Vermont’s RAW Natural Beauty
October 17, 2016
The mere mention of Vermont, for many people, immediately evokes scenes of spring maple taps, verdant summer pastures, stunning autumn colors and winter wonderlands. There is no doubt that one of the state’s most valuable assets is the unspoiled splendor that draws visitors at peak times of year, and keeps the rest of us here across the calendar. Sure there are periods of gray rain, bleak cold days without snow, and of course, mud season all of which could be perceived as flaws…but even those rugged aspects have a certain charm and function to provide the grounding and balance that is the essence of natural beauty.
Among the growing ranks of Vermont winemakers little “La garagista”, from on a hill in Barnard, has been drawing the attention of aficionados from places far, far away from the Green Mountains. Separated by great physical distance, winos in-the-know are finding La garagista because of the intimately close ethos they share, when it comes the processes by which the grapes are grown and the wine is made. Lest you think it is only fringe wine geeks and big city sommeliers who are interested, our friendly neighborhood winery has been recognized in all kinds of mainstream publications from the pages of the New York Times to the broadsheet of a major banking institution.
There is no doubt that one of the biggest challenges facing cold-climate producers in this region, is figuring out how best to handle the fruit, and shepherd its transition into wine. Conventional “wisdom”, as learned from higher institutions of oenology, would have producers make wine strictly by the numbers, with regard to the sugar levels of the grapes, pH and total acidity, and targets for tannin retention. While some of these statistics are recorded at la garagista, their values do not rule the fermentation. Taste, smell, time and intuition are the prevailing indicators for Deirdre Heekin, and these sensibilities have led her to the discovery of lighter alcohol liquids, fresh mind bending blends, and unique pet-nats that are reshaping the way consumers see cold-climate wines.
In a couple of weeks, la garagista wraps us a whirlwind year of “natural wine” events when the team will appear in Brooklyn, at the first-time-in-the-US version of the RAW Wine Fair. This year they’ve jumped the pond (The Real Wine Fair – London), to the opposite coast (Brumiare – California), and across the border (Vivent Les Vins Libres – Montreal) to participate in these kinds of events, because the call of tradespeople and consumers has been so strong. Appearing at RAW is a fitting way to complete what has been an eventful year. It’s clear that la garagista has been warmly welcomed into the ranks of the natural wine community, not because of Vermont wine’s novelty (in fact many don’t even know where Vermont is), but rather, on the strength and character of its bottlings.
The RAW Fair runs for two days, November 6th & 7th and La garagista will be one of twenty US crews joining over one hundred other producers from around the world. La garagista wines are not always the easiest to find, so this us a great chance to sample what their story tastes like. For those interested in Vermont product specifically, La garagista’s Barnard neighbors from Fable Farm Fermentory, will also be at RAW. Fable Farm is one of only two cider makers attending, and they will be pouring their modern farmhouse, wild foraged and ferment renditions of a classic and historic New World beverage.
RAW Wine Fair | Brooklyn, NY | November 6-7, 2016