You may remember the quote from your high school English days: “Beware the Ides of March.” Rather depressing, it always seemed to me.
In my mind, the Ides of March should rather be well-celebrated in this country because it means that the First Day of Spring is just around the corner! Yesiree Bob. Soon it will be March 19th, the Alberta weather forecast is for a warm and sunny month, and the Vernal Equinox delivers again. What’s not to celebrate?
Here at the winery, the signs of Spring are emerging. The yard is composed of half mud and half snow. Well ahead of schedule, the gophers are starting to venture out in the fields, and snoop around the buildings. The summer birds are starting to show up, earlier than usual. Even our winery dog, Chase, has decided it’s finally safe to venture out of the house and spend an afternoon in a sunny spot on the patio.
Spring brings its fair share of activities in the winery. And in answer to your inquiries, we are happy to say that, “Yes,” our new batch of Cherry Fruit Wine made it back into the bottle this past week. A busy day bottling on Thursday saw the replenishing of our Cherry stocks … this variety completely selling out at Christmas for Mulled Cherry Wine! And there’s no bias at all when we tell you that it is one of our best ever ..😊 If you have been longing for some Cherry Sangria to welcome Spring, rest assured that it will be back on the shelf at Calgary Farmers Market this coming weekend, and at Bountiful Farmers Market the week following. You can also check your neighbourhood wine store for stocks there. March does not need to be Cherry-less!
Spring also brings its fair share of events. First up is our very first Make It! Spring show at the Edmonton Expo Centre March 20 to March 22. Since 2008, Make It has been showcasing the best talent in Canadian art, craft, and design at its biannual craft fairs in western Canada. Over 150 booths will be offering their personally made products. We will have all our wines open, as well as sangrias for tasting. Don’t miss it, Edmonton… it’s big… and beautiful! Tickets and information at www.makeitshow.ca.
Spring farmers markets are also on the horizon! First up is Airdrie, Alberta. April 4th will find us at the Town and Country Center, for the annual Airdrie Spring Market. An early start at 9 am ensures you have lots of time to visit all of the very-local vendors and stock up with Easter treats and Spring shopping items. Lots of parking is available and more info can be found at airdriefarmersmarket.com. See you there!
Spring will bring its fair share of events to the indoor farmers markets as well. Over at Calgary Farmers Market, March 14th brings the opportunity to put on your Irish, even if you aren’t! From 10am-2pm we’ll be turning a wee bit Irish and having a shamrockin’ good time with Irish dancing and fiddlers. And don’t forget to catch the luck o’ the Irish games & balloons. You can find more information at www.calgaryfarmersmarket.ca.
As part of the CFM celebration, we’ll be having a “St. Patrick’s Day Special” all weekend (March 12-15). You can pick up any two table wines for 10% off – your choice! They may not be green, but the flavours will remind you that spring (and eventually summer) are on their way. Suggestion: take a break from green beer and try our Cherry Fruit Wine. Ireland is also known for its cherry trees!
And over at Bountiful Farmers Market, St. Patrick’s Day weekend will be a celebration of all things Irish including special Irish food samplings, games and giveaways, folk musicians and a chef live demo. Be sure and come by the booth for wine samples and for weekend specials….
[PS: As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, let’s not think “green” for just one day, but let’s recommit to live green, year-round. It’s never been a more important time to consider our own part in the earth’s protection. Local. Sustainable. Craft. Great concepts for shopping and living “green.”]
Finally, in honour of impending Spring, I thought I would offer a little celebratory drink idea this month. If you’ve been on a tropical holiday this winter, you probably encountered a mojito somewhere along the way. Here’s an Alberta twist on that favourite:
Raspberry-Champagne Mojito Cocktail
1/2 large lemon – cut in 1/4″ pieces
6 large mint leaves
3 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
3 oz (90 ml) white rum
1 oz (30 ml) Raspberry Dessert Wine
Champagne or Prosecco
fresh mint as garnish
fresh raspberries as garnish
Place the lemon, mint leaves and sugar in a mixing glass. Using a wooden spoon, crush the ingredients until the sugar has dissolved and the lemon has released its juice. Add the raspberries and continue to muddle until the raspberries are well mashed and have released their juices. Top with ice cubes, rum and dessert wine. Shake vigorously until very cold.
Strain the mixture into two Champagne glasses. Top with a little Champagne (or Prosecco). Garnish with a mint leaf and a fresh raspberry threaded through a cocktail pick. Serve immediately. Cheers!
And if you’d like a little “Spring Appetizer” to serve alongside, try this one:
Warm Brie with Raspberries & Almonds
1/2 Cup natural sliced almonds
1/4 Cup honey
1 Tsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 Tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
2 Tbsp. Raspberry Dessert Wine
170 gm (6 oz) fresh raspberries
Large wheel of ripe Brie, chilled, top rind sliced off
Water crackers or baguette slices for serving
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread almonds on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted and fragrant, 6 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Meanwhile, place Brie on rimless baking sheet. Bake until warm and the top is softened, but not until cheese is oozing, about 15 minutes. Slide cheese onto serving platter. Stir honey, vinegar, wine and thyme together in skillet and cook over medium heat til slightly reduced. Gently fold in raspberries and almonds with a rubber spatula. Pour raspberry mixture over warm cheese. Serve at once, with crackers for spreading. O, yum!
And that’s it for March.
Happy Spring, everyone! Revere the Ides of March …