Farmers in the Midwest have had two extreme weather scenarios to deal with this season. The rainy spring persisted through mid-July and caused, to many fields, flooding, ten-foot tall weeds, and crops that have been late to mature as the temperatures were just not hot enough. Now into August, we are experiencing drought-like conditions with any substantial rainfall happening once every three weeks or so. These swings are far from ideal for a farmer, where a combination of consistent rain and sun are on many a wish-list.
Despite the weather, August at The Gentleman Farmer has already been filled with fun and new events. On the first, Dominic and I were thrilled to co-host 25 friends and CSA members at an on-farm wine tasting with proprietors of Crosby Roamann, a Napa-based winery.
Juliana and Sean McBride are a husband and wife team who have been making honest, handmade wines for the past eight years. But the duo are no strangers to Barrington: Juliana grew up in North Barrington and is, like me, a BHS class of ’96 graduate.
Dominic and I had the pleasure of visiting Juliana and Sean with my family three years ago where we enjoyed a tasting and introduction to their wines in the intimate and picturesque setting of their garden, surrounded by miles and miles of vines.
Not only did we love their wines, but we also enjoyed comparing notes on everything from starting a business based on passion to the harvest process and the sourcing of their grapes as they develop relationships with their growers. We thought it would be a natural fit to invite Sean and Juliana to return to Juliana’s roots in Barrington and offer a tasting experience at the farm for our CSA members and so we did!
After a brief introduction and farm tour from Dominic and myself, our guests sat down to a Crosby Roamann wine tasting whilst nibbling Gentleman Farmer veggies and locally sourced cheese and charcruterie. Dominic and Sean spoke to the guests about the growing process from a wine-making and organic vegetable perspective; they also spoke to the importance of building solid and trusting relationships with vendors and customers, as well as where they each see the organic movement headed as it pertains to their respective fields.
Like The Gentleman Farmer, Crosby Roamann offers a membership program called the Inner Circle. Members of the Inner Circle may select to receive either two or six bottles per shipment with six shipments per year: January, March, May, July, September and November. Members are welcome to visit for tours and tasting in Napa Valley and gain access to the Inner Circle for special offers on library wines and limited releases, as well as exclusive wine accessories and gifts. Dominic and I are members and have enjoyed a beautiful range of wines from the myriad of terroirs in the Napa and Sonoma region. But even more satisfying is the knowledge that we know where our wines are coming from, the process of how Sean chooses the fruit to make the wines, and Crosby Roamann’s own unique way of winemaking — but even more, we love supporting a hometown gal and her guy!
While our veggie harvest this season hasn’t been as bountiful as we would like this time of year, our honey harvest has far exceeded expectations! Earlier this month, The Gentleman Farmer hosted about 40 of our CSA members and families at the farm to observe bee keepers Marsin Mateleski and Christine DiMicheli harvest from our six hives — appropriately named, John, George, Paul and Ringo, Henry and Oliver (the last two being our children’s names).
Marcin is the head bee keeper for the Chicago Park District Gardens. He and his partner Christine also keep bees in their spare time and are always on a quest for places to put their hives. The Gentleman Farmer was thrilled to add the bees to the mix. This partnership has allowed Dominic to learn about bee keeping and without the day to day responsibilities of maintaining the hives. Plus these bees add to a holistic cycle on the farm pollinating the crops, and we are happy to support colonizing during a time when the world is seeing huge collapses.
There were questions galore as we learned about queens and drones and how to identify when a hive is ready to be harvested, how to smoke out the bees, how to spin and strain and reuse the leftover comb to feed the bees and more. Dominic donned his bee keeping gear which was this year’s father’s day gift and assisted the experts in the harvest for the first time this season! Many hours and eight gallons of honey later, we look forward to sharing the local nectar with our CSA members and offering it to our customers at market.
It’s been a dream of ours to offer more opportunities to connect with our CSA members and the community through on-farm events and look forward to more experiences with such fantastic partners in the future!
For more information on Crosby Roamann wines or to become a member (they offer discounted shipping costs based on your membership) go to CrosbyRoamann.com.
About the Author
Jessica Green and her husband Dominic run The Gentleman Farmer, a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program from their family farm in Barrington Hills. When they’re not working on the farm, Jessica and Dominic keep busy looking after their two young boys, Henry and Oliver. You’ll also find the Greens selling their freshest fruits and veggies at the Barrington Farmers Market on Thursdays weekly from 2 to 7 p.m.
Jessica also authors our Get Growing with Jessica Green series here at 365Barrington.com focused on local farming, food and family.
For more information about Jessica and Dominic’s efforts in local and sustainable farming or to learn about how you can join their Community Supported Agriculture programs, visit Gentleman-Farmer.com.