At just 24-years-old, Bri Ewing is making her way up in the cider industry. After graduating with her masters in food science from Virginia Tech in December, Ewing found her way to Mount Vernon, Washington, where she is working as a food and fermentation specialist at the Washington State University (WSU) Research and Extension Center. As one of the oldest cider research programs in the United States, Ewing considers herself pretty lucky.
“It’s kind of strange being in the position I am at such a young age, but I feel very fortunate,” Ewing says about her post.
During her undergraduate study at the University of California Berkley, Ewing studied abroad in Denmark when she found herself leaning toward the wine industry. Before landing the gig at WSU, she interned at wineries in Sonoma County, Napa Valley and New Zealand.
“It was a great experience where I learned about alcoholic beverage production and what it takes to produce something like it,” Ewing says.
Wanting to expand beyond the wine industry, her advisor at Virginia Tech who sparked her interest in hard cider. To understand the foundational knowledge behind the product, Ewing enrolled in the master’s program where she began her cider research.
“It really clicked and its hooked me ever since,” Ewing says. “This industry is so unique and its small but growing. Everyone is so welcoming and excited about what we’re doing.”
Thought she studied how varying harvest maturities and post-harvest storage conditions of apples affected the quality of the cider, Ewing’s latest endeavor is a week-long course on cider and perry production in Mount Vernon, which is offered a few times a year. While the production courses are her main focus, she will later be communicating her research with the general public, as well as cider producers.
Cider studies aside, Ewing admits she is just as much a consumer of cider as she is a researcher.
“I can’t choose a favorite, but I typically go for more sour ciders that are tart with light bodies,” she says.
This is just the start for Ewing. As she gets ready to turn 25, she is looking forward to what’s in store. “A lot of this is still brand new,” she admits. “I’m excited to see where it goes.”