Vinification Notes


When you get to a point where the line between work and life is so blurry that the majority of your day seems like filler between fixes of caffeine, and what little sleep you do get is haunted by images of Multi-coloured Asian Lady Beetles and under-ripe Cabernet Franc…it’s best to step back, focus, and re-consider exactly why you do what you do.

Thankfully, success breeds perseverance.  The following are two reasons why I still choose life as a winemaker:

2005 Cabernet Sauvignon

A severe winter led to an average of 50% bud damage in the Lowrey Vineyard.  This Cabernet Sauvignon was sourced from vines that were shouldering a much lighter load than they were used to, hence a greater opportunity for ripening was in the cards.  Thankfully, the growing season weather co-operated and the resultant fruit was as good as has ever been produced on our farm.  The St. David’s Bench microclimate really strutted its stuff, with even the later-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon reaching optimal sugar and TA levels.  Like our first “Five Rows” vintage in 2004, we took equal portions of Young and Old Cab Blocks to maximize clonal complexity.  Following traditional small batch punch downs, the wine was aged in a 50-50 blend of American and French Oak with an average age of 1.7 years per barrel.  A comparative barrel tasting took place on July 5, 2007 and as with previous years, the highest rated wines were housed in two-year old wood (a 2003 Barrel Associates & 2003 Berthomieu).  These two superior bottles were bottled on July 18, 2008.  This wine showcases the potential of minimally-cropped Cabernet Sauvignon from warm vintages in the Lowrey Vineyard.  Aromatic highlights include wild blueberry, ripe cherry and vanilla.  Very ripe and jammy on the palate with soft, mature tannins and excellent length.  Although hard to resist its youthful charm, this Cab is only entering its prime.

Barrels: 2       Cases: 45        Alcohol: 13.4%         Price: $50/Bottle

2008 Pinot Gris

In an effort to instill confidence, I tell my wines that it is never fair to compare themselves to their predecessors.   For that reason we won’t speak further of the effusive praise garnered by the 2007 Five Rows Pinot Gris.  Some shoes are just too big to fill.

Harvested on September 19, 2008, this Pinot Gris began its life fermenting slowly in stainless steel and older French Oak.  The oak component was added in an effort to further enhance mouthfeel and increase aromatic complexity.  A nice cool ferment, dotted with periodic lees stirring, was complete by mid-October.  The finished wine was blended, then fined with bentonite for protein stability.

Early tasting sessions showed strong notes of McIntosh apple and anise, while one panelist was sure he could smell “catbox” (depending, of course, on the type of litter you prefer).  The French Oak and lees stirring helped create rounder texture and seemed to lend tropical nuances such as star fruit.  The wine was left with just enough residual sugar to balance the acidity.  Lemon-lime citrus flavours are predominant.  Bottled September 14th, 2009.

Cases: 57             Alcohol: 13.3%       Price: $25/Bottle

Both wines are now available for purchase!

A Great View


Lead up to harvest is a time of frayed nerves and long hours.  In many cases you are playing a game of chicken with the weather, and usually I’m the first one to flinch.  I get so tied up worrying about making the right decision that I rarely stop to enjoy the moment.  That would soon change.

Earlier this week we harvested our first fruit of the year, and as I stood awaiting a load of fruit atop the bins of the receival truck, I was struck by the view.  From this vantage point I was overwhelmed by imagery and memories.  The stress of harvest suddenly melted away and the bigger picture came into focus.  The green rows of vines looked resplendent contrasted against the fall colours adorning the trees.  A harvester slowly chugged its way down a row of Sauvignon Blanc, driven by one of my early childhood heroes – “Big Ernie”.  When I was just old enough to remember, Ernie let me ride with him on the big harvester, a memory I will forever cherish.  I also suddenly recalled the time my Grandfather fell from the exact position I currently stood, landing hard on the road below.  Miraculously he wasn’t seriously hurt.  I made a point be extra careful negotiating the narrow bins for the rest of the day!

Huddled around a thermos of coffee were my father and “ever-ready-with-baked-goods” mother, Rob the Creekside winemaker, John our truck driver, and Henry the tote bin driver.  It really put my stress and worries in perspective to see the interaction of these people who had been through so many vintages together.  They laughed and exchanged stories from the old days of Ventura’s and Concord’s, then debated some of the more heated issues facing our industry today.  Their collective experience both humbled and inspired me.  At the root of our farm and it’s history are people like them…people like me.  Crops come and go, weather is always going to be a problem, wine will be made and sold, but the tradition and land lives on.  From my perch I smiled and wished some moments could last forever.