author: Cynthia Whitty
Ashland’s own Wine and Cheese Fest will be held on Saturday, Sept. 24, as a special event of Ashland Farmers Market (AFM). Several local wine and cheese makers will participate, in addition to the market’s regular wine and cheese vendors. Visitors can taste samples of artisanal wines and mead and small batch cheeses from goat, sheep and cow’s milk, all made in New England.
Meet two fascinating vendors who will offer their products for Ashland’s Wine & Cheese Fest.
Marie-Laure Couet of Couet Farm & Fromagerie in Dudley, Mass. is a new cheese vendor. She and her scientist mother make 200 pounds of fresh, creamy spreads and cave-aged wheels each week.
Couet was drawn to cheese making early in life. She’s the daughter of a French mother and French-Canadian father and tells of a memorable hike as a kid in the Swiss Alps. She discovered the taste of chevre at a cheese maker’s farm hidden away in the mountains. “It just blew me away. I had never tasted anything so fresh and bright as I had in that moment,” she said.
In college, Couet spent her junior year in Geneva studying the environmental impact of cheesemaking in the Swiss and French Alps. After graduate school, she studied the art of cheesemaking and goat herding, and apprenticed on a dozen farms. After buying a 23-acre farm in Dudley, she tested the Catalonian and Beaujolais recipes that she learned in Europe.
AFM is the fortunate recipient of her years of research. She and her husband Aurelien started selling cheeses last year. Already, she has won several awards for her various cheeses. Most recently her Franciszka cheese from pasteurized cow’s milk which has “tangy, nutty, butteriness” won 1st Place at the 2016 American Cheese Society Judging & Competition. Their newest cheese is Fran de Maquis, the award-winning Franciszka covered in herbs.
Winemaker Noel Powell of Aaronap Cellars has a micro-winery in the huge basement of his home in Westford, Mass. He focuses on producing small-volume, innovative, artisanal wines from the best vineyards and orchards in New England and beyond. Powell’s scientific background (by day he’s a pharmaceutical chemist, with a doctorate in Organic Synthesis) coupled with his knowledge of traditional winemaking methods gleaned from award-winning home winemaking and enology studies at the University of California at Davis has produced unique wines not found elsewhere in Massachusetts. One special wine is his Forest Gold Maple Wine, a sweet dessert wine, the only maple wine made in Massachusetts.
Powell established Aaronap Cellars in 2011. He explained, “My chemistry background kicked in. I realized that wine is just chemistry in a bottle.” Noel makes about 1,000 gallons per year of nine different kinds of wine. That translates to only 5,000 bottles a year. He likes “combining science with art and a little history to make a good bottle.” His favorite part of the process of winemaking is blending different wine types, like petite sirah and cabernet sauvignon, to invent palatable new wine flavors. In the future he’s “hoping to turn this into a full-time business and plant a vineyard.” And AFM is pleased to be his business incubator.
Sept. 3, Lobster Fest: The Carve returns to offer their popular lobster roll lunch with Sunshine Farm’s fresh picked corn on the cob. This “Customer Appreciation Day” is made possible by Needham Bank. Feast at the shaded picnic area while listening to The Dale Show, world musicians who perform original music as well as rock and roll from the 60s through the 80s, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Bryan Lepore returns to the Kids’ Corner with his amazing homemade harmonograph.
Sept. 10, Tomatoes! They may look strange, but their taste has endured—heirloom tomatoes! Taste and vote for your favorites and listen to live jazz with Four on the Floor Band, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Also, support talented Ashland youth selling their work: from homemade blankets to a just-published young adult novel, you’ll marvel at all the things Ashland’s kids create!
Sept. 17, AFM at Ashland Day: AFM will move to Stone Park to be part of Ashland Day, starting at 9:00 a.m. Shop many of your favorite farmers’ market food vendors and then enjoy the fun, games, and friends of Ashland Day. Check the websitewww.AshlandFarmersMarket.org to see the exact location of the market.
Sept. 24, Wine and Cheese Fest: Enjoy wine and cheese tastings from Aaronap Cellars, Zoll Cellars Winery, 1634 Meadery, Coastal Vineyard, Couet Farm & Fromagerie, Hickory Nut Farm, Contoocook Creamery, Foxboro Cheese, Narragansett Creamery, as well as homemade cannolis from the Wine Empire. Enjoy the Randy and Matt (Randy Batson and Matt Carlen) concert, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Dancers from Annemarie’s Dance Center will offer an intermission performance. Kid’s Corner will feature a cork fun craft with Courtney Arsenault. Bring your knives, scissors and pruning tools for Patti to hone for the edge they deserve. This is Patti’s last visit to Ashland this season.
AFM is held each Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Oct. 8 at 125 Front St., on the grass across from the library. Shop 25-plus tents of local farmers, bakers, specialty food makers and artisans. For more information and to subscribe to the weekly e-blast, visitwww.AshlandFarmersMarket.org.