Critic’s List: Five Cidermakers to Know in 2024

Want to get into some great cider but don’t know where to start? Beth Demmon, author of The Beer Lover’s Guide to Cider, names five who could be the faces of American cider’s future, from innovative newcomers to groundbreaking icons of the craft.

Beth Demmon Dec 27, 2023 - 5 min read

Critic’s List: Five Cidermakers to Know in 2024 Primary Image

Monique Gray, Momentum Cider

Long Beach, California
From music to massage therapy, motherhood, and beyond, Monique Gray has led myriad lives. After the pandemic, however, she shifted gears and turned a cidermaking hobby into her next career. Once launched, Momentum would be one of the first Black woman–owned cideries in the United States—a designation that she doesn’t take lightly. With support provided by the Creator Launchpad Grant from Women of the Bevolution and Beer Kulture, Gray’s 2023 goals include formalizing her business plan, perfecting her recipes—including a crisp, tart, cranberry-infused cider—pouring at different festivals, and collaborating with other cideries such as Benny Boy Brewing in Los Angeles. While she has yet to secure a location and open her doors, Gray is a trailblazer worth watching.

Bex Pezzullo, Sincere Cider

Napa, California
Sincere Cider may be currently available only in California and Nevada, but Bex Pezzullo’s dedication to community-building knows no bounds. Right now, the cidery is a one-woman show focused on packaged distribution. However, with cider this tasty and a commitment to giving back to local and national charities such as 1% For The Planet, it’s a safe bet that Sincere will outgrow its solo roots and blossom into a major player. Sincere’s options range from simply dry to seasonally driven, featuring additions such as ginger, blood orange, and pomegranate; the core Dry Cider is an ideal jumping-off point for exploration. Growth is likely to be slow—Pezzullo says she makes connections one handshake at a time.

Chadd Cook, Cider Hill Cellars

Amesbury, Massachusetts
Quality, not quantity, is the Cider Hill way. On its third-generation farm, Cider Hill produces only estate cider—the apples are all planted, grown, harvested, pressed, and fermented on the same 145-acre property, ensuring minimal intervention. Rather than experiment with lots of flavors and approaches, founder and cidermaker Chadd Cook creates one cider per season, emulating the essence of the season within each bottle. “Spring” is bone-dry, effervescent, and mildly tannic, while “Autumn” is semidry, with soft tannins and a fruit-forward finish. Cider Hill sprinkles some seasonal specialties into the mix—such as the Sour Cherry winter dessert cider—but availability is limited, so some hunting is necessary to enjoy them.

Andrew Byers, Finnriver Farm & Cidery

Chimacum, Washington
Cider is agriculture, and it’s no secret that climate change is dramatically affecting agriculture around the world. Taking steps to ensure that sustainability measures are put into place is more important than ever, and that’s one reason Finnriver became the first certified B Corp cidery in the country in 2015. Few other cideries have achieved that certification since then, and few work with certified organic fruit to make products such as a traditional French-style perry, or a single-varietal cider using Ashmead’s Kernel apples. For Byers and team, the investment is in ensuring that there’s plenty of amazing cider for generations to come.

Hannah Ferguson, D.O.P.E. Cider House & Winery

Youngstown, Ohio
As the first Black female–owned cidery in Ohio, D.O.P.E. Cider House & Winery represents the bright future of American cider. Hannah Ferguson, a winemaker and former brewer, started making cider a few years ago, aiming to offer something novel to the beverage industry while creating a space—via a taproom in Youngstown—for positivity, innovation, and inclusion. D.O.P.E., which stands for Dwelling on Positive Energy, opened its doors in 2022. While many of her ciders include other fruits—such as The Final Straw with strawberry, Family Reunion with watermelon, or Thank Me Later with pineapple—the core of her offerings remain apple-centric, appealing to both traditionalists and the cider-curious. Collaborations with breweries keep her connection to beer alive and provide an easy bridge between the two beverages, making D.O.P.E. truly a space for everyone.