On the road…
Early July, my family and I travelled to Torroja del Priorat in the province of Tarragona, located in the heart of the Priorat wine region of Spain. We were blown away with the beauty of this area as well as the challenging growing conditions of the vineyard sites. The vineyards are mainly located on terraced hillsides trained in a gobelet (bush vines), while some of the newer vineyards are trellised. The vineyard sites can be found planted between 100 - 700 metres above sea level.
The main red varietals grown in this area are Grenacha (Grenache) and Carineña (Carginan) along with some Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot. The soil is quite unique, with reddish and black slate and quartz.
Torroja del Priorat, surrounded by forest and two main agriculture crops of grapes and olives, as well with a small production of hazelnuts and almonds.
Terroir al Limit vineyard site at approximately 700 metres above sea level.
Terroir al Limit wines.
Mas Martinet vineyard located at 700 metres.
Visit Mas Marinet Viticultors @ www.masmartinet.com
This past July I attended and represented the winery at the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration held in Niagara. This event celebrates wine, food and learning about this cool variety. There are a number of events that occur throughout the weekend.
The i4C commenced with The School of Cool panel tastings. The Reserve Chardonnay 2015 was included in Session 3, Raising Chardonnay.
13th Street Winery hosted a lunch, Fizz, Friends and Fromage on the Saturday.
The Blanc de Blancs 2009 R.D. was showcased at the Flights of Chardonnay tasting.
The Cool Chardonnay World Tour Tasting and Dinner was hosted on the last night of the i4C.
Hidden Bench Winery hosted Bubbles on the Bench as a closure to the weekend festivities.
A preview of the Blanc de Blancs 2010 R.D was poured at this event. Look for the release of this wine in October.
One of the key pieces to sustainability in the vineyard is our use of composting. Typically a large amount of compost material arrives in the spring, where it is windrowed and left to decompose over 1-2 years before it is spread throughout the vineyard. We are always looking for ways to improve our farming practice and connection with this land. Happy Earth Day, and please enjoy this video of Ian explaining our wonderful compost heap.
There was a lot of talk about the weather in 2015! Record breaking snowfalls in January gave way to an early spring here in the Okanagan, with bud break occurring around April 7, which is roughly two weeks ahead of a normal year according to our winemaker Matt Mavety.
Flowering of the vines continued the two week advance trend, followed by a warmer than average growing season that pushed the start of harvest up the calendar by about 3 weeks. This year we started the harvest on August 13, 2015, picking Pinot Noir for sparkling wine. To give this some context, we would normally start harvesting the same grape around September 5-7.
Cooler weather at the end of August and early September was actually a blessing, and allowed for good maturity and preservation of acidity, and hence the minerality of the wines. The generally hot weather through spring and early summer did create some challenges for our cool climate varietals; however, we were able to select the best harvest dates to preserve the freshness of the fruit and manage the alcohol level in the wines.
With the 2015 vintage in the barrel, so to speak, the pace at the vineyard has slowed back to normal as we maintain and prepare the vineyard for winter...and maybe find some time to start waxing our skis!
Cheers from the Okanagan!
The Mavety Family
Gamay Noir cluster about to be harvested.
Our favourite crew from Mexico back with us for another harvest. These guys are like family now!
Chardonnay ready for the press.
Vineyard Manager Ernst working the tractor.
As the evenings come, there are always plenty of grapes to be processed.
It's like grape bin Tetris sometimes as we shuffle everything around the vineyard during harvest.
End of a day in the vineyard and the tractor is put to rest.
Chef Chris VanHooydonk joined us for our 2015 Harvest Celebration Dinner.
Our wonderful guests for this year's Harvest Celebration Dinner.
Pinot Noir grapes waiting to be destemmed and pressed while the 2014 vintage looks on from the barrels.
Winemaker Matt working the destemmer.
Jean-Marie putting the Pinot Noir into the tank.
Elodie joins us from France for this harvest.
There is no job too small during harvest! Ian Mavety helps with the bins while Matt "supervises."
Photos by Chris Stenberg
A few of our favourite pictures of Spring 2015 at Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars, Okanagan Falls. If you have any great pictures of Spring in the Okanagan, please submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will post them on our facebook page.
Image on right by Andrea Johnson
May marks the start of another exciting tasting room season at Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars. We are now open seven days a week, daily from 11am - 5pm. If you haven't visited the winery yet, this is the year to come see us. We highly recommend packing a picnic lunch and spending a little time taking in the stunning scenery at the winery. Surrounded by vineyards and well off the beaten track, bask in the view of McIntyre Bluff and enjoy the sunshine Blue Mountain is well known for.
If you can't plan lunch, our neighbours down the road at Liquidity Bistro will be happy to feed you. Across the way there are a couple of other great spots to grab a bite. Wild Goose Vineyards last year opened the Smoke N Oak Bistro where you can enjoy southern BBQ. On the other side of the valley, enjoy the stellar views from See Ya Later Ranch looking north up Skaha Lake. Their outdoor patio is a great place to while away an afternoon.
With no shortage of great places to eat and excellent wineries to visit your trip to Okanagan Falls is a destination in itself. Make a day of it, call your friends and come see us.
See you soon!
There is a hidden gem in Okanagan Falls…try heading down to Dogtown Coffee Co. for breakfast and a coffee to jump start your day before an exciting day of touring the Okanagan Falls wineries. They have a great breakfast menu to choose from, such as: fresh baked pastries, omelettes or even a morning wrap.
Dogtown is all about local fare; they carry a local coffee roaster, Lone Tree Coffee from Summerland, and showcase local artists throughout the year.
As well they have a second location in Penticton, Dogtown Café & Urban Market that opened early December 2014. Check out their facebook page to learn more about what they are doing at this location.
Dogtown in Okanagan Falls
5121 HWY 97, Okanagan Falls
Open Monday - Friday 7am – 3pm, Saturday 9am – 4pm
The Okanagan Valley a spectacular place to visit in the summer, but for those of you that do not know we have a handful of excellent mountain resorts. You can enjoy downhill skiing, snowboarding, classic or skate skiing and snowshoeing throughout the valley. If you plan to visit the Okanagan Valley I would like to recommend three resorts.
You will find Apex Mountain Resort 33 kilometers west of Penticton, approximately a 30 minute drive from Penticton. You can enjoy the following activities at the mountain resort, such as: the Tube Park accessed via a lift, cross-country skiing at Nickelplate Nordic Centre, with 56 kilometres of groomed trails for both classic and skate skiing, and snowshoeing is another great adventure. You can always contact Hoodoo Adventure Company regarding tour and rental options.
Big White Ski Resort is located 56 kilometres from Kelowna. For those of you that will be flying into the Kelowna airport you can take advantage of the Airport Shuttle. View here for a map.
Some fun Mountain Facts:
- Summit: 2,319m (7,606 ft.)
- Village Centre: 1,755m (5,757 ft.)
- Westridge Base: 1,508m (4,950 ft.)
There are also a handful of activities that can be found at the resort such as:
Ice climbing, tube park, snowmobile tours, ice skating, snowshoeing, dog sledding, horse drawn sleigh rides, cross country skiing and there is a spa!
Silver Star is located just outside of Vernon at the north end of the valley, considered a one stop resort in the Vernon area. If you can believe it, Silver Star is BC’s third largest ski area. Some of the fun winter activities outside of downhill skiing or snowboarding are as follows: rock climbing, horse sleigh rides, ice skating, snowmobile tours, snowshoe tours and much more.
We would love to hear about all of your fun adventures. Have a fabulous winter season!
Méthode Traditionnelle sparkling wines goes through a primary fermentation in the tank and a second fermentation in the bottle. Once the wine goes through its second fermentation in bottle it is left to age on its lees, the dead yeast cells. At this time, the sparkling wine continues to age for several more years resulting in a toasty, yeasty characteristic.
Next we need to disgorge, remove the yeast cells from the wine and then it will be ready to drink. This is when we will date the disgorgement date on the label and it is titled R.D.
This special aging on the lees allows the wine to maintain a unique combination of freshness and liveliness, while developing delicate and complex aromas. Sparkling wines benefit from a prolonged maturation on its lees reinforcing the aromatic subtlety and complexity of the final wine.
Below is our disgorging line. The first image shows all of the sparkling bottles with their necks down in a glycol bath. Whereas the next image is the bottling line where the dosage is added.
Next time you pick up a bottle of sparkling wine please go ahead and take a look at the label and look for the disgorgment date!
It is our third official season for the tasting room to be open with no appointment necessary. We are now open daily from 11am to 5pm for you to drop by to taste and purchase our wines.
I am very fortunate to have a handful of knowledgeable staff to guide you through your wine tasting of Blue Mountain wines and make helpful recommendations for visits to other wineries, events and activities to partake in while visiting the Okanagan Valley.
I would like to introduce you to some of the personalities behind the tasting bar at Blue Mountain for the 2014 season!
How did you become interested in wine?
Angela Grant - Although I did take my first wine course over 10 years ago as part of the Hotel and Restaurant Management Program, I think touring the Okanagan really peaked my interest when I saw how much soil, climate and the wine making process can change the way each varietal tastes.
Chantelle Bruwer - I studied Marketing Management in Stellenbosch, South Africa. In my final year of studies I met my (now) husband, Ernst - who's passion for wine & the wine industry had an influence on my career choice.
Heidi Astles - As a former flight attendant, I travelled extensively, and was fortunate to experience different wines from around the world.
Julie Planiden - Growing up in the Okanagan, wine was always in my backyard so to speak. Then I married a chef and had the opportunity to travel and live in many parts of Canada. During these years I had many amazing food and wine experiences.
Kornelia Brieke - In the 80's I met Albert Le Comte who introduced me to Gewurztraminer and I have loved wine ever since.
Favorite wine region in the world?
Angela Grant - Call me biased but I love the wines from the Okanagan! Unlike many other wine regions in the world, there are less guidelines, allowing wine makers to be creative and I love how the orchard fruits shine through in them.
Chantelle Bruwer - I'm going to be true to my roots... South Africa. Some of my favourite wine regions in South Africa include Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, the Overberg, Walker Bay, Elim, Constantia & Cape Point.
Heidi Astles - I would have to say Australia, my husband and I have visited all of the wine regions there. We especially enjoyed the Yarra Valley, which is just east of Melbourne.
Julie Planiden - Although I have travelled, I have not visited many wine regions. So on my bucket list are Champagne, Sancerre, Burgundy, Oregon, Tuscany, Australia, and South Africa.
Kornelia Brieke - Alsace Region - Rhine in Germany
Favorite Grape Varietal and why?
Angela Grant - Pinot Noir, it makes my favourite red, can be made into sparkling and also Rose.
Chantelle Bruwer - Shiraz, my love for this varietal started when I worked at Raka winery in South Africa.
Heidi Astles - Gamay Noir - It is a great red to drink in its youth, slightly chilled. Pair it with red meat, or a rich flavourful fish like salmon.
Julie Planiden - Lately I have been drawn to Chardonnay. I think it is a versatile grape variety, extremely food friendly, think halibut, buttery popcorn, lobster, or nothing at all. I appreciate that it has so many incarnations, fully oaked, stainless steel fermented, lightly oaked, malolactic fermentation, the list goes on.
Kornelia Brieke - Gewurztraminer as it has nice tropical fruit flavours, spice and sometimes smokiness. It goes great with lots of foods.