Tuesday, May 24, 2005

New Winery Planning - not that glamorous!

Working with my client on the winery design is now past the heady, "wouldn't-it-be-great-to-have-a...." stage and we're into the nuts and bolts.
Positioning the building on site was a bit of a grind. The site demands we have to pull up vines so there's some pain involved making that decision. The only vacant location had some serious grade issues and would require mega-$$$ to engineer a solution. So it's tear up the vineyard.

We're into fire exits, stairways, toilets, turn radi for the forklift and ceiling heights for the barrel rooms.

It's been a gratifying experience up to now. I want to thank the wine people and non-wine people that responded to my call for design ideas. It's been very helpful. We're on a field trip soon to fine tune the crush pad area by viewing what others have done.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Big Wine News Down South!

Down in the Excited States of America there's big news for wine lovers.
The Supreme Court has ruled that states' laws that prohibit the shipment of wine across state borders are unconstitutional.
Essentially, it looks like there will be direct shipping to any customer from any winery in any state - eventually.
Tom at Fermentations is all over this story. Here's a link to the ruling he provided. Here's a press release from the Coalition for Free Trade people. Check-out what they're saying on the following as well: Wineberis
Wine Tastings
Of course, the wholesalers and distributors are trying to put a happy face on all of this. Earth to Fatcats: minors don't buy booze from tony wineries at $300 per case to get sh*tface on Friday night. They go to your buddy the retailer's where the clerk went to school with his brother so everything's cool, right?
Canadians: before you get too smug - don't forget some of our kooky laws. Like where each province controls alcohol to the point of limiting free commerce.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Merlot Futures at Stag's Hollow

The Stag's Hollow Renaissance Merlot futures are now available. This is a well-subscribed program. Our most popular wine generally sells out so this is a way to ensure you snag a case. You save a few bucks per bottle as well.
We're offering the 2004 as a futures purchase through the summer. General release is scheduled for May, 2006. At Stag's Hollow, the word 'renaissance' has been adopted to draw attention to a wine of particular merit.
Just contact me or the winery for further details. If you happen to be in the area why not drop in for a sample?

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Lake Breeze Seven Poplars Pinotage 2003

Every once in awhile a wine comes along that makes you stop and take notice. That's how I felt when I had my first sip of this wine.
The last Pinotage I'd had was years ago and I remember it being insipid and not worth purchasing again.
This one from Lake Breeze is a whole different cat.
It's the only P-tage produced in Canada but if this is an indication of what it's like on a regular basis then I expect growers will be trying to get hold of some vines.
It big, full and rich with plenty of jammy richness on the palate. Shiraz lovers will find something here they can sink their teeth into. Garron Elmes, the wine maker, says it will improve with age but those rich flavours hued with cocoa and a hint of tropical spice may have you drinking your lot before much time has gone by. $25 at the cellar door.
18.5 / 20 Buy
The first viewers got to enjoy my typo which suggested trying Pintotage, a small 1970's wine made by Ford and subject to explosions when tapped in the rear.

Semillon, Merlot, Rose, Chardonnay

Township 7 Semillon 2003

About 400 cases

Light clean and crisp with some apple attributes. Very similar to many Sauvignon Blancs without the extra grassiness. It's not cloying like some Sems. A bit more full and round than an SB. Delicious. $14.90 at the winery
16 / 20 Buy some for the summer

Township 7 Merlot/ Cabernet Sauvignon 2003
650 cases
25% Cabernet Sauvignon

Nice nose of cedar and cassis with a palate of rich blackberry. Tannins provide good structure and are balanced. An extended finish. Rather young for this kind of blend but drinking suprisingly well. $16.90 at the winery.
17.5/ 20 Buy

Greata Ranch Select Chardonnay 2000
100% barrel fermented.

Rare to find an old BC Chard for sale in this kind of shape.
Fig/honey nose on a palate of pear and apple pie spices. The acid seemed very harmonious despite going to bottle at 8.1 grams/L. Oak well integrated. Drinking beautifully now with no sign of decline. $19.99 at the winery.
18 /20 Buy

Greata Ranch Rose 2004
just released
blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay

Nose seemed a little dumb due perhaps to recent bottling. There was some soft rose petal and a hint of raspberry. Beautifully balanced. The shadow of tannin gives rose that little backbone needed to match well with sliced, cold meats, chicken salad or fresh baguette and soft cheeses at the beach. Strawberry and pepper spices dominate the taste.
16.5 / 20 Buy
It’s great for summer.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Birth of a Winery

I'm currently assisting with the design of a new winery. I've been asked for input in regard to the function of the plant.
The brain being the thing it is, the crappy parts get easily diminished as time goes by and the good things get embellished. But I am trying to objectively recall what really worked well in each of the facilities I've toiled.

This is an open invitation to all wine makers, winery staff and owners to submit a couple sentences about what really works well in your winery. Also, what really drives you nuts about and/or inhibits the smooth operation of your winery. I'd like to hear from tasting room staff, cellar rats, warehouse people and the bottling staff and everyone else. Everything counts! Give me a line or two about environmental controls or concrete floors or lighting or overhead clearances.

As an example: in small operations, I can't stand having to move finished cases over and over before it gets sold. When it comes off the bottling line (in a perfect world) the next person to touch that case should be the customer. Wouldn't that be great? In any industry.

How does it go now?

Out of the bottling room. Into a warehouse. OOps! not enough room in the warehouse; send it across town to the leased space. Bring some back for the wine shop. Too much in the wine shop; send it downstairs. (two days later...) Okay bring that wine back up to the shop. Ad nauseum.

Thanks for allowing me to vent.

So, just add a comment when you can or have your favourite wine industry professional email me at:


Thursday, May 05, 2005

New wine maker photo and HMV shot

I updated my photo on my profile. I came across it cleaning out some old boxes. I had it taken when I was writing content for a short-lived marketing dealy called Targetpacks or something like that. They were custom contenting emails for people who signed up for their specific "packs" or newsletters so there were winepacks and petpacks and carpacks. As a pre-dot.com bust start-up they were throwing money around so I cashed in.
Also I'm going to throw in a shot of Hawthorne Mountain Vineyards. This is the view from the deck, looking north-northeast up Skaha Lake towards Penticton in the Okanagan valley. I spent many hours looking at this view over all the seasons. HMV is over 120 acres of vineyards, dominated by Gewurztraminer. There's a charming old stone facade house that's almost a hundred years old that serves as the customer realtions center (tasting room). It's worth the 5 k. jaunt up the hill from Okanagan Falls.
The view from my old office.

Monday, May 02, 2005

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