The arrival of the latest Savvy Selections wine delivery from Keint-he Winery and Vineyards (insert shrieks of joy) made me realize how horribly remiss I’ve been in updating the blog. As our 3 year old says, “We’re on summer BACATION”, and life has suddenly fallen into a new busy, endless loop of fun summer activity. But “exhausted parent by night” is not a terribly exciting alias nor is it a thrilling topic for a blog post, so instead let me regale you with a story of some of the fun happenings we’ve stumbled across in Prince Edward County in recent weeks – notably the Keint-he Winemaker’s Dinner.
At some point my spouse and I realized that material gifts weren’t nearly as enjoyable as events (and excuses for date nights), so when I saw a post on Twitter for the Keint-he Winemaker’s Dinner on July 6th, I lurched into cyberspace to purchase tickets for a joint birthday celebration.
Keint-he Winery is located at 49 Hubbs Creek Road between Wellington and Hillier. A very modern structure houses the winery and tasting room and offers magnificent views of the vineyard with Lake Ontario as a backdrop. On past visits to the winery, we had heard whispers of winemaker’s dinners, and the thought of taking a seat at the majestic harvest table in Keint-he’s tasting room seemed a fairly intriguing way to spend a Saturday night.
The event was an intimate affair with approximately 20 people in attendance. We were warmly greeted with a glass of wine as guests arrived, and once everyone was assembled, we were invited to follow the winemakers beyond the tasting room doors. As an eager group, we descended deep into the cool, inviting and seemingly bottomless realm of the winery. General Manager, Bryan Rogers, and Winemaker and Vineyard Manager, Ross Wise, explained Keint-he’s process and production and driving ambition to produce domestic wines with international character. The expansion of the physical space in the winery combined with the keen team approach to producing wine with superior style and quality, set an interesting and uplifting tone for the evening. In the barrel room, we launched into the amuse-bouche paired with the 2011 Voyageur Rosé and began chatting with our fellow wine enthusiasts.
The first tasting completed, we meandered back upstairs to the tasting room where the dinner was set to commence. While the dinner was curated by Keint-he Winery and Vineyards, the food was crafted by Chef Jeremy Taft of Hâute Caribou and local cuisine. Rather than bore you with excessive verbiage, I’ll let your eyes feast on the five mouth-watering courses which were leisurely presented to us over the course of the evening.
Seared Lake Ontario Whitefish – confit baby onion/salsa verde/arugula. Served with CHARDONNAY – 2009
Roasted Heirloom Beets – couscous/shoots/chèvre/sheep’s milk crème fraîche. Served with VOYAGEUR VIDAL – 2012
Pork Belly – roasted and pressed/hillier blanc pickled egg/anchovy cure/celeriac slaw/bacon aiöli. Served with HILLIER BLANC – 2011 and PINOT NOIR, LITTLE CREEK – CLOSSON 2009 (Appropriately described as the best bacon and eggs you’ll ever taste!)
Braised Rabbit – roasted cellar veg/crisp guanciale/stone fruit mustard. Served with PINOT2 – 2010
Assorted Agrarian Cheeses – crackers/honey. Served with PINEAUX SAUVAGE – 2008
This being our first winemaker’s dinner, we reflected afterwards (over a glass of fine Keint-he wine) on what made this experience unique for us, and above and beyond a typical meal at a restaurant on a Saturday night. We arrived at the following conclusions…
#1 – The amazing food and wines pictured above easily speak for themselves. Beyond the foodie and oenophile bliss, the evening was highly enjoyable thanks to the engaging and like-minded group of interesting individuals (like us) who chose to gather together at a harvest table to discuss and savour food and wine. We chatted, we laughed, we shared stories and we made new friends. Not a bad way to spend a warm, summery Saturday night in the County.
#2 – Another unique feature of the evening (as the title of the dinner would suggest) was the opportunity to dine with and learn from the winemakers themselves and to share in their passion for a unique and distinct craft. No question was too basic, too personal, nor too complex. For a single glorious evening we were whisked into a magical world of food and drink in the fascinating environment of a working winery. This photo features our engaging seat-mates: Winemaker and Vineyard Manager, Ross Wise, and Assistant Winemaker, Adam Kern. Thanks to you both for sharing your knowledge!
Final conclusion: Sign us up for the next dinner – we can hardly wait!