Comox Valley business named International Cidermaker of the Year 2021

The Raven’s Moon cider has been winning awards for a few years. 2021 was a record-setting year for the locally produced cider. Photo by Terry FarrellThe Raven’s Moon cider has been winning awards for a few years. 2021 was a record-setting year for the locally produced cider. Photo by Terry Farrell
Quinn (left) and George Ehrler run Blue Moon Winery and Ciderworx, which produces the award-winning Raven’s Moon cider. Photo by Terry FarrellQuinn (left) and George Ehrler run Blue Moon Winery and Ciderworx, which produces the award-winning Raven’s Moon cider. Photo by Terry Farrell

Local cider producer George Ehrler is over the moon with the results of this year’s Annual Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition.

Blue Moon Winery and Ciderworx of Courtenay has been named International Cidermaker of the Year 2021 in the 15th Annual Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition, GLINTCAP for their Raven’s Moon Craft cider, winning 14 medals; one gold, 12 silver and one bronze.

“We expected to win a few medals – we were hoping for five or six – but for all those to medal, I was really surprised,” said George, who runs the family business along with his son, Quinn.

The event, which was held July 28-30 in Grand Rapids, featured 1,561 total entries, including 1,231 in the Commercial Division – in which the Raven’s Moon ciders were entered.

The Commercial Division competition was the largest in the history of the GLINTCAP.

There was a live event in 2021, although the Ehrlers did not attend this year. They sent their product in to be judged, via a Canadian marshalling area.

“They didn’t have a competition last year, but we won medals in both 2018 and 2019,” said Quinn. “But this is the first year we have won the International Cidermaker of the Year, and the first year we have won a medal for all of our ciders.”

The categories are divided into different traditional aspects of cider, i.e. heritage, fruit, botanicals, spiced, fortified.

Quinn said some of their ciders ran against each other in the same categories.

“Our Ginger won the gold and our Chai and Tea Time won the silver in the same category,” said Quinn. “So we won three in one category. For the fruit one, we won four awards in the fruit category.”

Medals are awarded based on a points system. Ciders are rated based on a standardized point system, and the score determines whether the product is medal-worthy, and if so, which medal.

“So in one category, there could be no gold medal handed out, if no one scores high enough, and 50 silver,” said George.

After that judging, there is a ‘Best in Class’ competition as well.

“All the golds will go into a second testing group, to determine the Best in Class,” said George.

The Raven’s Moon Ginger Apple Cider would have advanced into the Best of Class competition, and although it did not win, Blue Moon itself won the International Cidermaker of the Year 2021 based on total points earned.

All the Raven’s Moon ciders are produced using locally sourced fruits and flavours.

They grow all their blueberries on the farm just outside Courtenay. The raspberries have been coming from Shelter Point. They get blackberries from Coastal Black Winery. Most of the apples come from Denman and Hornby islands, as well as closer to Courtenay.

“We have over 32 varieties of apples we use,” said Quinn. “It’s all heritage – that’s what makes our cider taste good.”

Never ones to rest on their laurels, the Ehrlers have a few new products set to hit the market in the coming months

“We are launching our can lineup in a couple of months,” said Quinn. “We are also launching our crafted tea cooler – a tea-based, fermented beverage, five per cent alcohol, in collaboration with Hornby Island Tea Company, the same tea that we use in our Tea Time and West Coast Chai (ciders).”

So, with the title of International Cidermaker of the Year added to its ever-growing list of accolades, is it fair to say Raven’s Moon is the best cider in the world?

“We are the best cidery among the people that submitted,” laughed George. “I wouldn’t say we are the best in the world. There are a lot of really good ciders out there.”

Here is the full list of Blue Moon winners:

GOLD

Ginger Apple Cider

SILVER

Apple Blueberry Cider; Apple Cider; Apple Pear Cider; Apple Quince Cider; Raspberry Cider; Asian Pear Cider; Cider & Black Cider; Crabby Pants Cider; Polaris Fortified Cider; Ragged Ass Road Cider; Tayberry Cider; Tea Time Cider

BRONZE

West Coast Chai Cider