CiderCon 2022 – Preview and Interview with Keynote Speaker Diane Flynt

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.

And for a little amusement, here is Diane and I a decade ago discussing Foggy Ridge Cider with the Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band.

World Whiskies Awards

Earlier this month the BevFluence team was invited to participate as judges in the Whisky Magazine Awards America 2022. The awards ceremony, in association with American Whiskey Magazine, will be held on February 8th, 2022 at The Flatiron Room in New York City. The judging occurred on November 11th, 2021 at the whiskey haven Jack Rose Dining Saloon in Washington DC. During this tasting, 32 judges sampled through 250 American whiskeys divided into 17 categories. The judges reflected a large cross-section of the spirits industry including distillers and distillery owners, writers and educators, as well as other industry professionals. The categories were very specific and consisted of Blended, Blended Limited Release, Small Batch Single Malt, Bourbon, Blended Malt, Rye, Tennessee, Corn, Flavoured Whisky, New Make & Young Spirit, Pot Still, Wheat, Single Malt, Single Barrel Bourbon, Small Batch Bourbon, Single Cask Single Malt, and Grain. We will post the winners two months from now. Cheers.

Cocktail Book Program 2021 Book Club

Welcome to the BevFluence Cocktail Program sponsored by Ryland Peters & Small. Here are the minimal content requirements per participant.

  1. Please use all of these tags and Hashtags for each post.
    @summerfruitcup
    @allofthedrinks
    @Bevfluence
    @rylandpetersandsmall
    #CocktailswithBevfluence #Allthebooks #Negroni
    Keli Rivers: @allofthedrinks
    David Smith: @summerfruitcup
    Instagram: @rylandpetersandsmall
    Twitter: @RylandPeters
    FB: @RylandPetersandSmall

  2. Virtual Tastings
    Each participant will participate in at least two Author Virtual interviews.
    Each participant will attend ALL virtual book club meetings which can include the author
    if they are available.
    Each book club meeting will be scheduled once a month and should last an hour if not
    more, where we will discuss the books, the recipes and give general thoughts. Then it
    could easily devolve into what these clubs are all about, hanging out and getting to know
    each other.

  3. Foundational Content
    Blog/Livestream/Video/Podcast
    Each Core Blog/Livestream/Video/Podcast will include:
    a) 1,000 words +
    b) A review of what you thought of the book.
    c) What did you enjoy, what was fun, which recipes you tried.
    d) Linkbacks to Authors/publisher and BevFluence BevFluence.com
    e) Once a blog post is published please send via email to justin@bevfluence.com &
    meg.parsont@rylandpeters.com

    *If you do not have a blog please write a review and we will find a place to get it published either
    on BevFluence or another outlet.

  4. Social Media Content
    Each participant should publish at least three posts per social media channel per book
    This includes
    ● Videos making a cocktail,
    ● Produce and photograph two cocktail recipes per book (at least)
    ● Picture of the book or pages and excerpts you liked
    ● Stories
    ● Interviews with authors
    ● Pictures of the group
    Facebook
    ● Include the hashtags listed above in every post and story
    ● Tag 10 people
    ● 3 posts please
    Instagram
    ● Include the hashtags #XXX in every post and story
    ● Tag 10 people
    ● 2 stories per BOOK +
    ● 3 posts please per book
    Twitter
    ● Tag 10 people
    ● Include the hashtags #XXX in every post and story
    ● 3 posts please
    *if you do not use Twitter, please add these posts to another channel
    These are the minimum requirements to participate but there is plenty of time over the next few
    months to have some fun, read some books, and make some cocktails. Include pairing or tasting
    notes.
    *Please tag other members of the group in your social media post as described above

The BevFluence #1299Challenge

In December 2020, BevFluence invited a community of wine enthusiasts to select a retail outlet (supermarket, large beverage retail chain, or online wine store) and purchase several wines under $12.99 to review. The concept was to show the availability of very drinkable and affordable everyday table wine. The reviews show that apparently, Spain is still a reliable resource for such wines, but value gems can be found throughout the world – even in the United States.

“Narrowing the field to $12.99 somehow still broadened wine horizons. It made me pay even closer attention to ways of finding wine value at any price point. A good challenge.” -Mary Beth Vierra of Crush Course

Good old Charles Shaw better known as house brand for Trader Joe’s Two Buck Chuck hit the shelves at the chain in 2002. Since then there have been many discussions of cheap vs. expensive wine. The fact remains that most wine purchased in America is still consumed that day or within a few days. The fancy labels, limited releases and once-in-a-lifetime bottles may dominate the magazines, social media and our dreams, but everyday wine is a much larger factor than many talking heads give it credit for. 

We at bevfluence got together with some of our community all who love wine, write about wine and have great palates and made them buy the cheap stuff. “It’s always refreshing to know there is excellent wine at every price point. Several followers appreciated the options!” Thea Dwelle

We threw down the gauntlet to the crew to go and find wines they enjoy and spend less than 13 bucks a bottle. This challenge meant taking people who review hundreds of wines a year, often single vineyard rare wines and getting them to buy everyday bottles. The challenge was met head-on with the community which is not nearly as snobbish as some think. The fact is that those of us who review wine, beer or spirits regularly love to drink different things often and enjoy the change to challenge our conceptions. Our community is full of diverse, fun and thrill seeking people who reject the snobbish, sommelier style instead embracing a down to earth enjoyment of wine. 

We had fun shifting through various stores to find interesting wines and the results while not shocking were surprising.  Wine does not have to be expensive, in fact it should be an affordable luxury and far more accessible. It was not hard for most of us to come up with good points in these wines, no one struggled to say nice things. “This exercise was an excellent reminder that with a little work, you can find tremendous value and drinking pleasure in this price range.” – Jim VanBergen

Even tasting the under five dollar wines for this challenge meant being impressed with how approachable they were. It is easy to see why cheap wines are popular. 

For our team at bevfluence it  this was eye opening since we often only get the chance to try wines we are sent. Buying wine from $2.99 to $12.99 and everything in between produced a wide range of reactions. We are impressed at the quality and even bought wines that others had recommended in their posts to try. 

Everyone who enjoys wine knows that not all wine needs to have a huge price tag to be good. This project has proven once and for all what many have known forever, you do not have to spend a ton of money to drink good wine. “Truth be told, I thought I was going to be drinking these wines just for this challenge only and that would be the end of it. Turns out I am heading back to Bottles to pick up more of the Bobal and the Sangiovese. These will be perfect on a Tuesday. Maybe even a Thursday. Thus I am reminded that inexpensive does not necessarily mean cheap, poorly made or bad.” – Rick Dean Link

Below is a list of all of the wines tasted by this group although there are plenty more outside of this. We shared some laughs but mostly some good recommendations of inexpensive wine.

Check out these blogs and follow these people who love wine and sharing stories about their journey in the beverage world! ….

Mary Beth Vierra (CrushCourseWine) – Trader Joes
Emma Reichert Gewürztraminer, Pfalz, (Qba) 2018, Germany ($6.99)
Ruggero di Bardo Susumaniello IGP Puglia 2019, Italy ($10.99)
Vignobles Lacheteau Muscadet-Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie AOP, France ($7.99)
Adaline Bodegas Verdejo, 2018, Spain ($4.49)
Roustabout Meritage 2018, Paso Robles, California ($7.99)

Fred Swan (NorCalWine) – K&L Wine Merchants
2019 Atance Cuvée No 1 Valencia DO Spain ($12.99)
2018 Foris Pinot Gris Rogue Valley, Oregon ($12.95)
2019 Tahbilk Marsanne Nagambie Lakes, Victoria Australia ($12.99)
2017 Bodegas Olivares Altos de la Hoya Monastrell Jumilla DO Spain ($11.99)
2016 Niepoort Rotolu Tinto Dao DOC Portugal ($11.99)
2020 Viña Maitia “Aupa” Pipeño Red Wine Maule, Chile ($12.99)

Jim van Bergen (JVBUncorked) – Total Wine
San Gregorio Single Vineyard Las Martas Garnacha 2018, Calatayud DOC, Spain ($9.99)
Latitud 42 Rioja Ecologica 2018, Rioja DOC, Northern Spain. 100% Tempranillo ($9.99)
Marchese di Borgosole Salice Salentino Riserva 2017, Apulia, Italy ($12.99)
Seastone Albariño 2019, DO Rias Baixas, Spain ($11.69)
Herederos del Marques De Riscal 100% Rueda Verdejo 2019, DO Rueda, Spain ($5.49)
San Gregorio Single Vineyard La Muela Macabeo 2019, Catayud DOC, Spain ($11.99)

Kelly Cohen (Off the Beaten Glass) – Wine.com
2018 Ballard Lane Chardonnay, California ($11.99)
2019 Ruffino Pinot Grigio Lumina, Italy ($10.99)
2019 Cupcake Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand ($8.99)
2019 J. Lohr Bay Mist White Riesling, California ($9.99)
NV Freixenet Cordon Negro Cava Brut, Spain ($11.99)

Rick Dean (Strong Coffee to Red Wine) – Bottles, Mount Pleasant, SC
2018 Mont Gravet ‘Old Vine’ Carignan, IGP Pays D’ Hérault, Languedoc-Roussillon, France ($9.99)
2019 Atance Bobal, Valencia DOP, Spain ($12.99)
2019 Vina Galana Verdejo, Chinchilla de Montearagón, Albacete, Spain ($12.99)
Trevini Sangiovese, NV, Rubicone IGT, Trevini, Italy ($7.99)
Broadbent Vinho Verde Sunflower, NV, (50% Loureiro, 40% Trajadura, & 10% Pedernã) Portugal ($9.99)
Moulin de Gassac Guilheim Rosé 2019, (40% Grenache, 40% Cinsault, 20% Carignan) IGP Pays d’Hérault, Languedoc, France ($12.99)

Sandra Crittenden (Wine Thoughts) – Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods
Dibon Cava Brut Rosé, Spain ($10.99)
Vallobera Rioja Blanco 2019, Spain ($12.99)
McPherson Piquepoul Blanc Timmons Estate 2017, Texas ($11.49)
Domaine Vigneret Côtes de Provence Rosé, Provence France ($12.99)
Girasole Sangiovese 2017 Mendocino County ($12.99)
Le Vassal de Mercues Malbec de Cahors 2018, France ($12.99)

Todd Godbout (WineCompass) – Wegmans
Fox Run Vineyards 2018 Simmons Vineyard Traminette, Finger Lakes NY ($11.99)
Emilia Natura 2018 Carmenere, Chile ($9.49)
Koenig Pinot Blanc, France ($10.99)
Hugl Gruner Veltliner, Austria ($10.49)
Fontana Candid Frascati 2019, Italy ($8.49)
Vinos de Arganza Lagar de Robla Mencia Premium 2016, Spain ($9.99)

Thea Dwelle (WineBratsSF)Bottle Barn
Broadbent Gruner Veltliner, Austria ($9 – liter)
Murgo Etna Bianco – 70% Carricante 30% Catarratto, Italy ($)
AIA Vecchia Vermentino Toscana 2019, Italy ($10.99)
Bodega Sierra Salinas Mira Salinas Monastrell, Spain($12.49)

This project, or campaign or whatever you want to call it was beyond fun, and more than just a little informative. It was a killer good time and exercise that gave our community the chance to dive deep into wines that may not be cellar worthy but certainly deserve a look.  

Cheers,

The BevFluence Team