negroni d’pampe | on that extra slice of cake, making room for beauty + the war on bunnies

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I woke up this cloudy morning to the loveliest of sounds, a sound I hadn’t heard here in nearly two months. Slow, steady, peaceful rain, falling outside my open window. And the SMELL!! Isn’t it wonderful? That moisture-filled aroma of damp earth is both calming and invigorating all at once. I snoozed my alarm another 30 minutes and closed my eyes just to lull myself back asleep to this beautiful scene.

As someone who works the land, I view every moment of daylight as an opportunity to get work done. I can’t prune vines or thin shoots in the dark, so each moment of sunshine counts. Whenever I’m forced indoors, which is a rare event, I seize that moment of fortuity to either relax or sleep in or get caught up on postponed computer demands. Today, I chose to catch a few extra minutes of rest, lounge over breakfast on the front porch, and get after a blog post. Writing – and sleeping in – are two things I’ve missed this season.

No guilt on taking this one day to indulge just a little.

I know I’ve referenced a lot about self-care this year, and it’s a concept you’ve probably heard a lot of buzz about in the media, as well. It’s something I’ve been working through and promising myself to integrate into my daily thoughts and routine. I find it so easy to just throw myself out of bed, slap on sunscreen, don my sunglasses, and get after the day’s chores, but that’s so unfulfilling. And it leaves me tired, feeling like a robot moving through the motions.

So, I’m slowing down, even when it’s hard. And I’m intentionally embracing beauty in the little things, like thrifted glassware {these cocktail glasses were $2 apiece at the Habitat for Humanity Restore!}, earlier mornings, and lazier Sundays. Another thing that I did this year, since we don’t have time for a serious garden, is sign up for a flower CSA. Each week, I already have to drive our recyclables to the recycling center, so I brightened up the chore by swinging by Zephyros Flower Farm and collecting a bouquet for the week. This past week’s assortment of blooms was a showstopper {isn’t that yellow and black lily INSANE!?}, and I knew I had to match it with a cocktail.

I’ve also tried being more conscious to get up earlier in the mornings, so that I can take time to stretch or write or read. Or make that second round of French press and just breathe before the day’s pulse starts to dictate my steps. It’s my moment of quiet, where I can call the shots and start my day with peace and intention. Are you the same way?

As the clouds gathered in the late afternoon yesterday, I gave our potted plants on the porch a little water and then gathered the essentials for a riff on one of my favorite classic cocktails, a summer-influenced Negroni — citrusy gin, gentian-forward Suze, and a favorite, new indulgence of mine, Vin d’Pampe Vermouth Rosé. It’s a brightened up, punchy-hued, citrus-floral version of the bitter, rich classic.

I’ll also add that the week’s events rather demanded a proper cocktail hour. Or two. We planted 1,000 grafted, dormant grapevines a few weeks ago, and they had been budding out and rooting down just perfectly. We planted the new vines within four Chardonnay blocks to fill in the gaps from winter kill, and we have painstakingly hand-watered the little babes, focusing on one block each day.

And then the bunnies got in on our little secret.

Turns out, the little jerks love making meals out of fresh grapevine buds. As Steve and I were watering one of our Chardonnay plots, I looked down and saw that one of the plants had been completely nibbled away. All of its foliage gone. And then I looked over at the next plant. And the next. Nibbled down to nubs. I collapsed to the ground in my waterproof overalls and pretty much sobbed while watering the once-green vines. It took a little detective work to realize that bunnies were the culprit, but once we were keen on their responsibility for the nibbling, we acted fast to fix this problem that could possibly end up costing us so much time, money, and stress.

We called up one of our winemaker friends, who actually planted all of the original vines here at the vineyard. He reassured us that the shoots would grow back again and that getting some grow tubes would be the best answer to the urgent problem. I researched a few suppliers, made an emotionally charged phone call, and over-nighted the tubes. One thousand of them.

And then I went out and ate some cake, as one does in this situation. I could revert to far worse coping mechanisms, but a big, fat slice of spice cake from Lizzie’s here in town is medicine for me at least three times a year. All was right in my world after downing that slice in one sitting.

Steve and I still have about 200 more tubes to install. But first, let’s discuss this cocktail.

If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you know of my affinity for the Negroni, a 1:1:1 ratio of gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. Give a read here, here, or here for a few of my favorite iterations. I even have a frozen blood orange Negroni that can easily morph into a frozen strawberry Negroni over at the Kitchn.

For this Negroni riff, I wanted to play around with a new-to-me vermouth made by Samantha Sheehan of Poe Wines in Napa. Samantha is known for her Burgundian-influenced Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that she crafts, sourcing fruit from legendary vineyards like Olcese, Van der Kamp, Manchester Ridge, and, one of my personal favorites, Ferrington. I first fell in love with Poe Wines with Samantha’s 2017 Rosé of Pinot Noir and Pinot Muenier, which is sadly {in my case} sold out.

And while her labels are enviously gorgeous, the juice inside lives up to the anticipation and allure that the exterior evokes.

Alongside her wine portfolio, Samantha also bottles three different vermouth varities under her Mommenpop label. Her Vin d’Orange is made from Chardonnay grapes and boasts notes of Seville oranges and fresh botanicals, while her Vin d’Sange is made from a base of Pinot Noir and is infused with black peppercorn, blood oranges, and spices. The latter would be exceptional in a classic Negroni.

I’ve been smitten with Samantha’s Vin d’Pampe Vermouth Rosé, a grapefruit-laced vermouth that is absolutely delicious on its own, subbed for regular vermouth in gin-based cocktails {like the classic Martinez}, or tossed with a splash of soda or sparkling wine. The bright grapefruit is perfectly suited for a citrus-forward gin and the complexity of the Suze aperitif.

negroni d’pampe

  1. In a mixing glass, combine the gin, Suze, and Vin d’Pampe.
  2. Add ice and stir until well chilled.
  3. Strain into a coupe glass or, alternatively, serve over a large ice cube.
  4. Garnish with a food-safe flower, like pansies, chamomile, marigold, or yarrow, as I used here.
  • I went with a gin with a more citrus-forward flavor profile, instead of one with heavier juniper berry undertones. I really wanted the complexities of the Suze and the fruity-tart grapefruit notes of the d’Pampe to really pop. I could totally see trying out an intense alpine-like gin, like St. George Terroir, in this recipe, since it goes so well with the flavor of grapefruit.

I’m quickly settling into the fact that I’ll be spending most of my day inside. There is a house to clean, computer work to be done, and a suitcase to fill. I have been so busy that I haven’t had time to mentally prep that I’m flying to Portugal tomorrow {!} to visit the wine region of Vinho Verde for a fast four days. I’m trying to shed any guilt about missing out on work, but I’m also thrilled at the chance to get away and see a place I’ve never visited.

Cheers to a beautiful week ahead!!

I’m closing with a few photos of our slowly evolving front yard. Only a couple months ago, it was a dirt bomb, filled with a few, scant weeds and devoid of any life within its soil. All of the tilling, weeding, and compost-adding is paying off. We finally saw a little haze of green a few days ago, where the low-water, no-mow fescue grass is popping up! It’s so invigorating!


  1. Keira Lennox says:

    Jayme, I love your blog posts so much! They’re so beautiful, and I really enjoy getting a peek into your vineyard life. 🙂

    We’re in that glorious Florida season of afternoon storms, and I’m LOVING it.

    • Hi, Keira!

      Thanks so much! You’ll smile because I just gave a bottle of our wine to our mutual friend, Aimee Reed. She helped pick and process all of our Sauvignon Blanc. 🤗

      I miss those punctual, late-afternoon, Florida thunderstorms so much. It’s so DRY out here. Lots of water consumption is necessary. Have a beautiful week!! 😘

  2. Joan Steese says:

    Hi Jayme! I loved reading your blog today but began to panic when I read about the bunnies feasting on your newly planted grapevines!!! After having visited a couple weeks ago and seeing the magnitude of 16 acres,I thought it would be impossible to stop those bunnies! But, the pictures show there was a solution even though it added more work. I would love to be there helping Steve while you are in Portugal. Enjoy the time! You deserve it! Mom Steese

    • Hi, Mom!!

      Thanks so much for keeping Steve company via the phone, while I’m gone. I’m missing him already. And the vines. Having you out here was our summer’s highlight. Thank you for the weeding and staking and wonderful chats over breakfast with Colleen. We love you!

      Yeah, the bunny issue wasn’t expected. We had been guided to not use the grow tubes, but we were happy when we found out we could have them over-nighted to us. They seem to be working well.

      I’ll be sure to take lots of photos from the trip. Thanks always for writing me little notes here. You’re so thoughtful! Have a beautiful week.


  3. I can’t imagine how exciting, anxious, and heartbreaking it is to see your vineyard grow and then get eaten by bunnies! I think that self care is needed more than ever before the harvest comes knocking at your door. Love these photos, and this cocktail sounds like perfection. I’m a huge negroni fan, so I’ll be trying this one soon! xo PS I’m always a proponent of that extra slice of cake 😉

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