Welcome to Second Ferment! Wine pairs well with life ... and food, travel, people, work and play. Grab a glass and join me as I explore the wine scene in Ottawa, Canada, and beyond. Love hearing from my readers, so please leave a comment or drop me a line. Cheers! - Bethany

Friday, November 28, 2014


Richard Karlo was the kind of guy who would drop everything to help a neighbour with a tractor issue or tank problem. The kind of guy who would come all the way in from the back 40 to say hello and tell you stories about his wines. The kind of guy who was eager to make you feel at home.

I first met Richard at Savvy Company's inaugural County in the City show. I was finally able to put a face to the Twitter handle: wide smile, strong handshake and big, room-filling laugh. From that point on, it seemed like every time I bumped into Richard, it was like meeting up with an old friend.

There was nothing better than sitting at the tasting bar in their massive barn in Prince Edward County, impervious to the passage of time, while Richard and Sherry poured samples and chatted. His impressive portfolio of reds, whites, rosés and fortified wines stand as a testament to his genius and to his passion. A wide range of styles and flavours, something for everyone to enjoy. His Frontenac Gris will remain my favourite; a blushing, orange-tinged rosé that smelled and tasted like nothing I'd ever had before ... or ever will again.

The County lost one of its greats this week with Richard's passage. In a digital outpouring of grief, Twitter responded with a flurry of toasts tagged #ToRichard - a fitting send-off for a talented winemaker and an unforgettable man.

We'll miss you, Richard Karlo.


Funeral details are available on the Karlo Estates Facebook page.
Donations in Richard's memory can be made to the Loyalist Humane Society (Picton, Ontario)

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Sisi's Wine

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia 
Once upon a time, about 130 years ago in Austria, there was a princess. An empress, really. Her name was Elisabeth, but everyone called her Sisi.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Arrivederci Violi's

We pulled up to the border, rolled down the windows and handed over our passports.
The guard ran them through the computer, looking us over with a critical eye.

"Where ya'll from?"
"Where ya'll going?"
"To Violi's, for dinner."

A smile of fond recollection flitted across the guard's face.

"For the last time," my dad said.

The smile dropped. "What's that, now? They're closing?"

"Yup. End of the month."

He hands back the passports with a sigh and waves us through. "Ya'll have a good evening now ..."

Clearly I'm not the only one with a heavy heart over Violi's closing for good this weekend. Even the border guards know it, whether they've been there themselves or from waving through visitors who have nothing more to declare than a Styrofoam box filled with half-eaten cheesecake and a full belly.

Monday, September 01, 2014

TGCWC: A Year of Drinking Locally

So, three hundred and sixty-five days have come to an end. A full year of Canadian wine. Time to take a quick look back ...

Friday, July 18, 2014

Winemaker's Boots: Work, then Play

In addition to hanging out with John and Sasha during my last visit to the County, I did a quick tour of its southern tip, getting delightfully lost and off-track in the process, but still finding my way to a few wineries I had yet to visit.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

In the Winemaker's Boots

My boots are pink. Pink-and-purple paisley, to be precise. Fairly flimsy rubber things that haven't seen more action than the odd puddle jump with the kids or a hasty walk from the parking lot in the pouring rain.

John Squair's boots are colour-of-earth, a dusty greyish-brown streaked with muddy high-water marks and purple splotches of grape juice. His boots have trudged through rows of vineyards, from their infancy to budbreak to harvest, year after year. His boots have steel toes and mean business.

They're big boots to fill. I'll try to do my best to keep up.

Last year, when John and Sasha Squair launched an online campaign to build Three Dog Wine, I didn't think twice about getting on board. That was my birthday gift: support a local winemaker, and as a perk, get to spend the day working with him.

That day came bright and sunny, and I arrived at their door in my pretty pink boots. Sasha gave me a wave and a smile. "John's not here yet," she said. "But he said you could get started with that," and nodded over to a worn-out pickup truck balancing on a jack, with one wheel missing. 

Um ...
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