Friday, June 12th, 2015
I find it very easy to put off writing when faced with a multitude of vineyard jobs and the constant opportunity to chat with friendly visitors. Interesting topics float in and out of my brain as I squat to carefully tie up the precious suckers offered by winter-ravaged vines of Sauvignon Blanc, but putting wine-stained finger to keyboard seems a chore at the end of a long day.
So why do I feel all charged up tonight? It’s got to be that vineyard green! There is something about the vigour exhibited by grapevines growing in June that gets my blood flowing. Vines that seemed all but dead months ago now brim with green shoots to the point of needing a good thin. I can barely keep up with the growth, but the vines are ahead of schedule and into bloom a full week earlier than the last couple of years. Even the deluge of early June rain can’t dampen my enthusiasm! Anticipation outweighs setback at this stage, as the inevitable diseases have yet to rear their ugly spores (talk to me in a week and I’ll likely be singing a different tune).
There are exceptions – sobering reminders of the harsh winter and a catastrophic worst case scenario that was all too close to becoming reality. Perhaps that is what makes those rare fruit-bearing vines so inspiring. Syrah, Pinot Gris and Sauv Blanc will all likely be 50-75% down in crop level, but thankfully the majority of vines are still alive and throwing suckers. Sourcing fruit from those varieties will be a challenge for all Ontario wineries this vintage.
My current glee could also be traced to a rainy day racking session earlier this week. I was able to get an intimate look at all 2013 and 2014 reds as I siphoned them out of and then back into their cosy oak homes. Some of them were a little unhappy to see me so early, but most were WAY more polished than I anticipated (insert huge exhale here).
It reinforces what I’ve been hearing from visitors to our barn this year: each of our wines has their own distinct personality, and those differences make them interesting and enjoyable. It’s not about vintages being “better” or “worse” than one anther, but rather entirely unique upon comparison. That is an exciting prospect when you find yourself worrying that future wines won’t stack up to the current crowd pleasers. One excited taster recently proclaimed he’d never met a Five Rows wine he didn’t enjoy. The fact that he was my Dad shouldn’t really matter. Tainted praise is still praise to hungry ears.