Page Archive for May, 2020

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

For eleven years now, my entire month of March has been spent preparing our new wines for bottling and summertime release.  I always look forward to this task, as it represents the culmination of many years of work and the chance to finally share those wines.

Our annual bottling date with the mobile line has always fallen in the last week of March or first week of April, giving us plenty of time to get the wines VQA approved and labelled before release.  This year, our scheduled date was April 1st (no joke).  A stickler for routine, I dutifully prepared my wines with blinders on until, thankfully, someone wiser than I provided some welcome perspective – I needed to stop and smell the Sauv Blanc.  Although we were technically still allowed to assemble a large enough crew to bottle, it just didn’t feel like the right thing to do, given the uncertainty surrounding viral spread.  Despite my initial hesitation to postpone bottling, doing our small part to keep the virus at bay became a no-brainer.

So, unfortunately, those eager wines did not make it to bottle on the early hours of April Fool’s day, and I am left with the queasy feeling of holding onto inventory longer than anticipated.  There are intertwined concerns of letting people down, wine stability, temperature control, tank space and a looming summer without visitors.

On the flip side, I can’t discount that for some of the wines, this slight delay might actually be a good thing.  Although my ego tells me that I had the wines exactly where I wanted them, perhaps some extended bulk aging could prove beneficial – tannins are still being refined, flavours developing, aromatics building.

I always figured that bottling all of our varietals in one day was risky, but never anticipated a situation like this.  Thankfully, the folks at Hunter Bottling have been more than accommodating, offering us a make-up date in July when things have hopefully settled down.

A wine bottling delay really isn’t anything to complain about in the grand scheme of things, so I’ve trained myself to think of all the great wines I’ve heard tale of through the years that were the result of unplanned “innovation”.  Sometimes it takes extenuating circumstances to get people to think outside the box and try new things.  That said, I’ll probably rack my Sauv Blanc out of barrel sometime soon…just to be safe!

Monday, May 4th, 2020

In a time of tremendous uncertainty and worry, I find myself taking solace in the simple things that I took for granted before…like being able to write a journal entry while sipping a fantastic glass of wine that I didn’t make.

Since I last wrote, there have been a few noteworthy events in our life:  another vintage in the books, a new niece, a move, a renovation, another move, and an Ada.  Oh, Ada….

We welcomed our second daughter (Ada Elizabeth) in the wee hours of January 2nd, 2020.  She arrived with an abundance of spunk and cuteness, but also a few unexpected challenges.  We were suddenly thrust into a situation that I was totally unprepared for emotionally.  Thankfully, she was born long enough before the arrival of COVID-19 to allow her to receive amazing care from the neonatal staff at McMaster Children’s Hospital.  She is not completely out of the woods yet, but her vulnerable little head has healed enough for us all to breathe a little easier.  Seeing her grow and thrive over the last four months has given me a shot of inspiration when I really needed it.

Luckily for Ada, she has a strong mother with great wound care skills, three doting grandparents, a cousin very close in age and one extremely excited sister.  Unluckily for said sister Frances, she’s had to endure much more time with a father ill-prepared for full time child care in a pandemic.  You may find this hard to believe, but she now insists that I pretend to be “Grumpy Bear” or “Grumpy Dwarf” when we play together, while she is always Sunshine Bear and Snow White, of course!

My treasured days in the vineyard have been few and far between of late, as two kids tend to require two parents (should have seen that one coming).  The days I do manage to get out there are, admittedly, a welcome change of pace.  It turns out that growing kids is way harder than growing grapes.

My hope is that Ada will read this one day and wonder what all the fuss was about, but I also worry that the current reality may linger into her world going forward.  We will do our best to adjust to the new normal both as parents and as wine growers, embracing the challenges and endeavoring to craft wines that help everyone else feel a little less Grumpy.