Growing grapes and making wine at his Amherst County home dubbed "Chateau Z Vineyard", Cliff lives the life of an authentic vigneron, performing all operations by himself with no hired help. He scours the mountains, creekbeds, roadsides, forests, fields.. anyplace where wild grapes might possibly grow. He currently has planted in his vineyard nine species of 100% North American wild vines, including grapes with names such as labrusca, riparia, cinerea and more. He pollinates these with selections from his over 200 cultivated varieties, including hybirds and vinifera stock, the intention being to increase the genetic diversity and to gain insect and pathogen resistance from the wild stock, thus allowing for cultivars that require less chemical sprays and more environmentally sensitive practices in the vineyard. Cheers to that!
We stepped inside the house into the country kitchen, walking first through an enclosed porch with tubs of fermenting foods filling the air with a sweet, pungent perfume. Inside the table was "set" with a long line of wine glasses containing a hefty pour of various shades of red wines, all in a neat row, all labeled.
The tasting complete we cleared the table for lunch. Lucie had prepared a pumpkin peach soup made from her homemade dashi base (Japanese soup stock), garnished with her homemade "peppy pepitos". And Cliff had prepared homemade tempeh he sauteed up and served on his wife's homemade rye bread with home grown tomatoes and lettuce. And I threw in some of my homemade applesauce whilst we sipped some of Cliff's homemade hybrid Vitis cordifolia wine!! Do you get the picture?! T'was a veritable feast, an array of brilliantly prepared foods shared with some brilliant people. A lovely, informative, delightful day at Chateau Z. Keep up the hard work, Cliff! Well done!
Cliff and Lucie seeing eye to eye!