Friday Farm Favorites: Cheerfulness

“Cheerfulness,” 14 X 18, acrylic on canvas by Tonya R. Hengerer   “Daring enthusiasm And abiding cheerfulness Can accomplish everything on earth Without fail.” ~Sri Chinmoy Farmguy and I love England, especially the Cotswolds, and one of our favorite places to spend an afternoon is Kiftsgate Court Gardens.  It’s located very near Hidcote Manor Garden and is situated above the village of Mickleton in the county of Gloucestershire, in the far north of the county close to the border with both Worcestershire and Warwickshire. The gardens, famed for its roses, are the creation of three generations of women gardeners. Started by Heather Muir in the 1920s, continued by Diany Binny from 1950, and now looked after by Anne Chambers and her husband. Kiftsgate Court is currently the home of the Chambers family. My latest painting, “Cheerfulness,” was inspired by a photograph I took during one of our visits at this lovely garden.   *As always, lots of gratitude to my friend and art teacher, Janet Wimmer for her input and guidance. 🙂 Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend!    

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Tuesday Tunes: Caledonia

Scotland 2012   Every day, I walk/run on the dreadmill–I mean treadmill and listen to all kinds of music; however, lately, I’ve been listening to Pandora’s 80’s station. And, the song, “In the Big Country” by the Scottish rock band, Big Country kept popping up.  I liked it, especially the bagpipes, so here it is along with some of my favorite quotes by Scottish novelist and poet, Robert Louis Stevenson. 🙂   “Make the most of the best and the least of the worst.”   “You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving.”   “Wine is bottled poetry.”   “Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm.”   “The saints are the sinners who keep on trying.”     Wishing everyone a beautiful day!   *Many thanks to friend and talented photographer, Doug Frassa for his lovely photographs.

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Chateau Carbonnieux & Thomas Jefferson

Château Carbonnieux and Thomas Jefferson’s Visit in 1787     Jefferson himself said it best:  “…so ask the traveled inhabitant of any nation, In what country on earth would you rather live?—certainly in my own, where are all my friends, my relations, and the earliest & sweetest affections and recollections of life.—Which would be your second choice?—France.”   In 1740, the estate was sold to the monks of the Sainte-Croix abbey in Bordeaux and a new era began for Carbonnieux.  Initially purchased to be ‘a mother earth’ for the abbey, the Carbonnieux estate soon became the major investment of the Benedictine monks who did not hesitate to borrow huge amounts of money to take their Carbonnieux growth to the very top of white Graves wine ranking.  Don Galléas was one of the first to blend varieties and to bottle wine which made it easier for it to be transported and kept for longer before being drunk.  His vinification methods and his cellars were among the most modern in the region.  In the ranking of the Guyenne Intendance, published in 1776, the white wines of the “Aux Bénédictins de Carbonnieux” were very much appreciated.  Although the “premier cru de Pontac” (Haut-Brion) was the reference for red wines at the time, Carbonnieux by far led the ranking of white wines from Guyenne.  Thanks to the talents and entrepreneurship of the Benedictine monks from the Sainte-Croix abbey for half a century, the domain […]

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Tuesday Tunes: The Grapevine

Meadows of Dan, Virginia  Blue Ridge Parkway   Recently, Farmguy and I participated in the grape harvest at a local winery just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Southwestern Virginia.  Located in the Rocky Knob American Viticultural Area (AVA), Chateau Morrisette Winery sits at an elevation of nearly 3500 feet.  Boasting spectacular views, it’s amid one of the most rugged and mountainous parts of the state.  Although the winery is at 3500 feet, most of its vineyards are down the mountain at 1600 feet. Chateau Morrisette Winery was founded by David Morrisette in 1978, making it among the oldest wineries in Virginia.  It has 13 acres of land and produces approximately 70,000 cases of wine each year. Chardonnay, Viognier, Chambourcin, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Petit Manseng, and Vidal blanc are among the varietals used in making Chateau Morrisette’s wines.  Besides growing many of its own grapes, the winery also buys grapes from other vineyards in Virginia.  Due to the state’s climate and growing season, Viognier and Cabernet Franc are some the winery’s most successful varieties. In the photos, Farmguy and I are harvesting Niagara grapes—a variety of the North American grape species Vitis labrusca.  Niagara grapes are one of the few grape varieties that can grow at such a high elevation. These green grapes are table grapes and are also used in making jams, juices, and wines.  They are mainly used in Chateau Morrisette’s sweet/dessert wines—Sweet Mountain Laurel and Red […]

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Got Merlot?

  Farmgirl in Saint Émilion (right bank of Bordeaux) November 2016   “You had me at hello.” A line made famous by Dorothy Boyd, the love interest in the film “Jerry Maguire.” However, if Dorothy had been a sommelier, she may have said, “You had me at Merlot.”  And, with good reason. Merlot, French for little blackbird because of its very dark fruit, is naturally versatile, acclimating to different climate zones and soil compositions, which, over time and a lot of travel, have made it the second most planted red grape on the planet, behind its brother from Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon.  Merlot can be big and rich, but also fruity and soft, without being overly high in acids or tannins.  These characteristics make Merlot an elegant and easy choice to drink as well as pair with food. If that doesn’t spark your interest in Merlot, maybe this will.  You know all those famous red wines from Bordeaux? Wines that are considered some of the best in the world?  Well, they’re all blended with Merlot.  And, many are mostly Merlot—especially, on the right bank of the Gironde estuary in the Bordeaux appellation, where it’s the law that Merlot has to be the predominant grape.  Of course, the most famous Merlot wine is undoubtedly Pétrus (100% Merlot) from the Pomerol region of Bordeaux.  This highly collectable wine can fetch several thousand dollars, depending on its vintage. You may not be as familiar with Merlot’s positive […]

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Through the Garden Gate

  “Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help.  Gardening is an instrument of grace.”   ~May Sarton   Photographs taken by Tonya R. Hengerer at Hidcote Manor Gardens and Kiftsgate Court Gardens in Gloucestershire, England–the Cotswolds

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A Summer Classic

When I think of summertime, there are a few things that always come to mind.  I guess this is partially because I grew up in the rural South.  But, there’s just nothing like the sound of cicadas singing in the trees on a warm summer evening, a night sky so dark that you can see the Milky Way and almost every constellation, especially the Big Dipper.  And, of course, fresh tomatoes picked right out of the garden, sliced, and enjoyed between two slices of bread with a bit of butter, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper—the classic tomato sandwich. My first memories of this iconic Southern treat were made while visiting Grandma Dooley. As a child, I lived nearby to both sets of grandparents, visiting with them often.  Every summer, I would spend a week with Grandma. She was a Sunday School teacher for many years and also taught Bible School.  While at Grandma’s, I attended Bible School with my cousin, Kim.  I still remember the experience so clearly:  riding the church bus around curvy, back country roads to Mt. Zion Baptist Church; listening to Grandma tell us a Bible story about Jesus and making a special craft in her classroom; singing “This Little Light of Mine” during choir practice; and running around the church cemetery with the other children—after having the customary refreshments of Oreo cookies and Kool-Aid.  But, I’ve gone off on a tangent. 😉 Anyway, it was during one […]

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Tuesday Tunes: Drops of Jupiter…And a Little Bit of Heaven

Fattoria della Talosa–Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Ornellaia–Super-Tuscan, Cordella–Montalcino   Last month, I spent a delightful week in Tuscany.  I wasn’t alone, though.  Melody, author of the blog, Meals With Mel accompanied me on this little adventure around Florence and the Tuscan countryside.  We had a fabulous time wandering around the beautiful city of Florence and marveling at the many masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture—including the Duomo, a cathedral with a terracotta-tiled dome engineered by Brunelleschi and a bell tower by Giotto. We visited The Galleria dell’ Accademia which displays Michelangelo’s, “David” sculpture as well as the Uffizi Gallery which exhibits Botticelli’s, “The Birth of Venus.” Once in the countryside, we enjoyed lots of sunshine and blue skies while truffle hunting at a beautiful farm and vineyard called, Fattoria Santa Vittoria.  And, of course, we had some of the most beautiful wines in the world—mainly, but not entirely, comprised of the Sangiovese grape, an Italian red grape variety that derives its name from the Latin sanguis Jovis, “the blood of Jupiter.” For those of you who may not be familiar with the wines of central Italy, The Apennine Mountains, which run the length of the Italian Peninsula, dominant the wine regions of this area. Grapes are planted in the hills and valleys of this mountain range with altitude providing a moderating influence on the hot climate.  It’s also important to mention that the coastal areas on both sides of the country benefit […]

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