This year marks an incredible milestone – We produced and bottled our very first wine!!
Although last fall we sold most of our grapes, we did keep a small amount to make a little of our own wine. The problem was we had nowhere to make it as construction on the winery will not begin until next year. So, we (and by we I mean my Dad, Barry) decided to build a ‘mini’ wine-making room within an old horse stall in the barn.
The final result is absolutely perfect! The room is insulated, temperature controlled, and has all the necessary fixtures and drainage to keep the room clean while making wine.
Our goal with this first batch of wine was to simply assess the raw potential of our grapes, so we decided to keep the wine making process as natural as possible, only adding commercial yeast to ensure fermentation. We did experiment a little though, for example, we tried a co-fermentation technique using the Epicure, Acadie, and Pinot Gris grapes. Also, for the Acadie, we allowed one carboy to interact and age on the lees a little longer just to see what flavors might develop.
In all, we made four wines: Pinot Gris, Acadie, the co-fermentation blend, and Seyval Blanc. We tasted the wines continuously over the winter months – Luca was thrilled to take part!
It was fascinating to taste the evolution of the wines over the winter weeks. Each time we tasted we became even more encouraged and excited – the wines really surpassed our expectations!
In March, the wines were ready to bottle. Because this year we interfered as little as possible with the wine-making process, in the end we did have to finish the wines with a little conditioner in order to balance some of the acidity. Now tasting our grapes potential, we’ll be giving the wines all the finesse they need throughout the wine-making process next year.
Last fall, our first winery equipment was also purchased: a small bottling system and hand corker!
All the wines (except the Seyval Blanc) turned out amazing! The Seyval Blanc, unfortunately, was incredibly thin and acidic. We’re not sure if it had to do with the grapes, or the vines (which actually came from the greenhouse three years ago infected with a disease), but we will see how they do this year. This is all trial and error and part of the process of determining which varieties will work well for us here in the Fraser Valley. The three other wines, however, were so lush and juicy with elegant floral notes, very surprising coming from our young vines and cooler climate!
We now have a delicious Pinot Gris, which reminds us of the aromatic wines from Alsace – with a juicy nose of pear and citrus, orange blossoms, and honey. Also, the co-fermentation blend turned out great. But, we are actually most impressed by our Acadie, which is equally aromatic, but with a slight ‘vegetal’ or ‘grassy’ quality, similar to a New Zealand Savignon Blanc. There is so much potential here!! We are now certain that out vineyard has what it takes to produce outstanding wines.