August 21, 2018] – The American Cider Association (American Cider Association) is thrilled to announce that its executive director, Michelle McGrath, has been named a 2018 40 Under 40 Tastemaker in the U.S. by Wine Enthusiast magazine. The Wine Enthusiast 40 Under 40 list recognizes the young winemakers, brewers, beverage directors, grape growers, and other movers and shakers who are changing today’s beverage industry.

“I am humbled and honored to receive this distinction,” exclaimed McGrath. “The most thrilling part is the well-deserved national recognition it means for cider.”

American Cider Association is a young association, formally designated in 2014. McGrath became the association’s first executive director in the summer of 2016. In just two years her impact and leadership is visible through increased membership, a growing general awareness of cider styles and an ever-improving CiderCon—the industry’s annual conference.

“Michelle has brought real professionalism to a young organization,” shared Paul Vander Heide, owner of Vander Mill Cider and American Cider Association Board President.  “Her engagement with members, industry stakeholders, and policy makers has dramatically advanced our mission to support and grow the US cider industry.”

McGrath credits her success to the association’s passionate members, especially its board of directors. “I’ve worked with several boards in past roles, and I’ve never come across one as effective as American Cider Association’s. It’s why we can do so much with so little. All of our volunteers deserve so much credit.”

McGrath has managed to lead an extremely diverse industry towards category-wide standards, by overseeing the creation and development of the association’s consumer-facing cider style guide—the first of its kind, adopted in October 2017.

“Cider as a category is not just one thing, but an incredible variety of styles and points of view,” said American Cider Association member and cider author, Darlene Hayes. “It’s a challenge to represent such diversity.”

McGrath is up for that challenge, according to Stephen Wood, founder of Farnum Hill Cider and American Cider Association volunteer. “McGrath has shown herself to be equally adept at working among the diverse continuum of groups that make up the U.S. cider industry, from large market-driven cider makers to smaller orchard-based cider makers, processors and suppliers to advisors and advocates.”

Under her strategic direction, the association is attacking the development of new programming to support and grow the cider industry. From promoting cider education through the association’s Certified Cider Professional Program (CCP), to advocating for the fair and accurate treatment of cider with the government and the media to leading the creation of cider-specific market data, she’s taken the role of championing cider seriously and fiercely.

“Michelle is the real deal. She works tirelessly and diligently with cider makers across all regions of the US to help raise the profile and market share of American cider,” said Jolie Devoto, founder of Golden State Cider and American Cider Association Member. “She’s supporting a dialogue about cider on a massive scale.”

McGrath’s goals are not quaint. “I want US cider to be the most coveted cider in the world. I want every bar in America to feature multiple styles and understand the story behind our category. I want to double our market share. US cider deserves to be celebrated. I applaud Wine Enthusiast for doing that within their 40 Under 40 program.”

The October issue of Wine Enthusiast will feature the 40 Under 40 tastemakers selected for 2018, including McGrath.

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Congratulations to Michelle!