Virginia Cider Week & Cider Smackdown: Attack of the Crab

Virginia Cider Week & Cider Smackdown: Attack of the Crab

Virginia Cider Week started last Friday and runs through November 20th and we attended the kickoff event Cider Smackdown: Attack of the Crab at Albemarle CiderWorks. This event was a blind tasting of eight Virginia ciders composed of crab apples and the entries consisted of either Virginia Hewes, Wickson, or Rub Ted Crabapple.

Hewe’s Crab was the most common fruit variety grown in eighteenth-century Virginia. It is thought to be a cross between the native American crabapple, Malus angustifolia, and the domesticated European apple of horticulture. It produces a delicious cinnamon-flavored cider that is both sugary and pungent. Jefferson planted his entire north orchard exclusively with this variety and once wrote that crushing the juicy Hewe’s Crab for cider was like “squeezing a wet sponge.” Its small, round fruit, which ripens in September in Central Virginia, is dull red and streaked with green. (

Wickson Crab was developed by Albert Etter, an apple enthusiast best known for his work on pink-fleshed and red-fleshed apples. Wickson was the result of crossing two other crab apple varieties. Confusingly Etter refers to them as Spitzenberg crab and Newtown crab in his patent papers, but it is not thought they are related to the mainstream apples of the same names but were crabs developed by Etter himself…Like most crab apples Wickson is very small and is also a hardy and problem-free tree. However, that is where the resemblance to other crab apples ends. Wickson is unusually sweet, but at the same time has a strong acid component. The result is an apple that has a very strong flavor, making it an excellent component for cider blends. (

Ruby Red is a chance seedling that actually originates from the property. The tree was found behind an old cabin at the base of Priest Mountain by John Saunders and after noting the apples’ intense flavor and colored flesh, they chose to propagate the apple for commercial purposes. (Troddenvale at Oakley Farm

The Cider Smackdown was a blind tasting where attendees voted on their two favorites or a single favorite getting both votes. Each of the ciders was completely unique even those composed of the same apple varieties, as cellar techniques varied among the cideries. The Albemarle CiderWorks Wickson Crab received the most votes followed by a three-way tie of the Sage Bird Cider Virginia Hewes Crab,  Halcyon Days Cider Occam’s Razor, and Big Fish Cider Virginia Hewes Crab.  I had recognized the Sage Bird Hewes Crab from opening a bottle a few weeks previously when studying for the CCP. Love the fleshy tart and bittersweet notes. My other vote went to the Potter’s Craft Cider Wickson Crab (which finished in a three-way tie with the Lost Boy Cider Cellar Series: Hewes and Courthouse Creek Cider Crabtree Falls.  The Potter’s Wickson Crab was aged in French oak wine barrels and was able to retain tartness and acidity while providing red currants on the nose and a full body palate.  The Troddenvale Grower Series, Silver Creek Orchards – 2021 rounded out the entries and this was my first taste of a Ruby Red Crabapple cider. There was an interesting farmhouse hoppy flavor combined with creamy lees and a bittersharp finish.

We came home with a bottle each of the Albemarle CiderWorks Wickson Crab and Halcyon Days Occam’s Razor but hope to revisit all of these ciders during the BevFluence® New Perspectives on Cider, Perry, and Brandy campaign. All ciders are welcome for the campaign. Cheers. 

BevFluence® is Launching the New Perspectives on Cider, Perry, and Brandy Campaign

Let me introduce you to our BevFluence® Collaborations platform and latest campaign: Cider: New Perspectives on Cider, Perry, and Brandy. We created the BevFluence® Collaborations Campaign (BCC) to expand influencer engagement by leveraging the BevFluence® community. We have devised and tested our proprietary methodology for accelerating social media distribution and require our members to adhere to specific regulations throughout the campaign. This methodology includes scheduling social media posts at the optimal time, sharing, and working with brand participants to engage within our platform.

After an incredibly successful Rendezvous: An In-depth Look at RTD Cocktails campaign, the BevFluence® team is jumping right back in with a passion project – Cider: New Perspectives on Cider, Perry, and Brandy. The BevFluence® team is comprised of cider enthusiasts (BevFluence® founders Justin, a Certified Cider Professional, and Todd, a tried-and-true cider lover) and cider aficionados among the team of influencers. This campaign will operate during the late summer and fall and feature cider, perry, and apple or pear brandy from across the globe. It will also include deep dives into cider making, consumption, styles, cocktail recipes, and food pairings. The products will be presented to a combination of industry experts, mixologists, bartenders, creators, bloggers, writers, and other media – and across the craft beverage landscape. This will generate new perspectives about cider, perry, and brandy from creators who range from cider novices to experts and these perspectives will cascade to their followers.

We curate only the most diverse palates, particularly those that will be tough but fair. You will get to know these creators as part of our community through group tastings and one-on-one interviews. Dozens of creators have already signed up and are salivating for this campaign to barrage you with posts and discussions about your brand (unless you live in a cave, that is). This campaign is far superior to your typical trade show as we go deeper and aim for more impact than the usual one-post or five-minute meet and greet. If you want to grow your business and meaningfully engage your consumer, this is the campaign you need to be part of.

You can view more information on the BevFluence® Collaborations platform. Once the campaign commences, you will use this platform to engage the creators, view posts and professional tasting notes, and experience the engagement dashboard.

Registration will run through early 2023 and the price per each product registration is $225, but we have enacted early bird pricing of $195 per product registration through February 4th. Cider and brandy associations can contact us for further discounts for their members.

For each product registered, the brands must send (6) samples to each BevFluence® Regional Office, as well as a sample to each Influencer we assign (3-4 influencers). That equals 15-16 total samples. All of the requirements are outlined in the campaign guidelines once you log in to the BevFluence® Collaborations platform.

What is BevFluence®?

BevFluence®, LLC (BevFluence) was founded in 2017 and is made up of active members of the food & beverage industry – experts with decades of experience. This group of well-respected and highly sought-after professionals is dedicated to building and strengthening the professional food & beverage media community through education, collaboration, and expanding access for both brands and creators. Founded by media professionals to create the change for our clients that define the future, you get us all (for the cost of a single consultant in some other companies) – a team dedicated to growing your business over the long term. Our Team is made of wine, whiskey, technology, marketing, social media, hospitality, culinary, and beverage industry experts.

Dining with Bacchus: New York, Chicago, San Jose, New Orleans, Miami, and Dallas

In order to promote the endless possibilities of pairing Italian wine with Italian, international and local cuisines, the Italian Trade Agency announces the Dining with Bacchus tour, a series of educational events in 6 cities across the US throughout the month of November. The events, to be executed in some of America’s most authentic and iconic restaurants, aim to educate trade, media, and industry key players on Italian wines and their adaptability to various culinary pairings. These events will also highlight and promote the World Week of Italian Cuisine (Settimana della Cucina Italiana nel Mondo) happening November 14-20, 2022. The tour will be stopping in the following cities: New York, Chicago, San Jose, New Orleans, Miami, and Dallas.

“One of the Italian Trade Agency’s most crucial goals is to promote the combination of Italian food and wine traditions,” says Italian Trade Commissioner Antonino Laspina. “Through this series of interactive events we intend to demonstrate to American professionals in food and wine how to embrace this fundamental pillar of Italian culture and to identify the most particular characteristics related to different Italian wine profiles, in order to pair them with the most diverse cuisines and to appreciate their great complexity.”

Italian wines rely on a solid reputation of high quality, thanks to centuries-old traditions, denominations of origin, highly regulated production processes, and, most importantly, artisanal producers’ dedication to excellence. With over 540 officially recognized native wine grape varieties, Italy can boast an extensive wine grape biodiversity, and being the only country in the world to produce wine in every single region, it offers one of the most diverse tasting profile panoramas, adapting to multiple culinary traditions.

The series of events will serve as a vehicle for educating US industry professionals on the endless pairing opportunities offered by Italian wines, embracing yet debunking the myth that “what grows together, goes together”.

The Dining with Bacchus events will feature a dedicated tasting menu, embodying the Italian culinary tradition and, at the same time, representing a local or international trend, to be paired with 12 Italian wines, representing the Italian wine scene and paying homage to the Italian biodiversity. The evening will be enhanced by a guided presentation given by an Italian wine expert.

About the Italian Trade Agency
Since 1926, the Italian Trade Commission, with 79 offices in 65 countries, has been the Italian government agency entrusted with the mission of promoting trade between Italian companies and foreign markets. The Food and Wine department, based in New York City, works on increasing the awareness of authentic Italian products in the U.S. by being the point of reference for trade and press and promoting the real Made in Italy through educational events, informational materials, special events trade shows, and promotional campaigns.
Visit to learn more.

Uruguay Wine Fall Tour: DC, NYC, Boston

There are three opportunities to sample and learn about wines from Uruguay for trade and media personnel in Washington DC, New York City, and Boston.

“From a small corner of South America, Uruguayan wines are rich in complex flavors and offer a unique heritage and winemaking style. Join us for a small, focused walkaround tasting highlighting wines from 16 exceptional producers and light appetizers, set within La Cosecha, voted one of America’s Top 50 Best Wine Retailers in 2021.

Uruguay is on the brink of a wine revolution. A collection of local winemaking families as well as international investment and interest has brought this small country from its Basque/Italian immigrant roots into the 21st century. Tannat is still the red wine king here, but Albariño and other unique varieties like Marselan have taken hold as Uruguayan winemakers explore the possibilities of taste and terroir.

Space is limited for this intimate tasting, advance registration is required. Complimentary for qualified wine trade and media only”.

October 27: Uruguay Wine Fall Tour: Trade & Media Tasting – DC

November 1: Uruguay Wine Fall Tour: Trade & Media Tasting – NYC

About the Presenter: Award-winning wine journalist Amanda Barnes, author of the newly-released The South America Wine Guide, Born and raised in Hampshire, England, Amanda Barnes has been based in South America since 2009 and also writes for several wine magazines and books including Decanter and The World Atlas of Wine, and is the editor of The Circle of Wine Writers’ monthly publication. As a “fount of knowledge on South American wine,” as stated by Jancis Robinson, this seminar and tasting is one you will not want to miss to dive deeper into all Uruguay has to offer!

November 3: Uruguay Wine Fall Tour: Trade & Media Tasting – Boston

About the Presenter: Award-winning wine journalist Amanda Barnes, author of the newly-released The South America Wine Guide, will give a short overview of the exciting things happening within Uruguay wines at 1PM (be sure to arrive before then!) to help educate about and explore these unique offerings. Born and raised in Hampshire, England, Amanda has been based in South America since 2009 and also writes for several wine magazines and books including Decanter and The World Atlas of Wine, and is the editor of The Circle of Wine Writers’ monthly publication. As a “fount of knowledge on South American wine,” as stated by Jancis Robinson, this seminar and tasting is one you will not want to miss to dive deeper into all Uruguay has to offer!

The Union of Sweet Bordeaux Wines Returns To The US With A Series of Events in Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and New York

The Sweet Wines of Bordeaux are pleased to announce their return to the US with various opportunities for participants to learn about and taste their wines at promotional events through wine and food pairings led by experts in the field.

The Union des Vins Doux de Bordeaux is an association of four organizations, ODG des Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieurs, ODG des Premières Côtes de Bordeaux et Cadillac, ODG des Liquoreux de Bordeaux, and ODG des Côtes de Bordeaux Saint Macaire, that ensures the protection of origin and quality standard of the sweet wines produced in 8 appellations of the Bordeaux region: Bordeaux Moelleux, Bordeaux Supérieur, Cadillac, Cérons, Côtes de Bordeaux Saint-Macaire, Loupiac, Premières Côtes de Bordeaux, and Sainte-Croix-Du-Mont.

Seven will be the appellations participating in the US promotional tour, such as Bordeaux Moelleux Côtes de Bordeaux de Saint- Macaire, Cadillac, Premières Côtes de Bordeaux, Cérons, Sainte-Croix-Du- Mont and Loupiac.

The tour started on Monday 17th October in Dallas with a lunch at Blind Bishop & Dallas Wine Center where the Sweet Wines of Bordeaux were paired with a traditional American BBQ menu. The event was hosted by Dilek Caner, Master of Wine, a title currently held by 417 people around the world and only by 54 people in the US.

On Wednesday, October 19th, The Sweet Wines of Bordeaux were the protagonists during a lunch held at The Art of Cellaring, a collective business aimed to create a community where oenophiles can gather to learn about wine, talk about wine and share wine in Houston, Texas. This event featured a wine and BBQ food pairing led by Brandon Kerne, Director of Operations. He passed the Master Sommelier exam in 2021, becoming the 270th individual since 1973 to pass this rigorous examination.

On October 20th, the tour will continue in Los Angeles with a lunch at the Rustic Kitchen Restaurant & Wine Bar and led by spokesperson Monica Marin. Here the Sweet Bordeaux wines will be paired with an American fusion cuisine. Monica Marin, the Director of WSET & WSG Education Programs at The Wine House, manages the two certification-level programs: WSET and the Wine Scholar Guild (WSG). Currently is a Master of Wine candidate.

After Los Angeles, The Sweet Wines of Bordeaux will be present in New York with a lunch and dinner at the Yoon Haeundae Galbi, on October 24th. For these events Laura Williamson , MS, prior Beverage Director and Chef Sommelier for a Michelin Three-Star, New York Times Four-Star Restaurant in NYC , will guide participants through a wine and food pairing featuring a Korean menu

The Union of Sweet Bordeaux Wines partakes in these events as apart of “The Charming Taste of Europe” a three-year campaign started in 2021 promoted by the Vini d’ Abruzzo consortium and the Union of Sweet Bordeaux Wines, along with fruit producers in Greece’s Union of Agricultural Cooperatives of Kavala (Kavala COOP) and Agricultural Cooperative of Rachi Pieria (“Agios Loukas”), co-financed by the European Union.

To learn more about “The Charming Taste of Europe Campaign,” visit, Pages dedicated to “The Charming Taste of Europe” can be found on all main social networks, such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. The participating Consortia invites everyone to join the social media campaign using the hashtag #charmeu.

About the Charming Taste of Europe:
Europe, a place with timeless charm, is the birthplace of some of the highest-quality products in the world. The Charming Taste of Europe is a special project that introduces exquisite specialties to the United States and Canada, such as Italian and French wines, and fresh fruits from Greece, that showcase Europe’s charm, beauty, culture, history, art, heritage and unmistakable tastes.

The mission of the Charming Taste of Europe, co-funded by the European Union, is to increase awareness of the merits and quality standards of select European wines and fresh fruits with promotional activities in the competitive markets of the U.S. and Canada. The Charming Taste of Europe is promoted by the Consortium for the Protection of Wines of Abruzzo, the Union of Agricultural Cooperatives of Kavala (Kavala COOP), the Agricultural Cooperative of Rachi Pieria “Agios Loukas” and the Union of Sweet Bordeaux Wines. These European agricultural products, famous around the world for their outstanding qualities, will continue to be promoted with initiatives and events for consumers, journalists and trade professionals. For more information visit

To Follow The Charming Taste of Europe Campaign:
Facebook: @CharmingTasteofEU
Instagram: @charmeu_usa
YouTube: The Charming Taste of Europe
Hashtags: #thecharmingtasteofeu and #charmeu

The content of this promotion campaign represents the views of the author only and is his/her sole responsibility. The European Commission and the European Research Executive Agency (REA) do not accept any responsibility for any use that may be made of the information it contains