Friday, October 28, 2011

Wine and Chocolate Harvest in Hastings

      I can't think of anything more splendid this time of year than shuffling leaves with each step on the waterway trails of Hastings and somehow ending up at Alexis Bailly Vineyards. But there is a special stop downtown first --Creative Confectionaire.

   Pick up some truffles (at least six) that were just made fresh. You can often peek in the kitchen window in this delightful Second Street shop and watch them being made. You need their darkest of truffles to pair with your wine tasting. Personal favorites are Chocolate Silk and Key Lime. Cindy and Dave, owners of our small town chocoalte shop have just this summer started making caramel corn drizzled with white chocolate and snuck candied almonds into almost every bite. You better pick up a bag of that too - yes made fresh daily. Then on the way out to the vineyard, one more quick little stop will refresh --that is a real cream malt at the Hastings Dairy Store. There is only one flavor (Chocolate of course) and you fill your own cup.  Don't go too fast down Vermillion Street or your will miss it. It is just past the LeDuc Estate on your left heading south. The malts are $1 and most of us locals are still whining about that. They were 85 cents for years until someone in the "Cities" raved about them in the St Paul Pioneer Press. Hope this is not dangerous blogging about them. The townfolks could not bear another price hike. So just another couple miles, turn right on 170th and follow the curving gravel road to the grape farm.  

     This is for certain a time to celebrate the harvest and there is no better spot than Alexis Bailly Vineyard and Winery. This coming weekend, November 5th and 6th, they will introduce their 2011 Nouveau. Each year Nan Bailly commissions a piece of unique art for their Nouveau label from the clients at Lifeworks in Hastings. Dick and I are especially pleased that Nan has committed to this organization in such a creative way because our daughter Britty is a very lucky client there. Every year it is quite a celebration when the limited edition of art and grapes meld so beautifully on and in a fine bottle of wine. 

    So now imagine yourself settling in on the vine covered terrace on the patio attached to the magnificent barn enjoying your truffles with perhaps a glass of Country Red accompanied by the Chocoalte Silk truffle or the dry crisp finish of the Seyval Blanc with the Key Lime truffle. Mkae it last. A sip -a small bite. Wait. Another sip. A little bigger bite. Hold it in your mouth. Make this taste, this day last. Maybe you will indulge in a game of bocce ball or not--- just watch. Put your feet up on the picnic bench. Sip. Breathe. Can you think of anything more splendid? Toast yourselves and the harvest. Here's to Hastings Trails, $1 chocolate malts, divine truffles and a very fine glass of wine (or two) and a perfect fall day.