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Judges select state's best cider

Contact: Denise Yockey
(800) 456-2753

(Grand Rapids, Mich.) – After sampling cider from all over the state, a panel of judges has declared Engelsma's Apple Barn of Walker as Michigan's finest.

The cider was chosen from a field of 34 entries during Michigan's 11th Annual Apple Cider Contest, which took place during the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market Expo conference last week (Dec. 3-6).

Each entry was rated on: appearance and color, aroma and bouquet, acidity and sweetness, sugar/acid balance, body, flavor, finish and overall quality.

As contest winners, cider mill owners Becky and Jim Engelsma II have earned the right to display the traveling cider trophy for the next year. Engelsma's Apple Barn has fared quite well in this particular competition over the years – placing first in 2005 and second in 2006.

The Michigan Apple Cider contest was started in 1997 to honor the tradition of great-tasting cider from Michigan and to generate friendly competition amongst the state's cider-makers. The contest is sponsored by the Michigan Apple Committee and the Michigan State Horticultural Society, and is organized by Michigan State University Extension.

Contest organizer Bob Tritten, district fruit educator from MSU Extension in Flint, said, “The quality bar for cider is definitely on the rise for our Michigan cider-makers. The nine judges all agreed at the close of this year's contest that it's getting harder each year to pick the winning ciders.”

Second-place honors went to Hill Brothers Orchards of Grand Rapids, who earned first-place honors in 2006, and third place went to Erwin Orchards and Cider Mill of South Lyon, first-place winners 1999-2002.

Denise Yockey, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee, said, “It stands to reason that when you grow as many fine-tasting apples as we do here in Michigan, you're bound to be pressing some outstanding cider. Year after year, our cider-makers do a fine job upholding this tradition.”

Michigan cider-makers have experienced a particularly exciting year with the State Legislature citing October as Michigan Apple Cider Month. Lawmakers are also in the process of considering legislation that would declare cider the state's official beverage.

Recent studies have shown apple cider may improve health. It is a good source of Vitamin C, foliate, potassium and boron. Apples and apple cider are fat-free and an excellent source of fiber, which may reduce the risk of heart disease and some types of cancer.

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, including recipes and a listing of cider mills across the state, visit MichiganApples.com.