While the cider is about as gender neutral in its consumers as beverage can get — recent data shows it’s roughly 50 percent male and 50 percent female — the women of the industry are banding together to not only propel the field forward but also build a supportive community for females in cider. In honor of International Women’s Day Friday and Women’s History Month this March, Cidercraft asked a few power cider women to share what they are most professionally proud of in addition to a “shero” they’d like to share a drink with.
Director of Operations | ANXO
Fitz had not planned on taking a full-time role at ANXO when it opened in Washington, DC. Originally she was supposed to be a silent partner in the business and take a dream job working with refugees and healthcare. But it soon became apparent the business needed her and the opportunity to practice social work she figured would be limitless and something she could come back to. Now Fitz works as the director of operations for the Basque-inspired cidery and restaurant.
Moment of Pride: “I honestly think my biggest accomplishment so far is opening a business with my brother and two friends that we all love and care about and work incredibly hard for, but that we also share values and goals about. Having a truly family-run business where each partner recognizes the others’ strengths is a pretty wonderful work environment to be in and we created that.”
Shero to Clink With: No one in particular. “I don’t have specific sheros, but I think the women in this industry have a collective power that is just incredible. ANXO is doing Women’s Month, so for the entire month of March we are only pouring beverages made or owned by women — 36 draft lines of cider and beer, wine, liquor, non-alcoholic, sherry etc. Our feature event is a panel and tasting with Eleanor of Eden, Elizabeth of Hudson Valley, Autumn Stoscheck of Eve’s and Lori Rice of Willow Oaks. Having those four women in one room together tasting their ciders together and talking about their journeys as women in this industry gives me chills. So that event will be my ‘shero’ event, and I expect to be drinking endless small pours of women-only made beverages.”
Owner | Portland Cider Co.
Parrish always preferred cider, afterall she does hail from the cidermaking motherland in Somsert, England. Fortunately, Parrish’s husband and co-founder of Portland Cider, Jeff, shared her fondness for cider and together they started experimenting with making the drink. What started out as five-gallon batches made in their guest room closet is now a business that produces 5,000-gallon batches.
Moment of Pride: “I am most proud of creating a brand that prides itself on producing what I think is the finest quality liquid in the marketplace today. We have a wonderful team of employees, who are as passionate about our cider and enjoy the job as much as I do. I also get to work with my husband each and every day, making it a labor of love in many regards. It can sometimes be stressful, but he and I always find common ground and enjoy dealing with our challenges together.”
Shero to Clink With: Her grandmother. “She would get such a kick out of what I am doing, owning a couple of cider pubs — I still have to pinch myself — and running a cider company. She and I always enjoyed many a chat over a pint of cider before sitting down to a traditional Sunday roast dinner either at the local pub or cooked by her at home… I think she would have enjoyed drinking our Kinda Dry cider, as this is the cider that we made in tribute to my English roots. It’s well-beloved by all of us at Portland Cider, as well as by our fans, and really led to the beginnings of Portland Cider Co.”
Majority Owner | Fourth Coast Ciderworks
There isn’t a part of the business that Hemmer isn’t involved in. She is part of Fourth Coast Ciderworks’ recipe development, production and, of course, business operations. Hemmer moved from Bend, Oregon, to Michigan where she and her husband opened up their small-batch cideryt. It was her husband’s allergy to beer that initially got them into cidermaking and the fun they had making it eventually led to them opening up their own business.
Moment of Pridet: “I am most proud of our tasting/taproom. It was something we weren’t originally going to start with, but quickly found there was a demand for it. It has a cool, hang out with your friends, kind of vibe. [My] favorite part of the job is meeting new people. Whether it’s going out on sales calls or people coming to taste our cider, I love talking about our cider and how we got here. ”
Shero to Clink With: Michelle McGrath, United States Association of Cider Makers executive director. “She is truly working on the advancement of the cider industry and is doing it in a male-dominated venue. I would like to share our Wildflower, semi-sweet hard cider, with her because it’s based on my daughter’s ice hockey team. Girl hockey players… semi-sweet. It’s how we have to be to thrive in the industry.”
Agriculture Entrepreneurship & Marketing Educator | Penn State Extension
Pennsylvania is the fourth largest producer of apples in the country and in Adams County, where Snyder is based, they produce 70 percent of those apples. It’s her job to assist apple producers and their businesses into cider. In addition to working with and educating hard cider producers, Snyder works on agricultural international development.
Moment of Pride: “Connecting the international cider community. Our program was the first to expand its reach into international producer tours. This allowed me to combine my experience and love of travel and immersion teaching with my love of cider. Thankfully it has resulted in incredibly connective and educational tours for the producers who have been able to join us. They’ve been exposed to both old-world traditions and new innovative solutions in the industry resulting in many opening cideries, expanding production, creating new varieties of cider and experimenting with new production techniques all to make their business and the industry better..”
Shero to Clink With: Mercedes Alvarez Valle, Nicaraguan agricultural activist. “I’ve done it, and she made the drinks! I was lucky enough to meet her about seven years ago while working with a group of young agriculturalists in Nicaragua and over the years I’ve been privileged to call her a friend. Mercedes is an incredibly driven, insightful and smart leader in sustainable agriculture in Nicaragua. She currently leads an NGO empowering women to utilize simple innovative technologies to create sustainable livelihoods. She has inspired me to persevere, strive for sustainability and that the bases of developing a business or assisting a village is always the relationships we hold with the people.”
Co-owner and Head Cidermaker | Urban Orchard Cider
Mielke got into cider because of the abundance of local apples in western North Carolina — that and her desire to have a less gluten-filled diet. So she set out to create a cider that wasn’t super-sweet and would, in turn, help local agriculture. Urban Orchard gets all their apples from nearby Hendersonville and the results are far from gluten-filled.
Moment of Pride: “So far, our proudest accomplishments are how we’ve educated the masses to how craft cider can be when taking a local and pure approach. You’d be surprised to how often we hear, ‘I didn’t think I liked cider, until we tried Urban Orchard Cider!’ Another big accomplishment is how we have been able to utilize our platform to support other local/small businesses and contribute to causes that we feel close to in our community. It is important to us to give back to the community that has supported us throughout our journey and those in need here.”
Shero to Clink With: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “Yes, she is predominant in the media currently, but I do appreciate her dedication to making our country a better place for all and not wavering in the face of adversity. We would likely be sipping a marginally chilled Hibiki 17-year Japanese whiskey. This tasty beverage seems to fit us both in the way that we have and are taking a new approach to an age old craft. Let’s not be afraid to embrace the new while honoring history in the process.”