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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 weren’t 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 Hampshire’s 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 Terry’s 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 world’s 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 won’t be the same without him.