Since we first broke ground in early spring, we have come a long way with the building of the winery. My Dad (Barry) has worked endlessly these months, doing all the contracting, as well as installing the winery drainage, installing the ceiling, working with Laurent to install the tank glycol cooling systems, and the list goes on and on. Although we have all been helping out in our own ways, my Dad has certainly carried the entire responsibility of our winery construction on his shoulders (including all the stress that comes with ensuring it is done on time and that we are ready to go for harvest!).
Since the initial framing was done, we poured a concrete floor over the old riding arena. We took that opportunity to imprint the wee little hand of Luca (a potential future third generation wine maker!).
Then doors and windows were installed and we gave everything a nice coat of paint…
and along with all the other equipment like a pump, filters, a crusher/de-stemmer, press, and a bottling system, our tanks arrived! Our good friends, Katie and Francesco (visiting us from Piemonte, Italy) helped us move the tanks in place… and just in time for our final Manufacturing License winery inspection that same afternoon! I’m happy to announce that we passed inspection and are now entitled, as a land-based winery, to produce and sell our wine.
With everything in it’s place, and all the equipment scrubbed, washed, cleaned and hooked up, we are FINALLY ready for harvest!!
Very exciting things are happening for us here at the winery! After planting our vineyard 4 years ago, we are now ready to leap into phase two of development – construction of our winery!
This winter we received our manufacturing license, which means we now have the green light to move ahead. But planning for construction of the winery involved some big decisions to make. One of them being whether to start fresh with construction of a brand new building, or to use and work within an existing horse arena that we have on the property. As a major reason why we took over my Grandpa’s retired horse ranch was to keep the land (and his life’s story) in the family, we decided that keeping the arena standing was important for us.
So, we decided to build our new winery in the arena, to sit atop where my grandpa, my dad, and I, among many other family members, all rode our horses for years.
Then in February, we broke ground!
The next step was to pour the foundation…
then the framing began…
and within one week it was done! The finished product is a 70 x 35 foot winery, with 14 foot high ceilings. And we couldn’t be more happy with it!
At the right of the winery, in front of the large door, will be our covered crush pad. To give us the option, our crush pad will also extend to outside of the arena. To do this, we had some massive doors built into the side.
The next step includes all the plumbing and electrical and the pouring of our cement floor. We are well on our way to being done for this years harvest in the fall!
In addition to construction, we have also been at work in the vineyard. Compared to the record breaking temperatures we experienced last year at this time, the spring we have had this year has been considerably colder and wetter. But regardless of the weather, the vines need to be pruned! So, dressed in gum boots and rain coats, we set out to give our vines their annual haircut.
As these 2.5 acres are our test plot, we have experimented with various methods and techniques to contrast and compare the vines productivity. Originally we planned on spur pruning the Pinot Gris and cane pruning the Epicure, L’Acadie, and Seyval Blanc as we have read that each of these varieties produce better with those methods. But, last year we tried both pruning methods on each of the varieties and found there was no difference in their quality or productivity. So, as spur pruning is relatively easier to do, we decided to use this method throughout the vineyard.
With the pruning done and construction well on it’s way, we now have some time to sit back and wait for the sun to spring our vines to back to life.
While waiting to construct our winery next year, we thought we would get a head start on updating the old green barn – which was desperately in need of some love. We began by tearing down the old lean-to that ran the length of the barn and then this past month we began cleaning and painting the exterior…
Although there is still much work to be done, both inside and out, we are very happy with the result!
Next year, we’ll begin building the actual winery, which will include cleaning and sealing off one side of the barn in order to create the space where the wine will be made. It will be in this space that the magic will happen (…and where I’m sure we’ll pass many hours working in the years to come).
Off to this side of the barn is where we will build an extension for our tasting room, which will include a beautiful terrace and picnic area among the maple trees for all to sit back, relax, and enjoy our wines!
Among the trees, there is one that is very special in our family. The large maple in the foreground of the photo below was actually planted by my grandfather on the day that his mother, my great-grandmother passed away. Our family memories are embedded throughout this little piece of land.
Before tearing down the lean-to, we were also sure to take some time to search and put aside some materials that we would be able to reclaim and reuse in our winery and tasting room. We found some really great light fixtures and this beautiful old barn door, that with a bit of stain, gives some great character!
Although most of Canada experienced winter with a capital ‘W’ this year, we actually got off pretty lucky here on the west coast with more sunshine than usual and relatively mild weather. For a few days, however, we were able to get a taste of winter when it offered us a light dusting of snow…
The vines are in their winter slumber, which means that for us, winter is the most relaxed time of year. But, in a few weeks time we’ll be back to work, beginning with the winter pruning.
With our break from work out on the vineyard, now is the perfect time to get to some much needed work done on the actual winery! In the spirit of the ranch and in order to keep my grandfather’s existing horse arena, we have decided to renovate the existing building and convert it into our winery. Along the entire 200 foot length of the building, there runs a lean-to. This lean-to used to house a number of horse stalls, but now it sits mainly empty. The layout and positioning of this lean-to is actually perfect for our winery and tasting room! We would have to reconstruct this section in order to ensure it is sealed and completely separated from the larger horse arena (horses and wine making don’t mix!), but we intend to reclaim as much wood as we can and use reuse it in our tasting room and the winery.
We’ve taken the measurements and have decided we’ll need to widen this section a few feet and raise the roof on the lower end a bit, but otherwise it is perfectly suited for a winery! This upcoming year, we will give the face of the arena a much needed paint job and begin tearing down the lean-to in order to begin construction in 2015.
We intend to have our tasting room at the front (approximately from the front to the white door seen above) with an extended outdoor patio for clients to enjoy a glass of wine and a little bite to eat. The working winery will be the remaining part of the building that runs from the white door all the way to the back.
We are still working on the blueprints and have a lot to research and consider. But, we are slowly getting there… By next year, things will begin to look a lot different!