Archive for September, 2009

In August we wrote a post called What a difference 30 hours can make which showed photos of how much Norman Hardies vineyard changed in 2 days.  It has happened again – after releasing a request for harvest help with definitive dates yesterday, the orchard changed overnight.  We have received an urgent plea this evening from Norman Hardie (go to out home page for an article and links on him within our site) – harvest has moved up a full week and starts this weekend.  It`s very short notice – we`re not sure we can make it.

The  message is below.   We`d love people to consider circulating the message to others.  If you do make it out to any of it, please let us know – if we`re there we`ll say hi and we are trying to track numbers to see if we could fill a bus and make a WellPreserved day of it next year!

It is starting to feel like harvest in Burgundy – pick before the rain. The weather looks as though it will rain later next week and we have some sunshine ahead of us on through till Tuesday. This means that we will have to move up our harvesting.

The great news is that I did a full cluster sampling this morning and we are north of 21.5 brix (better than 07) with fantastic phenolic ripeness, and the vineyard is botritis and disease free. We will begin harvesting on our own this Thursday, October 1st, and possibly Friday and Saturday (if the rain holds off). Sunday, October 4th is promising to be sunny along with Monday and Tuesday. If you can come and help any of these days we promise to feed you like kings and queens. This will be the first time we have ever harvested Pinot in Prince Edward Country before Niagara.

I am also looking for some hands to help on the sorting table in Niagara on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Any help down there would be grateful. Trying to coordinate two picks at the same time is also a first.

For those who committed to the 17th and 18th, all the Pinot would have been picked, however I think we will be picking my neighbours Cabernet Franc which we will be making this year for the first time since 2005.

Please email me at norm@normanhardie.com to let me know what days you can come. Bring warm clothes and lots of energy, kids are welcome. If you bring a dog please keep on a leash as the grapes make them very ill.


He is a heck of a guy and has inspiring talent and vision.  Thanks all for considering – happy harvest!


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We originally introduced Norm Hardie in this article.  He is gracious, fun, passionate and committed to making fabulous wine.

Norm is getting close to harvest time and has an offer of a traditional Thanksgiving to those who wish to learn and participate in a traditional harvest.  In exchange for an honest day labour, Norm offers local food prepared by some of the top chefs (including yummy-not-so-local Oysters) and plenty of his beautiful wine.  This is a family friendly event and is less than 2.5 hours away from Toronto in Hillier, Ontario.

Here`s the details from Norm – if you decide to go, let us know that you`re going.  We would love to track how many are going as there`s talk of trying to get a busload together for next year (this year is tough with our own harvest falling across the harvest weekends; Dana is planning to make it on the second weekend which is the start of hunting for me).

Here`s the invite in Norms words:

We have had an unbelievably busy summer in the vineyard. Fortunately Prince Edward County did not get the rains that the rest of the province experienced. In August, we followed the conservative approach we initiated in 2008 and green harvested down to less than 750 grams of fruit per plant to ensure as close to perfect ripeness even if the skies opened up on us. This strategy paid huge dividends for us in 2008. September blessed us with 21 straight days of sunshine and perfect heat. The long term forecast looks very positive, so potentially, we are in for an incredible year!

We are anticipating harvesting over the Thanksgiving weekend (October 10, 11 and 12) and possibly the weekend of the 17th and 18th – all weather dependant. Raymond from Balluchon will be there to start your picking morning with freshly roasted coffee. Johannes and Manly will be manning the suckling pig on the spit, a number of top chefs will be doing their magic on the vegetables from both Vicki’s Vegetables and Cherryvale organic farm, and both Rodney’s Oyster Bar and Oyster Boy will be shucking. Goes without saying there will be Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in abundance to enjoy with the harvest lunch. Come and enjoy a true Thanksgiving harvest with us. If not, join us the weekend after. Harvest is a family affair, so your kids are welcome. And for those whose knees are tender, we always need hands on the sorting table. Please email norm@normanhardie.com and let us know which date’s you can join us for the harvest. Picking starts from 9am on, lunch served promptly at 2pm.

Look forward to sharing this magical time with you here.


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A very short post this evening – it is 1.30am as I write this.

We had a fantastic night tonight – the fine folks from Not Far From the Tree popped bye with bags of fruit and we preserved and tasted together for almost 6 hours.  These guys are really amazing.  We introduced them in a post here – but check out their website here.  We will provide more info soon – the super Readers Digest version is this – they organize volunteers to harvest urban fruit from backyards around Toronto.  A third of the fruit goes to the property owner, a third goes to the volunteers and the rest to charity.

They picked 3003 pounds last year – they are at 6,812 pounds so far this year!  It is easy to get inspired by them.

Our friend Margaret Mulligan ( you met her here and can see her pro pics here and her blog here) was by to take some pics.  There will be more posts this week – in the mean time we will start with some of the great shots:

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8 friends and family members left the city around 7am on Saturday morning.  We were bleary eyed and laughing at what seemed like a logical plan before the alarm clock went off.  A quick wipe of the eyes and brush of the teeth paved the way for our escape to Prince Edward County.

We made our way to Norman Hardies vineyard and winery and started the morning with a small walk around the property.  The grapes are a beautiful dark purple or red (they are wrapped in mesh to protect them from birds so we didn’t take photos.

We were delighted when Norm announced to the group that he was going to put us to work.  We had to help bottle, label, cap and package 16 cases of wine.

Dana and I in action:

Taking part in the process made me appreciate how intimate these bottles truly are.  It is a process that is closely related to our jarring and canning and has really left an impression on me.  This is not wine made in a massive factory with cold machines whirring at 1,000 miles an hour – instead it moves slow, deliberately and each bottle is hand-filled with wine – and passion.

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We were at the cabin in the spring and Dana took a bunch of photos of coffee cups that have accumulated over the years.  Most came from unknown sources and have been left behind from different guests.

What is the story of your favorite coffee cup?  What saying would you put on a cup of you could?

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1 cup of sugar, 2 cups of water and 8.5 cups of pears which are quartered, peeled and treated for browning (we use lemon juice).

The recipe was easy.  Bring everything but the pears to a boil over medium-high heat and add the pears after everything is disolved.  leave the pears at a gentle boil for 5 minutes before loading into heated 8-ounce (1 cup) jars.  It all made sense.  Boil in a hot water bath for 20 minutes.

It was the fine print that spun my head – add 1.5 teaspoons a Kahlua into the bottle before sealing.

Kahlua and pears?  This was news to me and something that sounded less than ideal to me.

As soon as the alcohol hit the hot liquid, it all made sense.  This is simply the best smelling preserve I’ve ever made.  We haven’t broken in to them yet – a few months down the road we’ll give them a try.  I expect them to be phenomenal!

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These are some of my favourites.  Many people are surprised to learn that you can pickle carrots.  To then learn that they are very spicy is often a second surprise.

Pickled carrots are very straightforward – a picking brine, fresh carrots, dill (we used 1/2 a teaspoon of dill seed) and hot peppers (we used a whopping 3.5 teaspoons).  The carrots remain crisp and become a lovely side-dish or can be chopped up and added to a salad.  They also match very well with most beer.

This was our 45th batch of preserving this year.  I keep thinking we are complete and then mentally commit to “just one more…”  We were able to buy orange and white carrots for 99 cents a pound and canned 6 pounds of them (7 2-cup/ 500ml jars).

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