I was baptized! I’m telling you, there’s something there!) When Gernon mentioned an opportunity for future Wine Club members to shoelessly participate in the winemaking process, I immediately saw myself in a stomp-by-stomp recreation of comedy’s most famous grape obliteration. If it so happens that I misheard him about this amenity, I will have some ‘splainin’ to do. Gernon waved his arms towards the fields to show me where each fruit would one day bloom: a front row of muscadine will be pluckable for visitors (“You can make jelly, or just eat it. It’s a superfood!”) while blueberries run amok on “Thrill Hill,” so named for another homegrown treasure, Fats Domino. Other grapes include Lenoir, also called Black Spanish (“for our pink program—we’ll use it to make rosé”), Blanc Du Bois, four recently-released hybrids from California, and six varieties of muscadine. The farm will grow mayhaws and pawpaws, crab apples and persimmons, and even one day pears, for cider and wine blends. A winding path behind the taproom is ornamented with native plants, to attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees. “Blueberries and bees are like peanut butter and jelly,” said Gernon. Bees will pollinate the blueberries, and honey from future hives will drip into some future Wild Bush blends. “We’ll be infusing fruit wines and grape wines, too,” said Gernon. “There’s going to be a lot of experimentation here.”
Sunsets and Sunrises
Pontchartrain Vineyards’ devotees needn’t worry: the concerts will continue. The former vineyard’s Jazz ‘n the Vines series has drawn crowds to the gently rolling hills for spring and fall concerts for twenty-three years. In April, Wild Bush welcomed Amanda Shaw, while May brings The Tin Men and Mia Borders. And if you come to Wild Bush and can’t bear to leave (or can’t drive home)? Tents are available to glamp among the grapes. The next day, head into the taproom to see what’s fresh. A pet-nat (petillant naturel, naturally sparkling) from muscadines? A Wicket Piquette labeled with the large paws of Gernon’s 120-lb. catahoula, Jughead? It’s an ever-changing process, one that invites adventurous drinkers. “We plan on this being an open door to people who are interested in learning and participating in making the best wines Louisiana’s ever had.” Gernon said he’ll have something for every palate, “But really we’re doing things more traditionally. We’re the older school of thought.” h
M A Y 2 2 // C O U N T R Y R O A D S M A G . C O M
Neil Gernon and his wife Monica Bourgeois are the new owners of the Northshore’s longstanding Pontchartrain Vineyards—now called Wild Bush Farm and Vineyard.