Plenty #1 — Hard Cider Tasting at MASS MoCA

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SIX Western Mass grower/fermentors offer their wares at the hard cider tasting in the Chalet 08/28

Bins will soon be full as apples near ripening in September; photo courtesy Headwater Cider.

Bins will soon be full as apples near ripening in September; photo courtesy Headwater Cider.

 

 

Don’t miss the hard cider tasting at the Chalet at MASS MoCA on August 28 from 6:30–8:00 p.m. that features SIX local cider growers/fermentors.

Bear Swamp Orchard, 
Carr’s Ciderhouse,
 Headwater Cider,

Hilltop Orchards
, Newhall Farm, 
West County Cider

On this, our first episode of “Plenty,” Pete Mitchell of Headwater Cider in Hawley, Mass., joins us to discuss the process of making hard cider, from selection of apple varieties to the bottling process. Also, we are joined by Jen Williams of Bear Swamp Orchard in Ashfield, Mass., who discusses their choice to offer organic cider (both sweet and hard). Robert Martell, from Hilltop Orchards and Furnacebrook Winery in Richmond, Mass., describes cider and wine, but also some of the recreational opportunities available on the farm operated by the Vittori family.

Headwater Cider

Apples are drawn up a chute that guides them to the "crusher" that will turn the whole apples into "pomace."

Apples are drawn up a chute that guides them to the crusher that will turn the whole apples into “pomace,” which is the mush that is sent to the press; photo courtesy Headwater Cider.

The Orchard is located in the town of Hawley, Massachusetts – on the eastern edge of the Berkshires and at the headwaters of Clesson Brook in the Deerfield watershed.
Over 2000 apple trees are planted on 20 acres (8 hectares) of south sloping land. At an elevation of 1800 feet (550 meters) the growing season is short, but due to ideal siting, gets plenty of sun.

 

This combination of cooler temperatures and intense sun yield apples that are perfect for hard cider…as they are intensely flavored and contain a lot of natural sugars.

Pete Mitchell of Headwater Cider in Hawley, Mass. operates a modern press, which is a series of mesh baskets squeezed through the force of pneumatic piston.

Pete Mitchell of Headwater Cider in Hawley, Mass. operates a modern press, which is a series of mesh baskets squeezed through the force of pneumatic piston.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bear Swamp Orchard

Bear Swamp Orchard, in Ashfield, Mass., offers organic sweet and hard cider, as well as other farm products, photo courtesy Bear Swamp Orchard.

Bear Swamp Orchard, in Ashfield, Mass., offers organic sweet and hard cider, as well as other farm products, photo courtesy Bear Swamp Orchard.

 

We are the Gougeon family. Our orchard is just a few acres, the site of an old orchard going back more than 100 years. About half of the existing orchard was planted on the land of Melinda and Richard Gougeon about 25 years ago by a local apple grower. The orchard eventually fell out of use, not being large enough on its own to be viable on a traditional commercial scale, and too large for Lindy and Rich (without growing experience) to deal with as a “home” orchard. In 2005 Lindy and Rich’s son Steve, his wife Jen Williams and their sons Aidan and Elliot, bought Rich and Lindy’s house and put a second family addition on it, putting three generations on the property.

Bear Swamp Orchard offers sweet cider in season, so children can enjoy the organic apple goodness!

Bear Swamp Orchard offers sweet cider in season, so children can enjoy the organic apple goodness!

 

Already growing a lot of our own food, and interested in small scale sustainable growing, we started into the world of growing “organic” apples.

Since then, with a lot of reading, seminars, apple grower meetings, conversations with other growers, pruning, thinning, bug identification, spraying, pruning and more thinning, we are now starting to get good crops of apples from the orchard once again, and are able to offer them for sale. And with 20 year history in home-brewing and fermenting hard cider, and an interest in selling it, we don’t need to have the best looking apples if a lot of them are going into to the tank. This takes a lot of pressure of as far as worrying about whether the fruit is good enough looking.

 

Hilltop Orchards

Hilltop Orchards offers artisan libations, as well as providing space for year-round recreation and event hosting.

Hilltop Orchards offers artisan libations, as well as providing space for year-round recreation and event hosting.

 

Hilltop Orchards is a 200 acre historic property in the Berkshire region of western Massachusetts. It was chosen by boston.com as one of the top 1,000 places to visit in MA, link.

The Vittori family celebrates its 25th year at Hilltop Orchards. Preserving local farming and opening our land for apple picking, hiking, cross country skiing and snowshoeing is our pleasure and our privilege. We invite you to visit and be inspired by the vast open space and fantastic views from the hilltop. Views of the Berkshire’s fall foliage are stunning.

Hilltop Orchards is a tasty Berkshire experience! The popular cider donuts are made daily from the farm’s cold pressed cider. Take home a fresh baked fruit pie and scones or delicious preserves from the farm winery store.

Guests of Garden Gables Inn in Lenox enjoy free trail fees plus unlimited wine tasting. The Inn is top-rated on TripAdvisor.com. Visit the Garden Gables Inn website to see the uniquely decorated rooms and amenities.

 

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