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
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!
The booming of propane run air cannons in the vineyard are a sure sign harvest is close to being in full swing. The cannons are used in many vineyards to scare away the birds when the grapes ripen. Some vineyards put nets over their vines to keep the birds out and often that occurs when the wineries are making ice wine as these grapes need to stay on the vines well into the winter. But birds are not the only creatures that love the taste of ripe grapes. Deer can also be very good consumers of grapes if they get loose in a vineyard and our resident black bears can eat up a whole row in very short order. At Blue Mountain we have put an 8ft fence around our vineyards to keep the deer out and as the bears dig under the fencing we have had to electrify the fencing to keep bear damage to a minimum.
All this to protect the 80 acres of grapes we are using to make our wines. In the cellar, Matt and the crew have harvested 68 tonnes of fruit to date. These Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris grapes have been pressed, pumped into tank and then left to sit for 24 hours. This lets any particles settle out. The juice is then racked and inoculated with commercial yeast selected from the Champagne region of France. The majority of this juice will be fermented in tank with only about 10% being barrel fermented in older French oak barrels for approximately 3 months. The portion in barrel is to add complexity to the sparkling wine.
So that completes our sparkling grape harvest. The crew gets a much deserved rest for the next three days and will be ready to go again on Monday when we start harvesting the Sauvignon Blanc for the table wine off of our Horse Thief high density vineyard for our cream label Sauvignon Blanc.
A big Blue Mountain welcome and thank you to Lisa Andrews from Rogers & Co in Toronto, Ontario who is helping us this week with the harvest.
The Okanagan Fall Wine Festival is fast approaching and events are selling out on a daily basis. If you haven’t already booked where you are staying and what you are attending now is a great time to make those decisions.
In Okanagan Falls we are gearing up for a number of events at local wineries and in the community. We have some great guest houses to stay at in OK Falls as well the Oliver and Penticton areas are only about a 15 minute drive away.
Here is an overview of some of the many events taking place in Okanagan Falls over the next couple weeks.
September 29, 2012
Harvest Dinner at Stag’s Hollow - 6pm - SOLD OUT
September 29, 2012
Wild Goose Autumn Barbeque - 12:00 noon
Join the Kruger family and celebrate the wine festival with their annual BBQ. This event is in celebration of harvest and their newly opened tasting room and covered patio. There will be live music, great wines and a selection of foods from their BBQ. Tickets can be purchased at the door or by calling the winery. 250-497-8919 www.wildgoosewinery.com
September 29, 2012 - Centennial Park in Okanagan Falls - 8am - 8pm
Wild West Fest
Bring the family to the wild, wild west in Okanagan Falls. Start with a pancake breakfast and enjoy the Pony Express Parade. Take in the Trading Post Exhibitor Fair or try your luck at the Wild West Bingo Hall. There is something for everyone including a watermelon crawl and an ice cream slam. www.wildwestfest.ca
October 4, 2012
Harvest WORK DAY & Lunch at Noble Ridge - SOLD OUT
October 4, 2012
Blue Mountain Vineyards Wine Dinner - Harvest Golf Club in Kelowna - 6:30 pm
This is a great opportunity to savour the flavours of the elite wines of Blue Mountain Vineyard. Treat your senses to an evening of the phenomenal wines of Blue Mountain Vineyards which will be perfectly paired with a locally inspired five course culinary creation from Executive Chef Dan Werry and his culinary team. Live musical entertainment. Reservations required . Please contact Ryan Brown or Amber Kisling at 250-862-3177
October 6, 2012
The Cat’s Pajamas - Kraze Legs Vineyard and Winery
1920’s Slang Trivia & Wines paired with cheese, chocolate and fare. Event details at http://www.krazelegz.com/news-and-events.html email@example.com 250-497-6957
Enjoy your Okanagan Fall Wine Festival!
The first Pinot Noir grapes for our Sparkling Wine have been handpicked on this cool September morning by our amazing Mexican crew. And they look beautiful -- clean, evenly ripe, and with the needed acidity for Sparkling Brut.
In the early morning hours on Thursday we started unloading approximately 49 bins of fruit, or 7.8 metric tonnes from our Horse Thief Vineyard planted in 2007. Before we started up the press all the staff gathered for a traditional toast to the new vintage, with sparkling wine of course!
With Charles transporting the fruit from the field, Christoph and Felix running the forklifts, the fruit was fed into our membrane press and whole cluster pressed. The first run juice or Cuvee makes up 75% - 85% of our crush. The berry remains or pomace were returned to our compost pile and the free run juice was put into stainless steel fermenters.
We whole cluster press to get minimal skin contact as these Pinot Noir grapes are destined for our Brut Sparkling Wine. We keep all the fruit separated in these tanks, not only by vineyard, but by different sections within each vineyard, while the grapes ferment. This is to try and best preserve the unique terroir of each site. Matt oversees it all; keeping everything organized by labeling the unique lots of fruit.
After pressing, the juice is pumped into tank to let the solids settle. This clears the juice and prepares it to be racked tomorrow. If you come and visit us, you’ll see our bins of Pinot Noir grapes lined up where our visitors usually park, where they’ll stay nice and cool in the evenings, and be close enough to continue pressing in the early hours of the morning.
Looking ahead this week we will harvest Chardonnay and a small quantity of Pinot Gris all from our Horse Thief Vineyard. These will be used to make up the blend for our NV Brut.
Although it hasn’t been as long of a day as many we will face in the coming weeks, it has been a very exciting first week of vintage! Welcome back to Blue Mountain vintage veterans Charles and Felix, and for first-timer Christoph, who was very much appreciated in the cellar. The Chocolate Chip Cake was delicious and appreciated during the busy day. Thanks Jane! All in all it has been an excellent start to the 2012 Harvest.
To be continued....
Every year thousands of visitors descend upon the Okanagan Valley looking for that little piece of what many of us take for granted. We live here and we can visit these places anytime but even within the valley we all have our favorites. We thought it would be fun to come up with our own list of the best kept secrets in the Okanagan. So we surveyed a few of our staff and asked them to share the best things about being a local in the Okanagan. We hope if you are here for a weekend or a week long holiday you will enjoy having a few insider tips on where to go and what to do.
Favorite Place to while away an afternoon?
Julie: On any of the lakes in the valley.
Christoph: Okanagan Beach, Penticton.
Felix: Horseback riding in Summerland.
Christie: The mice
Favorite Ice Cream flavour and where you go to get it?
Julie: Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel –Tickleberry’s
Christoph: Chocolate- Tickleberry’s, Ok Falls
Felix: Lemon and Passion Fruit Sorbet at Tickleberry’s, Ok Falls
Christie: Chocolate Chip Mine – Ogopogo’s
Favorite hill to ski or snowboard on in the valley?
Julie: Silver Star Mountain in Vernon
Christie: Mt. Baldy
Best summer event in the Okanagan?
Julie: Feast of Fields
Felix: My birthday so far…
Christie: Feast of Fields
Julie: Anarchist Lookout above Osoyoos looking north or south on a clear day.
Christoph: the view from Blue Mountain Vineyards over Vaseux Lake
Felix: Blue Mountain View of McIntyre Bluff
Christie: I am biased….
Best Beach in the Okanagan?
Julie: Powell Beach in Summerland
Christoph: Okanagan Beach, Penticton
Felix: There are beautiful hidden beaches in Naramata
Christie: 3 mile, Naramata
Favorite Drive or ride?
Julie: The old highway between West Kelowna and Vernon
Christoph: East – side of Skaha Lake
Felix: Trails in Naramata, Three Blind Mice
Christie: White Lake Road
Best place for lunch with friends?
Julie: Hillside Winery – have the duck confit sandwich!
Christoph: Barking Parrot, Penticton Lakeside Resort
Felix: The Hooded Merganser, Penticton Lakeside Resort
Christie: The Bench Market, Penticton
Most interesting tasting room experience at another winery?
Julie: Church and State Winery – love that you get to sit and relax while you taste.
Felix: Rustico Farm and Cellars
Favorite Okanagan Syrah?
Julie: Young & Wyse
Christoph: 2009 Syrah, Cassini Cellars, Osoyoos
Felix: Le Vieux Pin
Christie: Laughing Stock
Favorite Okanagan Riesling?
Julie: Tantalus Old Vines Riesling and Upper Bench Riesling
Christoph: 2011 Dry Riesling, Gehringer Brothers, Oliver
Felix: Tantalus & 8th Generation
Favorite Okanagan Blend?
Julie: Blue Mountain Sparkling
Christoph: 2010 Honest John’s Red, Road 13, Oliver
Felix: Osoyoos Larose
Best Breakfast or Brunch in the valley?
Julie: Patio at Wild Apple Grill at Manteo Resort
Felix: The Veras Special at the Elite Restaurant
Christie: The Bench Market
Best Fall Wine Festival Event to attend?
Julie: Gourmet and Grapes Iron Chef Showdown at Cabana
Christie: Westjet tastings
Best kept secret about the Okanagan?
Julie: All the talented chef’s we have in the valley.
Christie: Joy Road Catering God’s Mountain Dinners
Favorite Fruit Stand?
Julie: Blossom’s In Summerland
Christoph: Farmer’s Market in Penticton
Felix: Matheson Creek Farm
Christie: Matheson Creek Farm
Let us know what your favorites are and if there are some other Okanagan secrets that we haven't thought of.
For 10 days in late September and early October each year the Okanagan Valley comes alive with a celebration of the grape harvest. This is the only wine festival in North America held during harvest with over a hundred events taking place around the valley from vineyard tours to winemaker’s dinners, iron chef cook offs and educational seminars.
The Okanagan Fall Wine Festival is ranked among the top 100 events in North America and it is right in our backyard. So book early, plan ahead and take in some of the great food, extraordinary locations, amazing wine, music and people the Okanagan celebrates each fall. This year's festival kicks off September 28th and runs until October 7th. Pick your weekend or weekday, visit and celebrate with the people who make the delicious BC wines you enjoy all year long.
A full listing of events is available on the Festival website. Some highlights include:
September 30, 2012 Gourmet and Grapes, Iron Chef Throwdown VIII at Cabana Restaurant, 6pm
Gourmet & Grapes is a mixing, mingling and grazing event that boasts some of the Okanagan’s top Chefs. There will be a selection of some of the areas most renowned wineries pouring alongside these Chefs. Included in the evening’s festivities is Round 8 of Iron Chef Okanagan! Filmed, narrated and broadcasted throughout the event. This event has become one of the most exciting wine festival events of the season. Sells out every year! www.cabanagrille.com
A new event this year is Alexis de Portneuf, The Young Chefs on October 4, 2012 at Infusions Restaurant, Okanagan College.
Alexis de Portneuf is challenging nine BC Interior young Chefs to get creative. The challenge is to create an appetizer, main or dessert course using cheese. Guests will sample these creations and will vote for their favourites. Come celebrate the young culinary talent in the Okanagan. www.selectyourtickets.com or 250.717.5304
The final weekend wraps up with the Valley First Grand Finale Consumer Tastings October 5 & 6, 6:00 pm at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre.
Over 60 wineries will be pouring with over 240 wines to sample. There will be live entertainment at this safe ride home event. This is a great way to sample wines of the Okanagan without having to drive around. Weekend Passes are available to make sure you get to sample everything; allowing participants to sip white one night and swirl red the next. Tickets at www.valleyfirsttix.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars is pleased to participate in a wine dinner, October 4, 2012 at the Harvest Golf Club 6:30 pm.
This is a great opportunity to savour the flavours of the elite wines from Blue Mountain. Treat your senses with a locally inspired five course culinary creation from Executive Chef Dan Werry and his culinary team paired with Blue Mountain wines. Live musical entertainment. Reservations required.
In June the Euro Cup was held in Poland and the Ukraine. You wouldn’t think this is a big deal to a bunch of Canadians who didn’t even qualify, but here at Blue Mountain Vineyards it was. This year we have 3 staff members from Germany and one from Poland. I myself have a British/Dutch heritage so soccer or football as they call it in Europe was very much a part of growing up. Needless to say the discussions around the lunch table and the interaction between the guys in the cellar and the office staff were pretty focused on the games. It made it kind of fun to all unite around a common subject. Sport. Sadly none of our teams won but we enjoyed giving each other a hard time and commiserating when our teams were eliminated.
Two of our Euro Contingent are permanent staff. Tomasz from Poland who does restaurant and retail sales in the Okanagan as well as helping in the office and tasting room and doing a lot of packing. Felix is also here on a more permanent basis as well and makes up part of the German trio. Felix assists Matt with the winemaking and Christoph and Christine are here on internships until the end of harvest. Christoph is working in the cellar and the vineyard and Christine is helping us in the office and the tasting room. As part of our conversations I thought it might be interesting to get to know these Euro staffers a little better and so I asked them a few questions. Here is what they had to say.
How did you become interested in wine?
Tomasz: I first got introduced to red wine back in Poland, around 12 - 13 years ago. At that time there was almost nothing available so when I arrived in Canada 10 years ago I was pleasantly surprised to see all the wine from around the world.
Christine: I was raised on my parents wine estate so I became familiar with working in the vineyard and cellar. I also represented my village as a wine princess and decided to study International Wine Business.
Felix: My grandpa and uncle farm vineyards in Germany. As a little boy I already helped out in the vineyards.
Christoph: Grew up in a traditional wine region and worked at my parent’s winery.
Favorite wine region in the world?
Tomasz: I haven’t seen that many places, but I think I like the border of Spain and France.
Christine: There are lots of great wine growing regions and to my mind each is individual and fascinating. There are nice regions in Germany like Pfalz (palatinate), Baden especially the Lake Constance area and the Douro Valley in Portugal and of course the Okanagan Valley.
Felix: The Pfalz in Germany. The second largest wine region with 23,000 ha and the most beautiful. The world’s best Rieslings come from there.
Christoph: Wurttemberg, Germany
Favorite grape varietal and why?
Tomasz: Chardonnay because it is so beautiful and so underrated nowadays.
Christine: I really like Riesling because this grape is so changeable. This means that you can produce brilliant dry wines which can be fruity or have mineral qualities, on the other hand it is possible to create great sweet and noble sweet wines. Riesling has great flavours of green apple, peach, grapefruit and a high acidity which leads to a fresh wine.
Christoph: Riesling - There are many different styles and types are possible. Typical for Germany you can find it anywhere in Germany.
Felix: Definitely Riesling. No other variety is so versatile and expresses the terroir like Riesling does.
What you like best about being in the Okanagan?
Tomasz: Once the summer arrives, there is no better place to be in the world. First class outdoor activities, mountains, wine, lakes...everything is here.
Christine: Friendly people and customers, beautiful landscapes and nice weather.
Christoph:The friendly, helpful and relaxed people.
Felix: Meeting new and interesting people. Beautiful landscape and good wine.
What do you miss most from home besides your family?
Tomasz: Homemade perogies and white borsch over smoked sausage.
Christine: German breakfast, driving without a speed limit.
Christoph: My fantastic friends!
Felix: Beer, sausage and sauerkraut and my girlfriend of course.
What do you hope to learn from your experience at Blue Mountain Winery?
Christine: To get an insight into the Canadian way of producing and selling wine and the wine market. To get to know some new wines with a different style.
Christoph: How to produce high quality wines and how to manage all of the important sequences of work. Also to improve my English.
Felix: To make good wine, getting more independent and more experience. To gain insight into a successful run winery.
So if you see them in the tasting room or out on a tractor say hi or give them a wave. They are happy to share their experiences and talk with visitors. Thank you to all of our Euro connection for being such great sports. I am sure we will learn as much from them as they are learning with their Canadian experience. Hopefully their time here will leave them with a soft spot in their hearts for Canada in the future. Go Canada go!