It can be a lonely life for the modern-day artisan and/or small businessperson. For the cider maker, there are long days of working, head down, with apples and yeast as your only company. Hours spent in front of the computer, buried in spreadsheets and emails. Nights spent silently worrying about all of the millions of things that could go wrong at any given moment. And yet, we soldier on, for love of our craft and the furthering of our own businesses and the cider industry at large.
Even if you have a great team, a super supportive second-in-command and an empathetic spouse, no one quite understands the specific struggles and epic hustle like other cider professionals. Having a group of people with whom you can connect, share ideas, problem-solve and work together — you know, a community — is a highly valuable resource in our industry.
What began as an informal group meetup in 2014 has since grown into a strong, supportive network of individuals and businesses that are part of the state’s ever-growing cider industry. Our list of member cideries, associate members and enthusiast members is a who’s who of people making waves and pushing to expand and further Pennsylvania cider.
Hale & True, a small urban cidery that opened in spring 2018, became a member in its early planning stages. Co-owner Risa McKenzie says that she and her partner, Kerry McKenzie, perceive the growth and success of the entire cider industry as dependent on the concept of community.
“The cider community in Pennsylvania, and the support we can lend each other, has the potential to be hugely impactful on the success of each cidery and for industry as a whole. The guild can set the stage for us all to work together toward common goals, including advancing the cider industry and improving laws and regulation,” she noted. “The PA Cider Guild helps us get and stay connected, while giving us a chance to have a voice and an influence.”
Joal Wolf, president of Conneaut Cellars Winery in Conneaut Lake, about 50 miles south of Erie, attended the first-ever meeting at the Penn State University satellite in Adams County.
“I wanted to have cider stand on its own and not as a ‘stepchild’ to wine or beer … I believe cider should be its own class,” he said. “I also believed the Pennsylvania Cider Guild would put Pennsylvania on par with [other cider producing states like] New York, Michigan and Washington.”
A united community is just one of many reasons why you should become a member of the PA Cider Guild.
When you join the PACG as a member, your name is added to the list and interactive map of supporting cideries, which is good news for your SEO. If you Google the phrase “Pennsylvania Cider,” our list of cideries is the top result! This is a great way for curious cider fans to find out what to seek out and try on a local level.
Another benefit are key members-only opportunities, such as inclusion in the 2019 PA Cider Fest, an amazing annual event just outside of Gettysburg that draws thousands of cider fans from far and wide to sip their way through Pennsylvania’s craft cider offerings. The night before the Fest each year, PACG members gather for a special dinner and cider share at the Hauser Estate Winery/Jack’s Hard Cider tasting room. This wonderful experience lets you rub elbows with everyone you want to know in the Pennsylvania cider world, gives you access to limited-edition and special batches of cider from the other makers in attendance and includes a delicious Pennsylvania-only cheese board and an incredible meal!
Pennsylvania-based cider producers are also eligible to enter the cider contest portion of the PA Farm Show each year (soon to be in its second year) and the Philly Pour the Core Festival, and all of your in-house events can be posted on the PACG website calendar. On top of that, we provide marketing support and inspiration as well as advocacy within the state legislature. You’ll be invited to participate in PACG meetings and have voting rights on motions. All of this community and material support is just $250 annual dues.
Even if you’re not a full-fledged cidery yet, we encourage you to join at the Cidery in Planning level for annual dues of only $50. Opportunities as the Associate member level ($200) and Enthusiast member level ($20) are also available.
Joining is simple: We’ve recently overhauled our sign-up system, so getting involved is a cinch. You can sign up online, with the option to also pay your dues through the website.
Come join our growing group of members and supporters today, and experience the support of the community we are working to build at the PA Cider Guild.
Photo Credit: Casey Martin Photography for Cider Culture