July 4th, 2017 Missive from J.K. Farm
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.
That year I wisely gave up on trying to keep the weeds at bay. And instead I would peer through the tall grasses from time to time to see if the vines were still alive. I refer to this era in their tenure as the “Bonsai Period”. For six years the vines produced no fruit but refused to die. They did not thrive but stayed alive in this kind of miniature way, shaded by the tall plants around them and protected in a way from some predators by the grasses that practically choked them. By year six I finally did the prudent thing and hired two full time vineyard workers. They worked diligently for the next three years turning things around. The vines began to thrive again and eventually regained their rightful dominance in the vineyard. Gone were the tall grasses and thistles.
Finally, ten years after they were first planted, the vines started to bear fruit. There was enough fruit so that, in the fall of 2011 we made our first wine. We brought our first harvest into the loafing barn. Geoff Heinricks lead the winemaking activity, guiding the transformation of crushed grapes into finished wine. I was filled with a sense of awe. I knew the difficult path these precious grapes had taken over the past 10 years. The transformation from grapes to wine seemed magical. It didn’t taste bad either. In the successive vintages, I love to consider the year while tasting the wine and notice the differences. Nature deals a different hand each year and the differences are recorded in the wine that is made.
This year we have had so much rainfall. That coupled with a shortage in labour has meant that, in my vineyard, the weeds are once again threatening to dominate. One thing in our favour is that the vines are 10 years older and far more established. I am determined not to let the weeds win. Instead, I called in the cavalry in the form of two seasoned vineyard workers who came in on Sunday wielding their secateurs and a “take no prisoners” attitude. Shehan, our full time gardener was happy to see them.
One of the things they noticed during their battle with the weeds was that the vines were also showing signs of being attacked from another angle! Powdery mildew was showing up on some of the vines. This is not unusual in Prince Edward County where the weather is so humid in the summer. The antidote is a foliar spray of copper and sulphur. This will be performed this week and then with any luck at all the vines will continue their challenging journey to harvest. Oh, the joys of owning a vineyard.
The silver lining to all this precipitation is that the vegetable garden promises a real bounty. One of Shehan’s weekly activities is to give me a list of all the vegetables that are coming out of the garden this week. I include these when planning my menu for Saturday night. All of a sudden we have gone from no available produce to, (reading from last week’s inventory), lettuces, chervil, summer savoury, garlic scapes, chicory and Swiss chard. New treasures will be announced each week. Also, as we deplete certain crops like lettuces, Shehan has planned ahead, planting in succession, to ensure an uninterrupted flow of these faster growing ingredients.
It is wonderful to observe the evolution of the garden this summer. After carefully planning the garden back in the winter, guests at the dinners are offered a view into the evolving garden as they venture past, both to and from the ridge overlooking the vines on the hill and the garden below.
Saturday July 1, 2017 featuring By Chadsey's Cairns Winery
Hors d’Œuvres on the Ridge
JK Fries with Two Sauces
Grilled Sourdough Flatbread with Pesto
Lobster Cakes with Wild Leek Tartar Sauce
Pickerel Mousse Canapé
Chilled Radish and Buttermilk Soup
2015 By Chadsey’s Cairns, Rosessence. Prince Edward County VQA
Menu in the Loafing Barn
Spicy Beef and Zucchini Salad
2016 By Chadsey’s Cairns Roxey. Prince Edward County VQA
Sunflower Poached Whitefish in Saffron Broth. Garlic Scape Aioli
2015 By Chadsey’s Cairns Chardonnay. Prince Edward County VQA
Spatchcocked Tamarack Farms Quail
2016 By Chadsey’s Cairns, Gamay Noir. Prince Edward County VQA
Highlights of the Great Canadian Cheese Festival
2014 By Chadsey’s Cairns Gewürztraminer. Prince Edward County VQA
Strawberry Shortcake with Vanilla Cream
2016 By Chadsey’s Cairns Muscat Ottonel. Prince Edward County VQA
Coffee or Tea
herbs harvest @vtaylorlandarch
strawberry shortcake via @chefjamiekennedy
vineyard and garden from over the years at J.K. farm by @jodickins