Special delivery for Mr. Drummond: A bottle of Château des Charmes Gamay and... hold on, is that an actual Gamay vine?

Special delivery for Mr. Drummond: A bottle of Château des Charmes Gamay and… hold on, is that an actual Gamay vine?


When it comes to PR and marketing gimmicks, between my wife and myself, we have seen it all; seriously. You would not BELIEVE some of the stuff that has appeared at our front door over the years.

But then every so often something comes along that really impresses and makes us pay attention, and I’m delighted to say that it came courtesy of Ontario Craft Wineries (née Wine Country Ontario) for last week’s Ontario Wine Week. Now, of course, I should have published this last week, but what with us now living in rural Ontario, things happen (and arrive at the door) a little more slowly these days.

I’ve always been a great believer in the old adage of allowing a child to take care of a pet in order to teach them about responsibility, but I am most curious as to what happens when you send a wine writer a grapevine to nurture? I mean, wine writers spend their hours writing about the fruits of the grape growers’/vignerons’/winemakers’ labours, but what if they had to take care of a single grapevine themselves? Would it perhaps instil even more respect for the earnest work that goes into producing a single bottle of wine?

Now, will it be getting enough sunlight here? I'm not sure, as we have some rather tall trees surround the backyard.

Now, will it be getting enough sunlight here? I’m not sure, as we have some rather tall trees surround the backyard.


I opened the box and found one very  carefully packaged “Gamay Noir on SO4” grape vine. Accompanying said Vinetech Canada grapevine was a bottle of 2019 Château des Charmes Gamay Noir, a bottling that I’ve have increasing respect for over the years. I opened the bottle and sat back, enjoying a couple of slightly chilled glasses while I carefully considered my next move. This 2019 release was certainly no slouch, and for a mere $15.95 is a complete no-brainer for summer red imbibing. In fact, I think I may review it this week!

So… where was one to plant this fragile looking thing? How would such a truly nascent vine perform in the relatively rich, arable soils of the bucolic Beaver Valley? Three glasses of chilled Gamay in, I decided to plant it beside a re-assembled remnant of the old wooden farm fences on our property, imagining that I could somehow train the growing vine around it.

The yard is surrounded by towering trees, and hence full sun exposure was always going to be a challenge, but simply keeping this wee thing alive was my major concern, as I’m not known for my green fingers, by any means. Well, saying that, I’m a dab hand at growing lettuce and culinary herbs, but that’s about as far as my skills extend in the horticultural arena.

And into the soil it went. Let's check in on you in another three months...

And into the soil it went. Let’s check in on you in another three months…


I dug the wee fellow a surprisingly deep hole, so as to leave only a few inches extending above the surprisingly moist soil. Backfilling the narrow fissure, and tamping down the dirt, I began to feel rather satisfied with my minuscule baby step into the world of viticulture!

At this point I realised that I had actually missed out one of the steps in the enclosed instructions. I had been so distracted by the attendant cloud of mosquitoes (à la Pigpen in Charlie Brown) that had assembled to observe my handiwork that I had neglected to trim the roots as directed. Loathe to dig the little guy back out from his new home, I swatted away the ever multiplying swarm and ran back indoors to the air conditioned safety of the house. Upon my return I was discover that even in that short period of time I had somehow manage to collect seven bug bites; what bloody good would I be in an actual vineyard? Massive bug-magnet Drummond at your service.

I’ve been out to see the tiny chap a few times, just to see he hadn’t been nibbled by the deer who frequent our back garden, and would surely make short work of such a tiny, vulnerable vine. He seems quite happy for the time being…


Edinburgh-born/Ontario-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And he has his fingers crossed.