We are proud to announce the international jury of experts who have confirmed their participation, ensuring high-quality competition results:

Claude Jolicoeur is the author of the recently published "Cider Planet" and of "The New Cider Maker's Handbook", a book that has been acclaimed worldwide as a major reference on the topic of cider making. In French, he has authored "Du pommier au cidre", and collaborated to the collective work "La transformation du cidre au Québec".

An engineer and research scientist by profession, he started in late 1980s making cider as a hobby. Since then he has accumulated a vast experience, always searching to obtain the highest quality possible. He also has traveled widely throughout the Cider Planet, and is regularly invited to be a guest speaker or cider judge at international cider festivals and events. He currently works on the evaluation of wild native apples for the establishment of collections of high quality cider apple varieties that are well adapted to eastern Canada conditions.

Banu Khamzina is originally from Almaty in Kazakhstan (the place of origin of the apple) and moved to Canada at the turn of the millenium. Since then she has been a Ciderland globe-trotter, travelling to all important cider production regions, both traditional and newer/emerging, and tasting and learning about the ciders. She is also gifted by a ultra sensitive nose and palate, making her a very discriminating taster and judge.

Haritz Rodriguez, AKA Ciderzale, is an independent journalist and marketing consultant in the agrifood field with a special focus on the cider sector. During the last 10 years he has worked for different agents in the world of cider, both local and international. He is co-organizer of several festivals and fairs such as Sidrama Ponte de Lima (Portugal) or Sagardo Forum (Basque Country) and has collaborated in the organization of events such as the Nordic International Cider Awards. He offers talks and tastings of Basque sagardoa and international cider, participates as a judge in numerous cider competitions such as Cider World Frankfurt, NICA and World Cider Awards, and advises cider houses in the Basque Country, USA and the UK. In 2018 he promoted the creation of Ciderlands, the international cider tourism and culture network. He is an Accredited Cider Professional by the American Cider Association.

When Johan founded Pomologik the goal was clear, the mission was to give the apple recognition as the grape of the Nordics. A work that is still in progress but has come a long way.
Committed to spontaneous fermentation and always searching for new wild varieties, the quest for new terroir expressions is a core raison d’être.

By innovation and breaking new grounds within the Swedish craft cider community Pomologik has become one of the leading forces in the cider revolution.

Pomologik started the first Nordic Craft Cider Festival in Sweden to bring producers closer to consumers and start the groundwork for a closer Nordic community. It’s now an annual event in July and takes place at Johan’s family farm.
His background as a sommelier and wine journalist has served him well both in terms of quality control and blending but also when it comes to judging panels. 

Natalia Wszelaki a.k.a Cider Explorer is a cider blogger, cider expert and an international cider judge, who has years of experience in evaluating and judging cider from all over the globe. Her previous judging experience includes Cider World (2018-2023), World Cider Awards (2020) and International Natural Cider Competition Madeira (2023). Recently, Natalia in collaboration with Alistair Morrell of Cider is Wine also kicked off a series of Instagram Live Sessions called 'Not-from-concentrate' discussing important cider related-topics. Natalia is on a mission to explore cider from all European countries, share an honest opinion on cider, promote cider culture and raise awareness about quality/craft cider.

  • Wine & cider sommelier, entrepreneur, author, speaker, idea developer
  • Founder & CEO of CiderWorld Frankfurt
    • Organising Cider Fairs in Frankfurt since 2009
    • Organising CiderWeek Frankfurt since 2017
    • Organising CiderWorld Award since 2018
    • Developing IT-Solutions for judging & tastings since 2020
    • Trading of ciders
    • Judging at different cider awards since 2011
  • Diplomas
    • Hotel Business Economist 1998 – Hotel Business School Heidelberg
    • Sommelier 2001 – Wine & Sommelier School Koblenz
  • Working at different Michelin star restaurants, hotels & wineries since 1990
  • Owner of a restaurant with cider bar 2002 – 2017

Born in the Netherlands within a typical restaurant, wine and hotel family. Educated in hospitality and vinology at Hotelschool Amsterdam and University of applied sciences Hotelschool The Hague. After an exciting international career in hotel management and hospitality consulting, moved to Norway in 2014 and got closely involved in the local food & drinks industry working for HANEN, a Norwegian trade organization, with a special focus on Norwegian cider.

Throughout the years, Matthijs has been closely involved in various cider related initiatives such as Norges Beste Drikke, Hardanger International Cider Festival, various tasting events, judging, industry seminars and study tours. The highlight was his involvement in the first edition of the Nordic International Cider Awards (NICA) in Bergen Norway in November 2022.

Alvar, the cider maker at Jaanihanso Cider in Kaelase, Estonia, strives to produce the highest quality cider by embracing nature's spontaneity and minimizing intervention. Jaanihanso utilizes one of the world's largest on-lees maturing cider cellars, requiring three years to craft an average cider bottle. Apart from supplying top-notch restaurants in Estonia and abroad, as well as exporting to numerous countries worldwide, Jaanihanso CiderHouse has become a renowned destination for rural tourism on an international scale.

Sulev Nõmmann – ecologist (PhD, Stockholm University 1990) and entrepreneur who returned to Estonia after a long period of tackling global issues (pertaining to environmental policy, development aid etc). Lengthy consultations with British coryphaeus of the cider science Mr Andrew Lea in early 2005-2006 led to the establishment of modern apple orchards and a cider mill in Southern Estonia. Today KODAS cider house is a modern food and beverage factory with research-based production of award winning ciders, non-alcoholic drinks, spirits and unique food products. Long term partnership with the Competence Center of Food and Fermentation Technologies has built up our expertise on fermentation and metabolic processes of different yeast strains. The valorization of apples and other horticultural products is achieved through principles of circular economy and application of ISO9001 quality management system in the everyday operations of the company. KODAS visitor centre holds the title of the ‘Pearl of Põlvamaa county’.

With 15 years of experience in the world of wine (working with different wineries in France and South Africa), it was wine that led Ieva Oliņa to discover cider. Passion for cider started in 2017, guided by the belief that Latvia is the land of apples and cider is a significant product with development potential in terms of quality and culture. It's a new world of flavors that can be as versatile, nuanced and creative as wine! Ieva is convinced that cider can be called the pride of the Baltic region: thanks to the climate specifically suitable for growing apples, fresh and aromatic northern-style ciders are produced here. Since 2018, Ieva has organized various initiatives for the development of cider culture in the Baltics, including cider dinners and gastronomic events, and the Baltic Cider Awards 2020 competition and related events in cooperation with Riga Wine & Champagne and Baltic Country Holidays association. To expand her knowledge, she also studied in Normandy, specializing in cider making at "Le Robillard" institute of agriculture.


Māris Plūme (cider maker at Mr.Plūme cidery) is considering cider to be the best drink of all drinks.
Started his cider journey by learning as a trainee in France and Austria. Experimenting with different cider making approaches and technics since 2010. Has won many awards for their ciders in Asturies, Germany, Norway, Madeira and local competitions. Exploration of ‘born’ in Latvia cider apples in so called ‘apple safari’ is being done every autumn. Several promising local varieties has been found and are grafted and trialed in their orchard already. Also perry making and special pear variety growing is done at their family run cidery and orchard.
Has participated as cider judge in International competitions in Asturies and Norway and is very much looking forward to be part of judging team in Nordic International cider awards in Latvia this year!

Jānis Matvejs, owner of Abuls cidery in the Vidzeme region, is a cider maker. He began experimenting with cider making around the turn of the millennium when the concept was new in the Baltic region. As a geographer, Jānis believes that apples are the most suitable fruit for fermentation and cider is the ideal beverage in terms of geography, climate, and ecology in the Baltic region. Local apples thrive in this area. Since then, he has conducted numerous experiments with local apples and cider production methods at Abuls cidery. Jānis is committed to his long-term plan of discovering and establishing Baltic apple cider varieties from local wild apple trees, aiming to create high-quality and distinctive cider from the Baltic region.

Niklass Barkāns is a wine and cider maker at Latvia’s largest cidery- Abavas. He graduated from the University of Brighton BSc in Viticulture and Oenology course three years ago and ever since has been actively working in the Abavas winery. As his education is mainly on grape wine production, his approach to cider is highly inspired by the techniques and procedures which are characteristic of winemaking. Niklass is confident that the full cider taste and aroma potential can be released by dwelling deep in beverage science and by carefully controlling each process from apple to bottle. He acknowledges that the stylistic possibilities for cider can truly be endless, therefore he is always determined and intrigued to learn about other different approaches to cider production.

Janis Kalkis has more than 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry, with approximately 15 years dedicated specifically to wine and other beverages. He obtained his A.D. International Master Sommelier & Consultant education at the European Wine Academy. Janis has been a multiple finalist and winner in sommelier competitions held in Latvia and the Baltics, and he has also represented Latvia in the European and World Sommelier Championships. Additionally, he actively participates in various tasting competitions, including Wine of the Year in Latvia, Mundus Vini in Germany, Scandinavia, and others. Since 2014, Janis has held the position of president at the Latvian Sommelier Association.

Mariaana Nelimarkka is one of the few journalists in Finland giving cider fame. Between 2009 and 2017, she made cider reviews for Olutposti, later also for other magazines or newspapers. She is one of the founding members and a board member in The Association of Real Cider in Finland. In 2022, the association organized its very first competition, The Best Cider in Finland (Suomen Paras Siideri), after Mariaana Nelimarkka introduced the idea to the association. The competition will be organized every year. Otherwise, she's got a strong background on judging beer in different domestic competitions.

Tom Oliver of Oliver’s Cider and Perry is a cider & perry maker and farmer in Ocle Pychard, Herefordshire in the UK. He grows many varieties of cider apple and perry pear and produces a wide range of ciders and perries from his own fruit, as well as cider apples and perry pears from a select group of partner farmers and orchardists in the county. 

The ciders and perries are made from 100% fresh pressed fruit, fermented spontaneously by wild yeasts, emphasising a very traditional approach of seasonality and vintage but utilising an imaginative approach to blending and a cautious use of technology and science where appropriate.

Tom is also a partner in The London Cider House at Borough Market. A cider showcase in the thriving market in central London. He is also the co-founder of the annual tasting of fine cider in the UK “The Cider Salon” in Bristol. Tom rediscovered the long lost “Coppy” perry pear some 25 years ago and is a founder member of the Slow Food Presidium “Three Counties Perry”. 

>>> Tom Oliver invites to NICA (youtube).

Originally from Spain, Anna has been working in the wine industry for over 20 years. After completing her Oenology studies in the University of Burgundy, she specialized in sparkling wine, working in several wineries in France, Spain, USA and New Zealand. Anna has a large experience as a jury, having participated in several wine contests like Effervescents and Muscats du Monde.

In search of broadening her farming knowledge, she moved to Denmark to study organic farming, where life surprised her once more after tasting Nordic sparkling fruit wines at Andersen Winery. So much as to make her want to join the team, where she has been working as their winemaker since 2021. She is now making wines with apples, and many other danish fruits and berries.

Darlene Hayes, dipWSET and Certified Pommelier™, is a writer and educator based in Northern California. In addition to writing for various publications such as Cider Craft Magazine and at allintocider.com, she is the author of the first modern book on cider cocktails, Cider Cocktails - Another Bite of the Apple. Darlene works as a consultant for the American Cider Association's Certified Cider Professional's program, and is the author of the program's recently released Certified Pommelier™ Study Guide. She is also the editor of a small quarterly magazine, Malus, dedicated to cider, apples, and orchards everywhere.

After a background in the wine industry (Champagne, Burgundy and Rhône Valley) Antoine Marois came back to his native region Normandy in 2016. He created his own "cidrerie" on his family farm based on a traditional standard orchard also known as "Pré-verger". 
As for wine, he is convinced that there are also great "cider terroirs". His ambition is to reveal the extraordinary potential of these terroirs by making "single orchard" ciders.

Brighid O'Keane is the Executive Director of the Cider Institute of North America (CINA), an organization that provides cider and perry production education and professional certification worldwide. Brighid has been a judge in eight international competitions since joining the cider industry in 2017. Prior to cider, Brighid worked for seven years supporting sustainable winegrowing in the Pacific Northwest and was an Advisory Board member for the American Specialty Tea Alliance. Growing up in the apple-rich region of Western New York, Brighid now splits her time between Portland, Oregon and wherever cider takes her.

Oenologue & Cidrologue. Yann GILLES is a French Oenologue and Cidrologue, founder of cider and apple-spirit making consultancy “Malus & Vitis", and has 25 years’ experience working in the cider sector.
Born in Normandy where he discovered Cider made by his grand-parents, Yann holds an engineering degree in agriculture and food industry and a diploma of Oenologist. Yann launched his own consultancy in 2020 where he partners with cider producers to create apple juice, ciders, perries and spirits using a range of methods. Prior to this, Yann was scientific director at the French R&D cider institute (www.ifpc.eu) for 10 years, and before that he worked for more than a decade in a professional organization for agriculture, consulting to 50 cideries and leading a team of oenologists working on cider.

Oregon native Abram Goldman-Armstrong has been making cider since 1995, passed the Beer Judge Certification Exam at the National level at age 21 and has judged at numerous amateur and professional beer and cider competitions, including the World Beer Cup, Great American Beer Festival, Mondial de la Biere in Montreal, British Columbia Beer Awards, American Homebrewers Association National Homebrew Competition, Heart of Cascadia, Fall Classic, Widmer Collaborator, and the Portland International Cider Cup, Salon International Gala de Sidra in Asturias, Spain, Nordic International Cider Awards in Norway, and Cider World in Germany. Abram has been writing about beer and cider since 1999 and served as editor of Northwest Brewing News. He is currently a contributor to Malus cider zine and Brewer and Distiller International. Abram collaborated with Hopworks Urban Brewery to create Secession Cascadian Dark Ale in 2009, and with Widmer Brother’s Brewing in 2013 to create Green and Gold Kölsch. He took his passion for cider to the professional level in 2013, opening Cider Riot! a cidery dedicated to the production of flavorful and refreshing dry ciders in his garage in Portland, Oregon. In 2016 he built a new production facility and pub for the cidery in a 7300 square foot warehouse. Cider Riot! ciders were sold throughout Cascadia and California and in Norway, Japan, and the Netherlands. In 2000 Abram joined Fjordfolk Mikrobryggeri in Sandefjord Norway as the head cidermaker and assistant brewer, launching Tall Ship Craft Cider. Abram took over the postion of Head Brewer in January of 2022. His ciders and beers have garnered international attention, winning prizes in Norway, Asturias, England, and USA.

Märta Westling is a self taught baker and cidermaker with a bachelor in horticulture. With the Bergslagen forest as closest neighbor she and her husband runs Hjulsjö 103, a café focusing on bread and cider. Both are agricultural products, as she puts it - beautiful in both complexity and simplicity.  Her vision is a food culture that highlights the cultivated diversity, a living food culture where there is a bakery and dairy in every village, with more grazing animals in the meadows, more mills where the farmers can leave their grains, more local craft cider in any pub or restaurant. A flourishing apple orchard that promises a brilliant cider year outside the door. She believes that in order to get there, we must dare to be many that are small, and create a business that is sustainable also for they who run it.

Founder, with his partner Maria Valente, of the Sidraria Celta Endovélico Restaurant, a thematic spot dedicated to Celtic gastronomy and culture, the first and largest Sidraria in the country, with an offer of around 200 national and international ciders. With Maria Valente, he is also founded www.portaldasidra.pt, the first Portuguese online store dedicated to the sale and dissemination of the cider culture. Passionate about craft cider, Jaime is a member of the judging panel of Salon International de Sidras de Gala in Asturias, Spain and the Madeira International Cider Competition, Potugal. A regular presence at international cider events and an insatiable traveller in search of new references for traditional and new ciders. Together, they organize cider tastings and pairings in their cider house with the presence of producers and they are the voice of Cider Revolution in Portugal.

Eivind Vangdal is a Norwegian retaired fruit quality and cider resreacher. He is trained as pommelier, still active cider advicer, judge in the scientific sensory panel at the NIBIO Ullensvang Research Centre and leading the evaluations of the ciders at Siderfestivalen i Øystese, Hardanger, the longest running cider festival in Norway. Through a series of R&D-projects for Hardanger Ciderproducers Association lead by Vangdal, the Protected Geographical Designation “Sider frå Hardanger” (Cider from Hardanger) was developed and approved. This modern Norwegian cider is based on old traditions, however, introducing production methods from Normandy and other cider producing areas. Eivind Vangdal is giving lectures and courses in cider production for amateurs and professionals, and has written a handbook for students and cider producers “Siderboka - frå frukthagen til ferdig produkt på flaske” (The Cider Book – from the fruit orchard to the final product in the bottle).

Christine (Bauman) Walter—Owner and Head Cider Maker Located on my family’s farm 30 minutes south of Portland, Oregon, I started this company out of a love of all things fermented and as a tribute to my family history of farming and orcharding. The farm was homesteaded by my Great Great Grandmother and her two sons in 1895. I’m the fifth generation of Baumans growing apples here. At Bauman’s Cider, we specialize in both modern and traditional cider making, and strive to use the freshest and most local ingredients, if not from our own farm, then from neighboring farms, whenever possible. I’ve been recognized as the Cidermaker of the Year at the Northwest Cider Cup every year since 2019 and Cidermaker of the Year (mid-sized cidery) at the Great Lakes International Cider Cup, the largest cider competition in the US, for the last three years. I am passionate about the cider industry in the US and the whole world. I am a member of the board of directors on the American Cider Association and the Cider Institute of North America. I have been a head judge at more than a dozen cider competitions, both in the US and internationally.

Originally from sunny Australia, Aaron Brownie has made Finland his new home. He started making cider commercially in 2018. His company Lepola Drinks specialises in innovative flavours and techniques, with a focus on local ingredients and sustainable practices. Not only a cider maker but, a mead maker as well. Prior to becoming a cider maker Aaron was a high school science and chemistry teacher. His company produces modern cider from fresh pressed Finnish apples. No concentrate or water is added in his ciders. Like all good scientists he likes to experiment with different things. Spontaneous fermentation, fruit additions, temperatures, oak barrels, bacteria, are trialed to produce the best products. But, one thing he does love is his favourite Australian white wine yeast, it produces a Finnish cider that could replace the finest Riesling. He has produced multi award winning ciders and is excited be a judge for NICA.

Baiba Circene is a Latvian cider maker, known for her diligent work in the cider production industry. Trained at the Cider & Perry Academy in the UK, Baiba gained expertise that led her to become one of the first commercial cider producers in Latvia. Baiba takes pride in her ciders, having achieved international recognition and several gold, silver and bronze medals from competitions like CiderWorld, Sagardo Forum, and NICA. These accomplishments highlight Baiba's dedication to crafting high-quality cider. Having learned cider production in the traditional UK style, Baiba has also explored cider styles across the world. Her philosophy is that the best products and delicacies in any region are those made from the fruits and plants that thrive best in that climate. Hence the choice to work with apples - a signature fruit in the Latvian landscape. By using only natural and fresh ingredients, Baiba's ciders capture the authentic flavors of Latvia's climate and native fruits. Drawing on her international experience with ciders, Baiba believes Latvian cider makers are creating a cider style unique to the Baltic region. Beyond her role in cider production, Baiba endulges in the culinary arts, refining existing recipes and experimenting with flavor combinations, seeking out cider and food pairings, incorporating cider as a culinary ingredient and exploring its use as a cocktail base. Baiba's work in the world of cider is dedicated to furthering local knowledge and understanding of cider, enabling local consumers to be able to recognize and appreciate real, authentically brewed cider.