2019: Day 4
We knew going into this winery adventure that it would take some time – years – to really get established. It’s definitely a business for those who are patient. When we began crunching numbers and setting goals earlier in the year, we felt pretty strongly that it was important to get up and going as soon as reasonably possible. If we had to purely rely on our grapes (the ones we planted this spring), we would have to wait until 2021 for the first very small harvest and then 2-3 additional years before they really started to develop reasonable yields. I’m not that patient and we’re not getting any younger. Fortunately, we, like many other small wineries getting started, have the option of purchasing grapes from other vineyards and having our wine made at a neighboring winery. We also felt it was important to have a well rounded portfolio when we open our winery. Most white wines are relatively quick in that you harvest the fruit in the fall and good wine is available by the spring. Yes, the majority are better a year later but they’re definitely good as early as May when the tourists start coming through. Reds and some more complex whites aren’t so quick. Because they need time to age in oak, they largely aren’t ready for an additional 6 to 12 months. So we decided to buy grapes this past fall so that the reds would be ready in 2021 which is our target for opening the doors.
There always seems to be a catch. And this was no exception. Buying grapes, especially red wine grapes, isn’t as easy as you’d think. There has been a shortage over the last 2 harvests and the trend doesn’t seem to be getting any better. What started out as wanting to buy about 2 tons of Pinot Noir turned out to be a little over a ton of Pinot Noir, 2.7 tons of Gewurtztraminer, 1.5 tons of Chardonnay, 1.1 tons of Pinot Gris and 1.5 tons of Riesling (because how could we not make Riesling?!?). In order to get the Pinot Noir, we had to also buy the Gew and Pinot Gris. We were fine with the Pinot Gris since it’s a popular grape that also sells well. The Gew is a different story. I wouldn’t say it’s our favorite white wine grape but it has been popular in the past despite seeing lower sales in more recent years. The Riesling and Chardonnay were actually sourced from a different grower. Though we could have waited an extra year for the Chardonnay, we thought it would be good to give it that bit of extra time to mature and really hit its stride. And since the same grower also had Riesling, that wasn’t exactly a hard sell to us. And Riesling can also age quite nicely.
So, overall, we’re going to have about 500 cases for our first vintage, including a sparkling wine that will be a combination of Gew, Riesling, Chardonnay and possibly Pinot Gris. In fact, tomorrow we’re doing some blending trials to see what ratios we like of each. We have a fantastic name and concept for the sparkling wine that we can’t wait to share with you!
The wines are still a ways off but we’re absolutely thrilled by how good they’ve tasted so far. Our ‘custom crush’ was done at Moraine winery, just a few kilometres down the road from us. Dwight Sick and Amber Pratt, the two winemakers, have done a fabulous job with the wines. The Gew has been the biggest surprise. It’s absolutely delicious! It’s dry with just a touch of residual sugar to balance the acid levels. We weren’t concerned about the Chardonnay, Riesling or Pinot Gris and sure enough all are turning out to be winners. We can’t wait to begin sampling the finished products, hopefully as early as this spring. We’re not certain how and if we will sell them prior to 2021 prior to the opening of our tasting room – that’s a winter project to finalize (liquor licensing is challenging). We suspect much of the inventory will wait and get better with the additional year of aging.
So in order to celebrate our “First Vintage” of course the drink had to be grape/wine inspired. This cocktail uses Ciroc vodka (made from grapes), sparkling wine, and is garnished with some big fat table grapes. The original recipe was modified a bit since we didn’t have vanilla syrup, so we used a combination of rhubarb syrup and a hint of mint syrup.
Cheers! Someday soon we hope to be able to clink glasses with our own sparkling wine!!!