News From the Vardo

Fantastic 1000 Islands Wine & Food show in Brockville, Ontario

We had the pleasure of being at the 1000 Islands Wine & Food show in Brockville, Ontario this weekend. While it is a relatively young (3 years) and small (3000 visitors), it is by far our FAVOURITE show of the circuit. The organizers were focussed, attentive and incredibly helpful. The visitors were well-mannered and there was not a single incident in 2 days. I saw 1 Police officer walking through the place. Not carrying or escorting someone in handcuffs... just walking through, smiling. Good on you Brockville!! We're already planning next year's trip back. If you are looking for a wine and food show that is affordable ($10 to get in) and accessible (aisles are not jammed) and civilized (even the drunk people behaved themselves) then you need to mark this festival in your calendar. Visit Brockville, stay the Friday/Saturday night and get a dose of history. Excellent restaurants abound, this is a wonderful place to just relax, well deserving of your travel dollars.
Read more →

Sometimes on the farm, we need to improvise

It all started with the need to put the generator on a concrete slab in order for it to pass inspection. I built one from cement blocks, but apparently, not good enough. "Just cover that in concrete and it will be fine." Really? I built a form, no bigger than 4` X 4`, from old plywood, pounded in 3 stakes per side, screwed the plywood to the stakes and then, wrapped a tie down ratcheting strap all around to make sure it didn't move. Off I went to Home Depot on the hottest day of the year (so far) to buy concrete. I looked for something to mix it in; a flat container. Something I could mix the concrete in. "We don't carry anything like that. Would you like to rent a cement mixer?" Now, in fairness, they had no idea that I had neither a trailer hitch nor the desire to haul a cement mixer 50 km to the farm... and back. And I am cheap; nay, frugal. "I'll figure something out," said I. At the farm, armed with 8 bags of concrete, I thought about digging a hole and just mixing the concrete with water. I could just fill the little form by shovel. Staring at this hole in the ground, I started wondering: ``How does a cement mixer work anyways?`` You pour concrete and water into a rotating barrel. This is a winery. I have 5 gallon buckets with tight-fitting tops. Maybe that would work... I emptied a bag of concrete into the bucket, added the required water, popped the top back on and then, rolled it around on the ground for a couple of minutes. Presto. Mixed concrete. Work, it did. As a bonus, I picked up the bucket filled with freshly mixed concrete and poured the contents exactly where I wanted them to go. Using a waste piece of 2 X 4 as a leveling tool, I managed to do a half-decent job on that slab. I`m fairly certain it's good enough to pass inspection. Sometimes, we just have to wing it. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Louis Gaal is the winemaker (and spouse of the ever patient Claire Faguy) at Blue Gypsy Wines in Oxford Mills, Ontario Canada, 45 minutes south of Ottawa. You can find this raving lunatic using the BlueGypsyWines Facebook or Twitter account. Visit them on the web as well at www.BlueGypsyWines.com
Read more →

It shouldn't be this difficult...

...to get a debit transaction to work on wireless, especially when credit works beautifully. According to Roger's Tech Support, if I do this, this, this and this all will be well with my debit transactions. So far, they are mistaken. I am beginning to wonder how many sales I am going to lose over this issue. No, Rogers never promised that it would work, but they did assure me. To the credit (no pun intended) of the service provider, they said it doesn't work. Period. No expectations built up there. I now have a disclaimer on the website that this is an issue and am asking folks to bring a credit card along. According to our fairly unscientific survey: - less than 20% of our customers pay cash. - of the 80% who prefer to pay with cards, only about 25% offer their debit card first. - of those who offer debit first, 90% switch to a credit card or cash. - the remainder paid some other way. So far, no-one has walked away without something because of the debit issue. One person used a smartphone to transfer the money to us via Interac Transfer. Another used Paypal. Surely, there is a solution, but for now, only frustration.
Read more →

Signs, signs ANYwhere a sign

Sometimes, the simplest task can be daunting. Getting a liquor license? That was a breeze. People were very helpful and happy to help. Putting up a building? Ok, that sucked, but we got it done with a lot of help from friends. Putting up signs to get people to COME TO the winery... all I can say is Damn! Right of ways / setbacks / permission / control / etc... I cannot believe how dificult it is to get a sign up. That's not the township, it's the County. It's not the County, it's a third-party entity. Third-party entity: Sure, we'll have it up in 6 MONTHS. SIX MONTHS??? AND I need to pay the first 2 years of the contract up front. AND I need to qualify under some obscure category. For goodness sake, can we PLEASE get rid of this red tape? I don't have the time it takes to jump through these hoops. ALL I WANT IS TO PUT UP A FEW SIGNS. There, I'll breathe now.
Read more →

The curse of waking up early on the weekend

I've always loved the morning, whether I wake up to it or stay up all night waiting for it to come. Sundays are my favourite because in spite of my internal clock, which seems to think that 6 am is late enough for anyone to sleep, I take the opportunity to make some coffee, add a dollop of my favourite liqueur, and hit the hot tub (Conference Room 'H') for a half hour or so of quiet time watching the sun rise. Being that I am a hardcore Type A person, these moments help to preserve my sanity... sort of. I look forward to the day when I can win the lottery jackpot, retire and make this the start of every day. ;-)
Read more →

What a difference a few tiles make!

Another late night, but we finished tiling the fireplace area and the bar top last night. incredible how much it lights the place up. The tiles are white faux marble, accented with a black electric fireplace and sconce lighting. Claire picked all the components. Nice punch in the middle of the classic barn interior.
Read more →

Wine Tasting at at the United Counties of Leeds & Grenville Warden’s Award for Economic Development Leadership

We Poured Apple and Cranberry wine at the United Counties of Leeds & Grenville Warden’s Award for Economic Development Leadership in Roebuck, (near Spencerville) ON last night. (June 14, 2012) I had the opportunity to meet many of the Mayors and Councillors for the county and introduced them to our wines and winery. The event was organized by Deanna Clark and her generous invitation gave us a chance to promote ourselves to the whole County. It was wonderful to get a chance to talk with Deanna before the event started to learn a bit more about the structure and politics of the County. I was surprised to see MPP Steve Clark in attendance as well and had the chance to talk with him face-to-face for a few minutes. I also had the chance to apologise for being such a pain in the behind with all my questions... What a gracious man ;-) The event was catered by a team led by Marlene Neddo. They even stopped by my table and kindly left some snacks for me. For me, the event was all done in 2 hours, but I hope that the contacts we made serve to get people in other towns talking about us and with luck, including us in any visitor publicity they may put together.
Read more →

New wine

Black Currant wine

  We are extremely excited to announce that we are working on our brand new black currant wine. We will be using fresh black currants berries cultivated locally in this batch of wines. We expect our wine to have a sweet and sharp taste, a full body, and inviting aroma. Expect to see a limited run sometime in mid-2013!
Read more →

Farm opening

We are happy to announce that are farm will officially be OPEN on MAY 5 at 11AM.  Be sure to come down and visit us as well as try one of our free wine tastings. You can get detailed directions on the visit us page.

Read more →

New website

Blue gypsy wine is extremely thankful for the wonderful students at Algonquin college. They have fully redesigned and redeveloped our site. Be sure to check out our new e- commerce section at the top.

Read more →