Women Making Waves in the Hard Cider World 3

We’re back with an early summer installment of our exploration of women in cider. Recently, we hit the pavement and discovered two more rock stars of the cider world: Josie Mielke, co-owner and head cider maker at Urban Orchard Cider Co. in Asheville, North Carolina, and Misty Stallard, “head cideress” (as she calls herself) at Rowan Asher Winery in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.

Josie Mielke, Urban Orchard Cider Co.

Urban Orchard Josie Mielke

Tell us: which cider best represents you, and why?

Sidra del Diablo, obviously (habanero-vanilla infusion). I’m usually pretty sweet, but sometimes I might just punch you in the mouth.

Can you share a story in which your work with cider has enriched your life or the lives of others?

Urban Orchard has given us an amazing opportunity to give back to the community. We host a fundraiser at least once a month. We work with anyone from Brother Wolf (a no-kill animal rescue) to Just Economics (a living-wage advocacy group) to individuals who may have specific needs due to chronic illness.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time working with cider?

Some days it was such a struggle opening a new business and figuring everything out, but there is nothing more satisfying than overcoming giant obstacles and seeing your business thrive. It’s hard not to be proud of all that we have accomplished, and I feel very thankful for all my original “homies” that still work with me three years later.

Misty Stallard, Rowan Asher Winery

Misty Stallard, Rowan Asher Winery

Tell us: which cider best represents you, and why?

Sweet Gypsy. I love foraging for organic herbs and flowers. I’m a bit of a hippie.

Can you share a story in which your work with cider has enriched your life or the lives of others?

Once a gentleman came to the tasting room with his wife (it seemed she dragged him in), and they had recently become gluten intolerant and had to leave the “beer world” that they loved. He thought hard cider was a “girly drink” and didn’t want to sample any. After explaining the history of cider and the variety of yeasts and infusions that are available, he reluctantly tried it. He smiled after sipping and was surprised that the cider was semi-dry, not “girly.” He went on to try our Pocono Mule gingery cider and his eyes bugged out. After trying our Oaky O’Shea aged in whiskey barrels I believe I witnessed a cider addict being born. They bought three growlers of different varieties on tap and are regulars in the taproom now. He is happy to have a gluten-free option. They often bring friends to try our new releases and do tasting flights together.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time working with cider?

My husband, Matthew, is a wine maker and I am the “hard cideress” at Rowan Asher, and I wanted to blend together our two passions to create a new product.

After helping him press some Pinotage wine skins, I hated to see the waste left over. So I had an idea. Apples aren’t high in tannins, but grapes are, so why not age my cider on the Pinotage wine skins and give them a second life to see what happens to the complexity? Oh my. It was amazing; the wine aroma came alive, the color was gorgeous! Again, my love of flowers came into play. After brewing some dandelion flowers, organic orange rind and local honey, our limited release called “The Field of Zoan” was born, only available in our tap room. It was named after our oldest son.

Part of my passion for cider includes seeing others succeed in the industry. That is why I founded the North East Cider Trail. The trail unites craft cider makers from Virginia to Maine. It went online a few months ago with a “Trail Map” of each state’s craft cider makers. We have new members coming on board weekly.

***

The goal of the Women and Cider series is to promote female cider makers and to provide a forum for an ongoing positive, supportive conversation about women in the world of cider, whether they are personally fermenting the good stuff or not.

Which cider represents you best? How has cider enriched your life? What is your favorite cider memory? We celebrate each and every one of you, so feel free to reach out with your story at info@ciderculture.com, or comment here.

Leave a Comment