`Are you both ok with spicy stuff?` This is not a query I typically associate with wine tasting but the smiling man behind the counter had just levied those words at us.
Dana and I nodded before receiving our instructions. `Take a good swig of this into your mouth and swirl it around for a bit. It won`t be hot until you swallow it.`
We followed instructions. A sweet almost cider-like taste filled my mouth before downing the contents of my mouth with eager anticipation. The excitement paid off with the dry burn of peppery heat. I looked at Dana for her reaction. I knew instantly that we were leaving with a bottle of this `Smokin`Apple Seriously Hot Cooking Wine.`
I drove past Applewood Farm Winery for more than two years when I attended College. I suppose I was in the rush of youth to get somewhere else and never made the occasion to turn off McCowan road and down the pleasant dirt driveway. My cousin Chantal had recently brought her twins and shared the good word that there was some neat discoveries to be had.
The farm is currently open for berry picking and there were lots of families taking advantage of a picnic play area and taking wagon rides through the fields. We headed right for the barn to see what was to be had. It turned out that there were many wonderful surprises – most of them being alcoholic in nature (though we will return in the fall for local apple picking to be sure).
This is a place for fruit wine – apple, berry, ciders, blueberry and pear ports and a few different versions of apple meade (a fruit wine with honey as it`s sugar base). Samples were plenty – we were free to try many wonderful things that were all very pleasant. The Mac(intosh) Meade stopped us in our tracks – sweet, thick and a tickle on the tongue balanced the fine bubble and sharp bite of apple. It is aged up to four years before obtaining it`s easy drink-ability and instant pleasure. Meade is a traditional drink that many have all but forgotten about – thankfully Applewood has not.
The pleasant country setting and family-run farm is a supporter of local food (both from their own farm and locally purchased fruit for their wines). This family farm (maintained by the Passafiume family for almost 30 years) is a great way to pass some time and try some products that you wouldn`t have access to otherwise. They are making a strong case for the relevance and exciting things happening around fermenting fruit (other than grapes)!
Matt (our host, who owns Applewood along with his wife Stephanie) is so clearly passionate about what he does that it’s contagious. He openly shared information including some of his resources for eating locally and tipped us off on where to find Ontario Artichokes in September! He also informed us that his brother is opening an Organic farm next summer – I’m sure we’ll swing by there as well. He mentioned that he really loved talking about food and drink and his authenticity was without question.
Applewood is on McCowan Road, just north of Stouffville sideroad. Travel time from Toronto is about 30 minutes. There are several other farms nearby (and fresh honey across the road) that you can easily make an afternoon of it.