Friday, December 22, 2006

Wine Maker's Nude Running Plans Shelved!

Chinese authorities have put the lid on a planned mass streaking sponsored by a beverage/wine maker as a demonstration against excessive packaging . . .

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Okanagan Named Most Interesting Wine Region

Paul Gregutt, writing for the Seattle Times, has named Canada's Okangan Valley as one of two
most interesting wine regions in the world.

Paul is a respected wine writer of considerable repute. This article was first brought to my attention by a note in Tom Wark's Fermentation blog. Click on both the headline and the Fermentation link.

Dave Ott

Dave Ott, originally uploaded by Dexwriter.

Wine Access Awards

It's not the newest of stories but the Wine Access magazine awards are in the current issue on the stands right now.
Township 7 made out quite well with a bronze and a silver for our 2005 Semillon and 2004 Chardonnay respectively. Noticed my old haunt Stag's Hollow had some kudos tossed their way as well. Use the link in the headline if you need some guidance on last minute holiday shopping.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Vines Face Trouble In Early Okanagan Winter

Cold snaps that started in the last days of October and continue on the run-up to Christmas are a mixed result for Okanagan grape growers.
Wine makers and growers who leave grapes for ice wine have had text book conditions for the delicacy and should have no problem producing a stellar sticky. Sub zero temps (C) through part of November and into December were unseasonable early. This results in bigger, fatter less atrophied clusters and allows the traditionally stingy yields to be little more bountiful.
On the other hand, vines were still not completely shut-down when the cold weather arrived. There could be some damage, especially to young plants, but the truth won't be revealed until spring. In the mean time, viticulturists and experienced growers are advising growers to delay their pruning until vine health can be assessed. Growers may have to go easy on their pruning should the vines have fewer viable buds than in past years.
Killing freezes have been few and far between in recent years. Old timers associated with the wine business recall 1978 and 1985 as the last true killers, with 1996 causing some frigid trouble as well. Since that time the Okanagan Valley has transformed from a grower of labrusca and hybrid varieties to a stable of vinifera thoroughbreds that have never had to face the extreme temperatures of winter over a sustained period. Some doubt the ability of varieties such as Merlot to be as winter hardy as required.
It all started just before Halloween when temperatures plunged to -5 to -7C over at least two nights. Many growers still had late varieties on the vine and others had failed to address irrigation system preventative maintenance issues in a timely fashion; their pipes froze and burst.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Busy Winery

As I've mentioned before, I often get questions and remarks about the wine business this time of the year. Usually it's : What are you guys up to? You must have a lot of time on your hands, I mean, the grapes are all in, the wine is made, what have you got going?

Depending on the operation, there's still lots to do.

Many wineries in my area are busy with ice wine ferments that can take an inordinate amount of time in relation to a regular table wine ferment.

Producers of sparkling wine in the traditional methode champenoise will be assessing their base stock and considering blending. There's also all the specialized packaging that needs to be ordered for this process.

Table wines need to be assessed and the process of clarification and filtering will be initiated. This varys from winery to winery but all wine makers are looking for stability. Once that wine goes into consumer packaging the winery and the wine maker don't want some kind of radical, uncontrolled change occuring that can lead to spoilage or a perceived lack of value (hazy).

Depending where you are and who supplies you - there's a need about now to finalize details on bottles, corks, screwtops, labels and, on top of all that, you better have your vines ordered for next season's planting projects.

There's no shortage of things to do... just a shortage of hours to do them in.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Township 7 Okanagan Wine Shop Winter Hours

People keep asking when the Township 7 Okanagan wine shop is open and so I thought I would quickly post the news . . .

The shop is open at noon until 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday through the 'off-season' or winter.

Drop by and pick up your Christmas wine. Maybe we can taste a barrel or two if you catch me lurking about.

The Langley store has more open hours. Check the website or call 604-532-1766 for details.

We have a limited amount of 2004 Reserve Merlot available if you're looking for that special holiday offering for one you love or perhaps one you'd like to have love you. If someone gave me some I'd be inclined to love that gifter.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Long, cold & hard: ICEWINE season kicks off.

That strange little offspring of the wine world is being born one more time in the Okanagan.
And so freakin' early.

ICE, ICE (baby) wine.

Temperatures rocketed down on Sunday and have been Subzero since. Tonight and tomorrow morning are supposed to be the coldest. There was plenty of snow since Saturday and more on the way off and on through the week.

Glad I'm not out there.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Wine Business Perspective - SIZE MATTERS

The other day I was talking to a cellar hand I know and I asked what size of winery they worked for. The answer -
"Quite large - I think we're doing over 10,000 cases this year."

Earlier in the month I met a wine maker visiting from Australia and I asked the same question.
The answer was -
"Just a little one - about 10,000 cases a year."

It's all a matter of perspective and into that you must figure what the PR and marketing department wants for an image.
Next time you see 'small, family-run estate winery' or such consider what that means and to whom. The owners might believe 20,000 cases fits that description. On the other hand, some people may regard that kind of operation as a major operator.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Best Sparkling Wine in the World

The best sparkling wine hasn't been made yet. I think it will happen and when it does it will be from grapes grown in British Columbia and, most likely, the Fraser Valley just outside of Vancouver.
The weather is perfect for bubble grapes. Long periods of mild weather, never really hot, never really cold. Plenty of rain, just like Champagne.
What do you do when all your friends are growing beautiful grapes in warm, humidity-balanced climates and you're stuck with a a long, cool and wet growing season? You ferment your sad little berries once and then add some sugar and ferment them again in the bottle and then you spin, baby, spin!
You tell people yarns about widows and their kitchen doors and blind monks who "see" stars. You get dressed up with no where to go and you stay dressed up and go everywhere. You tell people that drinking your bubbly wine will make you a better person because all the better people are drinking it.
You make a wine that would have a hard time as a table wine into something luxurious and continue to spin.
I just finished a couple days picking Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Langley. This will end up as Township 7's Seven Stars in time for Christmas 2009. The grapes of early November were still unripe despite an "excellent" growing season. The Pinot gave up almost no colour at crush and the Chardonnay still had 90% green seeds. The hangtime flavours were complex and elegant.
Ideal conditions for sparkling wine production.
Somebody grab 100 to 200 acres of land in South Langley or Abbotsford on a gentle south facing slope about a mile or less from the border, do a really good job of soil reprofiling and plant only PN and Chard.
And start spinning.
In 15 years you'll have the best bubble in the world.

Harvest, Crush, Vintage

Whatever you call it ... it's finally coming to an end. Township 7 has still got 8 tons of Cab coming in this week. That will be the end of it. I put my foot down.
Stone Mountain is catching up with the tail end of some ferments and Hijas Bonitas is pretty much under control.

The photo is Scott Robinson, assistant winemaker at Township 7, helping some grapes to their mushy doom. Please excuse the grotty Mog device as our 'official' one fell beneath the auger's grinding screw.

Wines are tasting good and we're already figuring out our bottling schedules and packaging requirements!

Monday, October 16, 2006


Did I mention it's pissing down rain today?
Well it is.
Good day for getting caught up in the cellar.
All picking is off.
Looks like it may clear off by the end of the week.
Check it out for yourself.

Looking at a WHOPPING BIG YEAR. Lots of GR8 Wine.

Yields are way up in the white department after a dissapointing 2005. The quality is above average across the board. Quality of fruit was never an issue last year, just the small amount of it.

In the reds, volumes are again above normal but not as dramatically as the whites. Merlot came in early as it kept maturing during the heat spikes while other more sensitive varietals (you know who you are Mr. Pinot) shut down.

Quality will not be an issue for reds, either.

Handling and traffic is the main concern.

Township 7 may end up 40% above last year's numbers. Some of the other interests I'm involved in are looking at total volume increases as well with Stone Mountain (new) up a whopping 150%.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Township 7's Wine Maker

If you do nothing else today pick up a copy of the Globe and Mail (Saturday) and see me on the front of the business section. Big story inside about the Okanagan wine. Limited version of print stories by clicking on the link above.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Fall Wine Festival

It's now one of the most successful events in the province and probably the country. The Okanagan Fall Wine Festival draws thousands to the valley starting today and ending on Sunday, October 8th. There's literally hundreds of events organized by wineries, vineyards, hotels, restaurants and community groups.
I'd love to meet some of you...
I'll be at the Toasted Oak in Oliver for a winemaker's dinner tomorrow night. Sunday I hope to be wandering around with the other 1000 folks at the Festival of the Grape in Oliver. Next weekend I'll pour you a taste at the Penticton Convention centre on Friday and Saturday.

Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer In

At Township 7, all of the SB and Gew is in with the Chardonnay beginning to come in. Picking in Cawston (Chardonnay) on Saturday while the Pinot Gris on our property is harvested simultaneously. It'll be a long day but we'll get it all done with our new Sutter 35.

Things are heating up at Stone Mountain as well.

Looks like Monday will be the day for the first day of Gewurztraminer there. Over 17 tons are expected. This new winery is going from about 30 tons produced off premise last year to 120 tons in a newly converted building this year. Photos here today show arrival of the new press and Terry hand-loading some primo Gew for whole cluster pressing.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Hamilton Street Grill & Township 7

Had a great time at the Hamilton Street Grill back on the 11th and 12th when it was Township 7 night. Folks were invited to come down and taste some T7 wine and enjoy some of Chef Neil's great food. The events were oversold on both nights. We gave away a double magnum of 2004 Merlot as shown by T7 owner Mike Raffan.

Big thanks to Neil and his team for great hospitality. We'd love to do it again! If you're down there - try the hanger steak!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Last Safety Meeting

We had our last safety meeting of the season on Friday. The season where you can sit around outside without layering on various bits of clothes or where your drink gets warmer as time goes by rather than cooler.
The format was simple. BBQ/Beer to start off and finish with bits of wine.
And always the safety.
We talked about proper location of beverage holders, thirst quenching ratios, transporting potables during vintage and dynamic progressive conviviality theory (DPC).

There's a couple more photos in the Flickr panel at right.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Running The Black Dog

Racked out the Black Dog the other day for a little look.

For those who don't know, 'black dog' is our working name for a small batch of exquisite 2005 red that's a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. It's dark and brooding; the structure is perfect and the contributions by the barrels are noteworthy.

It goes back to barrel today. If we chose to follow this project to the end we'll be looking at about 100 cases in the $25 - $35 / bottle range.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Naramata Bench Tailgate Party

One of the best events of the season is upon us.
The Naramata Bench Tailgate Party happens on September 9. Click the link for all the details.

Check the link for tickets. Drop by Township 7 Okanagan and we will sell you a couple. Do it quick because this thing always sells out.

When you're at the party, drop by the Township 7 table and ask for taste of the 2004 RESERVE Merlot which we will have under the table. Scheduled for release in the autumn.

See you there. I''ll be wearing either my bon vivant face or the world-weary sense of ennui.

International Wine World Meets Here

One of the things that I sometimes forget is the international flavour of the wine business. To many people that may seem obvious especially on the import or consumer side of things.

At my level, it's easy to get buried under the minutiae of the work. I stepped back from the fray today to realize how magnetic this business is when it comes to attracting the steely passion of wine lovers from everywhere.

This blog now has a little gizmo in the sidebar to show where people drop in from. And over the past three weeks, I've had email exchanges from four complete strangers asking about different aspects of the BC and Okanagan wine world. A lot of them want to come work here. They were from Ireland, Japan, New Zealand and the U.S.

I've got an Australian working for Township 7 now alongside an immigrant from Germany. Thinking about the Okanagan Valley, about 25% of the winemakers and assistants were originally from somewhere else. At one time it was closer to 50%. They travelled here to lend their expertise at a time when the country wasn't producing knowledgable wine people as fast as we are now.

With a little care and cultivation, you can create quite a United Nations of relationships around here just by going about your daily business.

Not too many businesses share this unique aspect. It helps broaden the mind when you share ideas and opinions with people with from other cultural and national backgrounds.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Winery Makeover

New owners arrived with new paint and our drab buff colour has now been updated with this camo green and burnt wiener trim.

Scott and I agreed on the arrangement of the barrels just so - after a couple slap fights - .

It's not cylindrical stainless steel but a guy can dream, can't he?

Hot sexy photos of young vines

Zoya tends to young Merlot vine. The competition with weeds is short-lived as the Round-up is down! Notice we use soy milk carton seconds? We've determined our vineyard is lactose intolerant.

The grapes?
Those are some of our Syrah grown for us by the wonderful Cerqueira family in Oliver. Taken Monday, August 21.

These are the Merlot we planted back in early July. It's been freakin' hot for a a young vine. There has neen some single digit mortality.
Most are doing well.

Investigating the cat's pee in the vineyard

The Kiwis are hard at it - figuring out who is responsible for all that funk in the blanc.
Reminds me of Mr. Wendenburg's ( Sumac Ridge) advice to a cellar hand back in the day - and I paraphrase - try to avoid making Sauvignon Blanc that smells like dog shit in a lawn bag.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Winery and Vineyard Site For Sale

Privately offered. If you're looking to get established in the booming BC wine business then this might be for you.
Friends of mine have put up their property for sale in North Oliver located about 300 meters off of Highway 97 on the western side of the valley.
Three parcels adjoining.
#1 - about 10 acres. Cleared and fallow for two years. Formerly in ground crops such as tomatoes and peppers. Large character home and grounds. Another income earning dwelling as well. Prime Grape land.
#2 - about 6 acres. Grasslands with light covering of mature Ponderosa pine. Excellent slope and aspect. Ready to plant after trees removed and land profiled for vineyard.
#3 - about 36 acres. Some arable property but primarily steep, rocky mountainside with a few potential homesites. Ambitious engineering could result in some unique caving for winery use.

Seller prefers to sell #1 and 2 as a package. Asking $1.6 million for both.
Seller would like to retain #3 for personal reasons but will negotiate if buyer requires all three units.

Sounds good? Contact me for photos and more details.

Hopper Ranch. New Winery Site in Summerland, BC

Thought you might like to see the site of the new winery in Summerland, just a few minutes north of Penticton.

That's the house in the photo; the winery building is under construction to the left. In the background is Okanagan Lake and Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park.

The vineyard is immaculate. Fruit formerly went to Gray Monk up in Kelowna.

Big week of winery accomplishments

The year of better late than never continues at Township 7.
We bottled, put up nets, labeled, got our last sprays in and generally put out big time in the productivity department all week.
Weather has been steady and perfect since the last post and the 7 day outlook suggests more of the same.

This week we've got some late racking to do and some work on the Langley property. We also have to finalize our vintage supplies requirements.

That photo would make a nice desktop addition.

Monday, August 07, 2006

John's Book

John's Book
Originally uploaded by Dexwriter.
We've got a good supply at Township 7. Why not drop in and get one?

Monday, July 03, 2006

Vineyard Progress

Posts are in, irrigation is in . . . Where are the vines?

After one cool and wet start to June, the month turned around and finished strong with temperatures over 30 and some days close to 40 for the past ten days or so. There seems to be a slight cooling trend at the end of the week but still plenty of sunshine.

The cooling trend will be welcomed by the crew at Township 7. Due to a few unavoidable delays, there are 1300 Merlot plants that are still waiting to get in the ground. The heat of the past couple weeks pretty well put the stop to that activity so the hope is that Thursday and Friday will present the right conditions.

Is it too late to plant? Probably. We're certainly going to get a higher mortality rate over the winter as the new vines won't have the opportynity to prepare themselves as they would have had they'd been planted in mid-May.

Elsewhere around Township 7 Okanagan we're catching up with the tucking and raising the training wires on the trellis system. The fruit set looks encouraging.

Pinot Gris sets up for 2006.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

I never thought a winemaker would be this busy in June

I must have led a very sheltered life.

Despite having been in the wine production business for about ten years, I'd never experienced what I'm going through this late spring-summer.

Usually the cellar is a quiet place for me at this time of the year. A little tasting, a little lab work, some planning sessions for the coming vintage; a time to reflect on the past and look forward to the future.

This year saw an ownership change of the winery that is my prime focus and with that came responsibility for the whole 7 acres, inside and out. It doesn't sound like much but remember I'm the inside guy. It's been a steep learning curve. I've called in some favours and asked a lot of questions. Sure, I'm behind schedule. But it looks like most farmers are.

I've got one year old and three year old blocks of Gew and PG to tend. They need training and tucking. I've still got some wires to pull and anchors to install. We had to hand weed an acre of Chardonnay in a block we've nicknamed the Bayou because it sounds better than 'swamp'. We had to hand weed because I missed the envelope where I could nail the weeds with Round-Up and still miss the year old vines. We were inside wasting our time bottling or something.

I've got 1300 Merlot sitting in cold storage that should have been in the ground a month ago. Hopefully they'll meet the dirt on Tuesday.

I've got deer fence going up tomorrow and posts being pounded for the new Merlot.

I've just about completed the sub-surface irrigation for the new block with Scott Robinson's help and we figured it out by digging up some of the established lines and eyeballing the results.

I've got a nice tan on my face, neck, forearms and legs below the shorts and above the Blundstones. Just like a farmer.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Wine labeling and vine enabling . . .

If it rains we head inside the winery and label. Township 7 and other small wineries often bottle 'shiners' - bottles without labels and foils - because the technology we have is too slow to keep up with the bottler. Or perhaps the labels are not ready yet. So we label at a later date.

This is our little MEB benchtop labeler. A couple of weeks ago the drive spool (as indicated) bearings seized and it had to go to the wine machinery hospital. She works fine now. Thanks to the guys at CellarTek for the help.

If the sun shines we head outside. We've just completed our early suckering. We take all the shoots off the vine below the fruit wire. This allows the vine to concentrate energy in the remaining vines and allows us to kill all the weeds around their trunks.

Perhaps these photos will illustrate this.



Thursday, June 01, 2006

Communication for Wine Maker is Key

I'm considering updating my phone.

I'm looking at the UTStarcom 6700.

One of the US manifestations of this unit is the Sprint PPC6700.

Anybody have any comments?

Like the PDA format and the slideout QWERTY keyboard.

Are they tough?

What about the phone quality?

I'm back!

Took some time to look at what I was trying to accomplish with this blog.

At times it seemed the blog was running a part of my life. It was like I was writing to deadline back in my old journalist days but this time I wasn't getting a cheque. (USA = 'check')

I realize that to make this blog a commercial success I would have to generate a substantial revenue. This would take a lot of time and energy. That would accomplish two things:
1) it would take away from my primary focus - producing great wine for my clients.
2) it would take away from my family involvement.

Thanks to the readers who have commented on this subject. I respect your opinions.

I will continue this blog. The focus will narrow and the posts will be less frequent. I'll be writing on wine issues as they are intimately connected to what I am doing on a daily, weekly, monthly or annual basis. As always, I encourage the readers to subscribe to the RSS feed and avoid having to constantly check to see if I posted.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Rethinking the Wine Blog

There's considerable discussion going on over at eGullet about the value of blogging with regard to wine.
Some people say it's all a lot of drivel, others think it's the greatest thing since sliced bread.
It's probably somewhere in between.

Since I've been away from it all for ten days in the sub-tropics, I've been trying to decide whether to continue this blog or not. It takes up a lot of time.

I think I'll take some more time and then announce a decision in awhile. If I continue, it will probably mean a re-organized and re-focused effort.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Winery Loose Ends In Process of Being Tied Up

Nice headline. Now that's good English. Nice syntax.

Heading out for a little holiday early next week. This means leaving the ship with the first mate and making sure the crew is informed and inspired.

Taking care of a labeling schedule, readying some Chard for cold stab and protein stab work.
Organizing some packaging requirements for Township 7 and a couple of the other interests I work for who will all be bottling in mid-May.

After some deliberation and tasting (repetitive) we've decided to get the Township '04 Syrah out of barrel and start final blending trials. We feel the oak contact is pretty well where we want it.

Out in the vineyard the major work with the existing vines has been accomplished. I haven't checked the numbers but I think it's been a cool spring and we still won't see any serious bud break for awhile at this rate. The last empty acreage will be prepped and planted over the next few months and the contractor will be in to do the rough work while I'm gone.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Spring Wine Festival Coming Soon

Heading to the research station today to help with some judging for the Okanagan Spring Wine Festival.
If you're free on the weekend of May 5,6 and 7 you should check out this great event and take an opportunity to taste some new releases. A lot of the wines haven't hit the store shelves yet so it's a unique situation to get a sneak peek of the new offerings.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Wine Weekend Wrap-up

Here's a few things to check out over the Easter weekend. By the way, this is the official start of the rose season for me. I love picnic shoulder with rose and cold creamed potatoes and 'gus. I know, it's a freak show of spring time madness but that's what rose is made to handle.

I like this guy's way around words.

Hey, look! A survey course of the wines of Canada. And it's almost free of shortcomings and aberrant portrayals of the truth!

Eric the read of New York. Okay, not that funny a pun.

The Giz has his latest picks of top BC wines.

I'm off to Whistler for some end of season frivolity on the slopes.

Rare Winery Site For Sale

Are you or someone you know looking for a winery site?
This one is on the west side of the Okanagan valley, North Oliver area, a half block off Highway 97 near King Tomato and the gun range turnoff.
This unique setting has three seperate adjoining titles in a mixed of pine treed slope, open farmland and craggy mountain side. It's a dramatic site with two dwellings and crown land on the west boundary.
Should this interest you be sure to contact me soon for more information.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Vintage 2006 - Your Next BC Wine Is On The Way.

After a couple solid weeks of effort in the vineyard I feel we're ready to welcome the new growth.
A mild and dry weekend has produced a lot of movement in the vines and I'm seeing some increased bud size. A couple more weeks and things should be popping in the rows.
I don't know for sure but I suspect this spring has been on the cool side. Certainly cooler than last spring.
Everything is pruned and tied; there are a few odd jobs like trellis wire and irrigation tweaks and the occasional post here and there than needs work. And raking.
This morning has brought a steady light rain. That's good timing.
In the cellar we're beginning another bottling week. Our 2005 Rose and a 2004 Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon blend will be packaged as well as our 2005 Seven Stars - the proprietary name for the sparkling wine Township 7 produces. Of course, it won't be released until sometime in 2008. It spends around three years aging on the yeast deposits before getting cleaned up and corked.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Wine maker aims for global clout

Wine maker aims for global clout

We all know China is poised to take over the world during the 21st century, in the wine world it may happen sooner than later.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Rod McDonald & Vidal Estate Kick Ass Down Under

One of the big wine shows in New Zealand has recently concluded and I wasn't surprised to see my old mentor and friend Rod McDonald take top winemaker honours for the 2006 show.

I worked at Vidal Estate in Hawkes Bay under Mr. McDonald's tutelage during the '99 crush and much of what I learned stays with me today. He exposed me to many facets of wine making and was a great sponsor for this green Canuck. He also demonstrated management techniques that helped keep a tired crews' morale up during those 60, 70 and even 80 hour work weeks. In return, I filled the harddrive on his laptop with porn when he wasn't around. When apprehended I pointed a finger at the French kid who was unable to defend himself due to the language thingy.

Congrats to Rod and his staff for their accomplishments.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Wines They Are A-Changin' | Business | Deutsche Welle | 22.10.2005

The Wines They Are A-Changin' Business Deutsche Welle 22.10.2005
About half way through this story you'll see a mention about glass stopper instead of cork. Everything old is new again.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Chased From The Vineyard!

We we're chased out of the vineyard this morning by a steady rain.
Lots of trades work in the rain but when you're handling pruning shears and standing on slippery ground it becomes a little risky. We've had a good steady week of dry weather and made a lot of progress. So have the vines; buds are getting fuzzier and just beginning to swell. A week from now they may be too fragile to handle but I think we'll get the last dozen rows done without doing any damage.
These are young vines and still require some training. Eventually they will be double cordon but we've elected to keep them all single cordon for one more season.
Will post a few photos over the next little while to illustrate.
Plenty to do inside on a rainy day.
Meeting in a few minutes with another winemaker who is looking to buy some Chard. We have a little extra.
Barrel topping and tank analysis to do as well.
Bottling in two weeks means working through that checklist as well.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Getting Wine & Vine BC Delivered

Often I'm stopped on the street or at the local supermarket and people will say:
"Bradley, how can I get regular updates from your blog?"
There's at minimum two convenient solutions.

I you use a news aggregator like Sharpreader you can copy the shortcut in those big orange buttons you see at the top of my posts.

If you prefer, updates can be delivered to your mailbox by using the handy form found in the sidebar.

Do it today, you'll be glad you did!

Monday, March 27, 2006
...reports on WalMart and the advent of their wine selections.

The Caveman's Wine Blog

The Caveman's Wine Blog
Caveman attended a significant event. I think we should push him for more expansive reviews given his noted expertise and recent discoveries.

Wine caves catching on

Wine caves catching on
I know of a few wineries in BC beginning to take advantage of our naturally hilly topography. This story shows just how far it's gone in other places . . .

Sunday, March 26, 2006


Here's some intelligent wine reviewing . . .

It's not spring/winter everywhere

Originally uploaded by stephanie-sas.
Some muscat (probably picked by now)getting some late season hang time in Mendoza.

Beyond Salmon

Beyond Salmon

Instant Vinters or Wine Entrepreneurs?

Interesting story for those wondering just how some wines get to market...

Friday, March 24, 2006

Riesling the King of Grapes

Christian over at Turn the Screw (click on the header) reports on how riesling really ought to be one of Oregon's premier varieties. The climate is right.
We've been growing good riesling around these parts for some time, but can we do better?
As vineyard properties becomes more expensive and growers start cultivating 'marginal' land, is it time we consider riesling for these areas?
Some of the world's best rieslings come from places where the soil is modestly described as 'challenging' and the climate makes Lynn Canyon or Tofino look arid.
Why not try some down in the bible belt (Langley - Abbotsford south of 40th Avenue or so)? It's long season might be able to cash in on a First Nations summer once in awhile.

Building a Presence in the Wine Industry

How do you get your winery project off the ground?
Many people think that when they are creating a new winery venture that they will have to have investment from deep-pocketed institutions or individuals to get it running. Certainly, to achieve any kind of viable scale, some capital is required at the outset.

But if you consider your wine venture as 'your baby' then you'll have to find a way to accept that you do not own the company - your investors do. And they can control or take it away from you when ever they choose.
Reading Seth Godin the other day prompted me to consider whether a winery could be funded on a parceled basis or project by project. That way you don't sell out. Each wine or however you segment the business is funded separately. When you invest in a motion picture you don't buy the studio - you buy a chunk of a film and your returns vary with each agreement.
I'd be interested in your feedback on this.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Very Busy

Haven't had time to post:
  • very busy in the vineyard trying to keep ahead of Mother Nature. Vines are pushing.
  • learning how to be a currency trader; not going too well.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Good Wine Words Being Said

One of Vancouver's prime wine writer/talkers has some nice things to say about the Township 7 stable.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Yes, It's Mass Produced But, Dammit, It's Good.

It's a Chard, unoaked from Goundrey. Yes, it's part of the Vincor deathstar empire of everything, but it is very pleasing.
Fresh and vibrant, full of essential Chard characteristics. Lots of lime and citrus and pleasant nose appeal as well.

It's 12.99
The sku is 60889

Carmenere Might Be My New Favourite Varietal.

Tasted a few Carmeneres at the Vancouver International and this was one of the good ones.
Lots of ripe plum and blackberry. Intelligent use of oak. Plenty of body.
It was 16.99 and another good reason to buy right at the festival store as it isn't listed in this province. If you want to put some pressure on the BCLDB to bring it in the number is 739391.
It's a 2004 so I'll expect to cellar it a few more years.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

From the Heart of Washington Wine country

This woman writes out of Walla Walla. The town and not the penitentiary I'm sure.

Moms I'd Like to Drink Wine with

These two may be 'unsophisticated' by their own admission but they're genuine

The Wine Nazi -

The name sucks but the site is worth checking out.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Riesling Stunner - Vancouver Wine Festival Tasting #2

Deidesheimer Paradiesgarten Riesling Kabinett

When there's Riesling like this one it's no wonder the Germans consider it the king of grapes.

Lush peach and stone fruits mix harmoniously on the palate. The aroma are all honeysuckle, fig and some cardamom. A wicked good finish and plenty of balance between acid and sugar.

Picked up two for myself.
Not available in the BC Liquor stores unless there's remainders from the festival at the Cambie store or other specialty locations.

Not quite all WINE

Back after a great weekend on Apex.
Don't forget, if you're within shouting distance, the World Cup Freestyle FINAL event will be this weekend at Apex. Lots of Olympic medal winners in aerials, moguls and half-pipe.

At left, Summerland's Kristi Richards at the Olympics.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Inside a dirty tank . . .

Inside a dirty tank . . .
Originally uploaded by Dexwriter.
DE filtered an 04 Merlot/Cab Sauv blend today and tipped the empty tank over on it's side to make an internal inspection hence the gloves. I found these nasty cysts inside the patient. Used my trusty utility knife. (Homeyland Security forbids me to show it). Planning to bottle this mid-April.

FedEx Attempts to Simplify Wine Shipping

At least someone is trying to make things work.
It's a great idea if it works.
Anyone out there care to comment on their experience with this service?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Merlot, merlot, merlot and some more merlot.

Joined a number of colleagues at the Summerland Research Station for some Merlot tasting this morning.
As I posted earlier, the plan is to see if a scientific survey of trained tasters will reveal similar charactistics in a wine that can be attributed to terroir.

The subject wine was barrel samples of 2004 Merlot from various wineries.

Despite being wine makers and such, lots of the tasters were complaining of palate fatigue fairly early on.
Kudos to the staff and scientists at the station for a well-organized and executed session. Information from the proceedings will be made available in the coming months.

Is This Wine Item For Real?

Techies and wine types: Can you tell me if this story is the real McCoy?
Besides the lame-o hospital scenario - are there other applications for this technology if it is real?

And what do you think of this? Is it really necessary? The first line of the intro says -
...have trouble remembering what wine you drank last month? Or last night?
Maybe it's because you had too much?

What about a scribbler and a pencil?

Has Wine Terroir Emerged in the Okanagan?

Mike's photo stream

I'm off to the research station at Summerland this morning to particpate in a tasting event to determine the if terroir is a factor in Okangan Merlot.
The point will be to try and determine if terroir is making an impact on this varietal and, if so, is it geographically determined.
Y'know - is this place better than that place for growing grapes and making wine?
I'll post more on the experience shortly

Monday, March 06, 2006

Wilf's Wine Press

This fellow needs a little encouragement. He's retired, ferrchrissakes, so we know he has the time.
He's a good wine writer who needs a push. Take some time to fire a comment or two his way.
Ask him if he's got any tours planned.

Fermentation vs. Wholesalers and the 3 Tier System.

Click on the title and see how Tom goes after those carpetbaggers!

Alright, maybe it doesn't have much to do with what happens in Canada but maybe it does?

Isn't the U.S. three tier system (producer, wholesaler/distributor, retailer) a lot like the Canadian system of producer and provincial liquor control board?

Except the Canadian version sees the provincial board scooping the lion's share of the cash because most of the time it acts as distributor and retailer.

Isn't it time something changed in our neck of the woods? Right now, wineries can sell directly to restaurants but the transaction has a real "big brother" smell about it with lots of paperwork and plenty of coin paid to the government for the privilege of selling your own product.

Shouldn't the government butt out? Without playing the social conscience card?

"We need the cash flow to fund social programs to respond to the damage caused
by alcohol in our society".

Does anybody really believe all the revenues (or even a sizable portion) collected in this scheme actually go to alleviating the ills of alcoholism? Worse yet, rumour has it the BC board is looking at ways of getting more of the cut from wine producers who now sell direct to restaurants and other licensees.

Whether it's the U.S. system or the Canadian system, ham-handed politics keeps the cash flow racing into the government trough.

And the answer is . . . . 158 Wineries

A few posts back I asked you to guess how many wineries in BC there were when you combine the existing with the ones in "pre-approval".

(Sounds like some junk mail credit card solicitation)

When I migrated to the land of the sunshine tax in '96 there was probably about 40.

Quite a few of you already had the answer. Either you are very savvy or you read the same material I did. Which I can't recall where it's located.

The Wine Guy's Blog: Trouble comes in threes so what's next ?

The Wine Guy's Blog: Trouble comes in threes so what's next ?

Sunday, March 05, 2006

I thought TA was titratable acidity?

A lot of you have heard of Cleavage Creek wines. Did you know the model search for the 2006 vintage had started? Have you got what it takes?

You may ask . . . WHY does BC wine cost so much compared to, say, Chile?

As an appetizer to the title subject, perhaps you'd like a little poll to wet your appetite.
Vote without looking down too much then scroll for the answer.

I recently heard a conversation between a grower and winery owner. Guess how much per ton the grower wanted for his average merlot for 2006?
$975 ?
$ 1075 ?
$1300 ?
$1800 ?
$2325 ?
$ 2500 ?
$ 3000 ?
$ 3500 ?
$ 3850 ?
$ 4200 ?
Free polls from







Scrolling, scrolling over the bounding main ...!






All right.

$4200 a ton.

I'm still trying to figure who is doing this. And why? What kind of freakville business plan is this?

We pay about $2000 /ton for Merlot.

Rule of thumb: Knock the last two digits off the ton price to approximate the retail value of a bottle on release. So $42 for a brand new winery with no track record? Over $85 on a restaurant list?

Those are big balls.

I guess everyone wants to be instantly rich. While in Chile and Argentina there are folks working the grapes for about $9.00 (US) a day. That'll keep your costs down.

Vancouver International Wine Festival (VIWF) Tasting Result #1

With hundreds of wines to choose from it's not easy to spot the winners in the short few hours one has to work the room.

But here's one. Or two.

Casas Del Bosque (Chile)
Casa Viva Pinot Noir 2003
#207670 (BCLDB)

Sorry about having to turn your head sideways.
Sideways . . . Pinot Noir . . . get it?

Here's a great entry level Pinot. Full of vibrant fruit characterized by strawberries and rhubarb, good pie cherry on the nose, judicious use of oak and assertive tannins. At 13.7 % alcohol it may have more bite than necessary but still performs well. Best with food. I took a risk and scooped the last 4 bottles available to our session. I was only going to take two but I felt spiteful when I was denied my other two previous selections by earlier shoppers.

BIG TIP: This house also has a 2005 Pinot Noir at $19.95 that I tasted at the show but it wasn't in the shop for sale. The product code is 86611. It's a stand-out already and may approach the Sokol Blosser I will write about soon. Find and buy if you can.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Vancouver WIne Festival Results

First, let it be known that I attended a "trade" portion of the show so some of the items I tasted were perhaps not available to everyone who showed for the regular event.

If a crowd is any measure of success then the Vancouver International Wine Festival trade day was a success with lots of buyers and restaurant people filling the aisles.

From Australia (above) to Germany (at left) to the U.S. and from home (BC); there was plenty to taste from around the world.

France was the theme region and so the French wines were heavily represented and grouped en masse.

I'll be publishing some tasting notes from time to time over the next week so check back often.
One of the oddest moments of the festival came when I realized I was spitting tastes of $180 per bottle Champagne as I had to drive 300 km. at the close of the tasting. Odd at first but I got used to it.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Just how many wineries are there?

Why not try to guess the answer?

Lots of new wineries in BC. If you add the established ones to those in "pre-licensing", how many do you think there are? Answer on Monday!
Free polls from

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Award Winning Wines Packaged!

Nothing is quite like the feeling that I get when a wine I've made is in the bottle.

All the time the wine is in tank or barrel is seems a little bit unfinished. It seems more vulnerable to outside influences.

There's closure, pun intended, when the cork or cap is in place.

So today, after a week's delay and some down time on the line, I finally bottled the Township 7 Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Un-oaked Chardonnay from the 2005 vintage.

They are all excellent wines and destined to win many accolades. My friend in PR told me this.

Vancouver Playhouse Festival Friday

Heading to Vancouver Thursday for the wine tasting on Friday. Bringing camera and will take notes. Will try to post a report by Sunday at the latest so check back.

Best deal in awhile: Say you buy a couple cases of wine at the on-site store. BCLDB will deliver them to your local government store free of charge. Beats lugging them out to the car and travelling around with them, tempting the thieves or fate as you continue to make with the celebrations as such.

Corker Continues to Trouble

We're bottling but we're not happy about it.

The corker is still functioning but it's making a strange sound. This means something is not right, but to us laypeople, it can't be determined exactly what.

We're also not happy with our tech support so we are in the process of talking with a new group which will ultimately result in a lot of our equipment requirements being satisfied by them as well.
You can't beat Randy and Randy for service. Check out their stuff

Monday, February 27, 2006

Olympics in BC: will wine be able to profit?

Jamie Maw leads off an interesting subject over at EGullet about the food and beverage scene in BC come 2010. Use the topic header above to link and maybe even join EGullet.

There's also a link to a Slate article about Piedmont's failure to get wine in the media spotlight during the Olympic coverage.

Interesting prediction: U.S. chains will buy lots of properties to cash in over the lead-up and actual games period and then (as I predict) vanish - leaving huge holes physcally and economically in the dining landscape.

How will this effect BC wineries? Any Salt Lake or Lake Placid readers to contribute?

To Barrel Your Wine or NOT To Barrel Your Wine

These days a lot of wine makers and winery owners automatically assume their winery will be well-stocked with stacks of hand-crafted oak barrels.

But it's not a winery requirement. It should be a carefully considered decision based on the winery philosophy for making great wine.

The oak barrel route is an expensive one. When a wine maker decides to use barrels then they are taking a fork in the wine making road that involves the budget and the style of the house. It also creates an inventory timing issue. Instead of making and bottling everything within a year, a winery now must hold inventory until the wine has received the desired effect from the barrels. Sometimes this means years after the vintage.

Barrel prices range from around $250 to well over $1,000 per unit (US$) so it's a major investment. After about 4 or 5 years the influence on flavour and aroma is minimal so what you have left is a 225 liter storage tank with some challenging sanitation issues.

Generally speaking, a red wine made in the traditional style of most major red wine-producing areas will spend some time in barrel. But if your objective is to make the best $5.00/glass bar pour merlot then maybe a tank, some micro-oxygenation and a few pillow cases of oak chips is the way to go. You'd be surprised how many of the very popular red brands go this route. Or maybe you wouldn't.

Obviously, if you're making all aromatic whites, your requirement for oak will be minimal if not non-existent. Maybe all you'll need is enough to decorate the tasting room.

Some of the factors involved in choosing oak:
  • American or French or Hungarian or something else or blended?
  • Oak or one of the exotics (chestnut, acacia)?
  • Tight grain?
  • Toasting level?
  • Fire or water bent?
  • Shape? Bordeaux or Burgundy?
  • Thin stave or regular?
  • 2 yr. seasoned or more?
  • Which forest?
  • Which cooper?
  • Who's got the best t-shirts?
  • Used (careful!) or new?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Jessica Simpson Fixed My Corker!

Okay, that is not 100% true but . . .

She appeared in my dreams and suggested that today everything was going to be alright.

Well, things are progressing and when I get back from the machine shop on Monday morning I hope to have a functioning corker. I'll have to send her a note and thank her for the support.

Also, I'm seeing if putting famous people in my title/link area drives more traffic sort of like Ben Barren does with his non-stop eyecandy. You should read the guy - I do and I understand slightly more than 50% and I generally feel like I'm walking the edge of Geek Canyon and peering into the abyss. What a rush.

By the way, I think this is my 100th POST!

2004 Finca Los Primos Malbec & Antonio Banderas

It's been awhile since I reviewed a wine.
Sticking to my malbec and syrah from South America theme -
I'm going to be working with malbec soon so I've been running through a few.

I like to say the title of this wine. It makes me sound like Antonio Banderas in Zorro or some other flick.

This one shows the youth with lots of fruit expression. The tannins are still somewhat assertive and it really is best, at this point, with robust, meaty dishes and rich cheeses. I'd stop short of going too spicy with the meal selection. I really appreciated the coffee and tobacco box that is beginning to emerge. Some of the flavours (oak influences notably) are not yet fully harmonized but I'm sure it will all fall into place. I bought a case of the stuff because:
1) the price is right. About $10 (CDN) a bottle.
2) I'm 95% sure it's going to cellar like a dream.

16.5/20 BUY $9.95 / bottle

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Your Wine, Your Money - Vote Today!

What's the most you will pay for a bottle of wine today? (CDN $$)
Free polls from

Monday, February 20, 2006

Sharpen Your Elbows . . .It's Wine Tasting Time

I've been away from it from a few years but this year I'm ready for the big one. The schedule is clear.
Time for The 28th Annual Vancouver International Wine Festival

In a nutshell,
1320 wines
186 wineries
15 countries
52 events
21,000 people
7 days.

Too much detail to go into here but you owe it to yourself to at least visit the website and take a gander at all the goings on.

Every year they have a "theme". Usually that means they pick a country and honour its contribution to the world of wine.

This year its France.

I wonder if they'll have some traditional French wine growers activities? See below.

Most of the French at the wine tasting will be wearing suits and ties and very thin socks that look much like pantyhose.

If you're going to the festival tasting could you help me out with this one thing? Go to a table, get your sample and then get the FUCK AWAY from the front of the tasting area so the rest of us can get a taste! Don't stand there snorting, wheezing and muttering and trying to look down the rep's cleavage. Get out of the way! I've only got three or four hours. I don't need to hear your small talk and audible pondering while I stand behind you admiring the drift of dandruff on the nape of your Armani. Get yourself over to the sausage stand and pass a bit of gas there and not in front of me, chum.
Rant over.

SEXY photos of my Corker!

Here's some pix.
I just entered the 21st century and got a digital camera (HPR717). This the Gai filler and corker. Once all those fill rods are pointing down on the left you can load up empty bottles and they fill. When you take a bottle off and place it on the corker pedestal it automatically advances the carousel. The problem I have is with the jaws that compress the cork before it's loaded into the bottle. They don't jive. The other photo is the jaws pulled from the machine. They are supposed to slide along precise machined surfaces and compress a cork that falls in the middle. Jaws i and ii are misbehaving. Jaw ii jams against i when the springs are compressed and it won't release. There's a little cork sheer and, worse, some metal is getting filed off (those little streaks of grey top left).