Cider Production Short Course: From Tree To Bottle


As of October 17, this workshop has been sold out. Any registrations received after this date will be returned. If you did not get a confirmation email that we received your registration form and payment, then you are not registered. Thank you for your interest. We plan to host more cider related workshops in the future.

Cider Production Short Course: From Tree to Bottle

Virginia Tech – Blacksburg, Virginia

November 6-7, 2014

Purpose: During this workshop, participants will learn about cider production from both the orchard and cider-making perspectives. Our goal is to provide participants with the latest research-based information to advance their cider orchard, fermentation technique, and marketing practices. Content will be tailored to commercial producers who are or will soon be in production.IMG_1737

About the Course: The workshop will include a mix of classroom lectures and hands-on laboratory training. Speakers will share information on the current state of Virginia Tech’s cider research projects, including orchard management practices that impact cider quality, cultivar selection, the cost of growing hard cider apples, the potential increase in the Mid-Atlantic cider market, understanding apple tannins, and the laboratory skills needed for producing consistently high-quality cider. Participants will also be trained in recognizing and preventing cider faults and flaws. Guest speaker Mary Beth Williams, a practicing attorney whose clientele includes many cideries and wineries in Virginia, will discuss federal and state regulations.

Cost: $150 per person (includes two lunches, two coffee breaks, cider sensory session, handouts, lab supplies, and take home materials). Payment must be in the form of a check, payable to “Virginia Tech Foundation” with “Winchester Horticulture” in the memo line. (Note: Due to Virginia Tech policies, cash and credit card payments cannot be accepted.) Registration fees are non-refundable.

There is a maximum of 35 spaces available for this workshop! Space will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. This event is now sold out.


Each workshop participant should complete a separate form.

Location: Human and Agricultural Biosciences Building 1 (HABB1), Virginia Tech, 1230 Washington Street SW, Blacksburg, Virginia ( To download a campus map, visit

Parking: Free parking passes will be available for nearby parking lots. Please arrive at 8:00 AM to obtain a pass. Many hotels offer free shuttles to campus buildings. Please inquire at the front desk of your hotel.

Hotels: The Inn at Virginia Tech is offering a discounted rate ($97/night plus taxes and other fees) for course attendees. Use the code “Hard Cider Workshop” when making your reservations. (Note: There is no requirement to stay at The Inn.)

DSC03890Disability accommodations: If you are a person with a disability and need any assistive devices, services, or other accommodations to participate in the Cider Production Short Course, please contact Greg Peck (Alson H. Smith Jr. AREC) at 540-869-2560, ext. 19*, during business hours (7:30 AM to 4:00 PM), at least five days prior to the event to make arrangements. *TDD number is 1-800-828-1120.

For additional information or questions, please contact Greg Peck.

 Sponsored in part with funding from a VDACS USDA-Specialty Crop Block Grant.

Cider Production Short Course: From Tree to Bottle


Thursday, November 6, 2014

8:30 – 9:00 AM      Introduction to the Workshop – Greg Peck & Amanda Stewart

9:00 – 9:30           Cider Styles in Virginia and Around the World – Molly Kelly

9:30 – 10:15          Influence of Orchard Design and Management on Cider Apples: Site Selection, Rootstocks, Cultivars, Training Systems, and Yields – Greg Peck

10:15 – 10:30         Coffee Break (provided)

10:30 – 11:15         The Economics of Growing Hard Cider Apples – Gordon Groover

11:15-11:30           Demonstration of the Cost-of-Production Worksheets – Gordon Groover and Greg Peck

11:30 -12:00 PM   Developing Relationships and Contracts between Apple Growers and Cideries: Examples from the Virginia Wine Industry – Tremain Hatch

12:00-12:45           Lunch (provided)

12:45 – 1:30          The Emerging Hard Cider Industry: A Market Analysis of the Mid-Atlantic Region – Gustavo Ferreira

1:30 – 1:45           Break

1:45 – 2:30           Chemical Composition of Cider Apples in Virginia – Amanda Stewart, Andrew Neilson, and Greg Peck

2:30 – 3:45           Understanding Governmental Regulations – Mary Beth Williams

3:45 – 4:00           Walk to Laboratory

4:00 – 5:30           Laboratory Practicum – Molly Kelly, Amanda Stewart, and Ken Hurley


Friday, November 7, 2014

8:00 – 8:15 AM         Welcome to Day 2 – Greg Peck

8:15 – 9:00            Strategies for a Profitable Tasting Room – Gustavo Ferreira

9:00 – 9:45            Nitrogen in Fermentations – Amanda Stewart

9:45 – 10:00           Coffee Break (provided)/walk to sensory session

10:00 – 12:00 PM     Sensory Session – Amanda Stewart and Molly Kelly

12:00 – 1:00           Lunch (provided)

1:00 – 1:15            Overview of the Virginia Tech Wine Analysis Laboratory – Ken Hurley

1:15 – 2:30            Grower and Producer Panel: What Apples Do I Grow? What Apples Do I Want for my Cider?

2:30 – 3:15            Processing and Fermentation Equipment – Brian Wiersema and Molly Kelly

3:15 – 4:00            Wrap-up, Open Discussion, Q&A – All

Schedule is subject to modifications.

 Cider Production Short Course: From Tree to Bottle

Workshop Speakers

Gustavo Ferreira earned a B.S. in economics at Lusiada University (Portugal), an M.B.A. at McNeese State University, and a Ph.D. in agricultural economics at Louisiana State University. Since 2010, Ferreira has been a faculty member in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at Virginia Tech and has developed teaching, research, and Virginia Cooperative Extension programs with a focus on agribusiness and agricultural marketing. He has participated in multiple interdisciplinary research-funded grants ($627,000) and has authored 11 peer-reviewed journal articles and Extension publications.

Gordon Groover is an Extension specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at Virginia Tech. His work as an Extension economist centers on improving the financial decision-making capacity, knowledge, and analytical skills of Extension personnel and clients. His current Extension and research work includes programs on Virginia land-use taxation, farm business management, apple cost of production, and economics of sustainable forage and livestock systems. He has produced a bimonthly newsletter since 1992 to disseminate information to farmers, agents, governmental personnel, and agricultural media. Groover is responsible for supporting the development of more than 130 crop and livestock cost-of-production budgets.

Tremain Hatch has been a viticulture research/Extension associate at the Virginia Tech Alson H. Smith Jr. Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Winchester, Virginia since 2010. He works to deliver innovative research to Virginia grape growers to improve their sustainability and fruit quality. Hatch first became involved in the Virginia wine industry in 2002 when he helped his father install a vineyard on their cattle farm. He has competed vineyard internships in Italy, New Zealand, and Virginia, and continues to help on his family farm with its livestock, vineyards, and winery.

Ken Hurley is a TTB certified chemist who was brought in to establish the VT Enology Analytical Services Laboratory after graduating with a Masters in Biochemistry in 2005. He is currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Food Science and Technology at Virginia Tech studying factors that influencing and control fermentation.

Molly Kelly joined Virginia Tech’s faculty as the enology Extension specialist in the Department of Food Science and Technology in December 2013. Previously she held the position of enology instructor at Surry Community College in Dobson, North Carolina, where she developed the enology curriculum and managed all aspects of the college’s 1,000-case bonded winery. Under her direction, Surry produced numerous international, award-winning wines. Prior to her position at Surry, Kelly was a biodefense team microbiologist with the New York State Department of Health. Kelly earned a bachelor’s degree in medical technology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master’s in biology from the University of Texas-San Antonio. She recently completed a Ph.D. in food science at Virginia Tech under the direction of Bruce Zoecklein. Her dissertation research focused on the characterization of the aroma composition of petit manseng grapes.

Andrew Neilson is an assistant professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology at Virginia Tech. His research interests center on dietary polyphenols. Within the field of polyphenols, he studies polyphenol chemistry and levels in foods; bioactivities against chronic diseases such as diabetes, bioavailability, and pharmacokinetics; and analytical methods such as HPLC-mass spectrometry. Currently, Neilson’s group studies apple, cocoa, and grape polyphenols. He is also collaborating with Amanda Stewart and Gregory Peck to investigate the impact amongst orchard practices, apple varietals, and fermentation dynamics on apple polyphenols in apple juices and hard cider.

Gregory Peck is an assistant professor of horticulture and the tree-fruit Extension specialist for Virginia Tech. He has collaborated on economic feasibility studies for small-scale cideries and hard cider orchards, and has established cider variety trials at the Alson H. Smith Jr. Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Winchester, Virginia. He is currently collaborating with Amanda Stewart and Andrew Neilson to investigate the relationship between orchard practices, fermentation dynamics, and cider quality.

Amanda Stewart is an assistant professor of enology and fermentation at Virginia Tech. She has taught courses in wine production and wine styles/wine appreciation, and has presented on practical topics in winemaking and fermentation at wine and cider industry meetings in several states throughout the Eastern U.S. She is currently collaborating with Gregory Peck, Andrew Neilson, and Molly Kelly to conduct research and Extension work related to hard cider production from the orchard to the cidery.

Brian Wiersema is the Pilot Plant Manager for the Food Science Department at Virginia Tech.  Prior to working at Virginia Tech Brian spent over 15 years in the food and beverage industry as an assistant winemaker, cellar master at a cider production facility, and most recently as QA and Analytical lab manager at a top craft brewery.

Mary Beth Williams is president of Williams Compliance and Consulting Group LLC, which provides compliance services and legal consulting to the alcohol beverage industry. She works in all levels of the three-tier system, with a focus on the day-to-day compliance issues and trade practice parameters within which industry members must function. Williams graduated from the University of Denver College of Law in 1996. She served as a felony prosecutor in Colorado for six years and as a civil litigator for two years before returning to her home state of Virginia, where she worked as a regulatory attorney with the Virginia State Corporation Commission before starting Williams Compliance and Consulting.

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