Tapping Wine- and Beer-Themed Gardens
This garden demonstrates which fruits and vegetables go best with different wines.
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Theme gardens are a great way to introduce visitors and yourself to new things. It could be something as simple as growing members of a particular plant family or as complex as representing the culture of a foreign country through well-suited plants. You can use a food theme, such as a chocolate or pizza garden, or attract certain types of wildlife with a butterfly or hummingbird garden. The sky is the limit when thinking of ideas for a theme garden.
After living in Napa Valley, Calif., Colby Eierman, director of horticulture at Copia, says that thinking thematically can help "uncork" your imaginative juices. "Napa Valley is one giant wine-themed garden. They grow grapes, make wine and teach the nuances and subtleties of that noble beverage." So Eierman built a wine-themed garden at Copia as an ode to its neighboring vineyards and uses his garden to demonstrate how to pair different foods and wines.
In the red wine garden, rich-colored fruits and herbs like tomatoes, eggplants, sage and olives go very well with a robust red wine. Planted nearby are fruits used in making wines, such as pomegranates, plums, blackberries and currants.
The white wine garden is planted with lighter-colored fruits, like melons, citrus and apples. This colorful clue is also helpful when choosing what to serve with dinner. When it comes to wine and food pairing in the garden, one of the most important things to think about is color. So a tomato could go well with a red or white wine, but a lighter-color tomato pairs well with a lighter style of wine.
Grapes grown on a trellis are, of course, also great for picking and eating fresh off the vine (figure A).
When it comes to irrigating grapevines, an elevated drip irrigation system makes weeding and harvesting much easier (figure B). Half-inch tubing hung knee-high means no more damaging a drip line every time a hole is dug.
While true wine is made only from grapes, beer contains a number of ingredients, including a fermented grain like barley. In the beer-themed garden, barley serves as a primary crop. After being cut and bundled, barley is traditionally dried and turned into mash for beer. But it could also be used as a cover crop. "It makes a great biomass to add to your compost pile or organic matter to work into the soil," Eierman says.
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