We are often invited to enter competitions but we always decline because it is not our practice to define ourselves in relation to others. We simply don’t care how we measure on a linear scale. Polly and I are from a fine art background and we know that there is no measure of excellence other then authenticity and devotion. I may prefer Morandi over Picasso but I can not rate the two as artists, they were both true to themselves and masters of their craft.
Authenticity may come in the form of high art, outsider art, popular art and even commercial art, but if it is not authentic then it is not good. That’s one measure. The other is devotion. Call it talent, craft, skill, excellence, or whatever, the artist needs to be a master of their voice. They need to be devoted to their voice. Without a developed language (self developed- not borrowed) an artist will be at a loss for words when it comes to articulating their authenticity.
I pray other cider makers choose the unfamiliar road. This a time when consensus is forming on "good-better-best" but placed within a ratings system young cider makers are steered away from finding their true voice. Just remember: The top cider makers all got there by showing authenticity and devotion to their craft, they did not arrive by climbing.