Spit Happens #47 – Wine Trends in BC and Beyond Part 2

In Spit Happens 46 I wrote about the concept of Terroir and how the BC Wineries are starting to implement concepts of sense of place into their wine making and marketing. Farming their vineyards is another way of standing out from the crowd. How many different ways are there to farm? The answer is quite a few but there are a few ways in which your farming can result in better outcomes for your brand and the long term health of your winery. As with single vineyard wines the concept of farming differently than your neighbors and telling the customer was not widespread. Summerhill and Hainle winery were notable exceptions. As more wineries and vineyards started to develop in BC the need for a unique selling proposition became more apparent. If you can turn a specific farming ethic into a way to sell wine even better. Organic and Bio-dynamic farming are the most widely accepted techniques in grape growing .

Lets start with the first , organic. This refers only to the farming techniques not the wine making. To farm organically is exactly that. No synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fungicides. Even fence post composition in the vineyard can be specified as pressure treated fence posts may have trace elements of arsenic in them . There are also requirements about the length of time you must practice these techniques before certification will be issued . This amount of time and farming regime varies by country to country and by which organization is offering the certification. Also try to remember that Organic grape growing is different than Organic wine making which precludes the addition of sulphites. Examples of organic certified wineries are Kalala , Off the Grid , Rollingdale and Covert farms as well as the Free Form Wine made by the team at Crushpad/Haywire.Total number is between 35-40 with a few more in process.

Bio-dynamic farming refers to a more holistic approach to farming it encompasses natural fertilization techniques , no synthetic fertilization and adherence to a calendar that is a template for your farming . There are specific days in the month that are acceptable for specific tasks and you need to follow those proscribed practices to maintain your certification. Think of it as grape growing with horoscopes . ( Now I’m gonna be in trouble ) Currently the only winery certified Bio-dynamic certification is Summerhill.

Why do any of this as it might or might not lead to a better tasting wine ? The answer lies within ourselves. Wineries that follow these principle do so because they feel it’s the right thing to do. As a wine buyer we need to ask ourselves the same thing. Do we simply care about the taste ? Or do we care about how our food and drink is prepared and grown and how our decisions on what we eat and drink effects our environment.

Thanks for your time.

If you have any feedback we would love to hear from you on our Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/winecellardepot/.

Also check out our Houzz Page for design ideas and planning. http://www.houzz.com/pro/winecellardepot/wine-cellar-depot

Remember Spit Happens, tell your friends, drink great wine and eat great food.

Cheers

David Lancelot

 

Spit Happens #46 – Wine Trends in BC and Beyond

In my new life as a wine tour guide I spend a lot of time behind the scenes at wineries talking to winemakers owners and marketing staff. They alert me to upcoming releases of wines , vineyard acquisitions and all sorts of new things happening in the Okanagan wine scene. This invariably leads to discussions with the tour guests about what’s happening in the industry. I try to focus the discussion on trends that increase the wine quality or that raise the profile of the BC wine industry in a more general way.

One of the major trends in BC is wineries that explore the concept of Terroir . Terroir is a French word that means sense of place. It’s your vineyards aspect to the sun, soil type, diurnal temperature changes (daytime to nighttime ) and anything else that is different than your neighbour . If you can demonstrably show that your piece of dirt is significantly unique from another winery and makes a noticeable difference to the flavour , aromatics or structure to the wine you make you can legitimately charge more for the wine. In business we call that a unique selling proposition. This process has been under way in BC for awhile with varying degrees of success.

Why didn’t we do it right at the start of our wine industry ? The answer is it didn’t matter until it did matter. Cryptic huh ? When our industry was in it’s infancy Terroir was a detriment to it as we didn’t have the experience that well known Terroir regions of the world like France and Italy had. So the solution was to say it didn’t matter and that we were every bit as good as any other country ( even if we weren’t ) . With increased numbers of wineries and vineyards in BC we then had to stand out from our neighbouring winery. The best way to do that is to then say my piece of dirt is better than my completion down the street or down the valley. The viticulturists started to do soil pit tests, ground penetrating radar analysis and sophisticated temperature recording and modelling. The winemakers started identifying the specific Terroir locations on the properties and vinifying the lots separately . Suddenly they started to realize certain batches were more aromatic, deeper in colour or had a structure that would allow them to age longer. This experimentation leads to the identification of the best spots and Voila ! Single vineyard wines are born, you can charge more for your wine, brand expansion happens and if the market agrees with your assessment then your price for the vineyard can be substantially more when you sell.

Who does this well in British Columbia ? I’ll give you one example Synchromesh Winery in Okanagan Falls. Alan Dickinson is making world class Riesling that are unique , flavorful and compete with some of the best wines in the world. Buy them cellar them and thank me later. Just leave some for me.

Thanks for your time.

If you have any feedback we would love to hear from you on our Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/winecellardepot/ .

Also check out our Houzz Page for design ideas and planning. http://www.houzz.com/pro/winecellardepot/wine-cellar-depot

Remember Spit Happens, tell your friends, drink great wine and eat great food.

Cheers
David Lancelot

 

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