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FEB/MAR 2005 | REGIONAL | PACIFIC NW

Report From The Vanguard : Cider Press
By Marie Oliver

Oregon's First Hard Cider Tasting Room
Acquisitions and mergers are so commonplace in the beverage industry that well-read consumers who follow marketplace trends may ably hedge their bets on a forthcoming strategic business maneuver. One sure speculation is the imminent growth of the nation's distinctive, emergent hard-cider sector. However, not even an insider could have accurately guessed this next play.

Roger Mansfield, Ph.D., a central Oregon–based cider producer who started The Traditional Company during 2000 as a retirement activity, sold his business to former Forestry Service analysts Nick Gunn and Mimi Casteel in Salem, Oregon.

"Our tasting room will be on the path of travel for a growing sector in agri-tourism, and we're trying to tap into the market emerging in our region," said Gunn. The Traditional Company tasting room, which seats 25, including an outdoor structure, is a restored barn-turned-cidery designed by friend and cider-maker Wayne Van Loon. A 10-year wine industry veteran and owner of a small architectural design business, Van Loon worked at a premier cidery in Normandy, France, during 2003. He hopes to release his own product in spring 2005.

Fish Brewing Acquires Spire Mountain Cider
Fish Brewing Company of Olympia, Wash., recently announced the acquisition of Spire Mountain Cider from the Washington Wine and Beverage Company in Woodinville, Wash. All cider production was relocated to the Fish Brewery in Olympia by late January 2005. A statement released by Fish Brewery in early January said the purchase will better prepare the company to satisfy the beverage demands of its retail customers at existing and future pubs. Head Brewer Jennifer Gridley stated, "It is certainly a huge challenge, but at least we will have some tasty cider to help us relax after work." Fish Brewing installed new equipment and is redesigning product packaging for its new hard cider.

Fox Barrel Cider Celebrates Success
In June 2004, Cider Press turned the spotlight on new cider venture Fox Barrel Cider in California, started by Shawn Deorsey and Bruce Nissen. Fox Barrel has sold nearly all of the 180 cases produced during 2004, and the company completed a 400-gallon bottling at the end of December.

Nissen reports that Fox Barrel has acquired a new partner, Martin Hartigan, Ph.D., who has a vast background in analytical instrumentation and chemistry. His portfolio of sales and marketing skills are a welcome addition to the Fox Barrel team, Nissen said.

Fox Barrel has taken what Nissen described as step one in its business model, selecting Morrow Distributing Company of Woodland, Calif., to funnel its products into the marketplace. A complete list of locations will be available on foxbarrel.com. The company plans to increase the size of its production facility to 3,000 square feet from the existing 1,200 square feet.

Happy St. Patrick's Day
Magners Original Irish Cider has maintained its U.S. ascendancy and has been awarded "Hot Brand" status by beverage-industry publication Market Watch two years in a row, said Karen Pineman, assistant vice president for G. S. Schwartz & Co., Inc., the public relations firm for Magners U.S. During 2004, Magners launched a campaign in Boston introducing new pint bottles with a trial of drinking cider over ice, as is traditionally done in Ireland.

While the company has had challenges due to external forces such as devaluation of the dollar against the euro currency, Mark Woodard, national sales manager for Magners Original Irish Cider, said the company exceeded projected sales goals in 2004.
"The cider industry is not in a growth pattern right now," said Woodard. "We're just trying to hold on and support our core markets rather than take resources away from them to expand into new territory."

Northwest Cider Society Recognizes Nine Artisan Ciders
The second North American Cider Competition held in Seattle in November 2004 recognized nine cider-makers throughout the United States and Canada (please see below for competition results).

"The overall quality of the entries was noticeably better than last year," according to Peter Mitchell, the technical advisor to the competition and an internationally recognized expert in cider production. "The best of North America's artisan ciders are now comparable to long-established products from Britain and continental Europe."

Marie Oliver is a beer and cider enthusiast living in Portland, Oregon, and a writer at pdxguide.com.

NORTH AMERICAN CIDER COMPETITION RESULTS
GOLD MEDALS

Macbeth's Three Witches Hard Cider
The Traditional Company, Culver, OR

Merridale House Cider
Merridale Ciderworks, Cobble Hill, B.C.

     
SILVER MEDALS  

Oliver Beanblossom Hard Cider
Oliver Winery, Bloomington, IN

Westcott Bay Orchards Vintage Cider
Westcott Bay Orchards, Friday Harbor, WA

White Oak Traditional English-Style Cider
White Oak Cider, Newberg, OR

     
BRONZE MEDAL   Juliet's Love Dry Sparkling Cider
The Traditional Company, Culver, OR
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