Portland, OR [August 21, 2018] – The United States Association of Cider Makers (USACM) is thrilled to announce that its executive director, Michelle McGrath, has been named a 2018 40 Under 40 Tastemaker in the U.S. by Wine Enthusiast magazine. The Wine Enthusiast 40 Under 40 list recognizes the young winemakers, brewers, beverage directors, grape growers, and other movers and shakers who are changing today’s beverage industry.
“I am humbled and honored to receive this distinction,” exclaimed McGrath. “The most thrilling part is the well-deserved national recognition it means for cider.”
USACM is a young association, formally designated in 2014. McGrath became the association’s first executive director in the summer of 2016. In just two years her impact and leadership is visible through increased membership, a growing general awareness of cider styles and an ever-improving CiderCon—the industry’s annual conference.
“Michelle has brought real professionalism to a young organization,” shared Paul Vander Heide, owner of Vander Mill Cider and USACM Board President. “Her engagement with members, industry stakeholders, and policy makers has dramatically advanced our mission to support and grow the US cider industry.”
McGrath credits her success to the association’s passionate members, especially its board of directors. “I’ve worked with several boards in past roles, and I’ve never come across one as effective as USACM’s. It’s why we can do so much with so little. All of our volunteers deserve so much credit.”
McGrath has managed to lead an extremely diverse industry towards category-wide standards, by overseeing the creation and development of the association’s consumer-facing cider style guide—the first of its kind, adopted in October 2017.
“Cider as a category is not just one thing, but an incredible variety of styles and points of view,” said USACM member and cider author, Darlene Hayes. “It’s a challenge to represent such diversity.”
McGrath is up for that challenge, according to Stephen Wood, founder of Farnum Hill Cider and USACM volunteer. “McGrath has shown herself to be equally adept at working among the diverse continuum of groups that make up the U.S. cider industry, from large market-driven cider makers to smaller orchard-based cider makers, processors and suppliers to advisors and advocates.”
Under her strategic direction, the association is attacking the development of new programming to support and grow the cider industry. From promoting cider education through the association’s Certified Cider Professional Program (CCP), to advocating for the fair and accurate treatment of cider with the government and the media to leading the creation of cider-specific market data, she’s taken the role of championing cider seriously and fiercely.
“Michelle is the real deal. She works tirelessly and diligently with cider makers across all regions of the US to help raise the profile and market share of American cider,” said Jolie Devoto, founder of Golden State Cider and USACM Member. “She’s supporting a dialogue about cider on a massive scale.”
McGrath’s goals are not quaint. “I want US cider to be the most coveted cider in the world. I want every bar in America to feature multiple styles and understand the story behind our category. I want to double our market share. US cider deserves to be celebrated. I applaud Wine Enthusiast for doing that within their 40 Under 40 program.”
The October issue of Wine Enthusiast will feature the 40 Under 40 tastemakers selected for 2018, including McGrath.