Happy harvesters at Lavender Ridge vendage

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Kate Aley

Many hands made light work at Lavender Ridge winery's 6th annual vendage: also rapidly becoming known as the best harvest party ever. Excluding 2015 when a late frost meant no harvest at all, Lavender Ridge owners Joanne Labadie and Doug Briden have laid on a massive feast for their willing workers every year. October 9th was no exception, with harvesters aged from six to over 60 happy to get into the grapes.

The Luskville winery, founded in 2010, has become a shining star in our local agro-alimentaire industry, with Labadie and Briden encouraging and supporting a number of new enterprises throughout the Quebec side of the Ottawa Valley.

"We're happy with the yield this year; it's been amazing," said Labadie, who was hard at work in her studio kitchen baking bread for the afternoon's meal. "We had more sun this year than in a long time and the heat sent the roots of the vines deep in search of moisture, so we get more of the minerals from the soil adding nuances to the grapes."

On Saturday morning, pickers were bringing in the Frontenac Gris and a new red variety known only as ES5-17.

 

Meanwhile, Briden was in the vineyard, pulling off the netting protecting the fruit from birds before directing eager volunteers to begin work. "Today we are celebrating the harvest," he said. "Our friends and neighbours are fantastic; they really enjoy the day and we enjoy their help and company."

Last years Lavender Ridge whites are sold out: this new vintage will be blended, fermented, aged and bottled over winter and will be ready for sale by June-July 2017.

Maude-Emmanuel Lambert and son were one of the many on hand to help with the vendage. Her own grapes at Domaine du Pontiac Village had been brought in two weeks ago. "It's lovely to be here," she said, expert hands already reaching between the green leaves for the precious harvest. "I love the colour of the Frontenac Gris... They look like lavender!"

Visit www.lavenderridge.ca for location, opening hours and product list.