Camila Carrillo first came across wine right after high school while working in a tasting room outside Burlington, Vermont. While the wine was mostly conventional, it inspired her to travel to Italy to work in an agriturisimo where her world was opened to the idea of farming and its impact on the land. From there, Camila dove headfirst into the world of wine, working several harvests from Australia to Italy before settling in Vermont and working her way up to an assistant winegrower position with the now iconic La Garagista estate in Barnard, Vermont. La Garagista and its head winemaker/grower Deirdre Heekin has been an inspiration to many for their dedication to hybrid grape varietiesand to biodynamic farming practices.
Camila is currently recuperating a small vineyard and purchasing organically farmed fruit from her neighbors. She cites her grandfather and his farm outside Caracas, Venezuela as the original “La Montañuela” and the inspiration behind this project. Her visits there as a young girl had a profound effect on her as it taught her how to get connected with nature. She was “inspired by his love of the land” which has led her on her own personal quest to “take care of the soil and of our planet.” Her first harvest for La Montañuela, (an imprint of La Garagista) was in 2018 and in 2019 her production grew to 35 cases (she is still fulltime with La Garagista). Camila is looking forward to showcasing the potential and opportunity that hybrid grapes provide, especially in our ever changing world.
Here's Camila's words on her La Montañuela project: "La Montañuela was the name of my grandfather’s farm in the mountains outside of Caracas, Venezuela. I spent some time there as a child and those are some of my fondest memories. I believe it’s where my love for plants and nature began.
I made my first three wines in the fall of 2018. That following spring my grandfather passed away. In honor of his life and his love for the land, I decided to carry on the name of his beloved farm. In 2019 La Montañuela was reborn.
I am a first-generation winegrower in my family, making and farming wine in the state of Vermont. I have spent most of my life here and I am grateful to be able to do what I love in the place I call home. The soils, the climate, and the varieties we work with make Vermont wine truly unique and special. I make wine, cider, and co-ferments with apples, grapes, and other fruits grown in the area.
For the past three years, I have been working with Deirdre Heekin and Caleb Barber of La garagista. I’ve learned many things from them that I have been able to apply to my own project.
One of the most important and valuable things I have learned from them is farming. Winemaking begins in the vineyard. Taking care of the soil and of our planet is a top priority. Because of this I strongly believe that biodynamic, organic, and regenerative agriculture are some of the best methods for healthy soils and healthy fruit. My hope is to keep growing, to keep learning, and continue experimenting with our special varieties. I hope to continue doing what I love and work with others who are interested in being a part of the growing Vermont wine community. I am doing this in honor of my family and all their hard work. I would not be where I am today without them and their support."
Florecita Rockera is a pet-nat made with 90% apples (Macoun, Macintosh, Empire) and 10% grapes (Petite Pearl and Verona). The fruit comes from two sites: an old orchard of primarily Macoun apples in Shoreham and a young vineyard of Petite Pearl and Verona at 1200 feet elevation in Perkinsville. The apples were harvested and crushed, yielding juice and must that were left outside to freeze, thaw, and refreeze until January, concentrating the sugars, then crushed and pressed to tank to ferment. The grapes were harvested, destemmed, foot crushed and fermented in glass demijohns. The wine finished fermentation, then was blended with the cider in March. The blend was bottled at 2 brix for petillant naturel. No additives were used at any point in the process. Cielo is a pet-nat made with 100% Frontenac Blanc from an old, organically farmed single vineyard of Frontenac Blanc in Cambridge Vermont farmed by David Keck of Stella14. Frontenac Gris, a mutation of Frontenac Noir, is a very rare variety in Vermont. The grapes were harvested by hand on September 25th, destemmed and foot crushed on the 26th, and pressed on the 27th into flex tank to ferment. When the fermentation reached 2 brix, the wine was bottled to finish in bottle to create a petillant naturel wine. Disgorged the following February. No additives were used at any point in the process.
Los Enamorados Pet-Nat from 26 varieties of wild apples from central Vermont and the Champlain Valley fermented with La Crescent and Frontenac Gris skins. The cider was bottled at 2 brix on May 18th, 2020. Never disgorged.
La Noche y Tu is Frontenac Gris, Le Crescent, Petite Pearl, Marquette, and Frontenac Noir from the organically farmed Huntington River Vineyard in Huntington, Vermont. The vineyard was planted in 2006: it is a cooler, high altitude site sheltered by mountains. The grapes were gradually harvested by hand through September and October. The Frontenac Gris and the La Crescent were harvested first, destemmed, foot-crushed and pressed. The red varieties were harvested in October and processed and destemmed, then immediately pressed due to the wet and humid vintage. There was very little quantity, so the grapes were blended and aged in a single demijohn, then bottled in the spring.
Rocio is 100% Marquette from a ½ acre plot of 12-year-old vines planted on clay, limestone, and silty loam soils. This year, for the first time, Camila did all of the farming in this vineyard. Grapes were hand-harvested and destemmed, then crushed by foot and put into macro bin. Fermented on the skins for 18 days without temperature control and with punch downs roughly daily. Then pressed to 80-gallon flex tank and a 14-gallon glass demijohn.
Flor del Campo Christinais 100% Frontenac Gris. The grapes are harvested between September and October, preferably the later the better, some raisination is ideal. The grapes are destemmed, foot crushed, and pressed 3-5 weeks later to ensure plenty of skin contact with fermenting juice. The juice is then transferred to either glass demijohns or carboys with plenty of head space to allow the newest wine a decent amount of contact with oxygen until it is blended in with the previous year’s wine a year later.
Flor del Campo Aurais 100% La Crescent. The grapes are harvested between September and October, preferably the later the better, some raisination is ideal. The grapes are destemmed, foot crushed, and pressed 3-5 weeks later to ensure plenty of skin contact with fermenting juice. The juice is then transferred to either glass demijohns or carboys with plenty of head space to allow the newest wine a decent amount of contact with oxygen until it is blended in with the previous year’s wine a year later. This Cuvee is aged in glass to provide the best expression of Vermont’s Terroir.
Flor del Campo Cecelia is Aura’s sister but aged in a traditional Amontillado barrel from one of my favorite producers, Bodegas COTA 45 in Jerez. Cecilia is 100% La Crescent. Both vineyards are farmed organically and biodynamically. The grapes are harvested between September and October, preferably the later the better, some raisination is ideal. The grapes are destemmed, foot crushed, and pressed 3-5 weeks later to ensure plenty of skin contact with fermenting juice. The juice is then transferred to either glass demijohns or carboys with plenty of head space to allow the newest wine a decent amount of contact with oxygen until it is blended in with the previous year’s wine a year later.