Do you ever ask yourself what is the best wine in my price range that I can buy in this store right now? Now there is a way of finding out. WineAlign, Canada’s largest and most popular online wine site recently launched in BC and has more than 4,500 wines from the British Columbia Liquor Distribution Branch in its database with more being added every day.
WineAlign was founded four years ago by Toronto web entrepreneur and wine lover Bryan McCaw, with the aim of providing immediate, objective and comprehensive advice to shoppers at Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) stores. In 2012 WineAlign attracted over 967,000 different people, making it one of the busiest wine sites in Canada.
WineAlign now provides B.C.-based wine consumers with ratings and multiple critic reviews on wines available at their local BC Liquor Stores. It will also provide inventory levels at their nearest BCLDB store.
Following its debut in B.C., WineAlign will be exploring partnerships with private wine retailers in an effort to provide an even wider service to B.C.-based consumers.
"This is a light, spry, savoury, young and very complete pinot sports lifted cranberry, currant fruit with floral notes and beautifully integrated oak vanillin. It’s slim, tight, savory and complete. Excellent length here, with minerality, fruit and herbal notes nicely intertwined. Easy to like now but give it a few months to soften a bit. Should live through 2017." David Lawrason, Tasted February 2013.
To access this and other reviews sign up for an account with WineAlign.
Delicious Garlic and Bacon Stuffed Leg of Lamb with Rosemary to share with friends or family over the Easter weekend. Enjoy with Blue Mountain 2011 Pinot Noir
The majority of the post harvest work has been completed. Fermentation has taken place in either barrel or tank and now the wines are aging, waiting to be bottled and later consumed. Many of the wines particularly the reds go through malolactic fermentation during this time. The barrels containing the wine that is fermenting need to be monitored on an ongoing basis to make sure the malolactic fermentation is taking place.
Another task of the cellar staff is barrel topping and stirring. Throughout the winter over time evaporation will take place in the barrels. These barrels need to be topped up every week or two with the same wine to keep oxidation from occurring. Sometimes this can be as much as 6 litres per 228 litre barrel over a 1 to 1 1/2 month time frame. At the end of fermentation, on a weekly or bi weekly basis the white wines are stirred which is called batonnage. This stirring of the wine makes yeast particles in the wine called lees fall through the wine preventing oxidation. Another benefit of stirring the lees in a wine is the creation of a creaminess in the mouth feel of the wine. Photo below of our assistant winemaker Felix Korb.
In addition to barrel topping and stirring, SO2 or potassium metabisulfite is added in appropriate amounts in late fall or early winter. This starts when the whites finish fermentation and happens later with the reds as they have to go through malolactic fermentation prior to the addition of SO2. SO2 is added to the wine for antioxidant and antimicrobial purposes.
Finally we have quite a bit of work to do every winter with our sparkling wine production. The sparkling wine that has finished its primary fermentation from the current vintage are blended in tank to create our NV Brut, and our three vintage cuvees Brut Rose, Reserve Brut and Blanc de Blancs. The wine is then cold stabilized, gently filtered, inoculated with yeast and bottled to start the secondary fermentation process in the bottle. For more information on sparkling wine see our video
The office staff stays very busy planning for the next season as well as looking after holiday orders and any releases that occur during the “quiet “ time.
This year during the off season we launched our wine club called the Friends of Blue Mountain Priority Group, allowing customers to pre order the wines they would like to receive on an annual basis. So far it has been very successful and people seem to appreciate not having to wait for a release notice. For more information on the Friends of Blue Mountain Priority Group visit our website.
Other activities that keep us busy include event planning, finalizing some new packaging, planning sales and marketing for the next season. Every now and then you get an odd request like monogramming a wine barrel for a restaurant or a visit from a viticulture class to tour your facility that keeps everything interesting.
Before the snow arrives, there is work to be done in the vineyard to make sure the vines are ready for the next season. The compost has been building over the hot summer months and is then spread throughout the vines in fall using 2 year old mature compost. A layer of organic fertilizer is also spread throughout the vineyard. This is a feathermeal based fertilizer and provides a slow release of nitrogen and organic matter. Both feed the soil to feed the vine and provide a long term soil fertility building process. The 90 tonnes of pomace created through the harvest are then added to the compost that was started in the spring, to start the two year process of becoming the rich compost that is used to nourish the vines in the coming years.
Hilling up around the vines is also done. This is to protect the graft union, root stock and scion. The scion is the varietal of importance and is typically less cold hardy than the rootstock. Hilling mitigates the cold and is the 1st step in weed management practices. The tractor creates these hills and is part of the mechanical weed control in the vineyard. Allowing us to "plough back" in the spring to unearth the vines. In addition a tractor will pass through the vineyard and do an initial cut or pre- pruning of the vineyard. This reduces the hand labour in pruning by starting to loosen shoots and remove excess shoot length from the wires. By removing shoots the nutrients will move only to the required buds.
Once the snow falls vineyard staff are busy keeping the road to the winery accessible for commercial vehicles and a hectic schedule of clearing and plowing takes place. Charlie looks after the majority of our road and does an excellent job making sure we can all get safely to work. At the same time pruning starts and you can hear the electric pruners buzzing all over the farm. This takes 4 months per year with a small crew. Pruning is very important as is sets the crop potential for the coming season and all the plant work during the growing season. Pruning removes unwanted shoots and only leaves the required amount of buds and thus form the new bearing spurs and shoots for the coming season. For an overview on the processes that make up the overall activity in the vineyard please view /About-Us/A-Year-in-the-Vineyard or view our tour of the vineyard video with Ian Mavety.
Proprietor, Ian Mavety discusses the various sustainable viticulture practices used at Blue Mountain Vineyards in the video above.
- Vineyard layout
- High density plantings
- Sustainable viticulture
- On-farm composting
Wishing Waterfront Restaurant and Wine Bar, Mark Filatow the best of luck this weekend at the Canadian Culinary Championships. Mark is representing BC this year. Check out this great interview with Chef Filatow.
Good luck to all the other visiting Chefs from across Canada! The Canadian Culinary Championships will be held in Kelowna until 2015 so if you missed out on tickets this year make sure you book early for next year.
Photo: Waterfront Wines
Waterfront Restaurant and Wine Bar owner, chef and sommelier Mark Filatow is ready for the Canadian Culinary Championships.
“I only drink Champagne when I’m happy, and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I am not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty.” (Lily Bollinger)
Working at a winery that makes sparkling wine is one of the best parts of my job, it is also one of the most challenging. In the wine shop, on a daily basis I hear our visitors remark that our sparkling would be great for New Year’s or their anniversary…and it would be. But the message I feel I am always trying to share is that sparkling, or champagne or prosecco or any other bubbly is a wine. Despite the fact that it contains 49 million bubbles it deserves to be treated like any other wine. You wouldn’t think twice about opening a white or a red wine any day of the week. So why not open a bottle of sparkling on a Thursday, because it’s almost the weekend or your power bill arrived and it was either higher, or better yet lower than you expected. Sparkling is not just for special occasions it is for everyday and we all need to drink more bubble for no reason.
Everyone says they have a bottle that they are saving for a special occasion. My advice is don’t wait for that special occasion, they don’t always happen like you expect. Instead open the bottle of sparkling and make the occasion special. You can always replace the bottle with another for that far off special day. At our house every gathering starts with bubble, usually sparkling or prosecco. We find it gets everyone into a celebratory mode regardless of the occasion.
Sometimes I wonder if people get hung up on not having the right glassware. Not everyone has a bunch of champagne flutes in their china cabinet nor does everyone want the hassle of washing them every time. Enjoy your sparkling in a regular wine glass. You will be amazed at how much more of the aromatics of the wine come through and it will take away the stuffy feeling of having to enjoy it in a flute. Don’t get me wrong flutes lend something to the celebration but they are not a must have to enjoy sparkling.
This year make a New Year’s Resolution when you are toasting with friends or family with your celebratory glass of sparkling in hand to drink more bubbly for no reason. I guarantee it will be the easiest resolution you have ever tried to keep. And remember life is a celebration!
P.S. If you want to know more about how sparkling is made watch this great video. /blog/how-sparkline-wine-is-made
The choice to use cork as a closure for wine is something of a contentious debate. While there are many arguments in favour of a manufactured screw cap closure, or Stelvin Cap as it is known by popular trade name, there also exist many arguments against.
Blue Mountain continues to use all natural corks. This is partly due to the availability of top quality corks, and the increased quality of the cork available to us. It is also a style of winemaking that we feel has worked for us. Oxygen transfer, or lack thereof, into the bottle over time is a significant factor in how a wine ages over time, and we have reached a point where we know how our wines age in the bottle given the methods we have been using. A changeover to a metal screw cap would dictate a new approach to making our wines, and would also take time to understand whether or not we had made the correct choices in type of enclosure, type of glass, cap liner porosity, etc.
While there is certainly a place for the screw cap, we are sticking with the natural cork for our wines based on experience and testing over time. While we would never say never, at the moment there's just something satisfying about popping a cork. Call us old fashioned, but we like it that way.
What do you think? Do you prefer cork or screw cap?
Every year for the past 22 plus years there has been a familiar face at Blue Mountain Vineyard during harvest. This person is a very special member of our harvest team and although not paid for his many hours of labour, he is appreciated for his genuine heart and the great personality that he brings to Blue Mountain. Hank Stefaniak although technically a member of the family has been coming to Blue Mountain Vineyard faithfully every year for as long as there have been vintages.
Living on the Island those early sojourns were sometimes short as for a while he was still working in Education as an administrator and educator. In the beginning 4 day long weekends were all he could get away for but eventually he voluntarily chose to book vacation and spend his week or two of holidays in Okanagan Falls. Since he retired in 1997 he manages a full month or more whenever possible.
This year I had the opportunity to meet Hank and to chat with him about his experiences during various harvests at Blue Mountain Vineyard.
What are some of the jobs you have done while you were helping out with the harvesting? In the early days I photographed many of the days during production and much of the construction and planting that was happening. These pictures were used for promotional pieces and marketing mainly. (Hank was the very first person to photograph the iconic image of McIntyre Bluff that graces the labels of all Blue Mountain Wines.)
More recently I did spend a little time in the vineyard pruning. I have been mainly in the cellar since, hosing down bins, driving the forklift, barrel curing, topping up barrels, cleaning and rinsing tanks, what I call grunt work! In terms of the wine making and testing....not so much.
Do you have a favorite job in the cellar? Not really, I just do whatever needs to be done although pump overs, climbing ladders and hauling skins were more fun when I was younger.
Anything you dislike about working harvest? Wasps
Most memorable harvest and why? 1996 ...it was super cold and Ian and Jane had the crush pad set up behind the building. There was a makeshift bin dump and I was scraping berries in with my arm and rain was pouring down off the gutters everywhere. It wasn’t bad just freezing cold.
Thankfully this year was the complete opposite and Hank got some lovely long warm days on the crush pad. On behalf of everyone at Blue Mountain Vineyard thanks for all you do Hank and all you have done in the many years that you have been coming to help out with harvest. Your smile, great work ethic and sense of humour are greatly appreciated. See you next year!