The Northwest Cider Association (NWCA) star continues to rise. Under the management of the Northwest Agriculture Business Center (NABC), the association grew from 19 to 35 cidermaker members in just 8 months. Also, new categories for membership were adopted creating opportunities for orchardists, vendors and beginning cidermakers to also participate in the organization in 2014.
Waiting lists of eager, new cidermakers and growers continue to fill up NABC workshops in Mount Vernon, WA, some before they are even scheduled. To meet the growing regional demand, next year NABC will offer programs in Moses Lake, WA and Troutdale, OR. Currently, thanks to a collaboration with Dr. Carol Miles of Washington State University, the NWCA is selling cider apple scion wood harvested from the WSU Mount Vernon NWREC’s cider research orchard. Orders are being taken through the end of December and provide an opportunity for orchardists to increase diversity of specialty cider apples.
The growing interest in cider has even triggered the introduction of legislation called the CIDER Act which will redefine cider and improve its tax structure. This August, NWCA met with Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) who introduced the bill in the House. Also this summer, Washington cidermarkers were invited to pour for Governor Inslee and Governor Ido of Hyogo Prefecture of Japan, at the 50th anniversary celebration of the sister states.
NABC also agreed to help the U.S. Cidermakers Association with its annual conference CiderCon, held in Chicago in February 2014. This fall NABC welcomed new part time staff member Carla Craig who was immediately given new cider assignments including the conference.
Consumers continue to make cider the fastest growing segment of the beverage industry. NWCA Cider Weeks and Cider Summits in both Oregon and Washington drew record crowds. The industry’s annual fundraiser, Summer Cider Day in Port Townsend, WA was the association’s most successful to date with 19 cidermakers serving up 60 ciders. Recently, Visit Seattle partnered with the NWCA creating several new opportunities to promote cider. This summer, even the first cider bar opened in Seattle, WA, offering 100 ciders on tap.
Media mentions of Northwest cider have also been extensive. A few highlights are the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, BBC Radio http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03ddz8p, as well as local coverage in the Tacoma News-Tribune, a 10 page spread in Seattle Metropolitan Magazine, and the Seattle Weekly story “Fruit of the Boom” http://www.seattleweekly.com/home/947012-129/cider-says-beer-apples-schilling-washington
Some of the brightest news was the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s recent award of a Specialty Block Grant of $134,124.91 to fund marketing and research to help the growing cider industry. NABC was instrumental in securing the grant and will assist with its management. The grant will help elevate the visibility of cider and support the work of Dr. Miles and her team at WSU in their continued research on cider apple varieties and mechanical harvesting. In October, NABC and NWCA representatives met with Director of Agriculture Bud Hover and staff members Leisa Schumaker (Specialty Crop Block Grant Program) and Hector Castro (Communications Director).