This year was a year of weather extremes. Not only did we have an exceptionally cold, snowy, and long winter, but also a summer that was exceptionally dry, with practically no rain throughout the months of June, July, and August. We also had a number of ‘hazy’ days, with forest fire smoke from all the wildfires burning across BC’s interior and Washington State drifting into the Fraser Valley to blanket our skies for days here and there.
With no irrigation and very little rain, we resorted to ‘hand-watering’ our vines, particularly our newly planted vines in our main vineyard and those in the rocky sections of our more established River Stone vineyard. While this dry summer did result in some water stress for about a quarter of our vines, we still ended up with a record breaking yield!
Epicure (Photo by: Sharalee Prang Photography)
We believe our incredibly bountiful harvest is due to a number of differing factors. In winter, we went back to cane pruning for all our varieties, rather than spur. We also had the soil analyzed and provided some organic fertilizers. Also, during bud break, we had beautifully dry sunny weather, which meant that flowering occurred in optimal conditions, allowing our fruit to develop and set perfectly. Taken together, these factors resulted in us almost tripling our yield from previous years! I think we are finally narrowing down what works, and what doesn’t, in our vineyards.
Our first harvest of 2017 happened three week later than 2016, occurring on September 24th, due to the late spring we had. For this celebratory (yet, very long and hard-working) day, we had the amazing opportunity to work with Sharalee Prang (a lovely fellow Yarrow-ite), who shared her photographic talents with us and capture harvest day. Below is a selection of photographs by Sharalee of our day… and you will see many of these photos again on our ‘soon to come’ official website, which we will have launched by Christmas this year!
As a tradition, our first day of harvest was done completely by family members and friends. And for us, many of whom are young families, this meant it was truly a family affair! So, on September 24th, we dedicated our efforts to harvesting our Epicure and Seyval Blanc varieties, which will produce our sparkling wines.
We celebrated (and thanked all who helped) with a harvest lunch, which included three kilograms of fresh homemade tagliatelle pasta and of course some wine!
On this harvest day, we picked three tons of grapes with the perfect brix/acidity/ph to make an excellent sparkling wine! We cannot thank everyone enough for all their help, and all the love, they put into harvesting our grapes. It is days like these that will become memories to treasure (and make this crazy adventure all seem worthwhile). And also, thank you again to Sharalee for capturing this day so perfectly for us.
Our L’Acadie was harvested the following weekend and will go into, what appears to be, an amazing still that we will release next spring. Finally, our Pinot Gris was harvest the weekend after that. For the Pinot Gris, Laurent wanted to try something a little different: A rosé wine. So, we separated the Pinot Gris into two tanks, one that we left on the skins for 24 hours and the other that we pressed right away. We will see how these two compare in the coming months – but, very exciting! The blush will likely be released next spring as a still wine as well, and the other just might go into a sparkling… we will have to see how it develops!
Taken together, we picked enough grapes to produce almost 6000 bottles of wine! A dramatic increase from last year. With this amount, we’ll finally be able to begin sharing our wines with the public, selling in local VQA stores and on-site from our winery. Step by step, we are getting closer to turning this dream into a reality.