Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Apple of My Eye

Out of all things that can be made from apples, cider happens to be our absolute favorite. Who would've known there's a whole weekend dedicated to celebrating it right here in Massachusetts? That's right, from November 4-6th, there's a big autumn festival surrounding our beloved cider across Franklin County. Not to mention, this is the 22nd year of its existence! Seriously, how did we not know?!


More formally known as CiderDays, this annual community event recognizing all things apple in beautiful Franklin County, plans to celebrate its 22nd year with tours, cidermaking and tastings, workshops and much more in orchards and venues county-wide from Ashfield, Deerfield, Charlemont and Colrain to New Salem and the towns in between. Whether you are a cider aficianado (hard or sweet), love apples, make your own cider, are an orchardist, or just enjoy soaking up all the goodness autumn in New England has to offer, CiderDays is not to be missed! CiderDays brings together those inspired by the apple, its cider and its past. They are all part of the cider-making family—sharing the ingrained New England habit of using what is the power of fermentation and the land.


The idea for the original CiderDay was hatched in 1994. Paul Correnty, a well-known harvester in Franklin County, had written a book entitled The Art of Cidermaking. His inimitable delivery comes across in his writing style, but he was by no means a photographer and was limited in furthering explaining the cidermaking process. Brewers Publications knew of Charlie Olchowski’s photojournalistic skills and location in New England apple country and engaged him to provide images for the book. And what do you know? A great new partnership was born.


When the book was released, a simple book signing seemed too ordinary, so Charlie and Paul came up with the idea of a tour of some of the orchards featured in the book. They approached Terry and Judith Maloney of West County Cider and voilá, CiderDay began with Clarkdale Fruit Farms, Greenwood Farm, Pine Hill Orchards, and West County Cider as the venues for the day. The event culminated with a bring-your-own tasting at the Maloney’s sampling room in Colrain. From that day forward, CiderDays has evolved and now encompasses a full weekend of informative and fun apple-filled events that the community love.


Over the years, the CiderDays event have been a way to encourage the past hilltown cider-making traditions and to sustain the nearby orchards, giving fermenters a chance to meet, talk, taste, and buy fresh-pressed, varietals and unadulterated ciders. We can't think of a better way to keep the tradition going than this weekend long celebration! Some highlights of the event include:
  • Hard Cider Release and Heirloom Apple Orchard Tour - Saturday afternoon (12 – 2 pm). Take a tour of Tip Top Orchard, one of the most beautiful orchards in the state, to learn about their rare and unusual apple varieties. Then be the first to sample Artifact Cider's "Tip Top", as they release their single origin cider made using rare apples entirely from Tip Top's 2015 harvest.
  • Cider and Cheese Pairing with Provisions of Northampton - Sunday at the Deerfield Community Center in Historic Deerfield.
  • Cidermaking 101 Workshop with Bob Delisle and Charlie Olchowski - Saturday morning (9 - 11am) at Pine Hill Orchards. This is a hands-on beginner's cider making workshop. The fee covers instructions and materials for making your first batch of cider. Materials: plastic fermenter, 5 gallon glass carboy, bored stopper, airlock, 6' syphon hose, 30" racking tube and bottle brush, plus sweet cider. You'll leave the workshop with your first batch of hard cider well under way.
  • Tastings of hard and sweet ciders, mead, cyzer, apples and pears at various locations in Franklin County throughout the entire weekend.
If you're as in love with cider as we are, we hope to see you there! Chances are we'll be devouring the details of everything cidermaking so we can enjoy our favorite fall beverage knowing exactly how it came to be. Cheers!

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