Did you know there is no definite time for "peak foliage?" Its true. Visitors and tourists flock to New England forests to witness the glows and burns of oranges and rubys upon mountain ranges and trails as the sun beams down. Yet, nature as we know, is her own creature which we only experience upon her whim. Typically, the higher altitudes in the region begin to crescent in color first, but depending on the rainfall that year we never know when she will surprise when those trees take color-flight each year.
For two days, Barr Hill Gin invited us to film and capture their everyday world and inspirations. Taking the drive up Rt 89 to the Northeast Kingdom where Hardwick is located, we had first wondered whether this was indeed "peak" time. It was the beginning of October, the reds were sprinkled like little waldos along the countryside, but nothing quite majestic yet. Darkness came before we wanted, victimizing us to losthood all with a hot pizza in the car. And then ending our journey in the pitch black at our hosts' home, and having to find our way into the house via a smart phone flashlight. But upon waking in the am, we found ourselves in a modern wood house (comes to find out the owner grew up in a house Louis Kahn designed) set upon the top of a little mountain range. We left to begin our first day of shooting at 7:30am an had the best view of the fog below sitting in the valley as we made our drive down the hillside to the center of town.
We first met for breakfast a member of their team at one of the only three restaurants in town (the others being a food-coop/ cafe and the other, a pizza place). Note: Nothing but smiles and a warm breakfast can make anyone feel at home and welcomed. We began our shoot at the source, Barr Hill, and took the rest of the sunny day to shoot all things outdoors; vantage points of Vermont, angus cows that strolled the green pastures, to the mossy logs, delicate ferns and fairy houses that filled the woods.
Following our outdoor tours, we visited the distillery and the Barr Hill offices to meet and witness first hand this small and young team that anyone who sees them can see that this is the beginning of something bigger than they thought possible. Ending the trip we found ourselves interviewing the founder of Barr Hill, Todd Hardie. A true Vermonter in every sense. One who can't shake your hand because his hands have been in manure and one who speaks and answers in all terms relating to nature, farming and the greater powers. Always done so with a smile on his face and with teeth that have a little gap that only adds to his charm and soft nature.
Two days can feel like longer in the Northeast Kingdom. So after making new friends and getting a taste of a small, yet globally booming little agricultural town, we drove past the river, over wood covered bridges back to the highway along with a car full of Vermont gifts. Farmers are generous and we could prove it. We had raw honey, garlic stalks, heirloom tomatoes from the beekeeper's neighbor, Jasper Hill cheeses from the general store (I had to buy) and beer from Hillstead Farm. With a picnic for 8 in the backseat, our eyes were fixated on the mountainside engulfed in color. The local waitresses even said it was "peaking". Surveying the distant landscape which was in red flames now... we knew we got lucky. Yesterday is one one color and today is was on fire. And that is not the gin talking.