LA GARAGISTA, DEIRDRE HEEKIN & CALEB BARBER, BARNARD, Vermont – Biodynamic
La Garagista Farm + Winery began in 2010. Deirdre and Caleb farm three parcels of co-planted, alpine varietals that are horticultural crosses of vinifera and native riparia and labrusca vines. The family trees of these varietals are quite baroque and uniquely American. They practice biodynamic and also pull from organic and permacullture concepts. Firstly, in the home farm and vineyard in the Chateauguay, a protected forest in Barnard, Vermont (1600 feet) where they also grow vegetables and fruit and raise some livestock for their restaurant Osteria Pane e Salute. The farm is a polyculture project with vegetables, orchards, flower gardens, vines, and chickens all interplanted. The chickens are particularly interplanted. They also raise pigs on farm, utilizing them to naturally till new ground. In the vineyard, they co-plant vegetables between the vines focusing on root vegetables, escaroles and chicories, and flowers, all things that aid the soils in this parcel. The two other parcels are in the Champlain Valley (184/194 feet) and are close to Lake Champlain. No-till and natural field cover crops are part of the farming at these two vineyards, encouraging the flora and fauna particular to each microclimate.
The wines are stunning – the whites (which are amber-hued) wildly floral with flavours of orange marmalade, cloves, wild mint and strawberry leaf. They are nourishing. La Crescent expresses the different terroirs of the vineyards in the most eloquent way imaginable. The reds are very different. All share this Alpine meadow character; Deirdre has captured something unique here.
Harlots & Ruffian is 50% La Crescent (descendent from Muscat d’Ambourg) + 50 % Frontenac Gris (descendent from Aramon and Muscat d’Alexandria) from the Vergennes vineyard in Champlain, a broad, open field five miles from the lake. The grapes are harvested by hand, destemmed into open fibreglass vats, then five weeks on skins before press. Indigenous yeasts, ambient ferment, malo for the La Crescent before bottling with a minmum amount of added sulphur. “An Orange Omelet for Harlots and Ruffians is a medieval Italian dish that we make at our restaurant, the orange ingredient used believed to inspire the debauched to purity. The citrus and creamy notes are reminiscent of this dish for us”. (writes Deirdre)