A new conference hits New York state this March, with cider from the Northeast headlining the event. The inaugural Northeastern Cider Conference (NCC) will be held in Albany, New York, Tuesday, March 24 through Thursday, March 26, as an opportunity for cidermakers to network, share knowledge and learn from each other.
Hosted by the New York Cider Association (NYCA) in partnership with the Glynwood Center for Regional Farming and Angry Orchard Hard Cider, the NCC was created with the intention of meeting the unique regional needs of the Northeastern cider community.
“This conference will provide apple growers and cider makers with the most up-to-date technical information available from researchers and experienced producers,” says pomologist Greg Peck of Cornell University. “It’s going to be an incredible learning experience for both new and existing cider businesses throughout the Northeast.
The programming for the three-day conference will include four educational tracks — Growing, Fermenting, Midstream (distribution, packaging, etc.) and Downstream (retail, education, promotion) — across 20+ panels, conceptualized by planning committees of Northeastern cider professionals.
A wide variety of respected cider industry presenters and panelists will lead the sessions, including Ian Merwin and Greg Peck of Cornell University, Eleanor Leger of Eden Specialty Ciders in Vermont, Dana Masterpolo of Bantam Cider in Massachusetts and Eric Shatt of Red Byrd Orchard Cider in New York. A trade show will also be held for makers and growers to see the latest and greatest in cider production and business.
Tuesday will kick off with an evening cider share reception, while Wednesday and Thursday will host the majority of the programming, with sessions covering topics such as holistic orcharding, microbial impacts on cider, branding and packaging, co-fermentation, how to elevate apple character, tasting room optimization and a sensory lexicon.
“The cider industry has evolved and expanded rapidly over the past decade, and with the extraordinary growth it has become ever clearer that Northeastern cider and its makers have unique needs and interests,” says Megan Larmer, director of regional food at Glynwood. “The time is ripe for this community to gather for intensive learning and to build the cooperative spirit pioneered by the region’s earliest makers.”
Conference organizer NYCA has been an independent trade association since 2015 and is one of the leading associations in the country. The organization has developed a certification process as well as a dryness scale, built a campaign for New York cider brand identity with a competition and four different cider weeks and actively works with the New York legislature in supporting the state’s cider producers.
“Our hope is that folks who come to this conference will walk away with practical knowledge that helps them to better achieve their goals as growers, cidermakers and beverage professionals,” adds David DeFisher of Rootstock Ciderworks and board president of the NYCA. “Beyond that, we hope they feel connected to this vibrant community and have a great time.”