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First time winner in best Michigan Apple cider contest

Contact: Denise Donohue
(800) 456-2753

(DeWitt, Mich.) – Sietsema Orchard & Cider Mill in Ada, Mich., was pronounced the winner of the 15th annual Michigan Apple Cider Contest in a grueling taste-testing competition in Grand Rapids on December 7th.  This was the first win for Skip Sietsema of Sietsema Orchard & Cider Mill.

“It’s an honor to be given the title of best Michigan apple cider,” said Bob Tritten, organizer of the contest and Michigan State University Extension District Fruit Educator.  “Sietsema Orchard beat 31 other entries to win first place.”

Other honors in this year’s contest go to Jim Hill of Hill Bros. Orchards in Grand Rapids, Mich., who earned 2nd place, and Jim and Becky Engelsma of Engelsma’s Apple Barn in Grand Rapids who were judged to have the third-best cider.  Honorable mentions include; 4th place William Erwin and William Emery of Erwin Orchards & Cider Mill in South Lyon, and in 5th place was Rob Long of Long’s Family Orchard & Farm in Commerce.

Jim Engelsma was also honored with the title of Master Cider Maker.  This honor has only been given out three times; first to William Emery of Erwin Orchards & Cider Mill in 2003, Jim Hill of Hill Bros. Orchards in 2010 and now to Engelsma in 2011.  To achieve this prestigious honor, a cider maker must win first place three times.

“Michigan apple growers put a lot of effort into their cider,” said Denise Donohue, Executive Director of the Michigan Apple Committee which co-sponsors the competition. “Most have a secret recipe that is a “cocktail” of sweet and tart apple varieties.  They constantly tinker with it, to create the best sweet cider for their peers, in this case. “

This year the nine judges had a difficult time with the exceptional ciders entered in the contest.  For the first time in the competition there was a tie in the third and final round.  The judges, with a combined
62 years of judging experience, had to work hard to break that tie.

Tritten said that he began this annual competition in 1996 to improve cider making, promote the industry and educate the public. 

The Michigan Apple Committee is a grower-funded nonprofit organization devoted to promotion, education and research activities to distinguish the Michigan apple and encourage its consumption by consumers in Michigan and around the world.  For more information, visit MichiganApples.com.