Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the Joe Ringhausen Orchard and Apple House of Fieldon, Illinois in winning the 23rd Annual Illinois Cider and National Cider Contests on January 12 13, 2012. Joe and his wife Sina, along with son Dennis and other family members, exemplify excellence in their business and contribute to the overall economic success of their community. The orchard makes between 500 and 700 gallons per week during peak season. The Ringhausen Orchard is well known for their award-winning ciders. Joe's experience in cider-making spans forty years.
It should be noted that the judges conducted blind evaluations to eliminate bias and the Ringhausen Orchard beat out other ciders from apple-producing states like Michigan and Washington.
I want to also thank the Illinois State Horticultural Society for sponsoring the event in conjunction with Illinois Specialty Crop, Agritourism and Organic Conference, Illinois Department of Agriculture, and the University of Illinois Extension Service. Each provides an invaluable service to farmers in Illinois for guidance, resources, and a clearinghouse of information.
I want to congratulate the Ringhausen family and join the Illinois House members in wishing them continued success at their orchard.
Ringhausen, who has been making cider for approximately 40 years, has won awards before but never the ``triple crown'' of Illinois cider. National awards are open to all U.S. producers, and Illinois awards are open to all Illinois producers. ``I'm so surprised by this,'' he said. Ringhausen's son, Dennis, was in Springfield to accept the awards on behalf of the orchard. The Ringhausen cider beat out about 25 other varieties to win the Illinois title and growers from both Washington and Michigan to win the national title. The orchard entered its signature sweet cider, which is blended from equal amounts of tart apples, such as Jonathans, and sweet apples, like Fujis. The sweet cider is a mainstay at the Apple House from September until Christmas time, routinely selling out by the first of the year. ``I think we'll put the trophies and plaques in the market,'' said Ringhausen, whose family purchased the extensive orchards in 1929. Unlike sweet cider, hard cider has an alcoholic content; sugar is added to the sweet cider to initiate fermentation. Joe's wife, Sina, supervises this process. They don't have a license to sell the hard cider, so they gift it to family and friends for their personal enjoyment. The annual Hard Cider Contest, in its 10th year, awards points based on characteristics including clarity, color, bouquet, balance of alcohol, acidity, sweetness, body and flavor, among other criteria. Judges evaluated the entries using a 25-point rating scale for cider quality characteristics, awarding the top scores to Ringhausen's entries. The Illinois State Horticultural Society sponsors the event in conjunction with the Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism and Organic Conference held in Springfield. The Illinois Department of Agriculture and the University of Illinois Extension Service also participate. Edwardsville Extension Center Specialist Elizabeth Wahle served as cider contest coordinator. The Illinois State Horticultural Society was formed in 1857 for the purpose of representing fruit tree producers, sharing research findings and promoting the industry to consumers. The Society is one of the oldest continuously operating membership organizations in the state of Illinois.
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