ACA Welcomes 9 New Certified Pommeliers™ to the Ranks of Cider Experts
The American Cider Association is pleased to announce that nine people passed the Certified Pommelier™ exam taken in February at CiderCon® 2022 in Richmond, Virginia. Newly Certified Pommeliers™ are: Matthew Ostrander of Ibantik Craft Beverages (UT), Dan Schreffler of Space Time Mead and Cider Works (PA), Chase Rochon of Craft Curbside (ME), Jamie Pratt of Liberty Ciderworks (WA), Nicole Wheeler of Treehorn Cider (GA), Aaron Homoya of Ash & Elm Cider Co (IN), orchardists Kyle Degener from Holy Beez Orchard, (KY) and Roland Poirier (NY), and cider aficionado Bridget Fields (DC). This is the largest cohort of successful exams on both cider theory and evaluation of the four exams offered to date.
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. This led the American Cider Association to establish its Certified Cider Professional (CCP) program to educate those on the front-line of cider sales.
The Certified Cider Professional program began with a Level 1 certification to help people obtain a fundamental understanding of cider. The Certified Pommelier™ certification was developed to move beyond a fundamental understanding and to encourage cider professionals to think critically while demonstrating a higher understanding of the elements of cider. Preparation for the exam demands months, if not years, of study and practice evaluating cider.
“The Certified Pommelier™ exam is designed to be rigorous. ” says Michelle McGrath, Executive Director of the ACA. “However, accessibility remains important. We’re rolling out more and more study aids in 2022, with a book on the horizon.”
The next Certified Pommelier™ exam is planned for June 20, 2022 in Seattle, Washington, and the ACA will announce one more test opportunity before CiderCon® 2023 in Chicago, Illinois.
The ACA asks that you contact Cider Education Outreach Manager Jennie Dorsey if you have questions about the program or are interested in taking either the Level 1 Certified Cider Professional test or the Certified Pommelier™ exam. You can also learn more at https://ciderassociation.org/certification.
Open a special bottle of cider this Saturday, February 26, 2022!
This Saturday, February 26 is Open That Bottle Night. Open That Bottle Night was started back in the year 2000 by two Wall Street Journal columnists, Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher. Held on the last Saturday in February of each year, this day encourages folks to open up that special bottle and share memories.
While they may have been talking about wine, we know that there’s a lot of special bottles of ciders with great stories sitting on shelves and in cellars just waiting to be opened and have their stories told. So we’re asking you to open one of those special bottles and share your cider bottle story on Instagram.
Is it a bottle from the first batch you ever made? Does it have a unique apple variety that you’ve been wanting to try? A cider you stumbled upon while on vacation? A cider gift from a friend that you’ve been saving? A cider that you fell in love with the first time you tried it and had to add it to your collection?
Silly or poignant, we want to hear them all! Tell us and the world your cider bottle story and post it to Instagram with the hashtag #openthatciderbottle this Saturday, February 26, 2022!
Please fill out the 2021 Cider Production Survey!
The American Cider Association would appreciate your help in aggregating production information for U.S. cideries for 2021. We collect this information in order to help advocate for cidermakers with Congress, the media, and buyers.
This survey will take about 20 minutes to complete. This survey is being collected by an independent third party who has agreed not to share information with us that might identify who you or your cidery are, and to only share aggregate data with us. YOUR PRIVACY MATTERS TO US.
Your cidery name is collected by the 3rd party to ensure there are no duplicates, but the ACA will never see that information.
We do ask a number of questions about sales and production for 2021. You will find it helpful to have that data handy before completing the survey. Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey! Note: If you produce wine or other beverages besides cider, please answer only considering your cider production.
Deadline extended to Thursday, March 10, 2022! Fill out the survey now before time runs out.
While we appreciate Congressional support for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, it is clear that cideries and others in the hospitality industry are still in need of additional support. Submitted claims far outstripped what was provided in March 2021 by approximately $50 billion. Refilling the RRF is an important step in the hospitality industry’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.
New bipartisan legislation provides much-needed economic relief to the hospitality industry, including restaurants, bars, cideries, and other craft alcohol businesses with tasting rooms. With fewer Americans dining out, traveling, or gathering for events, these businesses have seen dramatic declines in revenue and struggled to reopen. Through this legislation, eligible entities may receive grants to help cover payroll, mortgage or rent payments, utilities, operational expenses, and other eligible expenses.
We’re asking Congress to provide relief to hospitality businesses still struggling to survive, and we need your help. After Congress established the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) last spring, the initial round of funding left 177,000 eligible businesses without a penny of relief.
According to research by the National Restaurant Association, the RRF saved more than 900,000 jobs at restaurants that received grants. Their estimates indicate that fully funding the RRF will save more than 1.6 million restaurant jobs.
Congress is weeks away from considering a spending bill for all government operations. It’s critical that this package include additional support for the RRF!
Join us in urging your Members of Congress to support additional funding for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) by passing the Continuing Emergency Support for Restaurants Act (S. 2675)!
Please read below for the latest updates on GLINTCAP 2021 from competition director Eric West including tentative scheduling for 2021 and how to submit your entries.
Based on what is currently known about the pace of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the US, the 15th Annual Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition (GLINTCAP) will be rescheduled for late July to early August. This postponement will ensure the safety of our judges, stewards, and staff, and allow the judging to be held as normally as possible.
When the rescheduled event dates are confirmed with the venue, we will make an official announcement via email and social media. Until then, we ask that potential volunteers not commit to specific travel plans.
Entry registration for the 2021 event is open from now until Friday July 2nd at https://glintcap.org/register/. Entry fees are frozen at their 2020 levels: $75 per Commercial Division entry and $22.50 per Noncommercial Division entry. There will be no Early Registration window or Late Registration window for 2021.
There is no limit to the number of entries you may register in 2021, and you may register additional entries until registration closes on Friday July 2nd, simply by submitting a new entry form. You may not, however, enter the same product into multiple style categories. Visit https://glintcap.org/rules/ for a complete list of rules and regulations.
Samples must arrive at a designated collection point no later than Friday July 16th. Collection points in the United States (Vander Mill) and Canada (Twin Pines) remain the same as in recent years. Visit https://glintcap.org/shipping/ for complete details.
Entrants who registered in 2020 can make changes to their entries at no cost by emailing me (email@example.com) between now and Friday July 2nd. These changes include swapping out one cider/perry for another, or editing details for an existing entry such as apple/pear varieties and ABV. Search your email account for the subject “GLINTCAP 2020 Entry Confirmation” for a record of what you have previously entered.
If you already shipped your samples in 2020 and wish to send fresher samples for the July 2021 event, we are offering a $20 refund per Commercial Division entry and a $10 refund per Noncommercial Division entry to offset your costs. Please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) to confirm whether you intend to send new samples for the July 2021 event.
We are now accepting judge applications for this year’s competition. There are also volunteer opportunities available for stewards, who pour samples for judges and help organize paperwork. Please visit https://glintcap.org/volunteer/ and complete the questionnaire if interested. If you registered to volunteer in 2020, please email me (email@example.com) to confirm whether you intend to participate in the 2021 event.
We appreciate your understanding of yet another postponement. We will reach out again when the rescheduled dates for the judging are confirmed, and will notify you of any changes that may impact the timing or format of the 2021 event.
In the meeting, we reviewed last year’s accomplishments, took a look at our new strategic plan, and talked about our future activities to support the cider industry.
You must be an Active ACA Member to view the Annual Membership Meeting. You can become a member or update your membership here.
Check out the recording of this year’s ACA Annual Membership Meeting by clicking here! You will be prompted to login prior to being able to access the link to the recording.
#SponsoredContent by Ekos
If you’re reading this blog, you probably already know that technology is essential to any craft cider businesses. “Software gives the craft market a leg up against the larger, more entrenched beverage companies,” said Josh McKinney, Ekos CEO and co-founder. You might only have the resources to hire a small team, but technology allows you to make the most of what you have. “If it makes your team more efficient so you can spend more time with customers or on differentiating your brand in the market, then it is time and money well spent,” said McKinney.
So, you’ve determined you need to invest in a piece of software, but you’re not sure which vendor to choose. Before you start evaluating your options, make sure you know the problem you’re trying to solve and your desired outcome. For example, if you’re looking for inventory software, are you trying to get more organized? Communicate better with your team? Keep more accurate records? Sync inventory transactions with your accounting software to save time? Whatever your goal, make sure you (and any other stakeholders) nail it down and figure out what features the tech solution should have in order to meet your needs.
Want to learn what technology cideries are using for POS, ecommerce, accounting, inventory, sales and more? Download an analysis of 1,500 cideries and breweries.
5 Tips for Choosing a Software Solution
1. Make sure the vendor can solve your problem.
Now that you know what you’re trying to accomplish, it’s time to evaluate vendors on how effectively they can help. Once you’ve reviewed basic marketing materials to get an idea of what the software offers, be sure to set up a demo so you can see what the product actually looks like and how it works. But remember: no solution will be 100% perfect, so prioritize your top features and make sure the vendor checks off the most important boxes.
Depending on your specific needs, some general categories to consider include:
- Analytics, reporting, and business intelligence capabilities
- How you can access the platform (look for a cloud-based system)
- Integrations to other software you’re already using.
2. Set a budget, and make sure you know the “all-in” cost.
Using technology to solve your problems costs money, but fitting it into your budget is possible as long as you know the true cost. Most software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies will charge a subscription fee, but make sure you ask for all other associated costs. For example, does the company charge you for each additional user? Or, for an ecommerce or POS system, what are their website hosting or credit card processing fees?
Keep in mind that a cheap solution is often just that — cheap. Instead of trying to find a cut-rate option, simply decide how much you can afford to spend and add it to your list of considerations as you evaluate vendors.
3. Find out if the vendor is familiar with your industry.
Many craft beverage businesses have found out the hard way that big software companies cater to enterprise clients and are often ill-equipped to handle the needs of a craft cidery. Sure, they’ll tell you their platform can be used for anything — which really means the platform is incredibly generic with few, if any, features that are specific to cider production.
Plus, frankly, you’ll likely struggle to get hands-on support when you’re competing for attention against companies with multi-million-dollar, or even billion-dollar, annual revenues. Ask vendors if they are well-versed in working with businesses of your size and type — but you’ll probably be able to tell quickly just based on their industry knowledge (or lack thereof).
4. Investigate your options for customer support and any associated fees.
Another important factor to consider is what types of support the vendor makes available. Ideally, you would have the option of online and phone support in addition to a database of help articles. Make sure you understand the support packages and choose the one that makes sense for your team. You’ll also want to know whether you get hands-on onboarding and training (with a real person) as a new customer, and the company’s overall commitment to service. Will you have to wait a week for a response to a support ticket? If you have a problem during off-hours, is there a robust database of support articles for you to reference? What about ways to give product feedback? These should all be questions you ask.
5. Talk to your peers and ask for customer references.
This one’s a no-brainer, but if a company can’t offer references within your industry, you might want to look elsewhere. Ask the vendor to provide references that are as similar to your business as possible so you can properly compare.
Questions to Ask Potential Tech Vendors
- How will your software help us achieve our goals?
- What does an ideal relationship between us look like?
- What is your commitment to service?
- What’s your company mission?
- What is my “out”?
- What happens if/when challenges arise? How do you handle conflict?
- Knowing my needs, what is the “all in” cost to use your software?
- Is my business type and size typical for your client base?
- Is your software easy to use on a mobile device?
- How easy is it to get support? Does it cost anything?
To learn more about the tech solutions craft makers rely on, download Building a Tech Stack: An Analysis of Breweries and Cideries and get insights from 1,500 craft producers.