“Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.” – Paulo Coelho
So where am I at in this local journey? Well I am 25 weeks and 5 days in, so almost exactly half way. Since we last met upon this interface I have undergone 35 days of extreme writers block, 4 vineyard visits, 1 farm day and the discovery of local oil – All very exciting things. It really was most unfortunate not to be able to communicate it all with you as it happened; But never the less I am here now and I will supply you with the Coles notes version as I sit here waiting for soup to stew and my squash to roast.
Where to start, well I suppose I will start with my quest to be involved in the grape harvest this season. I reached out to many wineries offering my help with the harvest in an attempt to immerse myself in the production of my favorite beverage, wine. I figured how could I go wrong combining my three favorite things: wine, chemistry and nature.
To make good wine is a science, but there are many variables. You need the perfect balance of climate and grape varietal to give you the proper acid to sugar ratio upon harvest and that’s just the beginning.
When you break it all down wine making is chemistry. Vintners have scales, beakers, hydrometers and many of gadgets similar to a chemistry lab – It’s a dream job for anyone who loves chemistry and wine. I was lucky enough to get in touch with Tim and Michelin, the owners of Broken Stone vineyard who were gracious enough to have me out on their vineyard to help with the harvest. I had the pleasure of getting to know them in the vines as they told me their story and how they ended up with a vineyard in Prince Edward County. Why Broken Stone you might ask? Well within seconds of harvesting grapes in the vineyard you’d know. The rows are littered with broken stones which can be attributed to the limestone bedrock from which the county wine gets its unique Terroir, which is a whole topic in itself.
Needless to say, the harvest and first hand knowledge I gained from spending time in the vines was immeasurable compared to anything I’ve read in a textbook. I’m lucky enough to have the chance to gain more firsthand knowledge as I will head back out later this month and help with some of the winterizing including the tying down of the vines and hopefully get my hands into some of the fermentation process. You can bet you’re going to hear more about wine and wineries in future posts!
I was also fortunate enough to make it out the Ferme Tournesol with Dan Brisebois, COG’s past president. It was so exciting to finally make it out onto his cooperative farm. It really is such a neat model in that it allows the farmers to lead a more balanced life since the duties of the farm that would usually fall on one farmer can be spread amoung the group. It also allows them to do more. Their farm has a CSA, a farmers market stand and also a seed saving business.
We got a seed saving 101 course as we saved cayenne seeds and arugula seeds. We also helped prep onions for market. The highlight of the visit though? The discovery of local sunflower seed oil from Le Moulin des Cedres! It turns out Ferme Tournesol’s landlord runs an organic grain and sunflower farm and they produce organic sunflower oil. After a summer of dressing-less salads this was a prize find.
I know this blog does not do this past month’s adventures justice but with any luck I will be able to provide more consistent updates with the change of seasons and the winter months.
So until next time Adieu