Our Vineyard Philosophy
The philosophy of our vineyard was fairly easy to define as Laurent and I hold strong convictions regarding our responsibility to respect the environment and ensure our land is treated in a sustainable manner. We also hold great admiration for those winemakers who follow the philosophy of ‘terroir’, an approach to wine that encompasses all the factors that play a role in differentiating one vineyard site from another and allowing the uniqueness of each piece of land to shine through the wine. These factors include the soil where the grapes are grown, the climate of the vineyard and its region, and the choice of which grape variety to plant, among others. In other words, terroir emphasizes that wine is made in the vineyard, not in a winery. It is this partnership of the environment and human skills that are required to bring a unique character and taste to wines, resulting in remarkably individual wine personalities. Our aim is to put this ‘puzzle’ together, using the best possible combination of factors to create honest, unique, yet amazing wines.
With this in mind, we knew that our climate would dictate which variety of vines we would grow. Unfortunately, grape growing is fairly new to the Fraser Valley and so there is relatively little knowledge regarding which varieties grow well, and which do not. So, after some research regarding the hours of sunlight we receive, the average monthly temperatures, average amount of rainfall, when first frosts generally occur, the type of soil we have, which vine diseases and pests would most likely be a threat, we were able to determine which grape varieties would be most suitable (for example, early ripening varieties). With that list, we researched further and looked to local grape growers to learn from them which varieties they found to be successful, and which ones were not. Although we are not planning to pursue Canada’s official organic certification, we intend to be as organic we possibly can be. So choosing a variety that will not be susceptible to mildew and other associated diseases is very important in order to decrease our risks and need to use chemical sprays.
Resulting from all our research, we finally decided to plant five different varieties in order to leave some room for experiment and see which varieties will fare well and make good wines, and which will not (Our fingers are crossed!!). The varieties we decided on are: 1) Pinot Gris; 2) L’Acadie Blanc; 3) Seyval Blanc; 4) Epicure, and; 5) Cabernet Libre. The last two listed, Epicure and Cabernet Libre are Blattner varieties, which are hybrids that are well suited for our west coast climate; however, they are so new that there is almost no information about them! But, we decided, why not give them a try? In addition to these varieties, which will make white wines, we also hope to buy grapes from growers in the Okanogan in order to add a few red wines to our selection. Overall, we hope to create white wines that are elegant, unique, and reflective of our terroir. Carrying on from this theme, the style of our reds will also be subtle and elegant and hopefully one day (with the development of an Okanogan wine grower partnership… again fingers crossed!!) reflective of the terroir of a single vineyard plot in this warmer BC region.
Stemming from this, we knew that it was important for the name of our winery to reflect our vineyard philosophy, the style of wines we intend to make, and integrate the place (my grandfather’s horse ranch) where our winery will be developed. In the end, we decided on: Whispering Horse Winery. The name was inspired by one of my grandfather’s first horses, Whispering Sandy, which denotes a more personal family meaning. It is also reflective of the subtle yet elegant style of wines we intend to make.
Now that our philosophy and name have been defined… the time has come to get our hands dirty!