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Cider and Perry Competition Judges

Meet the 2020 Judges!

Meredith Collins, Ithaca, NY

Meredith Collins is the blogger behind Along Came A Cider (, where she has been tasting, photographing, and reviewing hard cider since 2013. In addition to managing her blog, Meredith has judged cider for the Good Food Awards, the Great Lakes International Cider and Perry competition, the Pennsylvania Farm Show, and the New York Cider Competition. She's completed Charles McGonegal's cider fault training; presented at Cider Con for three years; and taught classes on the cider business and America's cider renaissance. Her cider experience also includes two years in a cidery tasting room, writing for Cider Culture, Edible Finger Lakes, and other publications. Her volunteer work with cider includes Finger Lakes Cider Week as a social media ambassador, writer, and guest educator. Her training came first in fine chocolate, then in coffee and tea, and now cider. She is also a member of the first class of the Cider Certification Program by the American Cider Association.

Mark Gryska, Northamption, MA

Mark Gryska is the organizer of Franklin County Cider Days Amateur Cider Competition, now entering it's 9th year. He has judged beer and cider competitions for more than 20 years, and is a ranked BJCP Certified Judge.

Charlie Olchowski, Greenfield, MA
Charlie Olchowski has been a judge of alcoholic beverages since the inception of the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) in 1985. He is the ninth judge to be certified in this international program that has over 7,000 active judges. In organizing one of the competitions for the New England Homebrewer of the Year Award, he and others included ciders and meads in the judging. It was the first real forum for judging ciders in the U.S. Charlie has judged ciders at many local, regional, and national events. He actively works in cider education and his cider writings have appeared in many periodicals. He is a panelist in several forums at Cider Days held in Franklin County, Massachusetts each November, which he co-founded with Paul Correnty in 1994. He was a judge in the 2018 competition at The Big E.
Tim Post, Hall, NY

Tim spent summer and fall of 2019 interning at Fox Run Vineyards in the Finger Lakes of NY. The internship is the final requirement to complete his Master's Degree in Enology from Missouri State University. Tim is in his third year of the American Wine Society Judging Certification Program. Tim has judged several wine (and cider and beer) competitions including: 2018 - 2020 Winemaker Magazine Amateur Wine Competitions, 2019 Big E Northeast Gold Wine, Cider and Perry Competition, 2018 and 2019 NYS Fair Amateur Wine Competitions, 2017 Rodeo Uncorked Wine Competition in Houston, TX, 2018 Slyboro Amateur Cider Competition, and the Saratoga Thoroughbrews Beer/Cider/Mead Competition. He has been a home wine, cider and beer maker for several years.

Ben Watson, Peterborough, NH
Ben Watson is the author of several books, including Cider, Hard and Sweet, 3rd edition (Countryman Press, 2013). He has lectured widely about the history of apples and the re-emergent national and world cider culture. For the past several years Ben has served as a judge for the Great Lakes Cider and Perry Competition (GLINTCAP), held annually in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 2016, he also judged at the Dan Berger International Cider Competition held in Santa Rose, California. In addition, Ben serves on the volunteer committee that organizes Franklin County Cider Days in western Massachusetts, held annually on the first weekend in November. Ben is a longtime senior editor at Chelsea Green Publishing, focusing mainly on books on regenerative agriculture, artisan foods and environmental science.

Photo Credit: Tony Laidig
Ria Windcaller, Shutesbury, MA
Ria is the Producer and Host of Cider Chat, a weekly podcast interviewing makers, cider enthusiasts, and people in the cider trade from around the world. The Cider Journal calls Cider Chat "America's premier cider podcast." She has won awards for her own homemade cider and has helped many participants over the course of the first 17 years of CiderDays, the oldest cider fest in the U.S. to learn "How to make cider." In 2018, Ria launched Totally Cider Tours -- offering all inclusive cider tours to a worldwide audience.
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