It is all good from Good Earth Food & Wine Co.

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Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Good Earth Food & Wine Co.

– February 2012 –

Drive down the gravel laneway, past the baskets of fruit set out for sale (on the honor system) & the pastoral campus of Good Earth Cooking School and Winery comes into view. The outdoor BBQ pit & herb garden, where classes are held in fine summer weather, sits beside the small rustic barn housing the indoor cooking school. To the left is a more recent structure, consistent still with the relaxed farmhouse style, housing the tasting room & shop, the indoor dining room & the fabulous outdoor patio with its lofty beam ceiling. From there, you look out over gardens & vineyards as you enjoy the decidedly delicious local lunch menu with a glass (or two) of The Good Wine.

This place is deeply rooted in history. Nicolette Novak, owner & entrepreneur extraordinaire, has lived on this farm most of her life. Her father emigrated from Czechoslovakia, her mother from Ireland. They started with five acres of stone fruit, then over the next two decades, their property grew to 220 acres. Growing up, Nicolette worked closely with her dad on the farm, yet was determined to create her own life, pursuing a degree in International Relations at University of Toronto with a plan to enter the foreign service. At age 28, she was working in Toronto when everything changed. Her father died in a tragic car accident. Nicolette returned to the farm & in her inimitable & yes, determined way, took over, starting with the peach harvest on a farm that, at that time, produced 2 million pounds of fruit!

One year ran into another & Nicolette realized she really enjoyed what she was doing. But the economics weren’t working, so she sold half of the land & moved back to Toronto. But the farm beckoned. A few years later, she moved back to Niagara with the idea of transforming the property into a small cooking school. Renown teacher & chef Michael Olsen helped her define the concept & in 1998, The Good Earth Cooking School opened. Nicolette’s friendliness & candor, the quality of the experience & the food, the relaxed environment all worked their magic & created an entrepreneurial success.

With winemaking at the back of her mind, Nicolette planted vines on 8 acres of the 55-acre property & released her first wine in 2008. “The wine is a great complement to the food, and was a natural way to extend the business,” she explains. Taking a deep breath, in 2010, she took the plunge to establish a bistro, dining room & tasting room. And there’s no looking back! The quality of the wine, the food & the total experience will entice you to this quaint property again & again.

 We’re delighted to showcase in February’s Savvy Selections wine of the month club:

  • The Good Wine Chardonnay VQA 2009 – an elegant well-balanced white wine
  • The Good Wine Rosé VQA 2010 – Drink rose wines in February? Especially this one as it is Good Earth’s signature & a hands down favorite of our Sommeliers
  • The Good Pinot Noir VQA 2009 – a classic Pinot Noir with an earthy complex

You won’t find these wines at the LCBO

If you would like more of these premium wines from Good Earth, simply call on us to arrange an order for you.

Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie & Savvy Team

 

 

The Good Earth Food & Wine Co.

Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins

There’s a theme running through everything that Nicolette Novak turns her hand to & that is ‘local’. As she puts it, the cooking school, the bistro & the winery all provide the opportunity to utilize & showcase fresh local produce & outstanding local talent. The menu at the bistro reflects the seasons, the bite-size sip/savour menu offering a fabulous opportunity to enjoy the food presentation, the tantalizing mingling aromas of food & wine. As one of the local entrepreneurs on the forefront of the farm-to-table movement, Nicolette has also created a ‘slow food’ context for those of us who simply love the experience of eating tasty fresh food in a relaxing, appealing ambience. What delights her about the expanded operation? “I get huge satisfaction knowing I can offer something special to the people who come through my world. It’s fun, meeting wonderful people all the time. It’s a really happy place!”

And this entire experience is created by local people, hand-picked, like her fruit, by Nicolette. Flat Rock Cellars winery owner Ed Madronich encouraged her venture, offering as consultant winemaker Ross Wise, a ‘Kiwi’ whose passion for great wine is matched by his passion for food & good times. “As the winery developed,” says Nicolette, “I felt it was important to have a winemaker as part of the family. I heard about Dré [Andrea Glass] & was highly recommended by Ann Sperling (winemaker at Malivoire Wine & Southbrook Vineyards).”

A 2006 graduate of the Niagara College Winery and Viticulture Technology program, Dré is a native of Niagara & a member of a longstanding local farm family. Dré brings extensive wine-related experience to the table (pardon the pun!) as an assistant winemaker in Argentina & as a cellar hand in California as well having a hand at Niagara wineries, including Flat Rock, Southbrook and Reif (March Savvy Selection feature winery). She also brings focus & intensity to the role of winemaker, as evidenced when she joined us for the tasting at the bistro, water glass in hand. “Oh, I’m just bottling this wine and I thought you might like to taste the barrel sample. I think it has great potential . . .” And so did we! Dré exudes confidence and commitment to her craft and is, says Nicolette, quite fearless and multi-talented.

In the vineyard, Nicolette partners with Chris Andrewes, a lifetime friend of Nicolette’s whose own farm is adjacent to The Good Earth. Chris & his family have worked with Nicolette over many years to ensure the beauty & productivity of The Good Earth orchards. He now leases some of her land & has planted Chardonnay & Pinot Noir. “We work very closely together on decisions & Chris’s expertise in tending the vineyards has been recognized by others in the industry. Cave Spring has recently called on him to manage their vineyards.”

The great service & food in the bistro is only enhanced by the tasting & browsing experience in the bright & tastefully appointed retail shop. It is here where you meet Amanda McSpadden. After graduating as a Baker’s apprentice from the Niagara College Culinary Management program, she worked at a number of local enterprises before finding her way to The Good Earth as a Resident Chef. Wanting to complete her apprenticeship, she left for a stint with celebrity chefs Michael & Anna Olsen, returning to The Good Earth as a certified Pastry Chef. You will find Amanda’s cheerful reception when you visit the winery retail shop.

Then, there’s Michael Pasto, Nicolette’s highly experienced, skilled head chef & Mike McColl, who you’ll find manning the BBQ during the outdoor grilling season. But really, we need to focus on the wine . . .

Getting started, Nicolette bought in grapes from trusted suppliers, but with the 2010 vintage, she has reached her goal of producing wine from sustainably managed estate-grown fruit. The focus is on varietals that thrive in the Niagara Peninsula & on her property—Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir & Cabernet Franc. As a craft winery, Nicolette expects to produce in the order of 2300 cases at full production.

Enjoy the wines featured in this mid-winter selection, try The Good Wine with some of the delicious menu items at ZenKitchen or Domus Cafe if you’re in Ottawa, or plan a visit to Niagara and savour the entire experience by the fireplace in the cosy dining room this winter, or alfresco at the bistro later in the year.  You are always invited!

 Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections wines

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