Friday, September 7, 2012

Locaholics don't need to whine when they can wine

As I’ve written before, there is something special about eating food grown in the local soil, and something even more special about pairing it with drinks made nearby. The only drink made commercially right in Barrie today is beer, but you don’t have to reach far to find local wine, either – only as far as the Holland Marsh.
When it comes to wine a special word describes locality: terroir, or how the soil, climate, and other growing factors unique to a particular area are expressed in the unique flavours of the wine or other products grown there. And it has long been believed that the combination of a wine’s terroir with food from the same region is especially sublime, so a Barrie locavore can enhance their experience by being a “locaholic” with the products of the Holland Marsh Wineries.
Touring this operation earlier this year, I found a pleasing combination of the old and the new. The vinting approach is very traditional and hands-on, but also uses state-of-the-art 21st century technology for purification, testing, and cleaning. Founder Roland Nersisyan and his family hail from the wine region of Armenia, source of the earliest documented wine production. They thus bring millennia of tradition to this new facility, tucked into a back-road small acreage just north of Newmarket. To that tradition they add their professional training and intensive knowledge of our local growing conditions.  
Their modest-seeming vineyard produces four varietals of grapes, leading to three lines each of red and white blended wines, available only on site. They offer both dry and semi-dry flavours to suit many palates; sampling them all, my wife and I preferred their premium “cuvee” selections. That they can produce 1500 cases of wine per year from just a few acres of vines is a testament to their skill and the productivity of our local soils, some of the best farmland in Canada.
For those with a sweeter tooth, they also infuse their wines into special chocolate truffles! Drop in to taste their products and you’ll be impressed by how their new, unimposing building fits perfectly with the local rural character, yet hides within it both a cozy stone-and-brick European wine cellar-themed store and a spacious modern production floor with stainless steel equipment. Visitors can walk out over the scenic pond and tour the Wine Club House, their beautiful natural wood event facility, an ideal location for a wedding or other special occasion.
Some might see a 100-mile diet as a limitation, but instead I’ve found it to be a wonderful opportunity to explore and discover the fantastic local foods, beers, and wines I might otherwise overlook. I toast your efforts to eat and drink locally!

Published as my Root Issues column in the Barrie Examiner under the title: "Let us combine being a locavore and a locaholic".
Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is a director of the Ontario School of Economic Science and Earthsharing Canada.

No comments:

Post a Comment