Pomme Boots Society Supports Women in the Cider Industry

by Nancy Zaffaro
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Pomme Boots yoga

It’s Saturday morning, and Jana Daisy-Ensign leads twenty-four women and men through a yoga class in the warehouse behind Portland Cider Company’s Tasting Room. Jana is a certified yoga instructor and one of three founding members of the Pomme Boots Society, a grassroots organization that supports women working in the emerging cider industry.

Pomme Boots’ Yoga & Cider Event

Over the next 90-minutes, we work our way through Hatha and Vinyasa-style asanas and breathe work exercises. Afterwards, we’ll head back to the Tasting Room for a flight of ciders from Northwest cideries. Pomme Boots Society is sponsoring the Yoga & Cider event, and it’s not a bad way to start my Saturday morning.

cyoga and cider

Setting the mood for our class.

yoga and cider

Yoga first at Pomme Boots Society’s Yoga & Cider event.

The organization’s three founders—Jana (who works with Finnriver Farm and Cidery), Gemma Fanelli Schmit (with Nat’s Hard Cider), and Jennie Dorsey (with Schilling Cider)—met and became friends through their work in the industry. Each work for cideries based in Oregon and Washington, where the cider industry is especially strong.

Pomme Boots

Pomme Boots Society’s Gemma Fanelli Schmit, Jana Daisy-Ensign, and Jennie Dorsey.

Back in the Tasting Room, we settle in for a curated cider tasting.

portland cider company

The tasting room at Portland Cider Company.

Cider makers and reps from each of the ciders we sample are on hand to tell us more about their cideries and about the samples. There are ciders from Wildcraft Cider Works, ^5 Cider (say “high 5”), Bauman’s Century Farm Cider, Portland Cider Company and Finnriver Farm and Cidery.

cider sampling

Cider sampling at the Yoga & Cider event.

Lindsey Pyrch of Portland Creamery joins us as well, sharing cheese samples to complement the ciders.

Lindsey Pyrch

Portland Creamery’s Lindsay Pyrch brought along some cheese for pairing.

Each cidery is either owned or co-owned by women, or employ women as cider makers or in other key team positions.

dsc_0078-2   cider tasting

The Growing Cider Industry

 The cider industry has seen phenomenal growth in the last few years. New cideries, run by both small companies and large corporations, are springing up throughout the country. Orchardists can’t keep up with the demand for cider apples. It’s a creative time for cider makers. Sales of the beverage continue to rise in unprecedented amounts. The result is great for consumers discovering this versatile alcoholic beverage, and has also created a wide array of new jobs and opportunities.

Encouraging Women in Cider

Jana Daisy-Ensign

Jana Daisy-Ensign.

Jana says, “We share a passion for cider and we each are strong women who felt drawn to help create something we felt our industry needed. We believed that pooling our strengths and experience and creating community, collaboration and camaraderie would benefit us all. So far it’s been a labor of love, with many unpaid hours on top of busy, full schedules. But the promise of what is possible is so great, the response from the community so inspiring we haven’t faltered at the decision and we see new opportunities continually unfolding.”

The group aims to fulfill many of the same needs that the Pink Boots Society does for women in the beer industry.

They look forward to organizing classes, events, educational opportunities, internships, and other networking opportunities, as well as cider tastings and cidery field trips. They’re also prepared to establishing regional and international chapters.

CiderCon 2016 Event

One of their first official events was a meet-and-greet in Portland’s Hilton Hotel in February during CiderCon 2016, the cider industry’s trade event. The conference was attended by just over 1,000 men and women in the industry, from eight countries and more than 44 states in the U.S., representing some 375 cideries.

I attended CiderCon and the Pomme Boots happy hour, and enjoyed seeing how women were representing every facet of the industry. Their enthusiasm at gathering was strong.

“We thoroughly enjoyed that event. It brought women together from a broad geographical reach and from different segments of the industry. Much of the synergy of forming Pomme Boots is in synch with the emerging cider movement and the industry and culture forming around it. We set out to ask ladies if they wanted to form a group for women in the field and there has been a resoundingly positive response,” said Jana.

Industry Support

 The three founding members are pleased to have industry support. The ladies are set to take part in CiderCon 2017, held in Chicago this February, where they’ll facilitate a “Women in the Cider Industry” session.

“This is a dynamic time for women in a rapidly changing field and we thought it would be meaningful to hear from women working in different segments of the field—orchardists, producers, distribution, owners/founders, etc.,” Jana told me. “We’re excited to curate a panel discussion learning about what these different roles entail and how it feels to work as women in the industry. This will be a premier offering in terms of content and we will definitely organize a social event during this time as well.”

Pomme Boots Society Membership

cider sampling

There’s a wide variety of ciders being made.

Gemma, Jennie and Jana expect to roll out membership in in the non-profit Society in November. They’ll include two membership categories—one for individuals and another for companies. For individuals, membership is open both men and women working in or interested in the cider industry.

Jana says, “We’re still sorting out exactly how the memberships will work, especially for companies. We want to be deliberate, thoughtful and resourceful with revenue. Having companies on board as members will help to generate stronger awareness of women working in the field in many roles. It will create more meaningful dialogues about how to keep growing workplaces that are supportive and equitable.”

“We want the society to be for everyone, but we’ll be true to our mission of supporting women in the field,” Jennie says.

On with Our Saturday

The last cider in our flight is Finnriver’s Oak & Apple. It’s a fine semi-dry, barrel-aged cider with some great deep aromas. There’s appreciation for what each woman in the room is doing—and they know that laughter and fun is an important part of that mission.


For those readers not in the cider industry and new to ciders, try some from the companies mentioned here or take a look at what’s local to your area. Cheers!

 Pomme Boots Society expects to open membership registration to individuals and companies beginning in November 2016. Sign up for their newsletter on their website to receive information on meetings, events and more.

yoga and cider

Namaste…and Cheers!

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-All photos by Nancy Zaffaro.

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