We arrived at the Richmond Convention Center, in Richmond Virginia, just in time for Cider Share. Approximately 40 cideries from across the United States lined the perimeter of the ballroom. Bottles were open and on ice ready to be sampled and discussed. Cidercon welcomes those from all stages on their own cider journey. From experienced cider aficionados to newbies the convention provided something for everyone. Dawn an I made our way to the farthest corner where the throngs of attendees had not gathered yet. Our first cider experience was with Two Broads Cider Works. They hail from San Louis Obispo, CA. From the moment that we took our first sip we knew we were in for an incredible tasting experience. We talked to producers from Oregon, Washington, Florida and even cider producers in our own back yard that we had not yet tried. We sampled ciders from Virginia, New York and Maryland. There were single varietals, apple blends, barrel aged and even an iced cider. The evening was about more then tasting. It was about the energy and people sharing their love of these nectars produced from apples. We had conversations with people that still had not produced one batch of cider but where looking to open a cidery. There were quite a few newbies in the room. Well established cideries got exposure to methods and apples that they were not familiar with. The 90 minutes went by in a blink. We only made it around half the room. The room was full of laughter and shouts of sadness that it had to end. Convention goers spilled out into the hallways, the lobby bar and into Richmond. The night was still early. Great discussion, more cider and delicious food awaited.
The convention opened with a presentation and discussion of Lessons for the 21st Century: The surprising history of southern apples and cider and what it means for modern growers and makers. The keynote helped to set the tone of diversity and growth in todays cider industry. It touched on American ciders rich past and fruitful future. The struggle of those that have been laying the foundation of bringing back lost apples and cultivating trees for future generations. One theme that echoed loudly was that when you are growing apple you are living each day in history. When you drink cider you are drinking that history.
The next 2 days were full of classes. Our first class that we attended was 400 years of American alcohol: Cider, History, Cocktails and more. The standing room only crowed was there to hear The Drinking Coach, Tiffanie Barriere. She definitely brought her energy and knowledge to the stage. She taught about the historical black figures in cocktail American history. There were 2 delicious cocktails created with what else… cider. Check her out at: www.thedrinkingcoach.com
For Cidercon attendees there were 32 classes to choose from. Truthfully, it was hard to select which classes to go to. They all were fascinating and informative.
We made sure to stop by and explore the vendors at the trade show. Bottlers, Canners, Barrels, flavoring, yeasts, tip handles and labels are just a sampling of those offering to help the cider producers improve on their craft. There were even more ciders being offered for tasting and enjoyment.
The first afternoon class that we sat in on was High Latitude Ciders from Michigan. The presenters for this class were: Dan Young of Tandem Ciders, Bryan Ulbrich of Left Foot Charley and Dion Stepanski of Presque Isle Farm Cider. It was such a learning experience to understand how the location, climate and the fermentation process have such an impact on the flavor and character of cider. It is so comparable to the wine industry and their regions. The terroir plays such an important role in the creation of cider. For us it was so much fun to sample each pour and provide our own tasting notes on the nose and palate of each cider. Nicole LeGarnd Leibon moderated the panel and was excellent at pointing out her own observations on the ciders and cideries.
One class that we continue to fall back on was yeast-derived characteristics and hands-on blending. Aaron Homoya and Anne Flesch gave us an amazing perspective of how yeast impacts the flavor profile of cider. The key here is how much we are now able to pull out the yeast notes in beer, wine and even whiskey.
Day two found us attending the class, Southern Cider Apples: A recipe for complex flavor in a changing climate. Diane Flynt from Foggy Ridge Ciders was the moderator. She was also the keynote for the opening of the convention. Her knowledge of southern cider is unparalleled. The presenters were: David Thornton of James Creek Cider House, Will Hodges of Troddanvale at Oakley Farm and Tim Wright of Wise Bird Cider. Three states represented the south. It was enlightening to try ciders from Kentucky, Virginia and North Carolina side by side.
OK, so, introductory palate training was an experience for the taste senses. Sour, acidity, sweet and bitter were all covered by adding a varying degree to a host cider. Like the yeast class, this for us increased our appreciation for cider and our ability to select complex notes and nuances. Darlene Hayes from www.allaboutcider.com and author of Cider Cocktails – Another Bite of the Apple, took us on a fantastic journey. Teaching us where different flavors and textures fall on the tongue. We learned more of why we are sensitive to bitterness and why we shy away from those IPA’s.
During the breaks there was even more cider to swirl, sip, swallow and converse about.
Sadly, it came time for the last class. Rich selected Barrel programs: A wine perspective for cider, moderated by Jocelyn Kuzelka. Dawn selected Social media advertising 101. Once again, each offered a treasure trove of information.
Check out our podcast wrap up of Cidercon 2022.
🎧 Apple https://lnkd.in/dXi9yBtZ
🎧 Google https://lnkd.in/dGpXfVwx
🎧 Spotify https://lnkd.in/dgdrcHie
🎧iHeart Radio https://lnkd.in/diqsYSbd
In our first episode of 2022 we review OK Cider Company, Party Pic. A hopped cider from Oklahoma City.
A huge takeaway from the convention is that craft cider is poised to enter the main stream even more than it already has. Consumers will find ciders that rival a fine wine. Ciders will be competing strongly with craft beer taps across the country. This heritage beverage from our past has a bright future. What we can look forward to in 2022 is seeing more cideries open and share their individual expressions.
We can’t wait for Cidercon 2023 in Chicago.