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.
The Loup d’Or is the “golden wolf” – a mythical creature that haunts the edges of the Chatauguay forest that borders the farm. It’s also a white wine, made from the Brianna grape which counts several types of muscat and grenache blanc among its heritage grapes. It’s floral, white peach-y, with textured leesy character from its time spend in glass demijohn. If we’re making comparisons (and wine people love to make comparisons… I’m no exception!), it’s like the love child of a grenache blanc and a muscadet. But comparisons aside, this wine can stand on its own as an example of how good wine from unexpected places can be.