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This wine was a lot of work and a lot of fun to make.
First the story behind the inspiration. When I was a kid, living at home, my mother always had gardens. She loved her gardens; she would come home every night after work and tend to them. They were beautiful. She always had books about flowers, herbs, vegetables, whatever it was that she was growing. It wasn't just coffee table fodder; she loved it. In my early teen years, she planted a herb garden at our house, and I started to become interested in them.
When I started building my own homes, I would plant herb gardens. At first, I started making herbal teas with them (tarragon, peppermint and honey is the favourite from my gardens). Then I started to experiment with tisanes. I found it fascinating how the various herbs impacted the flavours of the wines.
I am always researching and learning about new things and one day I was reading about Vermouth. Vermouth is traditionally a fortified wine infused with herbs, spices, and flowers (and in the past, wormwood). When I started reading about the ingredients used in the old world to flavour vermouth, a light bulb went off. We have either a local grower or native version of many of the traditional herbs, spices, and flowers that are used.
When I learned this, our path was set. I started to enlist local growers (shout out to PEC Lavender for the lavender and hyssop contributions), and began to forage from our farm. We had pails and pails of lilac, juniper, chamomile, hyssop, sumac, lavender, and many other seasonings steeping in the wines. We collected everything fresh and infused the wine with them.
If you're looking for amazing cocktails, use this in your wine. It's floral, it's brilliant and it's delicious. We use it for an aperitif and serve cheese plates with it. Spritzers are amazing or try some in a chai tea or Moscow mule. Seriously.
But to finish my story, in honour of my mother Donna who inspired my love of plants, herbs, and food, I have named this offering Madonna.
- Mike Traynor, Winemaker