Natural Wine Hall of Fame: Deirdre Heekin

If there is one thing about the wine world, it’s that the people who devote their lives to it have amazing stories to tell. The way each person comes to wine is unique and maybe that’s why we’re able to discuss the different traits of each glass of wine with such vigor and interest. The bottles are just like each one of us.

Deirdre Heekin is no exception. Formerly a modern dancer performing in Italy, Heekin returned to Vermont to open Osteria Pane e Salute with her partner and chef Charlie Barber, which was an acclaimed restaurant and wine bar in Woodstock, Vermont. Booked out months in advance, Osteria was a local hot spot. Heekin began to experiment with winemaking in her bathtub (à la bathtub gin?) and found that she enjoyed the winemaking process, but wanted to really experience the world of creating the wine from start to finish. This lead to what is now the joint project between Heekin and Barber of La Garagista Farm + Winery. Heekin has many roles on the farm, from being the winegrower, to the photographer, flower farmer, writer, and many other things.

Heekin is making history in Vermont, making the only organic and biodynamic wine in the state. Because Vermont is so cold, many traditional grape varietals can’t grow there. She relies on hybrid varieties in order to produce a ripe harvest, which can sometimes fall a little flat in complexity. Yet she is able to make some incredibly complex and delicious wine! She attributes her success to the natural winemaking process. By letting the terroir speak for itself and not using additives, she is able to bottle Vermont wine that competes with the best of them.

Heekin is setting an amazing precedent in the northeast United States by showing that it’s not only possible to farm biodynamically and still make wine, but that the wine you can make using natural processes is exceptional. Her wine is in such high demand that only limited amounts are available to top restaurants around the country.

La Garagista was featured in Food & Wine magazine and Heekin has written a book called The Unlikely Vineyard. To schedule a visit to Heekin’s vineyard or get notified of their pop-up events, visit La Garagista’s site here.

Deirdre Heekin is another example of a woman in the wine world who is making big waves. Her journey from sommelier to wine director to winemaker has resulted in redefining the definition of where great wine can be made. Heekin is a trailblazer and an inspiration for women working in the wine industry.

BTW, natural and delicious wines don't have to be expensive. Have you tried any of ours yet?

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