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Deirdre Heekin Barber 1985

Deirdre Heekin Barber is a winegrower, farmer, writer, photographer, and wine educator. She worked as a sommelier and wine director for over twenty years, and was co-proprietor along with her husband, Chef Caleb Barber, of osteria pane e salute in Woodstock, Vermont, where she curated a wine program focused on small producers making organic, biodynamic and living wines. 

Dovetailing with a career in wine education, Deirdre began work as a winegrower in 2007, an educational experiment that led her to her current passion in biodynamic viticulture and low intervention winemaking. Deirdre officially launched her winery and label “la garagista farm + winery” with Caleb in 2010. Their winery is located on a small hillside farm and vineyard in Vermont. She and Caleb farm with biodynamic practices making wines and ciders, and grow vegetables, fruit trees, and flowers.  

Their work and the wines they produce have been featured in such publications as Eric Asimov’s The Pour in The New York Times, Newsweek, Bloomberg, Food and Wine, The Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, Wine and Spirits, Boston Magazine, The Boston Globe, Forbes, Esquire, Decanter, The World of Fine Wine, Newsweek, and Punch as well as highlighted in several new wine books about everything from orange wines to natural wines to undersung grape varieties from around the world. 

In 2010, Deirdre began collaborating with Eleanor Leger of Eden Cider Company on a line of aperitif ciders infused with botanicals under the Orleans label. In 2014, Deirdre’s book An Unlikely Vineyard: The Education of a Farmer and Her Quest for Terroir was hailed as one of the top five wine books of that year in The New York Times. In 2015, one of her wines was included in the New York Times’ “Top Ten Wines of the Year.”
 
In 2016, she was cited as one of the top five rule-breakers in wine to watch by Food and Wine, and the soft cover edition of An Unlikely Vineyard was chosen by Forbes Magazine as one of the top eight cocktail, wine and food books of the year.

In the autumn of 2017, Deirdre was nominated for “Wine Professional of the Year” for The Wine Enthusiast, and for the “James Beard Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional.” In January of 2018, she was awarded Imbibe Magazine’s “Wineperson of the Year,” and in the summer of 2018, Wine Enthusiast Magazine included her in the five winemakers changing the face of American wine. In February 2019, she was again nominated as a semi-finalist for the “James Beard Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional.”

Deirdre is also the author of a collection of personal essays about wine and spirits and how they led her to start la garagista: “Libation: A Bitter Alchemy;” one of the essays considered for The Best Food Writing anthology. And together with Caleb, a collection of essays and recipes titled In Late Winter We Ate Pears: A Year of Hunger and Love. All three books were published by Chelsea Green Publishing. She currently writes about wine and farming for such publications as Terre Magazine (now Pipette), The Feiring Line, Fish Game Quarterly, and The Art of Eating.  She is at work on her fourth book!

To learn viticulture, Deirdre originally studied at the L’Ecole du Vin et des Terroir in Burgundy, a program specializing in biodynamic winegrowing, on a grant from The Vermont Farm Women’s Fund. Deirdre Heekin Barber is a graduate of Middlebury College where she studied Film, Theater, and Literature, and later obtained a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from The Vermont College of Art. 

Deirdre will join two outstanding alumni, William Snyder 1977, a four-time Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist, and Gayle Gerling Pettinga 1980, a local philanthropist and personal injury attorney, as a member of the Founders Society.