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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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