Modern Farmer: Could you tell us a little about your vineyard and farm?
Deirdre Heekin: The farm part started before the vineyard, and we also have a little restaurant. My husband Caleb is the chef and I am the wine director. We are 18 years old this year. Our farming came from wanting to grow particular vegetables for our restaurant kitchen. Once we started going with the restaurant garden and farm, I also became interested in the process of making wine. I was doing a lot of work representing organic and biodynamic wine growers on our wine list. Intellectually, I knew the whole process of making wine, but I had never done it on my own. I wanted to do that, just for my own edification. In the second year we went to go visit another Vermont vineyard that was making some really lovely wine and it dawned on us. We have a fantastic south facing slope that would be perfect for a vineyard, there are some great people doing it in Vermont — let’s just do it. We left that particular winery with 180 plants that day. We planted that summer. It has been full tilt growing as we go along. We are now in our fifth vintage.
MF: Why did you join Instagram?
DH: I got interested in it about one and a half years ago because we have interns that work with us at the restaurant, and a lot of them were doing Instagram and had been talking about it. I originally did it to keep in touch with friends and family and share images. Then, as I got more into it, it seem seemed like a great way to show more of our farming story, looking at everything from the restaurant to the growing of the wine, and looking at it in a narrative medium. I’m very excited about how one can craft Instagram as an art. As a farmer who is very interested in visuals, it is a curated artistic medium in which I can express what we are doing on a day-to-day basis. I have been able to connect with other wine growers, people in the wine business, and other farmers in a way that I don’t think I would have been able to prior to Instagram, given where we live. That has been very remarkable, the ability to connect of Instagram.
MF: You have a book coming out soon, could you tell us a little about that?
DH: The book is coming out in November, and it’s about everything we have been talking about. It is called “An Unlikely Vineyard: The Education of a Farmer and Her Quest for Terroir.” It is about the vineyard and also our effort at a polyculture approach and how everything feeds each other. We follow biodynamic methods, but we also look at permaculture, organics and all kinds of natural farming. The book is divided into sections, so there is a chapter that is called the vineyard, one that is called the orchard, there is one that is the winter garden. It is the specific narrative of those aspects of our farm, but also how they integrate together. It is both narrative memoir and nitty gritty — if you want to put in a winter garden this is what you do. It is kind of a blend of both.
MF: What are you looking forward to sharing the most this week with our followers?
DH: We are in the midst of our wine harvest and also a lot of vegetable harvesting. I am really excited to share where we are in the wine harvest, both in the cellar and field. At the same time we are in the middle of building a new winery, so tracking that process as well. We have everything happening all at once.
(This interview has been edited and condensed.
All images courtesy La Garagista Farm and Winery .)