In Quebec, with the government encouraging local consumption, local wine, cider, and spirit sales are soaring. Not that Éric Lafrance is complaining! “Our people are working,” says the owner of the family-run orchard in Saint-Joseph-du-Lac, which he manages with his wife, Julie Hubert. “But we do miss the human contact.”

Like the surrounding businesses, which have been closed for weeks now, the Domaine Lafrance shop, which offers all sorts of ciders, spirits, and homemade products, is preparing to reopen, with new rules in place: social distancing, masks, Plexiglass…

Grow within the context we currently live in.

Éric Lafrance, Domaine Lafrance

And now, there’s a new product on their shelves! “When the pandemic was just starting, we began making hand sanitizer for our community,” says Lafrance. “So far, we’ve made over 2,000 bottles, which were given to our municipality. The next batches will be sold in our shop.”

The beautiful copper still – usually used to distil eaux-de-vie, gins, and Brandy – is now used in part to make this precious sanitary liquid, approved by Health Canada. “Sure, it opened up a new market for us. But our main reason for doing this was to grow within the context we currently live in.”

From the Earth to the bottle

In his opinion, Mother Nature is challenging us to connect with our planet, now more than ever, because we need it. “Everyone needs to roll up their sleeves,” he says, on the other end of the line. “The producers are hard at work – we need to promote our region. We live off agriculture, and that’s what’s in our bottles. You can’t even imagine all the hard work these passionate people put into them.” Concerned with the environment, he has begun the process to go organic. “We care about our health and the health of our orchard. We want to be 100% organic within the next 10 years.” Coming this summer: an entirely organic Domaine Lafrance cider.

Until then, the team is ready to receive visitors and make them discover their apple, plumb, and pear delights. “I’m proud to have been producing quality products for the past 23 years, concludes Lafrance. “We take our time to do things right, and people appreciate that. In the current context, that’s priceless.”

Recipe and photo: 1 ou 2 cocktails

Orchard spritzer with red vermouth

1 oz. red Vermouth Rouge Gorge
0.75 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
Dash of Angostura orange bitters
Domaine Lafrance sparkling apple juice

Pour the vermouth, grapefruit juice, and bitters into a cup filled with ice cubes
Add the sparkling apple juice
Mix with a spoon
Garnish with half a slice of grapefruit

Spritz du verger avec vermouth rouge

1 oz de Rouge Gorge Vermouth rouge
0,75 oz de jus de pamplemousse frais
Traits d’amer à l’orange, Angostura
Jus de pomme pétillant Domaine Lafrance

Verser le vermouth, le jus de pamplemousse et l’amer dans une coupe remplie de glaçons.
Allonger avec le jus de pomme pétillant.
Mélanger avec une cuillère.
Garnir d’une demi-rondelle de pamplemousse.

Domaine Lafrance Rouge Gorge

Ce vermouth de cidre est le premier du genre au Québec à être conçu à partir de cidre et d'eau-de-vie de pommes, deux ingrédients de base fabriqués au Domaine Lafrance, le tout aromatisé d'herbes et d'épices. À boire sur glace ou en cocktail.

Domaine Lafrance Dandy Sloe Gin

Cette liqueur de fruits typiquement anglaise, fabriquée avec de l’eau-de-vie (pommes, raisins, poires) dans laquelle ont macéré des prunes Mont-Royal des vergers Lafrance. Tout en fruits et en fraîcheur, ce gin bleu se déguste très frais ou en cocktail.

Recipe and photo: 1 ou 2 cocktails

Lafrance 25

0.5 oz. Dandy Sloe Gin
0.75 oz. sour cherry juice
Domaine Lafrance sparkling cider

Pour the sloe gin and cherry juice into a champagne glass
Add the sparkling cider
Mix using a bar spoon
Garnish with mint leaves

Recette cocktail : Lafrance 25

0,5 oz de Dandy Sloe Gin
0,75 oz de jus de cerise griotte
Cidre mousseux Domaine Lafrance

Verser le sloe gin et le jus de cerise dans une flûte à champagne.
Allonger avec le cidre mousseux.
Mélanger à l’aide d’une cuillère de bar.
Garnir de feuilles de menthe.