West County Cider is a high quality hard cider producer, and
has been so for decades. They are one of the standard bearers of the genre. The
Maloney family –Terry, Judith, and Field— began making hard cider commercially
in l984. Before that, they’d been making cider for themselves and their friends
for years before that. They grow most of the produce that appears on their
table. It makes sense to us to ferment cider from the apples of the Berkshires.
They moved to the Northern Berkshires from Northern California in l972. Colrain,
Massachusetts was Apple Country.
The Maloney’s admired the hard cider their neighbors had
been making for generations, and started doing the same, but applied California
winemaking techniques to this seasonal Yankee tradition. They were impressed by
the variety and complexity of ciders that could be made from differing blends
of apples and cellaring techniques. They fermented their first vintage for sale
in’84, when they became the first U.S. winery to specialize in hard cider. Their
ciders have been reviewed in Martha Stewart Living, Saveur magazine, Wine
Spectator, New York Times, and many other publications.
West County Cider Redfield was the cider I had. According to
their website, the Maloney’s discovered the Redfield on a leisurely walk
through the reference orchard at the New York Agricultural Experimental Station
at Geneva. They were sampling apples as we walked, taking a bite, and then
“The Redfield stopped us cold. There was the taste:
unusually tannic, bright fruit, and acidic. Then there was the color: deep red
skin, brilliant scarlet flesh. We picked enough for a test batch, and have been
planting and making Redfield ever since.”
And thank the gods for it! I opened the cider and poured it
into a wine glass. It was pink and effervescent. The nose was of apples and
something softer, maybe a hint of strawberry? It was beautiful, with a lovely
apple taste, a nice balance of acidity, and a nice refreshing end.
Truly a memorable cider.