You know that beloved L. M. Montgomery quote? The one that celebrates the virtue of Octobers?
“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”L. M. Montgomery
Up until a couple of years ago, October was hands-down my favorite month. Cozy evenings and crisp mornings; brightly hued, golden leaves; chunky sweaters and hand-knit scarves; haunted houses; pumpkin patches and corn mazes; hot, spiced cider; and fall breaks. Filled with room for growth, change, and transformation, October was always a month that held hope within its slowness.
And then I became a farmer.
At this point in my life, October means harvest season. It’s the culmination of a summer’s worth of tending vines, managing irrigation water, and dealing with drought, pests, weeds, and constant growth. Combined with the intensity of hosting tasting room guests and planning culinary events each weekend, October has become an exhausting-yet-exhilarating, unavoidable blur.
It’s a force.
Rest is a prerequisite for lasting change
Beginning last year, I’ve leaned into the calm and peace that January offers. For many, it’s often a month for resets and resolutions, but for me, it’s the one month out of the year, where I can slip off the grid and do my best to let things go – demands, plans, and pressure. I allow myself room to dream and brainstorm, but it’s not quite yet time for me to buckle down and force those desired changes. December is over, and its accompanying holiday madness exists only as a hazy, fading, emotional hangover in my mind.
Honestly, the last few weeks have been a slow, yet necessary, unraveling of patterns and behaviors that secured a chokehold on me this past farming season. Since we didn’t have an employee, it was just Steve and I who ran the farm, hosted tastings, drove deliveries, and ran the business, all while keeping the hospitality smile firmly affixed to our faces. The line between work life and home life didn’t exist, but the pain felt from that lack of a boundary line was palpable, and my coping mechanisms weren’t established prior to the beginning of that hectic season.
That’s definitely changing this year.
By the time February rolls around, I’m ready to dive into those visions I created for myself just a few weeks back and carve out some solid goals. I have always loved a good reset. After letting myself take a large portion of January to simply rest, February has become the new reset button for me. I’m working out again, I’m on a mostly predictable wakeup schedule, I’m eating lighter (read: no more “convenience” chicken tenders or fries-with-the-salad on the regular), and I’m not into drinking so much.
Alcohol, that is.
For the amount of non-alcoholic cocktails that I’ve created and consumed, I should have more recipes here on the blog that feature them. If this particular recipe piques your interest, definitely check out these two:
About Wilderton Non-Alcoholic Botanical Distillates
Steve and I added another feature, one that you don’t often encounter at a winery, here in our tasting room and during the multi-course wine dinners we host: non-alcoholic cocktails. And I’m not speaking of the usual, basic soda-and-lime or the sugary, fruit juice-laden drinks. Since I am keen on crafting balanced, delicious cocktails, and the non-alcoholic distillates on the market have grown not only in popularity but also in quality, I figured that offering high-tier, intentional, spirit-free drinks had to happen.
One of my favorite brands on the market is Wilderton. Based out of Portland, Oregon, this company creates botanical distillates that don’t necessarily mimic actual spirits, like rum or gin. Their expressions are made by extracting botanicals in hot water, then distilling them at low temperatures to capture their aromas, resulting in balanced, nuanced, and richly aromatic cocktail components.
For this non-alcoholic cocktail recipe, I used Wilderton’s Earthen botanical distillate. I tested the recipe on one of my favorite regulars, John, when he asked for a drink to accompany a steak he was enjoying here at the tasting room. This spirit-free drink has depth and a fresh, blackberry backbone, supported with Earthen’s notes of white peppercorn, black tea, and cardamom. A pop of spicy ginger beer is the perfect finish to this zesty, bright sip.
If you want to give it a high-proof hit, you could substitute the Earthen with bourbon or rye whiskey, but I don’t think you’ll even miss it.
Blackberry Sage Fizz
- 6 blackberries
- 1 1/2 ounces Wilderton Earthen
- 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 ounce honey syrup (1:1, see notes)
- hefty splash good-quality ginger beer
- sage leaf, for garnish
- In a mixing tin, muddle the blackberries.
- Add Wilderton Earthen, lemon juice, honey syrup, and a handful of ice.
- Shake well, taste for balance, make any adjustments, and strain into a chilled coupe glass.
- Top with ginger beer and garnish with a freshly picked sage leaf.
- This non-alcoholic cocktail recipe yields one drink.
- For the honey syrup, combine equal parts honey and water in a small saucepan. Over low heat, stir the honey and water until dissolved and blended. Remove from heat, let cool, and store in the fridge for up to two weeks.
While I enjoy this “Dry February” endeavor, I’ll be sharing a few more – six, to be exact – non-alcoholic cocktails both here and over on Instagram. Have you diversified your spirits collection by adding any zero-proof cocktail mixers or distillates? Do you have any favorites? Have you enjoyed or made a spirit-free cocktail recipe recently that you can’t stop thinking about?
Do tell. 🤩
Have a beautiful week ahead!
Also, I have moved my blog to a self-hosted platform, so please sign up for my newsletter, so you won’t miss a post. I’m still navigating the migration, but since I have switched from WordPress.com, many of the blog followers who found me on that platform have sadly been lost. You can sign up for this monthly recap of recipes and highlights, via this link. I’m super excited to begin sharing new recipes with you here again. It’s a resolution of mine for 2023, so I hope you’re ready for it!
From the heart,
PS – I took these photos a couple weeks ago, when we got some serious snow. It’s been exceptionally cold and wet this winter, so getting outside with the dogs has been a challenge for us and them. The house is continuously messy from the melting snow outside. It’s either sloppy-muddy or just dusty-dirty from the mud that eventually dries. Tomorrow is cleanup day, however, which includes taking down the Christmas tree.
Yes, the tree is still up. 😬
Just like making some hard changes in my personal life took a month to kick off, getting the Christmas decorations down wasn’t to be rushed either. But it’s definitely TIME.