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!