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. Cheers! - Bethany

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wine Wednesday: The County in conversation

It was late in the afternoon, too late really for "lunch", but we managed to find a table at Wellington's Tall Poppy Cafe. I went off in search of the loo, while Mum perused the menu. Suddenly a woman plunked herself down in the other chair, tangle of hair wisping about a broad smile and flushed cheeks. "Whew, I'm tired," she said, fanning herself with a napkin. "Are you here with someone?" Mum, caught off guard but delighted by the surprise company, said no. As I came in, the woman rose and smiled broadly, gesturing towards the chair. "Just keeping it warm for you."

That's County folk. Keeping it warm for you.

Clockwise from top right: French Onion grilled cheese, Tall Poppy Cafe; County motto;
trees in bloom at Glenora Ferry; dry stone bridge at Karlo Estates
I've been falling in love with Prince Edward County for a while now, and every time I'm there, that love grows. I love the wine, the food, the places to shop (oh, the places to shop ... ) But it's the people, the 'County folk', I am drawn to.

I'm just playing tourist, coming to the County for a weekend jaunt. As a belated Mother's Day gift to ourselves, Mum and I took the scenic route (aboard the Glenora Ferry) into the County, so that I could introduce her to Angeline's and Pomodoro, hit some of the boutiques in Bloomfield, and visit a few wineries. (A "few"? I think I had no less than five scheduled per day. That totally didn't happen. Guess I'll just have to go back. Darn.)

Angeline's had undergone another touch-up since my #indulgePEC stay in March. Each door of The Walter was painted with its respective number writ large, giving it a classy, art deco feel. A new deck, still smelling of fresh wood, was adorned with wrought-iron tables in a sunny yellow, matching the ones interspersed along the front of the motel.

Alex Fida, the innkeeper, does triple-duty, running hither and yon as front desk clerk / housekeeper / handyman / interior designer. That last part is his strongest suit; what he has done with every square inch of space at Angeline's is nothing short of miraculous. Once he's had his fill, I would be happy to have him renovate and redecorate our house, too!)

For now, he was taking our drink orders. When he asked if I had any questions, I looked up at him with a straight face and asked if I ever had to leave. He, without batting an eyelash: "Of course not, I would be happy to set up a yurt for you in the back yard." We laughed about me becoming their writer-in-residence, appearing now and then for a meal and writing prose about the County's emerald fields ... I wonder how serious he was with that offer?

Time to hit the road. We had a full day ahead of us. I called on Richard Karlo, of Karlo Estates, letting him know I would be around this weekend, and he insisted we stop by. "Let us know when U R here," he tweeted in reply. "Just in the back working. Looking 4ward 2 it." That's how they roll, he and his wife, Sherry. Doesn't matter if they're in the back 40 digging up dirt, they'll come in for a chat and a tasting.

That tasting stretched over a good two hours plus, as Sherry poured samples from the entire portfolio and they both regaled us with stories. There seemed to be an anecdote for each wine, along with the usual litany of descriptors, awards won, remarks about a particular vintage. Between the lively chatter, the wine and the homey feel of good company, I no longer felt the need to hurry, and let any plans I had get carried off on the breeze blowing through the wide-open doors.

"Have you seen our bridge?" Sherry suddenly piped up. "C'mon, I'll show you." She topped up my glass (cuz I really needed it at that point) and off we went, with a few stops along the way to admire the slowly unfurling buds, the variations in trellising, and the unfortunate damage last week's frost had on a few of the vines. The bridge—the largest dry-stone bridge in North America, crafted by master masons without a drop of mortar—arched over Hubbs Creek, which chuckled over rocks and through undulating green ribbons of weed. It was postcard-perfect, on a perfect day, out here in the perfect sun, with a perfect glass in hand.

Our goodbyes were reluctant (after stocking up on a case worth of Karlo specialties, including a stunning Frontenac Gris rosé, the port-style Van Alstine White and a few bottles of luscious Cabernet Franc.)

I know that, when I return to the County, Richard and Sherry will be happy to invite me in again for a chat at the tasting room bar. And Alex and Laura will have a suite at Angeline's (and hopefully some of those rockin' cinnamon donuts) waiting for me. And the lady at Tall Poppy will happily oblige when I ask, pretty-please, if I can have just one more of those peanut-butter-and-jam dessert bars.

That's just what they do in the County. They keep your spot warm.

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