Just back from Cider Days in Franklin County, MA, the Northeast's biggest (hard) cider event held annually in November. I was not feeling well so I missed the evening salon which is the main draw, but the day events made the experience well worth the travel. My only complaint is I couldn't be in two places at the same time as many valuable sessions occurred simultaneously. These were my highlights:
-Claude Jolicoer delivered a particularly inspirational talk on apple blending just as we showed up on Saturday. He is making cider of fine-wine quality, just as I would like to. He defies industry practice by incorporating old "run-down" trees. So far, my best cider has come from the fruit of these undervalued old timers!
-Also I met Michael Phillips of organic apple fame. I'll say for the first time, because I hope to join him on his farm or organic orchardist meetings in the future.
-Judi Malloney was busy all weekend (the whole weekend was dedicated in honor of her late husband) but we did see her again briefly, which was super. I contend she is the most positive human being on the planet.
-Bring-your-own cider was a crowd pleaser. Paul Correnty and Charlie Olchowski are brilliantly insightful and tasted over 20 amateur ciders including my own. The New England regional preference for dry, high-alcohol and multi-ingredient ciders really came out (I'll blog on this later as it's a huge topic.) Nothing was sub par. No one was sober when it was over.
-Finally the visit to organic Bear Swamp Orchard topped my weekend. Jen and Steve Gougeon are my new heros, creating a diversified organic homestead and growing a home farm business all in the head-winds of this economy by maintaining additional day jobs . Their companionship is important to us as we share many of the same goals, virtues and situations.