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:
Award for Significant Impact on the Industry | Emily Ritchie, Executive Director, NW Cider Association
Award for Significant Impact on the Industry | Brighid O’Keane, Executive Director, Cider Institute of North America
Apple Advocate Award | Representative Earl Blumenauer, Oregon
Apple Advocate Award | Jake Mann, Five Mile Orchard, California
Member of the Year | Ploughman Cider, Pennsylvania
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
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.
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.
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: https://ciderassociation.org/reps-blumenauer-kelly-introduce-bubble-bill/)
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.
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.
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 ciderassociation.org.