Chelsea Green Publishing

An Unlikely Vineyard

Pages:384 pages
Book Art:Color photos throughout
Size: 7 x 10 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Hardcover: 9781603584579
Pub. Date October 29, 2014
eBook: 9781603584586
Pub. Date October 29, 2014

An Unlikely Vineyard

The Education of a Farmer and Her Quest for Terroir

By Deirdre Heekin
Foreword by Alice Feiring

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
October 29, 2014


Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
October 29, 2014

$35.00 $28.00

An Unlikely Vineyard tells the evolutionary story of Deirdre Heekin’s farm from overgrown fields to a fertile, productive, and beautiful landscape that melds with its natural environment.

Is it possible to capture landscape in a bottle? To express its terroir, its essence of place—geology, geography, climate, and soil—as well as the skill of the winegrower?

That’s what Heekin and her chef/husband, Caleb Barber, set out to accomplish on their tiny, eight-acre hillside farm and vineyard in Vermont.

But An Unlikely Vineyard involves much more. It also presents, through the example of their farming journey and winegrowing endeavors, an impressive amount of information on how to think about almost every aspect of gardening: from composting to trellising; from cider and perry making to growing old garden roses, keeping bees, and raising livestock; from pruning (or not) to dealing naturally with pests and diseases.

Challenged by cold winters, wet summers, and other factors, Deirdre and Caleb set about to grow not only a vineyard, but an orchard of heirloom apples, pears, and plums, as well as gardens filled with vegetables, herbs, roses, and wildflowers destined for their own table and for the kitchen of their small restaurant. They wanted to create, or rediscover, a sense of place, and to grow food naturally using the philosophy and techniques gleaned from organic gardening, permaculture, and biodynamic farming.

Accompanied throughout by lush photos, this gentle narrative will appeal to anyone who loves food, farms, and living well.


Midwest Book Review-

“An exceptionally well written and engaging account that is beautifully illustrated throughout with full color photography. An inherently fascinating and entertaining, An Unlikely Vineyard: The Education of a Farmer and Her Quest for Terroir, is very highly recommended for personal reading lists and would prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections."

"I won’t mince words about “An Unlikely Vineyard: The Education of a Farmer and Her Quest for Terroir” (Chelsea Green, $35), Deirdre Heekin’s chronicle of establishing a farm and vineyard in Vermont. I love this book, which conveys beautifully why the best wine is, at heart, an agricultural expression. While living in Italy, Ms. Heekin and her husband, Caleb Barber, fell in love with Italian food and wine culture. On returning to Vermont they established an osteria, then developed their small farm to provide vegetables, fruits, flowers and wine for the restaurant. Her husband cooks; Ms. Heekin is the sommelier and farmer. In her farming she takes a holistic approach, regarding wine as produce. She is naturally drawn to biodynamic agriculture, which views a farm as a self-sustaining unit in which the various elements all harmonize and reinforce one another. This method of farming requires meticulous powers of observation and attention to detail. It also imbues Ms. Heekin’s writing with a tactile, almost earthy quality and a well-grounded sense of wonder. The book is not solely about grape-growing. Ms. Heekin places wine in the context of a diverse farm, an alternative to the agricultural and critical view of wine as a monoculture. In the end, she writes, what’s most important is 'the shared experience around the table that is defined by the culture of food, wine, friendship, ideas and heart.' If you can find her soulful wine, produced in tiny quantities and labeled La Garagista, it resonates with every sentiment in the book.”--Eric Asimov, Chief Wine Critic, The New York Times

“In An Unlikely Vineyard, Deirdre Heekin spins a wonderfully practical account of realizing her vision of a living farm with a table at its center. Her tale balances rural romance with the real concerns of sinking hands into dirt, of partnering with nature to bring beauty and life to her 'unlikely vineyard' in the hills of Vermont. Filled with tips and inspiration for the existing gardener, it will have armchair green thumbs ready to run off and buy a tractor."--Christy Frank, owner, Frankly Wines, New York City

“A writer should write what she knows; lucky for us, Deirdre Heekin knows a lot about a lot of different things. Her latest book is about a rather unlikely subject—planting a vineyard in Vermont (!)—but being an enormously skilled writer, it is a powerful lens through which she tells a much broader story, encompassing such diverse subjects as biodynamics, the history of roses, and, most importantly, her search for a sense of place. An Unlikely Vineyard is highly recommended for anyone interested in the very intimate side of growing a garden, whatever form it might take.”--Randall Grahm, founder and winemaker, Bonny Doon Vineyard, and author, Been Doon So Long: A Randall Grahm Vinthology 

"Not only does Deirdre Heekin take us on her own, personal path to this ‘unlikely vineyard,’ but she also offers us—as a vigneronne—the chance to understand something more universal: that authentic wine, with soul, can be crafted if one observes and takes care of one’s terroir and vines. By choosing a most demanding yet most rewarding way of farming—the biodynamic way in Vermont—she is an inspiration both for farmers and for every wine lover who seeks in the taste of a grape a place, a landscape, a climate, a history."--Pascaline Lepeltier, master sommelier, Rouge Tomate, New York City

“Deirdre Heekin’s new book is a rural romance that’s part memoir, part how-to, part coming-of-age story. As carefully thought out and set down as the neat rows of La Crescent, Blaufrankisch, and Riesling vines that populate the unlikely vineyard of the title, it’s sure to be welcomed by a new generation of farmer-philosophers who will find not just inspiration but direction in its pages.”--Stephen Meuse, America’s Test Kitchen Radio 

"An Unlikely Vineyard is a rare blend of scholarship, storytelling, and poetry. Deirdre Heekin’s enthralling tale of sinking roots into her land will inspire and enable anyone who ever dreamed of growing food, making wine, or bringing beauty out of the soil around them. This meditation on the cultivation of place is an elegant rallying cry in a world that too often settles for placelessness."--Rowan Jacobsen, author, American Terroir and Apples of Uncommon Character

“Deirdre Heekin has written a colossal book here—something of a monument in its field. The author tells, in her earnest way, the entire story of establishing a biodynamic farm and orchard and garden and vineyard, under improbable circumstances. An Unlikely Vineyard speaks to a determination and passion fueled by Deirdre’s wonderful, stubborn love. The sheer level of detail may intimidate some casual readers, yet those who do read it will surely concur that it's going to become one of the Great Books of the movement.”--Terry Theise, author, Reading between the Wines


  • Winner - The Best Wine Books of 2014 - Eric Asimov, Chief Wine Critic, The New York Times - 2014


Deirdre Heekin

Deirdre Heekin is the author of An Unlikely Vineyard. She is the proprietor and wine director of Osteria Pane e Salute, an acclaimed restaurant and wine bar in Woodstock, Vermont. Heekin and her husband and head chef, Caleb Barber, are the authors of In Late Winter We Ate Pears (Chelsea Green, 2009), and she is also the author of Libation: A Bitter Alchemy (Chelsea Green, 2009) and Pane e Salute (Invisible Cities Press, 2002). Heekin and her husband live on a small farm in Vermont, where they grow both the vegetables for their restaurant and natural wines and ciders for their la garagista label.


Libation, A Bitter Alchemy

Libation, A Bitter Alchemy

By Deirdre Heekin

For many years, Deirdre Heekin has been creating an unusual, revitalist wine archive of rare and traditional Italian varietals at Osteria Pane e Salute, the nationally celebrated restaurant and wine bar she shares with her chef husband, Caleb Barber. Self-taught in the world of Italian wines, she is known for her fine-tuned work with scent and taste and her ability to pair wines and food in unexpected yet terroir-driven ways.

In Libation, a Bitter Alchemy, a series of linked personal essays, Heekin explores the curious development of her nose and palate, her intuitive education and relationship with wine and spirits, and her arduous attempts to make liqueurs and wine from the fruits of her own land in northern New England. The essays follow her as she unearths ruby-toned wines given up by the ghosts of long-gone wine makers from the red soil of Italy, her adoptive land; as she embarks on a complicated pilgrimage to the home of one of the world's oldest cocktails, Sazerac, in Katrina-soaked New Orleans; as she attempts a midsummer crafting of a brandy made from inherited roses, the results of an old Sicilian recipe she found in a dusty bookstore in Naples.

Musing on spirits from Campari to alkermes, Heekin's writing is as intoxicating, rich, and carefully crafted as the wines, liquors, and locales she loves.

Available in: eBook

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Libation, A Bitter Alchemy

Deirdre Heekin

eBook $25.00

In Late Winter We Ate Pears

In Late Winter We Ate Pears

By Deirdre Heekin and Caleb Barber

More than a cookbook, In Late Winter We Ate Pears is a love affair with a culture and a way of life. In vignettes taken from their year in Italy, husband and wife Caleb Barber and Deirdre Heekin offer glimpses of a young, vibrant Italy: of rolling out pizza dough in an ancient hilltown at midnight while wild dogs bay in the abandoned streets; of the fogged car windows of an ancient lovers' lane amid the olive groves outside Prato.

The recipes in In Late Winter We Ate Pears are every bit as delicious as the memories. Selections such as red snapper with fennel sauce, fresh figs with balsamic vinegar and mint, and frangipane and plum tart capture the essence of Italy. Following the tradition of Italian cuisine, the 80 recipes are laid out according to season, to suggest taking advantage of your freshest local ingredients.

Whether you are an experienced cook looking for authentic Italian recipes or a beginner wanting to immerse yourself in the romance of a young couple's culinary adventure, In Late Winter We Ate Pears provides rich sustenance in the best tradition of travel and food writing.

Cheers to Chef Barber and writer Deirdre Heekin for sharing these marvelous recipes from Osteria Pane e Salute (Pane translates as bread and Salute as health) and for sharing the story of a most inspired year spent in Italy. In Late Winter We Ate Pears is a testament that bread and health are the things that make a good life.

Available in: eBook

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In Late Winter We Ate Pears

Deirdre Heekin, Caleb Barber, Rowan Jacobsen

eBook $25.00


Holiday Cocktail Camp

A public reading by Deirdre Heekin, author of Libation, A Bitter Alchemy

Caleb Barber and Deirdre Heekin Discuss Slow Food Heirloom Recipes from Italy

Deirdre Heekin discusses her path to writing Libation

Caleb Barber and Deirdre Heekin Discuss Slow Food Heirloom Recipes from Italy - Full Version


Holistic Orcharding with Michael Phillips (DVD)

Holistic Orcharding with Michael Phillips (DVD)

By Michael Phillips

Every farm and homestead can enjoy the timeless pleasure of a fruit orchard. Yet this can also be challenging, because few people today have the depth of knowledge and experience that’s needed to produce healthy trees and nutritious, great-tasting fruit. At the same time, both orchardists and consumers are looking to avoid spraying harmful and expensive chemicals on their trees.

The answer is to create a more holistic orchard, one that emphasizes biological health and diversity – from the microscopic fungi in the soil to the beneficial insects, companion plants, and the birds and wildlife that together form a complete and living orchard ecosystem. In other words, it’s time for us to start working with nature, rather than fighting against it.

Michael Phillips is a pioneering author and orchardist whose books include The Holistic Orchard and The Apple Grower. In this video, he leads viewers through a year in his own orchard, demonstrating basic horticultural skills like grafting and pruning, but also revealing groundbreaking and field-tested strategies for growing apples and other tree fruits not just organically, but holistically. With this information in hand, there’s now every reason to confidently plant that very first fruit tree!

Available in: DVD

Read More

Holistic Orcharding with Michael Phillips (DVD)

Michael Phillips

DVD $49.95

The Community-Scale Permaculture Farm

The Community-Scale Permaculture Farm

By Josh Trought

With practical examples of alternative building, renewable energy, holistic forestry, no-till gardening, hospitality management, community outreach, and more

The Community-Scale Permaculture Farm describes not only the history of the D Acres project, but its evolving principles and practices that are rooted in the land, its inhabitants, and the joy inherent in collective empowerment.

For almost twenty years, D Acres of New Hampshire has challenged and expanded the common definition of a farm. As an educational center that researches, applies, and teaches skills of sustainable living and small-scale organic farming, D Acres serves more than just a single function to its community. By turns it is a hostel for travelers to northern New England, a training center for everything from metal- and woodworking to cob building and seasonal cooking, a gathering place for music, poetry, joke-telling, and potluck meals, and much more.

While this book provides a wide spectrum of practical information on the physical systems designed into a community-scale homestead, Trought also reviews the economics and organizational particulars that D Acres has experimented with over the years.

The D Acres model envisions a way to devise a sustainable future by building a localized economy that provides more than seasonal produce, a handful of eggs, and green appliances. With the goal of perennial viability for humanity within their ecosystem, D Acres is attempting an approach to sustainability that encompasses practical, spiritual, and ethical components. In short: They are trying to create a rural community ecology that evolves in perpetuity.

From working with oxen to working with a board of directors, no other book contains such a wealth of innovative ideas and ways to make your farm or homestead not only more sustainable, but more inclusive of, and beneficial to, the larger community. Readers will find information on such subjects as:

  • Working with pigs to transform forested landscapes into arable land;
  • Designing and building unique, multifunctional farm and community spaces using various techniques and materials;
  • Creating and perpetuating diverse revenue streams to keep your farm organization solvent and resilient;
  • Receiving maximum benefits and yields for the farm without denigrating resources or the regional ecology;
  • Implementing a fair and effective governance structure;
  • Constructing everything from solar dehydrators and cookers to treehouses and ponds; and,
  • Connecting and partnering with the larger community beyond the farm.

Emphasizing collaboration, cooperation, and mutualism, this book promises to inspire a new generation of growers, builders, educators, artists, and dreamers who are seeking new and practical ways to address today’s problems on a community scale.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

The Community-Scale Permaculture Farm

Josh Trought

Paperback $40.00

The New Organic Grower

The New Organic Grower

By Eliot Coleman

With more than 45,000 sold since 1988, The New Organic Grower has become a modern classic. In this newly revised and expanded edition, master grower Eliot Coleman continues to present the simplest and most sustainable ways of growing top-quality organic vegetables. Coleman updates practical information on marketing the harvest, on small-scale equipment, and on farming and gardening for the long-term health of the soil. The new book is thoroughly updated, and includes all-new chapters such as:

  • Farm-Generated Fertility—how to meet your soil-fertility needs from the resources of your own land, even if manure is not available.
  • The Moveable Feast—how to construct home-garden and commercial-scale greenhouses that can be easily moved to benefit plants and avoid insect and disease build-up.
  • The Winter Garden—how to plant, harvest, and sell hardy salad crops all winter long from unheated or minimally heated greenhouses.
  • Pests—how to find "plant-positive" rather than "pest-negative" solutions by growing healthy, naturally resistant plants.
  • The Information Resource—how and where to learn what you need to know to grow delicious organic vegetables, no matter where you live.

Written for the serious gardener or small market farmer, The New Organic Grower proves that, in terms of both efficiency and profitability, smaller can be better.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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The New Organic Grower

Eliot Coleman, Sheri Amsel, Molly Cook Field

Paperback $24.95

Growing Hybrid Hazelnuts

Growing Hybrid Hazelnuts

By Philip Rutter and Susan Wiegrefe and Brandon Rutter-Daywater

Civilization is facing global threats like never before. Climate instability. Food insecurity. The endangered family farm. Water pollution and scarcity. Mass extinction. Converting agricultural land into more secure, climate-stabilizing, water-filtering, wildlife-harboring farms would be positively transformative. Luckily, there is a way, currently under development, to do just this in many temperate climates: hybrid hazelnuts.

Growing Hybrid Hazelnuts is the first comprehensive guide for farmers interested in how to get started growing hybrid hazelnuts, a crop designed from the very outset to address a host of problems with conventional modern agriculture. Once hybrid hazelnuts are established, no plowing, or even cultivation, is necessary. Dramatically improved infiltration rates prevent water from running off of fields, regardless of soil type. The crop’s extensive, permanent root systems—at work 365 days a year—mean that tilling should not be necessary in moderately wet soils, and that no fertilizer can escape into groundwater. No soil is lost to wind or rain; in fact, this crop builds soil, and wildlife finds cover and food in hazelnuts all year. Economically speaking, hazelnuts have a large, existing, and unsatisfied world market, not to mention their processing potential is even greater than soybeans. They are, without a doubt, the ecological crop of the future.

This book covers everything you need to know about NeoHybrid hazels, the new biological entity developed by the authors, including:

•           The source of the species and the making of an artificial, directed hybrid swarm;

•           The historical use of hazels as a staple food in Europe and Asia;

•           The nutrient composition of the crop;

•           The benefits of woody agriculture and the superior productivity of these hazels;

•           Site requirements: slope, soils, soil tests;

•           Planting and the establishment period;

•           Managing the productive plantation, including maintaining biodiversity;

•           When to harvest, and harvesting options (hand or machine);

•           Processing, from harvest to market: drying, husking, cleaning, sizing, cleaning, roasting;

•           Value-added options (oil, meal, nut butters);

•           Co-products and their values (wood, shells, husks, sub food-grade nuts, biodiesel);

•           The state of the world hazel market, and more

The first and only guide of its kind, Growing Hybrid Hazelnuts will appeal to small-scale and commercial farmers, both those already familiar with concepts of perennial agriculture and those interested in converting from conventional practices. Growing Hybrid Hazelnuts is a landmark book for the farming movement, offering a practical road to a hopeful future where crops build soil and the earth is regenerated, at the same time reaping profits for the farmer.

Available in: Paperback

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Growing Hybrid Hazelnuts

Philip Rutter, Susan Wiegrefe, Brandon Rutter-Daywater

Paperback $39.95