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Cider and Perry Competition Judges

Meet the 2019 Judges!


Mark Gryska, Northampton, MA

Mark Gryska is the organizer of Franklin County Cider Days Amateur Cider Competition now entering it's 7th year. He has judges Beer and Cider Competitions for more than 15 years and is a ranked BJCP Certified Judge.

Michelle Pagano, Manhasset, NY
Michelle Anna Pagano specializes in public relations, website development, and social media management. She graduated from C.W. Post with a B.F.A. in Print and Electronic Journalism in 2007 and is currently a Brand Ambassador for Graft Cider in New York. She is also a blogger at and at TheOutcask.com and social media influencer (@TheBrewBabe). Michelle is an award-winning cidermaker: 1st Place in Specialty Cider for Mid-Atlantic Amateur Cider Contest (2018), Silver in the Hopped Cider category and Silver in the Spiced Cider catergory for the Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition (2018). She is also an active member of the American Homebrewers Association and Long Island homebrew clubs.

Ben Watson, Petesborough, 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, Bed serves on the volunteer committee that organizes Franklin County Cider Days in western Massachusetts, held annually on the first weekend in November. In 2019 Cider Days will celebrate its 25th anniversary. Ben is a longtime senior editor at Chelsea Green Publishing, focusing mainly on books on regenerative agriculture, artisan foods and environmental science.

Ria Windcaller, Shutesbury, MA
Ria Windcaller 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 home made cider and has helped many participants over the course of the first 17 years of CiderDays, the oldest cider fest in the US learn “How to make cider”. In 2018, Ria launched Totally Cider Tours - offering all inclusive cider tours to world-wide.


Contact Us!
If you have any questions please email us at aginfo@TheBigE.com or call us at (413) 205 - 5011.

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