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
Paperback: 9781603586795
Pub. Date April 27, 2016

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: Available for Pre Order


Available Date:
April 20, 2016


Named one of the Best Wine Books of 2014 by The New York Times, 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. As Eric Asimov, chief wine critic for The New York Times, writes, “I love this book, which conveys beautifully why the best wine is, at heart, an agricultural expression.”

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.


"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

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."

“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.


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


Drip Irrigation for Every Landscape and All Climates,  2nd Edition

Drip Irrigation for Every Landscape and All Climates, 2nd Edition

By Robert Kourik

Drip irrigation is the best way to help any plant flourish and survive tough times, especially short or long droughts. Pick the wrong "stuff " and you easily can feel overwhelmed. Robert Kourik's Drip Irrigation for Every Landscape and All Climates clearly explains how to use less water yet increase the yields of vegetables and promote the growth and flowering of all plants--trees, shrubs, and container plants--in any climate, even where it rains irregularly.

In the tradition of the original groundbreaking book, this fully revised edition incorporates new information essential for gardeners, including how to manage limited water supplies with precision and efficiency, without the clutter of hundreds of widgets and gizmos, and the knowledge is shared in Kourik's inimitable, friendly, down-to-earth, and easy-to-understand style.

Drip Irrigation for Every Landscape and All Climates,reveals how to:

    • Utilize drip irrigation for everything you grow--trees, shrubs, hanging plants, container plants, and vegetable and flower gardens --and save up to 50 percent of your water compared to sprinklers.
    • Use a streamlined configuration of hardware and tubing.
    • Choose the best, sturdiest hardware that will last for decades in your home landscape and vegetable garden.
    • Pick tubing that has no emitters punched on the outside--these have a tendency to break off--and use this tubing buried beneath the surface to irrigate without losing any water to wind or evaporation.
    • Roll out a drip system in a very short period of time, avoiding tedious hours punching in emitters or adding smaller tubing to reach each plant.
    • Capture and reuse gray water and cistern water for irrigation.
    • Construct a system in which the main parts are effectively hidden or can be simply attached to an existing garden faucet.
    • Individual projects are carefully detailed and include: how anyone can construct a system by attaching it to an existing garden faucet or the main water supply, constructing larger assemblies for big gardens, irrigating all sizes of potted plants, easy ways to irrigate a vegetable garden, and how to lay out tubing for the best health of trees and shrubs.

Available in: Paperback

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Drip Irrigation for Every Landscape and All Climates, 2nd Edition

Robert Kourik

Paperback $24.95

Hemp Bound

Hemp Bound

By Doug Fine

The stat sheet on hemp sounds almost too good to be true: its fibers are among the planet’s strongest, its seed oil the most nutritious, and its potential as an energy source vast and untapped. Its one downside? For nearly a century, it’s been illegal to grow industrial cannabis in the United States–even though Betsy Ross wove the nation’s first flag out of hemp fabric, Thomas Jefferson composed the Declaration of Independence on it, and colonists could pay their taxes with it. But as the prohibition on hemp’s psychoactive cousin winds down, one of humanity’s longest-utilized plants is about to be reincorporated into the American economy. Get ready for the newest billion-dollar industry.

In Hemp Bound:Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Next Agricultural Revolution, bestselling author Doug Fine embarks on a humorous yet rigorous journey to meet the men and women who are testing, researching, and pioneering hemp’s applications for the twenty-first century. From Denver, where Fine hitches a ride in a hemp-powered limo; to Asheville, North Carolina, where carbon-negative hempcrete-insulated houses are sparking a mini housing boom; to Manitoba where he raps his knuckles on the hood of a hemp tractor; and finally to the fields of east Colorado, where practical farmers are looking toward hemp to restore their agricultural economy—Fine learns how eminently possible it is for this misunderstood plant to help us end dependence on fossil fuels, heal farm soils damaged after a century of growing monocultures, and bring even more taxable revenue into the economy than its smokable relative.

Fine’s journey will not only leave you wondering why we ever stopped cultivating this miracle crop, it will fire you up to sow a field of it for yourself, for the nation’s economy, and for the planet.

Available in: Paperback

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Hemp Bound

Doug Fine

Paperback $14.95

Farming the Woods

Farming the Woods

By Ken Mudge and Steve Gabriel

In the eyes of many people, the practices of forestry and farming are mutually exclusive, because in the modern world, agriculture involves open fields, straight rows, and machinery to grow crops, while forests are primarily reserved for timber and firewood harvesting. Farming the Woods invites a remarkably different perspective: that a healthy forest can be maintained while growing a wide range of food, medicinal, and other non-timber products. While this concept of “forest farming” may seem like an obscure practice, history indicates that much of humanity lived and sustained itself from tree-based systems in the past; only recently have people traded the forest for the field.  The good news is that this is not an either-or scenario; forest farms can be most productive in places where the plow is not: on steep slopes, and in shallow soils. It is an invaluable practice to integrate into any farm or homestead, especially as the need for unique value-added products and supplemental income becomes more and more important for farmers.

Many already know that daily indulgences we take for granted such as coffee, chocolate, and many tropical fruits, all originate in forest ecosystems. But few know that such abundance is also available in the cool temperate forests of North America. Farming the Woods is the first in-depth guide for farmers and gardeners who have access to an established woodland and are looking for productive ways to manage it. Authors Ken Mudge and Steve Gabriel describe this process as "productive conservation," guided by the processes and relationships found in natural forest ecosystems. 

Farming the Woods covers in detail how to cultivate, harvest, and market high-value non-timber forest crops such as American ginseng, shiitake mushrooms, ramps (wild leeks), maple syrup, fruit and nut trees, ornamental ferns, and more. Comprehensive information is also offered on historical perspectives of forest farming; mimicking the forest in a changing climate; cultivation of medicinal crops; creating a forest nursery; harvesting and utilizing wood products; the role of animals in the forest farm; and how to design and manage your forest farm once it's set up. This book is a must-read for farmers and gardeners interested in incorporating aspects of agroforestry, permaculture, forest gardening, and sustainable woodlot management into the concept of a whole-farm organism. 

Available in: Paperback

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Farming the Woods

Ken Mudge, Steve Gabriel, John F. Munsell

Paperback $39.95

Seed to Seed

Seed to Seed

By Suzanne Ashworth

Seed to Seed is a complete seed-saving guide that describes specific techniques for saving the seeds of 160 different vegetables. This book contains detailed information about each vegetable, including its botanical classification, flower structure and means of pollination, required population size, isolation distance, techniques for caging or hand-pollination, and also the proper methods for harvesting, drying, cleaning, and storing the seeds.

Seed to Seed is widely acknowledged as the best guide available for home gardeners to learn effective ways to produce and store seeds on a small scale. The author has grown seed crops of every vegetable featured in the book, and has thoroughly researched and tested all of the techniques she recommends for the home garden.

This newly updated and greatly expanded Second Edition includes additional information about how to start each vegetable from seed, which has turned the book into a complete growing guide. Local knowledge about seed starting techniques for each vegetable has been shared by expert gardeners from seven regions of the United States-Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast/Gulf Coast, Midwest, Southwest, Central West Coast, and Northwest.

Available in: Paperback

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Seed to Seed

Kent Whealy, Suzanne Ashworth, David Cavagnaro

Paperback $24.95