The formation of a new regional alliance of hard cider producers seems like news for the back page of the business section or perhaps for a trade magazine with an audience of folks working in agriculture or the alcoholic beverage industry. It is a business story. However, it is also very good news for consumers, who ought to support these regional alliances of cider businesses: it means more, fine, craft cider for you, the consumer.
Recently 10 hard cider producers in New York’s Hudson Valley launched the Hudson Valley Cider Alliance. According to the HVCA’s stated mission, they want “to establish hard cider and apple spirits as signature products of this historic apple region…With the belief that hard cider and apple spirits will bring viability to iconic New York orchards, we hope to see this industry grow – and with it, the proliferation of cider apple trees.”
If this new Alliance does as it hopes, increase the number of cider apple trees and establish hard cider as the Hudson Valley’s signature product, that means more craft cider for cider enthusiasts.
The HVCA is not the only regional cider association. The Northwest Cider Association brings together more than 85 cideries, orchards and allied businesses under one umbrella in the Washington, Oregon and the rest of the Pacific Northwest.
The Rocky Mountain Cider Association brings together more than 20 cideries and cider related companies in Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico.
The Great Lakes Cider and Perry Association brings together more than 60 cideries and orchards in states surrounding the Great Lakes as well as in Ontario, Canada.
Then there is the Vermont Ice Cider Association, an organization with a promotional goal that should be apparent and hosts 15 members.
Other similar industry’s, particular the wine industry in which region is particularly important, have demonstrated that regional associations are not only critical to the success of the producers in those regions, but also serve as important resources for consumers looking to locate producers, plan visits and seek out new products. The new HVCA is looking to be a very consumer friendly organization right out the gates with a number of county-based cider tour guides published on their website.
Most regional cider associations have membership opportunities for consumers, or enthusiasts or, simply, “supporters”. The cost to become a supporter is usually small, but the benefits, both long term and short are great. I urge you to support your local cidermaker and help support these regional cider associations. Your palate will thank you.