I’m laughing to myself this afternoon because the last time I published a blog post was nearly a year ago, and what brought me to my computer today is the same reason why I decided to write a post before – rain. Weeks of rainy days have brought us indoors and delayed us from finishing up the pruning and tying down of canes in the vineyard. It is nearly impossible to work in the mud, so I’ve committed to cozying up inside and gluing myself to the computer.
And I’ll happily distract myself and procrastinate a little by sharing a spirit-free cocktail with you.
But first, let me catch you up to speed on what’s been happening here at the vineyard. Should I start with the positive and exciting or the super-scary and exciting? I suppose I’ll start with the super-scary and finish on a high note.
If I type out all that we need to accomplish within the next ten days, I might have to break out my inhaler, but I really think you want to know what’s been going on, so I’ll take my chances. I’ve been a mad mix of stress-eating Nutella by the spoonful, making due with four solid hours of sleep a night, and rocking back and forth while mumbling Psalm 23. Our vineyard is planted with 16 acres of vines, and within each acre are about 1,000 plants. Because we’ve received so much rain this spring, all of the fruit farms are prolifically producing. That sounds great, right? Well, with a very limited workforce here in our valley, that means all of the farm help around here is spoken for.
Our team of three is two rows away from pruning all 16 acres of vines, and my arms and hands have dearly paid. I sleep with braces on both arms every night, and despite my efforts, my hand get numb at times, and my handwriting resembles the scrawl of a kindergartener. Also on the agenda, we have to finish building our tasting overlook, where we will hold our appointment-only tastings. Construction has been delayed on that project because of – yet again – the rain. We also need to bottle and label our wines (SIXTEEN THOUSAND BOTTLES) before throwing our first wine dinner in the vineyard.
We are also slated to receive 1,250 new vines in two weeks. We still need to dig 1,250 holes in which to plant them, so I’m strongly feeling that it is a good idea to postpone that project until the first of July. Is the timing optimal? Not so much. It’s a more attainable and sanity-saving goal, though.
Okay, the panic is kicking in, so let’s switch over to the positive happenings. Steve and I surprised our families and tied the knot – just the two of us here – back in February in the middle of a snowstorm in the middle of our Chardonnay vines! Then we took a road trip down to Arizona, where I saw the Grand Canyon for the very first time. It was covered in SNOW! I will have to write a separate post highlighting that beautiful trip. We recently took tank samples of our wines and got placements at three of our favorite spots in Denver, and we will be pouring our wines with one of our favorite Colorado chefs, Alex Seidel, at the Telluride Reserve in August!
And we are throwing our very first wine dinner in our vineyard on Friday, June 14th, and it thankfully sold out this morning!
ON SPIRIT-FREE DRINKS
So, it hasn’t been all bad, but I could so use a break or just a day trip to clear my head. I took a mini-break from drinking anything with alcohol in it a few weeks ago, when the stress was getting to me, and I took the opportunity to play around a little with making more interesting and delicious spirit-free cocktails. This recipe was a keeper. When you don’t have any alcohol involved, a spirit-free drink can taste watery and thin because of that missing weight and viscosity that alcohol provides. I have found that making sure that I incorporate distinct bitter notes within the cocktail is the key to a balanced mouthfeel. Bitter additions like brewed tea, tea syrups, or a dash of bitters, along with sour and sweet components, make for a decidedly elevated sipper.
I have seriously loved making cocktails with Seedlip’s distilled non-alcoholic spirits. For this cocktail, I used their Grove version, which is citrus forward and filled with delicious spice notes. It’s a great backbone to pair with chamomile-citrus tea, turmeric, black pepper, and Meyer lemon bitters. It’s also stellar on its own with a splash of tonic and a fire-kissed peel of lemon.
If you’ve followed me here for a while, you know that I love a good egg white-based cocktail. I am fortunate to live close by a farmer, who raises the healthiest and happiest hens, and her “rainbow eggs” have brought her well-deserved attention and repeat buyers. Steve and I call the local markets in town and pick up two cartons at a time. They sell out that quickly. Hers are seriously the tastiest and most colorful, inside and out. Are you a fan of egg white-based cocktails? If you haven’t tried making one before, give a Clover Club or a Persimmon Gingersnap Flip or a Meyer Lemon Bourbon Fizz a go. The texture is sublime, and the extra work involved in achieving that silky texture is rewarding.
That, or I’m just a sucker for pain.
ADDING A SECRET WEAPON – CBD
I loved making this chamomile citrus fizz cocktail. The texture is rich, and the chamomile tea adds just enough tannins to bring balance to the other ingredients. I added a secret weapon in this spirit-free drink, though – calming, soothing CBD oil. Two adjectives I was of which I was/am in need. I have been a fan of my friend Ashlae’s turmeric-based SUPERGOOD Golden Oil for a couple of months now. Her ethanol-extracted, full-spectrum CBD oil is produced with organic, outdoor-grown, Colorado hemp, and it is enhanced with a little organic, single-origin turmeric and black pepper. In her words, it’s “next-level plant medicine.”
For me, it is also next-level flavor as a cocktail component.
SPIRIT-FREE CHAMOMILE CITRUS FIZZ
- 2 ounces Seedlip Grove distilled non-alcoholic spirit
- 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
- 1/2 ounce chamomile-citrus honey syrup
- 1 ounce egg white
- 2 dashes Meyer lemon bitters (or your favorite citrus bitters)
- 1 dropperful SUPERGOOD Golden Oil (about 10 mg)
- dried chamomile flowers or tea, for garnish
- In a mixing tin, combine the Seedlip, Meyer lemon juice, chamomile-citrus honey syrup, egg white, bitters, and CBD oil.
- Hard-shake, sans ice, for 60 seconds.
- Add ice and shake for another 30 seconds.
- Taste for balance.
- Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a sprinkle of dried chamomile flowers or tea.
- This recipe yields one spirit-free cocktail.
- For the chamomile-citrus honey syrup, in a saucepan, combine equal parts honey and water (I usually make a small batch, so I go with four ounces of honey and four ounces of water, which will yield enough syrup for well over ten cocktails). Toss in two bags of chamomile tea (I used Mighty Leaf Chamomile Citrus Decaf), bring to a low simmer, remove from heat, let steep and return to room temperature, and strain off the solids. You can store this syrup in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
- If you are unable to find Meyer lemons, you may substitute regular lemon lemons for the juice. Just know that the cocktail might be a little more tart, so taste your cocktail before you strain it. You might need to add a little more honey syrup for balance.
I’ll close with a few shots I took this week. As you can see, our vines are slowly leafing out, and they’ll really take off over the next few days of sunny, warmer weather, and our front yard grass kicked in this year, too, after seeding it last year. The second-to-last photo might be my favorite – when the food editor of Colorado’s 5280 magazine asks you to bring in your wines for a desk-side tasting, and your wines aren’t bottled yet, you say, “I’LL BE THERE!!” You rally and pack up tank samples in swing-top bottles and tote them over in a cooler to Denver. And when she needs a photo of said wine? Well, you print up a stand-in label, smack it onto the side of a wine bottle, fill it up with your wine, and start shooting!
Have a beautiful week, and drop me a comment and let me know what’s going on in your world! I’ll be pushing forward and working hard and sneaking in a little sleep during these hectic, surreal, challenging days ahead. And if you’re local, drop by the vineyard, and I’ll slow down and taste you on some wine – or I’ll whip up one of these spirit-free awesome sauces for you!
And the next time I check here, we will have WINE in bottles!!