Eastern Ontario wine and cider makers pull out all the stops for La Vida Local guests

Distinctive wines and estate craft ciders combined with warm hospitality, picturesque scenery and freshly-made treats make memorable West Carleton wine tour.

Wine Tasting In Carp

At KIN Vineyards, sommelier Alexandra Britton regaled us with stories about the trials and tribulations of growing such old-world varietals as Chardonnay in Carp's cold climate. She explained that the wounded bird audiotape playing on loop in the vineyard helps keep birds from eating the grapes. 

La Vida Local tour bus arrives at KIN Vineyards in Carp, Ontario  KIN Vineyard chardonnay marker in Eastern Ontario's emerging wine region.  KIN Vineyard sommelier Alex Britton and La Vida Local food and wine tour guests

After a stroll in the vineyard, our guests filled up on tasty charcuterie while sampling wines -- including the newly-released Kindling Sparkling Vidal -- in KIN's stylish tasting room, which showcases local artists' work.

La Vida Local food and wine tour guests enjoy a charcuterie board at Kin Vineyards.  La Vida Local wine tour guests taste Kin Vineyards wines.  La Vida Local guests sampled these Eastern Ontario wines produced by KIN Vineyards.

Back on the bus, our guests were 'oohing and ahhing' over the picture-perfect day and rolling hills dotted with hay bales. The fact that not one person's head was buried in their phone had me grinning like a Cheshire Cat. Our group was connecting -- laughter filled the air as guests spiritedly discussed the wines and cheeses they had just sampled.

Farm-To-Glass Apple Cider

The folks at Farmgate Cider welcomed us with open arms. Walking through their orchards, we enjoyed the simple pleasure of biting into crisp tree-ripened apples. 'Tree-to-mouth' -- hey, did I just coin a new term? We sampled several different estate ciders paired with a savoury tomato and toasted pine nut flatbread, and heard how the Davies family relocated their gorgeous home stone-by-stone (all three tonnes of it) from its original location near the Canadian Tire Centre to its present location along the banks of the Mississippi River.

All Farmgate Cider organic apples are tree ripened.  Farmgate cidermaker Jim Davies explains how he crafts British-style ciders.  

I love all the nuggets of information I pick up on our food and wine tours across the Ottawa Valley, including how a hydro bladder press works. Turn on the water to fill the bladder, which expands and gently presses out the juice. By the way just-pressed sweet cider (unfermented apple juice) tastes amazing. On a hot day, it's incredibly refreshing.  What. A. Treat.

Farmgate Cider's hydro bladder press  La Vida Local food and wine tour guests toast new-found friends at Farmgate Cider  Five-Span Pakenham Bridge

Feeling refreshed, we headed off to Needham's Market Garden on Highway 29 via the quaint five-span Pakenham stone bridge. 

C'mon In, Let's Taste Some Wine

Farmer/winemaker Glenn Needham and his sidekick Leslie put on quite the spread for us. We tasted several Highway 29 fruit wines, including three varieties of strawberry (sweet, dry and extra dry), raspberry, plus a beet and raisin blend, as well as a strawberry/rhubarb blend.

Flowers at Needham's Market Garden  Needham's Market Garden welcome sign  La Vida Local tour bus arrives at Needham's Market Garden near Arnprior, Ontario

Also available in select local LCBOs, the fruit wines paired extraordinarily well with fresh fruit, hot scones and an assortment of farm-to-table jams. My favourites were the strawberry jalapeno jam and the luscious raspberry wine, which would make a killer sangria.

Needham's Market Garden scones  La Vida Local tour guests tasting Highway 29 fruit wines at Needham's Market Garden.  La Vida Local wine tour guests sampled these Highway 29 fruit wines produced by Needham's Market Garden  

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