A small group of Michigan hard cider makers has started the Michigan Cider Association.
“The bylaws were signed during Expo,” said Mike Beck, owner of Uncle John’s Fruit House Winery & Distillery in St. Johns, Michigan.
Beck is president of the United States Association of Cider Makers and treasurer of the Great Lakes Cider & Perry Association. The goal of the new association is specifically to advance and promote the Michigan hard cider industry, while others promote the national and regional cause, he said.
Michigan hard cider annual production has grown from 50,000 gallons ten years ago to 750,000 gallons now. That’s according to Paul Vander Heide, president of the new group. He is the owner of Vander Mill Cider and Winery near Spring Lake, which produces nearly 100,000 cases a year.
“We’re on a really fast horse,” Vander Heide said during the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable, and Farm Market Expo in Grand Rapids.
“We’re gathering members now and expect a fairly good buy-in,” Beck said.
Others involved in forming the new group are Nikki Rothwell and Dan Young at Tandem Ciders in Suttons Bay, Andy Sietsema of Sietsema Orchards in Ada, and Andrew Blake of Blake’s Hard Cider Company in Armada.
While large brewers have led the national growth in hard cider—Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams) has Angry Orchard Cider and MillerCoors has Crispin and Smith & Forge—small cider makers have been increasing in both number and volume.
The Great Lakes Cider & Perry Association lists 62 members on its website, a third from Michigan.