Posted on Thu, February 04, 2010 by Jerusha Klemperer
1 Comments | Categories: Biodiversity, Farms and Farming, Uncategorized,
by Ben Watson, Chairman, Slow Food USA Biodiversity Committee
Terrence Maloney (1940-2010)
A few days ago I received the sad news of the death of Terry Maloney, 70, of Colrain, Massachusetts. Terry died suddenly at home on January 29, ironically enough as the result of an accident that occurred while he was filtering a batch of his West County Cider.
Terry and his wife Judith began making cider more than 25 years ago, after they moved from California to western Massachusetts. In Franklin County, the area where they settled, there werent any of the wineries that they had worked on out west, but there was a long local tradition of apple growing and cidermaking, and the Maloneys set out to produce high-quality hard ciders, in an effort to both reflect and revive a New England cider-drinking culture. Along with New Hampshires Stephen Wood and other early producers, the Maloneys today are recognized as among the first pioneers in what has truly become an American cider renaissance. New producers making increasingly brilliant and sophisticated ciders have sprung up in the Pacific Northwest, the Great Lakes region, the Piedmont South, and other areas of the country. Many of them owe thanks to Terry Maloney for inspiring them through his example and by setting a high standard of excellence for every American cider producer.
The community of cidermakers and cider-lovers is very close-knit (though we are all fiercely independent and opinionated too!), and the news of Terrys death has shocked and saddened all of us. He will long be remembered by everyone who knew him as a gentle, soft-spoken, thoughtful man and as someone who was always ready to share his own knowledge with others and to learn from their experiences. Part of his legacy will be Franklin County Cider Days, which started out as a modest regional event for local home brewers and amateur cidermakers; in 2009 the festival celebrated its 15th anniversary, and although it still is rooted in the hill towns and orchards of western Massachusetts, it has become one of the worlds premier cider events. No doubt Cider Days 2010, always held on the first weekend in November, will be dedicated to the life and work of this great and good man. But it wont be the same without him.
Finally, its important to acknowledge that Judith and Terry Maloney have lived the Slow Food ethos. They built their homestead on Catamount Hill in the days when Terry was still working as an emergency room doctor. They planted an orchard and experimented with different apples for making cider (including some uncommon apples like the French Reine de Pomme, underappreciated American fruit like the distinctive Redfield, and even local discoveries like Colrain Russet). Driving up to their house on a narrow dirt road, with views opening to the surrounding hills, always lifts my spirits, and many a time the Maloneys and I have sat on the porch or at the table by the wood cookstove, sharing the kind of conviviality and simple, delicious food (local cheese, local cider, fresh-baked bread, homegrown vegetables) that represent the true riches of peasant culture and humanity throughout the world.
Judith, Terry, and their son Field have supported Slow Food USA ever since there was a national office in 2000. They have unstintingly shared their ciders for any worthy event, especially ones that raised the profile of American cider, whether in New York or San Francisco or even in northwest Italy, where the Nebbiolo grape and microbrews reign supreme.
Terrys method of cidermaking was admittedly rather esoteric and complicated, but it produced a distinctive profile for his ciders, which retain some natural fruit sugars and a good deal of apple character. The greatest tribute to his ciders—more significant perhaps than gold medals at wine competitions—is that all types of people enjoy them, from cider neophytes to experienced drinkers. They are without exception well made, and all of them reflect Terrys philosophy and personal taste. Its too soon to think about the future fate of West County Cider, but I advise anyone who can find a bottle of West Countys cider (Redfield or Roxbury Russet, Baldwin or Reine de Pomme) to buy it and drink it, if you want to catch a backward, fleeting glimpse of this landmark craft producer.
So heres to you Terry! Bon voyage, old friend.
Ben Watson is co-leader of the Slow Food Monadnock Region chapter and a director of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity. His books include Cider, Hard and Sweet.