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Main St PlazaSouris, PE C0A2B0
49 University AvenueCharlottetown, PE C1A4K7
50 Queens RdMontague, PE C0A1R0
456 Main StreetAlberton, PE C0B 1R0
297 Water StreetSummerside, PE C1N1C1
Prince Edward Island Flowers News
Apr 22, 2016
How Norman Hardie Is Blurring the Line Between Old and New World Wines
Hardie recounts. “Then, someone said, ‘You should go look at this place called Prince Edward County,’ and I’m thinking, like Anne of Green Gables and Prince Edward Island, because no one knew what the County was in those days. There was nothing here—like, nothing.”
But the County turned out to be a very appropriate location for Hardie to begin blurring the line between Old World wine and New World wines. “Burgundy is based on clay and limestone and a relatively cool climate, so I got some soil maps out from Brock University and I correlated flavour profiles with soil types. And I said, ‘This is great. It’s right near Toronto, and Montreal is around the corner.’”
“When I drove in here in 2001, I got off the highway, and had a look at the soils and was like, ‘OK, there’s a catch.’ These soils are beautiful, this is what I’ve seen in Burgundy, so why are there no grapes? And the reason being every year we get minus 25 or colder. And minus 25 is the death knell.”
Like all Canadian winemakers, Hardie is on the front lines of Canada’s harsh and changing climate. For the most part, that means protecting vines from the cold by burying them underground in the winter. In the spring, it means doing everything possible—from lighting hay on fire to windmill towers and renting helicopters—to minimize the effects of a spring frost that can ravage a year’s work in mere hours.
“What I’m finding is there is change,” Hardie says. “I don’t know if it’s really getting much warmer, but what I’m noticing is that we’re getting more extremes. Two years ago, we hit minus 39 Celsius in the County—that temperature hadn’t happened on this farm in 20 years. We’ve seen higher highs, lower lows, more wind, and the frosts are coming in a lot harder now. We used to get like little mild ones. We used to be able to put fires around the fields and lots of smoke and that used to work.”
Mention the date May 23, 2015 to any winemaker in Prince Edward County and you will get looks of dismay and consternation. As grapevines were blossoming across the County, a nasty frost swooped in in the middle of the night and wiped out swathes of grape flowers.
“What a horrible night. We had we were setting up for a great crop and a great year ahead of us, and we just got nuked. We lit tons of fires. We saved 20 percent of our crop, and if we hadn’t lit those fires, we would have gotten zero. So, yeah, it was a horrible year. Just horrible. But, you know, it reminded me, once again, that Mother Nature is all powerful. ”
Another force of nature that Hardie has to contend with, albeit more willingly, is the enthusiasm of Canadian restaurant owners eager to spread the word of a Canadian wine that can hold its own against French counterparts. David McMillan is chef and co-owner of Joe Beef in Montreal, and one of many singing the praises of Norman Hardie.
“After 25 years in the restaurant industry, you taste a lot of Burgundy—a lot of fine Burgundy,” McMillan says. “The best wineries in California and Oregon were never close to fine white Burgund...Feb 3, 2016
Her gardens in Norwich, Prince Edward Island, and Alexandria were admired by many.
She is survived by her husband, Don, and the families of their four children: Anne and Henry Hart (Chestertown, Md.), Steve and Liza May (Bonita Springs, Fla.), Dave May and Katherine Kiluk (Hingham, Mass.), Libby May and Eoghan Mahony (Santa Monica, Calif.). She also leaves seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, and her sister Anne McCallum von Maltzahn (Halifax, NS).
To view an online memorial and or send a message of condolence, please visit www.rand-wilson.com.
A memorial service will be held at St. Barnabas Church, Norwich, Vt., on Feb. 22, 2016, at 11 a.m. Alison was buried in a private family service on Feb. 2 at Pine Knolls Cemetery in Hanover.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to The Salikenni Scholarship Fund (www.salikenni.org) or a charity of your choice.
Arrangements are under the direction of the Rand-Wilson Funeral Home of Hanover.