Terroir Harmonies

August 17 2017
As I surveyed the people gathered in the dining room last Saturday evening, I spied Peter and Alice Mennacher. Each Saturday I convey the message that we are exploring the relationships between foods and wines grown in a specific place. It is exciting to me to discover the natural harmonies that exist and to share those harmonies with my guests.

Remembering Aunt Myrtle's Preserves and Donald Ziraldo's Icewine on...

August 09 2017
I first started to get interested in canning in the mid seventies, during my apprenticeship in cooking. My great Aunt Myrtle led me down the back stairs of her house, just south of the city limits in Toronto. It was a hot August day and I felt the heat leaving my body as I descended the stairs to the cool depths below. We stood amongst the wooden shelves loaded with mason jars of this year’s production of jams and pickles. I was awestruck by the display. Everything looked so delicious and precious. There in suspended animation, like bottled sunshine, to later grace the table on a dreary February night, stood row after row of mason jars. 

Potatoes & Pinot Noir from the PEC Soil

July 31 2017
Like wizards with long beards, the seed potatoes languished in the dark, cool cellar. The white beard like root stems forced their way through burlap bags that contained them. They mistake the cool subterranean cellar for the good earth where they yearn to grow. I am in my basement looking for something and the sight of these bearded burlap bags startles me. Somehow they got left behind on potato planting day back in early June.

In Praise of Fermentation

July 25 2017
This past weekend was certainly a celebration of fermentation as well. On Saturday evening beginning on the ridge, Dan Sullivan, winemaker at Rosehall Run shared his story of local provenance of wine to a sold out crowd at our summer dinner series. Even though I have known Dan and Lynn Sullivan for many years, I still learned new things as Dan stood and spoke to the wines. 

Let's Go to the Water

July 18 2017
It is Sunday morning and it is the sound of the creek that brings me around. I remember that last year at this time the creek was dry. No sound. I like to hear the creek. It calms me. I muse about how there used to be a millpond just outside my window. The water held back to form the pond by an earth dam laboriously constructed by hand, one shovelful at a time. Little remains of the dam, built over a hundred years ago or the millrace that controlled the surge of water required to power the turbine inside the mill just downstream from here.

The Shimmering Heat of Summer

July 10 2017
The shimmering heat of summer in Southern Ontario is back. The vines feel it. They love it, but they could do without the humidity that comes with it. Humans and vines are alike in this way. Along with the shimmering heat comes the hypnotic drone of the cicadas. Listen for a few moments and you will also hear the bluesy drawl of the mourning dove. You are outdoors with your hands submerged in cool water moving the just harvested leaves of lettuce around allowing the grit to fall to the bottom of the sink, when you hear the dove. You skim the fresh leaves out of the sink and into the spinner to pull the moisture away and now the salad is ready to dress and serve with the cheeses.

The Evolution of the Garden

July 04 2017
The weeds are out of control. I remember years ago, when I first planted my vineyard how fascinated I was by the diversity and vigour of all the plant life competing with my fledgling grapevines. I naively thought that the vines would grow in and soon begin producing grapes. Au contraire. When one looked at the vineyard fro a distance, one could not distinguish the vines from the weeds. It looked like a wild meadow. The weeds in fact dominated the vineyard.

Fireside Ruminations

June 28 2017
t is approaching midnight. The laughter and conversation drifts away on the wind with the last guests as they make their way home under a starry mantle of twinkling light. A dim illumination punctuated by the fireflies’ random bursts of light. I sit by the bonfire with my friends and wine collaborators for this evening Mary and Colin Stanners. Their vineyard and winery is a short walk up Station Road from here.

Ingredients of the Moment, Foraged and Cultivated

June 20 2017
My dog Champ has adapted well to dividing his time between the farm and the city. While in the city he looks forward to his daily walks along the West Toronto Rail Path. This morning, we walked north past the Union-Pearson Express station at Bloor, to Dupont and then back. Champ loves to pause frequently along the way. A fresh blossom caught my eye as I waited for Champ to thoroughly inspect yet another interesting scent in the underbrush. It was the first catalpa flower of the year.

Gently Steering the Ingredients

June 14 2017
The last couple of days of tropical heat and humidity have convinced me that we have come through the long, cool, wet spring and have arrived at summer. Shimmering heat and the cacophony of tree frogs and cicadas has replaced damp coolness and sinister, carnivorous May flies. The veil has lifted.

Many Stars Aligned

June 06 2017
Today I contemplate going into the vineyard to continue pruning the vines. If things dry out a little bit, it promises to be a good year. The vines are loaded with nascent bunches of fruit. It remains to prune each vine to establish the right architecture so that each will produce a limited number of bunches with the highest potential for quality and ripeness.

Sensory Memories and Ephemeral Identities

May 30 2017
There is the same intoxicating profusion of lilacs in bloom. I watch from the kitchen in the loafing barn as our guests make their way past the garden to the top of the escarpment to enjoy an apéritif and passed hors d’oeuvres as they look over the vineyard, now 15 years old, to the village of Hillier, on the other side of the creek. Needless to say, we purchased this property and over the past 15 years have slowly gotten acquainted with the land and the possibilities it represents.

Stage Fright and Show Buzz

May 24 2017
I remember listening to an interview with a famous actor with many years of experience under her belt. The interviewer supposed that after all those years that preparing for a role must be more or less straightforward and certainly much less stressful now than when she was first starting out. “Au contraire” exclaimed the actor “I am probably more fretful now than I ever was and certainly I still have butterflies in my stomach in anticipation of my performance”. In short, I suppose, it doesn’t get any easier. Should preparing for a performance ever be easy?

The Quest for Wood Fired, Clay Oven Baked Bread

May 18 2017
It has been a slow awakening this spring on the farm. The creek is surging. I have never seen rapids in there before. My dad would have loved to have paddled that white water in his canoe! I remember thinking how fortunate we were to have planned the cane raising work bee on April 22. I thought the buds were about to burst on the vines! In reality here we are nearly a month later and the canes are still budding out! It has been cool. It has been rainy. The pale green haze that is everywhere one looks has been slower this year to deepen to the various shades of green that emerge as the new leaves form on the trees.

A Cane Raising in the Vineyard

May 04 2017
Prince Edward County is a unique place in so many ways. I am reminded of its farming history every time I walk around outside and re-examine the older buildings on my property. Along the creek, near the highway and close to the village road, there is the crumbling ruins of a blacksmith shop and a mill powered at one time by the water flowing in the creek. I also see remnants of the tomato canning factory that was once active here; blanching baskets and labels that read, “Taylor Made” Taylor, the family name of the cannery owners more than 60 years ago.

The Warm Tone of the Cherry Wood

March 21 2017
One morning a few years ago, my dad called me to let me know that he had to cut down a large cherry tree that was on their property in Wellington. I think it posed some kind of danger to the house. He had heard about a man with a portable sawmill and called him to come and not only cut the tree down, but saw the trunk into planks for lumber. My dad wanted to know if I wanted to come by the house to watch this operation. I was intrigued right away.

150 Stories

March 08 2017

Recently, both Jamie and I were invited to attend launch events to celebrate the publication and exhibition of "150 Stories" at the office of the Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, at Queen's Park. I was thrilled to contribute a photograph to this project to accompany Jamie's story.

Pond Skating & Summer Planning at J.K. Farm

February 08 2017
The winter landscape on the farm couldn’t be more different from the summer. It is a quiet monochrome, beautiful in its wintry way. I walk out to the vineyard imagining that in just 3 short months, all will be green again.
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