Who would have thought that in one of the most northern capitals in the world one could find a winery? Within half an hour from downtown Ottawa, Domaine Perrault sits in the beautiful pastoral countryside of Navan surrounded by fields and adjacent to a dairy farm.
Over 30 members of the Ottawa Estonian Society celebrated the coming of autumn with a tour of the vineyards followed by a wine tasting and a tasty "pot-luck" picnic. Our hosts explained that they are able to grow grapes in the Ottawa area as they had planted hybrid grapes developed in Minnesota that are able to withstand temperatures of -40 C. They then blend the juice of these hybrids grapes with juice from Niagara.
When we arrived at the winery, Denis Perrault, one of the proprietors, was still showering after hours spent in the barn of his dairy farm. One of the students at the winery gave us a tour of the vineyards while in the background a modern scarecrow bellowed sounds of a screeching eagle, designed to keep away birds wishing to nosh on grapes. The noises however did not seem to deter any of the Estonians, many of whom were spotted munching on hybrid grapes even after being warned of the sourness (in fact they were quite sweet).
After the tour we retired to a room that was set up for our picnic as it was somewhat overcast and windy outside. People really took the picnic seriously having prepared a wide array of salads, sandwiches and baked goods. Denis joined us and gave us a tasting of white, rose and red wines. Had we had a vote, from the comments I heard the rose would have walked away with the people's choice award. While people were eating and drinking, the winery's mascot, a friendly golden retriever named Gabe, paid us numerous visits hoping to secure an early lunch.
The kids also had a wonderful time running in the fields and checking out the cows, climbing trees and playing with Gabe. The event was such a hit that many people thought that we should make this an annual event and explore another winery next year as it turns out there are several others relatively close to Ottawa.
The Estonian Society of Ottawa at Domaine Perrault