Katie Black

Katie Black is currently working in production at DSSOLVR in Asheville, North Carolina where she is continuing to explore all styles of beer, natural wine, cider, and beyond.

After spending a few years in Europe her curiosities got the best of her. This is when she decided to shift careers. The passion for beverage chemistry guided her to Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College for a degree in Brewing, Distilling, and Fermentation. She has since explored many realms in the industry, both in front of house and production capacities.

Karl Hartdegen

Karl is part the Bold Rock team as Quality Assurance Manager.  He is an Advanced Cicerone® and Owner & Founder of CRAFT CULTURE. Karl’s career has been dedicated to quality assurance, compliance, safety, research & development, innovation efforts, and fermentation science. His early career was formed in third party quality control laboratories before specializing as a holistic fermentation professional through a master’s degree focused on Hospitality and Tourism Management from the University of New Orleans. He was inspired to study for the Certified Pommelier™ exam because he believes deeply in expanding professional knowledge, continuing education, and has a passion for fermented beverages. Having worked for beer and kombucha industries, working with cider has been excited, refreshing, and transformative.  Karl and his family live in the land of fermentation – Asheville, North Carolina.

Geoff Happel

Geoff Happel is the head cidermaker at Bold Rock Hard Cider. He chose to become a Certified Pommelier to continue growing his role within the cider industry and keep learning. There is so much room for cider to grow in every aspect of the business and he hopes to be able to contribute as much as he can!

Ann Marie Thornton

The owners and founders of James Creek Orchards and James Creek Cider House, Ann Marie Thornton and her husband David have been growing old Southern apple varieties and making hard cider since 2008. Partners in most everything, they share the orcharding responsibilities as well as the cidermaking. At least a couple evenings each week find them tasting and blending ciders, analyzing flavors and asking themselves, in the immortal words of Tom Oliver, “What does this cider want to be?” At Ann Marie’s urging in their first year as commercial cidermakers, they started along the path of becoming sommeliers, testing their palates with wines. When the path to pommelier opened, they lined right up. Ann Marie says training her palate to recognize aromas, flavors, and distinctive characteristics of ciders and wines helps her discuss James Creek’s ciders with food and beverage professionals and informs her blending choices during cidermaking. Plus, it’s a heck of a lot of fun.

Adam Snyder

Adam Snyder is a cider enthusiast from Cary, North Carolina. He works and uses his cider knowledge as a server at The Angus Barn in Raleigh, North Carolina. He chose to become a Certified Pommelier™ to add to the expertise of beverage professionals in his workplace, to learn more and master a topic he has a passion for, and to increase interest in cider in the beverage community and in the younger generation. Adam loves North Carolina agriculture and he believes the local ciders are great representations of its products and industry. The cider industry aligns with his current major in Agriculture Business Management at North Carolina State University. He has been able to see the cider industry through an academic lens and hopes to apply that knowledge in growing the cider industry.

David Thornton

David and his wife Ann Marie started an orchard of Southern heirloom apple varieties on their farm in central North Carolina hoping that they might discover the cider of the South. Ten years later, they have two award-winning cider brands: James Creek Cider House for heritage ciders that reflect the characteristics and terroir of their heirloom apples, and Stargazer Cider for more modern blends.  David aspires to bring Southern cidermakers together with growers to see this beverage take its place beside evolving Southern cuisine. He and his wife also maintain a commitment to sustainable agriculture and the preservation of family farms and dark skies in our rural south.

Amie Fields

Amie is a co-founder and Director of Sales and Brand Development at Botanist and Barrel Winery & Cidery in central North Carolina. After a lifelong career in wine, sourcing, importing and distributing, Amie realized that the winemakers have all the fun. She wanted to make the type of wild and raw ciders that she and her husband enjoyed drinking and couldn’t find in the US, so she teamed up with her husband Lyndon Smith and sister-in-law Kether Smith in 2017 and Botanist and Barrel Cidery and Winery was born. Amie is also certified through the Court of Master Sommeliers, has judged at the Great Lakes International Wine and Perry Competition, the Virginia Governor’s Cup and has been a panelist speaker at CiderCon®. Amie’s expertise in tasting, evaluating and finding balance is invaluable in creating new and exciting ciders and wines. At Botanist and Barrel, she loves focusing on minimal intervention winemaking in order to showcase a living product’s terroir. These days you can find her in Asheville’s new Botanist and Barrel Tasting Bar and Bottle shop tirelessly working on changing the way people think about natural cider and wine.

Amie choose to become a Certified Pommelier™ to give her more confidence to mentor others. Having the accreditation and the support of the ACA has also allowed cider to take a place on the worldwide stage which has brought new attention to this historic beverage. Through education she hopes to change the way people think about fruit wine and cider and give it the shine that it deserves!