It was during a trip to Honfleur, France, that Brigitte Keszthelyi spotted a juice made from rhubarb and apples. Given her proclivity for acidic flavours, she fell under the charm of the freshness of rhubarb, whereby her decision in 2009 to launch her Rhubarbelle business, the first farm in North America to market 100% natural rhubarb juices.

“I was looking for a farm in Brome Lake and we found one on Brome Road, then dug in a plantation of various species of rhubarb to pinpoint those that were best suited for our local soils and climate. They were started while sporting very small roots. At first, I found that the soil was too clayish and we moved them to Fairmount road on a sandy soil. Since we now produce close to 20,000 bottles a year, excluding the Forestier, we entrust some of our production to small growers.”

Rhubarbelle’s three main products are the Pétillant de Rhubarbe, a juice laden with carbon dioxide, similar to the non-carbonated juice Rosée de Rhubarbe, and the Éclat de Rhubarbe, also a non-carbonated juice, but dryer. In 2018, we developed the Forestier, a maceration of fir shoots and wild mint, with an addition of maple syrup, resulting in a bubbly drink.

Each 750 ml bottle of Pétillant, Rosée or Éclat contains one pound of rhubarb. There are no colouring agents, artificial flavourings or preservatives. The Rosée and Éclat juices contain rhubarb, water and sugar, while the Pétillant also contains carbon dioxide to provide bubbles.

The Rhubarbelle products are ideally suited for non-alcohol aperitifs, or picnics or super-cooled vodka cocktails.

They blend well with Sauvignon blanc, half and half. The Forestier enhances the Ungava gin thanks to its woody aroma. Rhubarbelle’s products are widely available, including at Knowlton’s Gazaille IGA and in high-end restaurants, on which L’Étrier in Bromont, Boulay and Laurie Raphaël, in Quebec, straight or in cocktails. Internet site: larhubarbelle.com

Translation: Jean-Claude Lefebvre