The crew at BevFluence are major cider fans based on past professional and consumer experiences. We strongly feel that other influencers should share a similar affinity towards the industry. And there are definitely cider tasting opportunities for most of us on the coasts, the MidWest, and in Canada; theCompass Craft Beverage Finder reports over 660 cider tasting rooms operating in North America. But how do we evaluate these ciders? Many of us are inadequately trained to discern apple varieties, faults, or quality.
The Certified Cider Professional certificate is offered by the American Cider Association (ACA) and is intended for a broad overview of cider, covering history, production, and serving. There are two levels of certification. The online Level 1 CCP is designed for people who would benefit from a deeper but still introductory level of cider knowledge. The more advanced in-person Certified PommelierTM test covers more in-depth cider knowledge, including sensory evaluation. For influencers, the Level 1 CCP certification should be sufficient and is what I will be taking this Spring.
Justin, our CEO, was required to earn the Certified Cider Professional certificate as an employee at Virtue Cider. Because he already had a decent level of cider experience, he did not find the exam terribly difficult. However, “it’s definitely something that requires a level of understanding very similar to WSET and some of the other certifications. The certification provides deep knowledge of the specific types of apples and pears, the fermentation processes, and what comes next: Brandy.”
Another education route is through the Cider Institute of North America (CINA), a non-profit organization “made up of passionate cider industry professionals and educators with a mission to create a quality-driven and sustainable cider industry through education and research”. The CINA offers science-based courses specifically targetting cider making such as Cider & Perry Production – Foundation, Essential Laboratory Testing of Cider & Perry, and Essential Sensory Analysis of Cider & Perry. According to Nicole Leibon — cider blend consultant LeNose Knows, “probably more than someone with passing curiosity would want to take. We are, however, working on a short Cidermaking 101 class that is intended for a broad audience, as well as a few other short-format courses, hopefully, available within the next year or two. We intend for those to be more approachable and to provide a taste for folks who want to learn more about making cider”.
This Cidermaking 101 short course makes perfect sense. Influencers discussing cider should understand the basics of good cidermaking in order to better assess its quality. Ms. Leibon continues, ” For example, if you recognize where faults come from, like poor yeast management creating sulfer notes, you can better recognize high-quality ciders”. Until this course is launched, influencers can review two CINA publications: The Professional Handbook of Cider Tasting and a Cider Faults Wheel.
At CiderCon 2022, I will be attending a couple of sessions that I hope will elevate my sensory perceptions of cider. The first is A Cider Among the Faults where Nicole Leibon, Chris Gerling, and Jocelyn Kuzelka will present five suspect ciders. Only one cider is faultless and the other four are “fatally faulted by the usual (and maybe unusual) suspects”. The second is How Chemistry and Sensory Parameters Lead to Style Outcomes presented by Virginia Tech professors Amanda Stewart and Jacob Lahne. Sadly, the most relevant seminar, Introductory Palate Training by Darlene Hayes is sold out. Ms. Hayes is also the instructor for the Certified Cider Professional program so I should receive a similar education when taking this course.
We look forward to sharing our cider experiences at CiderCon 2022 and stay tuned for details of our upcoming BevFluence Collaborations Cider Campaign.
Last summer, winery publicist Carl Giavanti published an article with this title on his blog and it must have made an impact within the industry because it was recently picked up by the Wine Bulletin.
The article starts with the sentence: “Wine doesn’t sell itself. Storytelling sells wine. If you believe this statement please read on“. Obviously, BevFluence believes the affirmative, and Carl’s article details how influencer marketing can help a brand sell wine depending on the brand, messaging, and target audience. He follows with, “Experimenting with individual content creators on a one-off basis or as opportunities arise is one approach, and doing pilot projects as proof of concept to show results is a good way to test your strategy“. He continues “…the goal for wineries would be to drive their visitors’ traffic to the tasting room or website where the winery is now in a position to engage and hopefully sell wine. At the very least, you are reaching outside of the wine-interested world into new communities in hopes of creating new fans and followers“.
BevFluence has adopted these and other strategies Carl suggests within our BevFluence Collaborations Campaigns and Experiences. We identify content creators whose engagement will drive traffic to a brand’s website and social media accounts and provide the analytics behind these engagements.
If you’re like most content creators you know how frustrating it can feel to have your time wasted by trying to track down collaborations.
Our platform obliterates that, freeing up much-needed time to focus on what you do best, posting content. You need a better system and we have provided that. Join us as we revolutionize the BevFluencer game. Create an account, join a campaign, and get paid. We collaborate with brands and creators around the world to bring one-of-a-kind content to the community and share it with everyone.
Looking forward to having you join our 2022 campaigns which include Spirits Under $20 Rose wines White wines around the world Rum Dessert wines & many, many more!!!!
Swirl Suite, a podcast and YouTube channel started by four influential wine professionals. Sarita Cheaves (Vine Me Up), Leslie Frelow (Vino 301), Glynis Hill (Vino Noire), and Tanisha Townsend (Girl Meets Glass) each have their own channels and businesses but in 2014 joined forces to launch the Swirl Suite channel. These ladies definitely have the cred due to multiple WSET certifications, consulting, judging, and hosting consumer tours. With each Swirl Suite episode the team interviews wine or lifestyle professionals from wine-makers, other influencers, authors, restaurant owners, and many others. The episodes are always informative, entertaining (specifically their signature Random and Rapid segment), and professionally recorded as Sarita completed a 6-week certified production course at public access corporation DCTV. The four ladies dial in from various locations, and when Tanisha joins, we receive updates about living in Paris. (Go back to the spring and summer 2020 episodes to hear about living in Paris during COVID lockdowns.) Or go all the way back to Swirl Suite – Drinking Local with @WineAntics. The BevFluence Team encourages our members to subscribe to this podcast in order to deepen their appreciation of wine and also to add a smile.
We are hard at work for the rest of this year and early next year launching our platform and creating content. Check back in a few weeks when we will have the newest version of our Best of BevFluence countdown for the end of the year. In the meantime, feel free to reach out and learn more about our upcoming campaigns. Since our platform is now live, we are able to build new campaigns for the spring of 2022 through 2023. We will have a full list of the campaigns we are running beginning in February.
2022 and 2023 Experiences in the works. These are not to be missed. Stay Tuned for more details.
I will be attending CiderCon 2022, the annual trade conference of the American Cider Association that will be held in Richmond, Virginia from February 2nd-4th, with excursions scheduled for two days prior. The conference consists of about fifty speakers participating in dozens of educational sessions from guided sensory exploration of ciders to historical heirloom apples to finding faults in cider tasting. Check out the speakers and schedule. I will be posting producer and content creator focused information here on BevFluence and more consumer-focused content on the WineCompass Blog.
The Keynote Address will be given by Diane Flynt, the proprietor of Foggy Ridge Cider in Dagspur Virginia and the first licensed cidery in the South. Community members who attended the 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference may have met Diane or tasted her exceptional Serious Cider or HomeMade ciders. For two decades she was the face of the Virginia cider industry and at times on a regional and national level and a valuable grower of American heirloom apples and traditional English and French cider apples. Her keynote at CiderCon 2022 is titled Lessons for the 21st Century: The Surprising History of Southern Apples & Cider and What This Means for Modern Growers & Makers and is based on research she has conducted for a book that will be published by the University of North Carolina Press.
Ms. Flynt was gracious enough to answer a few questions I posed regarding the cider industry and how content creators can assist in promoting the industry.
What have you been doing since the last release of Foggy Ridge ciders? Since releasing Foggy Ridge Cider’s Final Call blend in 2018, we have sold our apples to cidermakers in Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. In early 2020 I signed a contract with the University of North Carolina Press to write a general trade book on the history of apples in the South. This book focuses on the stories and history behind the South’s almost 2,000 apple varieties. Through research at University Special Collections, the National Agricultural Library, and interviews with multi-generation apple growers I’ve learned surprising stories about southern apples. The book should be published in 2023.
What headwinds is the cider industry facing today and in the near future? Apples are a more expensive ingredient than grain or other ingredients used in beer and spirits, yet consumers are not yet willing in large enough numbers to pay a premium for cider. The connection between cider and beer—as opposed to cider and wine, grapes being also expensive to grow and ferment—has diminished our industry’s ability to command prices that lead to sustainability for producers who make cider from apples that confer complex flavor. As an industry, we need to make a stronger connection—an authentic connection—between apples and cider. And I’d add, for complex fine cider, the connection should include place.
Within the industry, have apple growers convalesced around a few apple varieties, or is there more experimentation with unique and unknown heirloom varieties?There are two directions here—academic-based apple breeding programs are producing more modern apples, geared to market research on consumer preferences as well as production factors. And a small but growing number of orchardists are going back to varieties that flourished in earlier centuries, in part to satisfy demand from cidermakers but also to explore varieties that will perform in a warmer climate.
What can content creators do better or more in helping to promote the cider industry? Many in the cider world are proud to say we are a “big tent” industry, and that there is a place for every price point, every method of production, and every quality level for ingredients…from apple juice concentrate to estate-grown cider apples. While this view has merits, it also flattens the discussion. I’d like to see content creators dig deeper into the ingredients and production methods of top-quality cider. Content creators are smart people, “thinking drinkers” if you will, and you should be able to see what is a “marketing message” from producers and what is an authentic practice or value that is carried out in cider-making every day. I see too much content that seems generated by a PR engine for a cider company large enough to hire a PR engine.
What should producers be focused on to strengthen the industry? Authentic stories about ingredients. And if the producer is also a grower and actually grows enough apples to have “place” reflected in their cider, they should certainly be talking about the influence of terroir or the history of place has on their cider and methods.