Fence Stile owner-winemaker Shriti Plimpton had a vision for many years to create a line of Vineyard LifeStile products. Her first creation is Chambourcin Sugar Scrub, a decadent blend of finely-ground Chambourcin grape skins and seeds, cocoa butter, grape seed oil, turbinado sugar, and essential oils bearing the scent of orange spice.
Packaged in four-ounce and eight-ounce jars, opening a container releases a rich, sumptuous aroma that engages the senses. Chambourcin Sugar Scrub is a creamy, mildly gritty exfoliant used for rejuvenating and enhancing skin (for external use only).
Antioxidant-rich Chambourcin grape skins and seeds are saved from the fall harvest. While juice from the grapes will be transformed into wine, the remaining pomace is saved, dried, stored, and ground into a fine powder. Combined with sugar, the mixture of skins and seeds forms the base of an all-natural treatment that can gently loosen and exfoliate dead and rough skin. Cocoa butter soothes and replenishes moisture. Essential oils add a pleasant aroma and luxurious oils to skin.
Visit our Tasting Room to learn more about Vineyard LifeStile Chambourcin Sugar Scrub. Pick up a four-ounce jar or an eight-ounce jar as a treat for yourself or others. Also available, lavender-scented Chambourcin Salt Scrub in both sizes.
Fence Stile's dessert wine Ishq (pronounced Ishk) is made from late harvest Vidal Blanc grapes. The primary harvest of Fence Stile's French-American hybrid grapes are completed late August through late September. Owner-winemaker Shriti Plimpton decided to leave six rows of Vidal Blanc grapes on the vines for a late 2018 harvest. These grapes were picked, crushed, and pressed in mid-November. Harvest involved methods that included "birdnetting" the rows of vines. Vineyard manager Shawna Mull also fashioned some "hammocks" to catch fallen grapes trapped in the folds of the netting.
The juice from these grapes will become Ishq and another limited-release dessert wine that will be available in late winter. These late harvest dessert wines are not considered ice wines.
Ice wine is a dessert wine produced from grapes that are frozen while still on the vine. This low-yield method concentrates the sugar in the grape juice and produces an extremely sweet wine. Unpredictable winter weather and temperatures make it challenging, time-consuming, and expensive to ensure grapes on the vine are frozen for a sufficient period to yield the desired sugary juice.
Watch the video above to learn more about the process of harvesting, crushing, and pressing these late harvest grapes. The gallery below has additional behind-the-scenes photos not included in the video.
You cannot touch smoke. Smoke touches you. The scent of smoke from wild plum, oak, grapevine, and lavender clings to my skin, my hair, and my clothes. Smoke hangs on with persistence, a wild spirit that lingers, an intangible presence that is most certainly there.
As the chef and brand/event manager at Fence Stile Vineyard and Winery, I spent the afternoon preparing ingredients for a farm and market-themed wine and small plates dinner. The dinner takes place in the Tasting Room on Sunday, November 18th (Call 816-500-6465 to RSVP). Farmers will attend the dinner and bring goods for a pop-up market so guests may meet them and buy items for the holiday. The Tasting Room will remain open to the public during the dinner so everyone is encouraged to visit, sip on wine, and shop.
Near a pond with a slushy iced surface, I built a small fire to grill radishes and smoke leeks sourced from farmers Tom Ruggieri and Rebecca Graff at Fair Share Farm, based in Kearney, Missouri. I used wild plum wood obtained from farmer Linda Hezel at Prairie Birthday Farm, also based in Kearney, and oak and grapevine from the winery estate. A single piece of oak formed the foundation of the fire. Smaller pieces of wood tilted at angles on both sides of the oak like church rafters. Brisk November wind blew across the pond and fanned the flame. Kindling shriveled into glowing orange threads and ash. Soon the fire roared as wood crackled and hissed.
The wine and food dinner highlights ingredients and products from Fair Share Farm and Prairie Birthday Farm. Also, Dr. Janet Smith of Borgman's Dairy Farm, based in Holden, Missouri, supplied milk, cheese, yogurt and other products made from goat milk.
Several varieties of French-American hybrid grapes grow along ten hilly acres that surround the tasting room at Fence Stile. Owner-winemaker Shriti Plimpton launched the winery and vineyards nearly ten years ago. The winery is known for its dry and semi-dry wines, but has a wide range for those with sweeter palates. The upcoming dinner offers a showcase for how three wines produced onsite – Vignoles, Backpack Red, and Vidal Blanc – pair with seasonal farm ingredients prepared to their utmost flavor.
Vineyard manager Shawna Mull tends to the vines year-round. Sometimes, a section of vine runs its course. Cut into small segments, this particular piece of dry, dead grapevine that smolders in the heart of the fire had no more life to give as a lifeline for grape clusters. Smoke from burning vine and wood enveloped the bulbs of radishes with leafy greens still attached and a cluster of leeks thick as metal pipes.
You cannot touch smoke. Smoke touches you.
The wind shifted and smoke blew past my face, prompting my eyes to water. The smoke sent a signal, a reminder. Smoke and fire heeds its own whims and acts as its own master. I coaxed the smoke to lend its scent to vegetables on the grill. I tried to tame orange licks of flame to do by bidding. I poked and prodded and fed the fire's appetite. Flames subsided into coals and smoke wafted at a steady pace, dancing around the radishes and leeks.
Slowly, the bright magenta skin of the radishes dulled and charred with black flakes. Most of the greens had burned away. Removed from the grill, the radishes more closely resembled baby red potatoes cooked directly in a fire. Grilling the radishes mellows its sharp peppery bite and introduces a soft sweetness. The subtle taste and aroma of smoke will interplay with the sweetness, a tart dash of lemon juice, creamy butter, and a dash of salt to unite the flavors.
The leeks grilled until they softened and charred at the edges. Once the coals were ready, I added stalks of dried lavender from Fence Stile's flower bed to further perfume the smoke dancing around the leeks. After sufficient smoking, I plucked the leeks from the grill, doused the coals, and headed to the kitchen.
The leeks and radishes are only some of the produce received from Fair Share Farm. They also provided pristine small salad turnips with ivory skin and lush plumes of green leaves. I trimmed the greens and set them aside. They will be sauteed in a pan with Chinese broccoli and served with spelt, a rustic grain similar to farro. Salted and buttered grilled radishes will accompany the greens and spelt. I roasted the trimmed turnips with garlic cloves in the oven until they were tender sweet gems.
After paring the charred tough outer skin of the leeks, I cut them into long strips and then chopped them into smaller pieces. The scent and taste of smoke on the leeks seemed too aggressive. Not only would it compete with the other flavors in the dish, it would also overwhelm the wine pairing with Backpack Red. This light-bodied, dry red blend of Chambourcin and Norton offered a hint of pepper and earthiness on the finish. Bold smoke would wrestle and dominate the wine, altering the balance of sweet, salty, earthy and smoky flavors.
I packed chopped leek into a food processor and pureed the contents. A light cloud of steam and smoke arose. Perhaps the leeks could become a sauce for oven-roasted turnips? Ransacking the refrigerator, I selected a jar of creamy goat milk yogurt from Borgman's Dairy. Slowly, I spooned dollops of yogurt and sprinkled a bit of salt into the leeks and whipped them further. The leeks transformed into a thick creamy sauce that still bore a hint of smoke. The savory, smoky sauce provide a counterbalance to sweet, earthy turnips.
Slowly, the various components of this dish, one of three, were coming together for the dinner. Once assembled, plated and served, this melange of smoked, roasted and sauteed vegetables and grain will work in harmony. The goal is to stimulate the senses, appease the appetite, and illustrate how Backpack Red tastes with a variety of flavors while holding its own.
Other small plate dishes for the Farm and Market meal include a sweet potato, ginger, and turmeric samosa with curry goat’s milk yogurt sauce (paired with Vignoles). Dessert will be honey and apple sweet grits, cooked in goat milk, topped with Fence Stile blackberry compote and goat’s milk caramel sauce (paired with Vidal Blanc).
Smoking is one technique used to impart flavor and aroma to food. Its scent and taste connect with the primal parts of our brain and ancient appetites. Our ancestors learned how smoke added character and depth to food and drink. Now, when curls of smoke dissipate, the aroma of smoke is an ephemeral remnant of wood and vine that grew over years, served its purpose, and continued on its journey. Smoke is ethereal yet real like the memory of a remarkable meal or bottle of wine that makes a lasting impression long after the last bite and sip.
You cannot touch smoke. Smoke touches you.
Smoke sends a signal from past to present before gliding onward. Through food, wine and experiences, we may receive that signal of seasons passing and life progressing and remember how vital it is to share in the moment before it drifts away.
Pumpkin pear soup with cardamom and pepitas (pumpkin seeds): Slightly sweet with a touch of cardamom for a pop of flavor. Roasted pepitas add crunch to this silky soup – perfect for the fall season. Enjoy with a glass of Reserve Vidal Blanc, Becca Blend, or Loft Red.
Parmesan-rosemary vegetable risotto: This rich creamy risotto is packed with the flavor of Parmesan and rosemary. Kale, carrot, red bell pepper, and yellow squash add fresh flavor and a rainbow of color to this warm dish. Try the risotto with Seyval, Becca Blend, KAIscape, or even a crisp rosé.
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Fence Stile Vineyards and Winery is highlighting the farmers featured in our upcoming Farm + Market Local Food and Wine Experience. Tickets are still available for this exciting new wine and food event on Sunday, November 18th, 3:30-5:30 PM. $35 per person. RSVP at email@example.com or call 816-500-6465. Limited seating available. Reserve a seat today!
This week, meet Rebecca Graff and Tom Ruggieri of Fair Share Farm.
"In 2003, we began growing organic fruits and vegetables on Rebecca’s family farm in rural, northeastern Clay County, Missouri,' Ruggieri says. "She is the fourth generation to farm this land. We focus on building the soil through biological farming methods, including extensive cover cropping, animal rotations, mineral additions, mulching and composting."
The farm is home to two farmers, three cats, 160 laying hens, two roosters and countless frogs, butterflies, birds and insects. The remaining 200-plus acres of family farm is planted in native grasses, good habitat for deer, turkey, quail, coyotes, and many other species of wildlife.
"At the heart of Fair Share Farm are the 100 families that join us in our efforts through Community Supported Agriculture," Graff says. "Each family contributes between 4 to 16 hours per year to the CSA. They either help at the farm during the weekly harvests or on the Core Group which guides decision-making, holds member events, conducts the annual survey, coordinates the distribution sites and keeps the CSA running smoothly."
In 2016, Ruggieri and Graff completed the construction of an on-farm commercial kitchen and began producing fermented vegetables.
Ruggieri says, "At Fair Share Farm, we are the ones that harvest the vegetables that go into our ferments. This short distance of travel from field to jar has the inherent benefits of freshness and product control. As farmers and fermenters we are a part of a continuum from seed to jar. We are thus able to maintain product quality and control through our growing and handling practices. Just as a vineyard raises grapes and ferments them on-site to produce a product reflecting the terroir of the soil, our soil building and on-farm processing brings out the health, nutrition and umami of our land."
Ferments are made by hand in small batches. Graff notes, "Over 95 percent of what we put in each jar is raised on the farm. Our on-farm kitchen is a Clay County Health Department Food Establishment. We are permitted to ferment vegetables, in accordance with our HACCP plan."
The farm produces more than 20 different vegetables, fruits and herbs that are grown for the CSA. In addition, they grow more than 95 percent of the ingredients that go into the ferments. Fair Share Farm sells fresh vegetables exclusively to its CSA during the growing season and at the Brookside Farmers Market during the winter.
Ruggieri says, "Our ferments are sold to our CSA, at the summer Brookside Farmers Market, and at these retail locations http://fairsharefarm.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/ferments-stocklist-for-website1.pdf
"Our fundamental farming practice is to focus on feeding the soil to constantly improve its fertility," Graff says. "We plan our work each day with the goal of providing for the health and biological diversity of the farm, as well as reducing the effects of climate change."
For example, Graff and Ruggieri implement environmentally-focused practices, such as sequestering carbon at Fair Share Farm.
"It is the job of a biological farmer to feed the soil. Just like us, the soil has an appetite and the ability to grow," Ruggieri explains. "The soil is in effect the stomach of the plant. In order to add soil and organic matter to a farm it is necessary to provide a diverse diet, and a substantial amount of organic matter each year. At our farm we do this through a combination of cover cropping, mulching, compost application, chicken rotations, mineral additions, and water management. Since 2008 we have raised over 25,000 pounds per year of organic matter.
"The source of the organic matter added to our soil is the carbon in the air. Carbon dioxide is turned into plant matter by photosynthesis. When we grow and turn under a cover crop this carbon is then incorporated into the soil. This removing of carbon from the atmosphere and putting it into the soil is known as sequestering. Since 2008 we have sequestered an average of over 75,000 pounds per year of carbon dioxide."
In effect, farmers act as stewards of the land that they farm, ranch, and/or manage. Graff and Ruggieri take an active role in this responsibility.
"You are what you eat, so you are what your plants eat," Graff says. "This fact of physics is an important fundamental issue that defines our farming principles. We feed our soil, plants and animals solid food in the form of cover crops, mulches, minerals and organic feed. Our 16 years of soil building provides nutrition to our produce, eggs and ferments that you can taste."
"So-called conventional agriculture feeds plants soluble, synthetically-produced compounds," Ruggieri says. "This bypassing of the soil biology is analogous to feeding a person a strictly liquid diet, treating the plant as infirmed. This synthetic diet is reduced in complexity from a natural system and represents a diminishment of nutrition. When we eat conventional produce we are incorporating these synthetically produced chemicals into our body, making us less that all-natural. We reject this method of agriculture as it damages the both environment and the health of people. We feel it is important to have a livelihood that provides for the farm, farmers and community while tying together the biology of the land, our ferments and our bodies."
To attend the Farm + Market event, RSVP to secure a seat today. Meet your local farmers, taste local dairy prepared in several dishes by chef Pete Dulin, learn how Fence Stile owner-winemaker Shriti Plimpton paired dishes with wine, and take some some wine and fresh dairy products.
Farm + Market: A Fence Stile and Local Farm Food and Wine Experience
Featuring Fair Share Farm, Prairie Birthday Farm and Borgman’s Dairy Farm
Sunday, November 18th, 3:30-5:30 PM
Welcome Glass - Enjoy a glass of apple sangria or mulled wine.
Sweet potato, ginger, and turmeric samosa with curry goat’s milk yogurt. Paired with Vignoles.
Leek smoked with wild plum wood and lavender, grilled radish, oven-roasted turnips, and Chinese broccoli with spelt, topped with escabeche and goat’s milk cheese. Paired with Backpack Red.
Honey and apple sweet grits topped with Fence Stile blackberry compote and goat’s milk caramel sauce. Paired with Vidal Blanc.
Brand and events manager, chef and cellar rat Pete Dulin documents wine, food and operations at Fence Stile Vineyards and Winery through writing and photography.