Take a Hike: Bordeaux, Napa, Nappan

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I like to abuse my position as a reporter with the newspaper. For example, when a certain person working for a certain group did a certain thing recently, I didn’t write anything about it. The cost of my silence? A single Hot Wheels car.

I love me some Hot Wheels.

So when this column gave me the chance to discuss food with Andrew Crozier, avid gardener and Shur-Gain employee, I decided to expand the scope of our discussion to include beverages, specifically wine. You see, while being paid by the newspaper, I’d have a chance to grill Crozier on his vineyard – not paying him a dime for advice I could then use on my own vineyard!

I couldn’t start asking about grapes right out of the gate – too obvious – so I had to talk veggies and home-raised chickens first.

“I grow all my own food,” said Crozier.

“I eat all my own food,” I answered.

The former firefighter – he worked out west in the oil fields – has allergies to the chemicals used in agri-business. He’ll get migraines and even anaphylactic reactions to them. So he cultivates three gardens totaling about an acre and eats basically no packaged prepared foods.

“I only eat prepared foods,” I said. “Preferably bleached foods, especially when it’s vegetables. They grow those in dirt and poop, did you know that? It’s disgusting.”

Crozier raises about a hundred chickens each year. He stages chariot races with them – the small wagons are pulled by teams of turkeys – and eats the losers until a lone champion remains. That chicken gets to retire to Astatula, Florida.

It all sounded very Spartacus to me, which reminded me of grapes and wine.

“Tick tock, we’ve been walking for 15 minutes and I still don’t have any free advice for my vineyard,” I muttered.

Apparently I was being too subtle. He started talking about Polish food, then German, then naming different kinds of wurst, brot and kraut. Nary a liquid was mentioned.

“So what wine would you drink with knackwurst and sauerkraut on schinkenbrot?” I asked.

Crozier doesn’t focus on German varietals. He’s grown prize-winning Frontenac Gris and other stock that thrives in our Maritime climate.

“L’Acadie wouldn’t do well in Ontario. Too dry and hot,” he said.

Finally, a grape I grow.

“I’m going big into l’Acadie,” I said. “I have four vines. I had five but there was a whipper-snipper accident.”

I have 20 vines total at the moment, representing everything from Marechal Foch to Baco Noir, and Pinot Noir to Frontenac.

“I hope to have my own appellation designated in the next year or so,” I said. “It will be called ‘Nappan in front of Eric’s house’. What does Malagash or Bear River have that my yard doesn’t?”

Crozier seemed convinced. He fell silent, anyway. I hadn’t learned a jot about growing grapes. I probably just overestimated how much there was for me to learn. I’m pretty much an expert on everything.


Disclaimer: Take a Hike is a mix of fact and fiction. Eric’s guest may or may not have said what appears in this column. It’s probably best you assume s/he didn’t.

Geographic location: Napa, Astatula, Florida Ontario Bear River

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