Monday, February 22, 2010

Time to order apple trees!

If you're considering ordering some apple trees, now is a good time. Heirloom apples tend to sell out quickly and shipping has already begun in some areas. Trees of Antiquity begins shipping in January and continues shipping apple trees through early April. I think this year I want to get a Sweet Bough, an early riperner with showy blossoms and attractive fruit, apparenty first discovered in New York State, and a Karmijn de Sonnaville, a mid-season Dutch apple with showy blossoms. Yes, I am thinking showy blossoms would be lovely. This company is excellent to deal with. They recommend planting we before the last frost date in your area, so in the Zone 5a locations I plan to plant in, that means mid-to-late April.

I also like the Miller Nurseries website, have heard good things about them from a friend who ordered a number of trees from them this past year, and might consider ordering from them in the future. They have a terrific selection of semi-dwarf trees.

Any of you planning on planting apple or other fruit trees this year? Any plans to plant heirloom trees? Here is a list describing some wonderful heirloom apple varieties. Tell me about your own favorites or what's on your wishlist.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Terry Maloney, Cider Maker and Apple Enthusiast, Dies in Colrain, MA

Terry Maloney, know by many cider enthusiasts as the man who (with his wife Judith, with whom he ran a cider and winery business, West County Cider) was responsible for the current cider-making renaissance in the United States, died this past week in his home in Colrain Massachusetts, in a freak accident while checking his cider brewing equipment. Cider making has become particularly popular in New England, with many orchards seeing renewed interest in fruit growing and planting heirloom cider apple varieties. Terry and Judith were consider cider making experts who were frequently interviewed by local media, and their founding of the annual Cider Days has created a yearly event that people travel to from all over the country and abroad.

I didn't know Terry personally, but I salute his pioneering spirit and his love of nature's delectable, useful bounty. Let's all lift a glass of cider in his honor.

The following excerpts come from an announcement earlier this week in the Cider Digest, an online list for cider makers and hobbyists:

It is my sad duty to report the untimely death of one of the best-known and best-loved of America's craft cidermakers -- Terry Maloney of West County Cider in Colrain, Massachusetts.

Terry died in what can only be described as a freak accident yesterday (Friday) in the basement cidermaking room at his home. From what I understand, a piece of filtration equipment full of cider under pressure "exploded" with sufficient force to knock Terry back, and he hit his head hard, causing his death.

Already this morning (Sat), some of Terry's closest friends in the cider community have been on the phone with one another, discussing this shocking and unexpected event. In the course of time, I'm sure that we will organize at least one memorial or tribute (and probably more) to this gentle, affectionate man who -- as much as anyone -- was responsible (along with his terrific wife Judith) for the modern rebirth of cider culture in the US.

I first met Judith and Terry Maloney more than 20 years ago, and we almost immediately became friends. The Maloneys came to western Massachusetts with experience from California vineyards. The beautiful hill towns of Franklin County, MA are a traditional apple-growing and cider-making region, so Terry and Judith began a winery that focused on locally grown fruits like apples and blueberries. Over the years, they have everything from unfiltered Farm Cider (still one of my favorites) to artfully crafted cidre doux and a whole range of distinguished varietals that included Reine de Pomme, Baldwin, Roxbury Russet, Kingston Black, and the astonishingly good, copper-colored Redfield, a signature product of West County Cider and an example of Terry's skill as both a cidermaker and fruit grower.

In addition to making their own cider, Terry and Judith have been central players in promoting craft ciders from all over the US -- as founders and organizers of the annual Cider Days festival, which over the past 15+ years has provided an ever expanding showcase of the best American ciders. All of us -- producers and drinkers alike -- owe the Maloneys our profound respect and gratitude.

Those of us who knew Terry personally will always remember him as a thoughtful, soft-spoken, cultured, but also passionate man, and will miss him greatly. But Terry's death is also a loss to many in the cider world who never met him -- he was a real pioneer who showed the way for so many of today's craft producers. He will be missed.