by Norm Hardie for Norman Hardie Winery, a ‘Certified Good Food Fighter’
Spring came early and, as a winemaker, my most important asset is my vineyard – hence, there has been no time to write (1st login to GFF despite signing up a week ago). (*cough*… 3 months ago – JD) All my focus has been geared towards getting the vineyard pruned, tied and free of weeds between the plants. With bud break 2-3 weeks earlier than normal, harvest should be early—the downside being that we came awfully close to losing a lot of our crop due to frost. We had two nights, a few weeks ago, where we came very close and burned hundreds of hay bails. The smoke created didn’t allow the frost to settle; fortunately I anticipate a good yield and will have to green harvest in late July to ensure quality (rather take extra clusters off, can’t put them on!). In hindsight, I should have put a number of Berkshire pigs in the field as the amount of smoke created by the hay bails would have ensured lots of smoked pork for our ever hard-working Thai field workers and customers for the summer. Next year, I will ensure that I have two pigs on hand in case we have to burn as vigorously as we did this year.
The early spring heat has gently warmed up in the barrel chamber, putting pressure on us in the cellar as well. The Melon was racked out of neutral old 500 year French oak barrels in early April. Now, it has been bottled and is being served by the glass on the sun-filled patios in many top restaurants in the Quebec, Ottawa, Toronto, Niagara corridor. (There’s a list of them on my website, normanhardie.com.)
To add to the spring crunch, we are currently constructing a brand new steel quancet storage building for our wines. The construction has been spearheaded by Joe and his indomitable construction team, allowing our diligent Thai vineyard workers to be able to focus their energies on tending to the vines. Anticipated finish date is two weeks, a construction record!
Looking back to initial design of my winery in 2003, I had always envisioned incorporating a pizza oven so that our customers could fully appreciate the culture of our winery. As importantly our old-world-style wines and food go hand in hand. This aspiration is finally come to fruition. Aubrey, who is arguably one of the top free mason builders in Canada,is using natural limestone from Prince Edward County to reflect our artisanal approach. I hope our pizza oven will add a fulfilling dimension to the Norman Hardie experience. Reasons for delaying its installment were many-fold, but mostly it was a result of my desire to have 100% control of the viticulture and winemaking aspect at Hardie Wines before approaching a new angle in the hospitality segment at the winery. Now that, in 2010, we have developed a very strong cellar and vineyard crew, I am comfortable that we can continue to make better wine each year and serve fantastic artisanal pizza. Our pizza oven will be open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays – we expect an opening date of early July (this year, not in 2017).
In the future, we’ll have lovely photos – possibly even videos – posted, and our blog will be a little more comprehensive. However our focus, naturally, is on crossing every ‘t’ and dotting every ‘i’ at the winery, and given the time pressures due to the heat, up to now it has been difficult, but as the summer progresses I will have a little more time (even if it’s 2 in the morning) to give a weekly update. In the meantime, we look forward to welcoming you to our winery – and please make us your first stop in the County. We’d obviously like to share our wines with you, but also, if you need help with an inside scoop on fine restaurant locations, or what we call the “highlight package” when visiting, we’d be happy to share them with you at the winery. To contact us, order for home delivery and learn more about Norman Hardie Winery go to www.normanhardie.com
Cheers, and look forward to connecting with you next week.