A few of our favourite pictures of Winter 2014 /2015 at Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars, Okanagan Falls. If you have any great pictures of Winter in the Okanagan, please submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will post them on our facebook page.
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!
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.