Two Valley cideries represent western Mass at global CiderFeast

  • The inaugural CiderFeast in Boston on Nov. 12. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • William Grote of New Salem Cider serves a taster at the inaugural CiderFeast in Boston on Nov. 12. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Christopher Hoyt of Artifact Cider speaks to a taster of the company’s “Wolf at the Door” cider at the inaugural CiderFeast in Boston on Nov. 12. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

Staff Writer
Published: 11/18/2022 3:19:54 PM

Cider makers from across the world converged upon Massachusetts’ capital for its inaugural CiderFeast, yet some of the best apples didn’t fall far from the tree.

New Salem Cider and Florence’s Artifact Cider represented the Pioneer Valley as two of around 15 cideries at the tasting festival. Held Saturday afternoon at the South Boston Lithuanian Citizens’ Association on West Broadway, the first-time event introduced an 11-year New York tradition to Boston. The change of scenery was a fitting one, with hundreds welcoming cider makers near and far to a region steeped in cider culture.

“Boston’s a cosmopolitan city, so this is a place for ciders from all around the world, but also … Massachusetts cider makers here are really standing out,” said Event Producer Jimmy Carbone.

Over half a dozen Pioneer Valley cideries were considered for the event before a condensed list was finalized. Those in attendance, though, relished the opportunity to expand their reach into a bigger market.

“Unlike CiderDays, which is beautiful because so much of it is that region, when you’re in eastern Massachusetts … it’s more urban,” Carbone said, contrasting CiderFeast with Franklin County’s hyperlocal annual cider festival.

Christopher Hoyt, social media manager for Artifact Cider, said his company hopped on the opportunity to participate as “a bunch of nerds” who “love to share (their) nerd stuff with other people.”

“We are very into what we do and very into sharing our experience with everybody,” he said. “We just love that.”

Artifact Cider, which still operates on a limited basis in its original Everett location, transitioned its headquarters to Florence “to get closer to the source,” Hoyt explained. He cited a unique “cultural climate” in western Massachusetts where enthusiasm for cider making blossoms in tandem with the rural landscape.

“It’s rich in farmland,” he said of the region. “That’s the obvious geological advantage out west. But I think it’s the climate of the culture (that stands out). It’s a lot of people who are passionate about it.”

William Grote, cider maker at New Salem Cider, said he ties his passion for cider making to “a sense of place.”

“Our trees are 135 years old,” he said, noting that his New Salem orchard bears the region’s oldest apple trees. “They’re more ancient and have more experience than everybody in this room. Older trees produce fruit that has very few nutrients in it, so our ciders take five times longer to ferment than most apple juice. That produces a distinct cider, which has intense aromas and intense flavors because of the incredibly long fermentation time.”

Grote explained that typically, New Salem Cider only sells products on-site.

“Now, especially in New England, a lot of the cider makers are tied into orchards and they’re local,” Carbone contextualized.

In contrast, an opportunity to come to Boston and connect with “everybody from Ciderville” is a welcome venture, Grote said. Hoyt added that western Massachusetts cider makers shine when everybody comes together, a testament to how the region has become such a central location for the craft.

“To speak to what makes western Massachusetts such a cider hub, it’s the people,” he said. “It’s absolutely the people.”

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-930-4231 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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