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 firstname.lastname@example.org 250-497-6957
Enjoy your Okanagan Fall Wine Festival!
Ian and Matt pay careful attention to the type and quality of barrels used at Blue Mountain. In the video above, Ian explains some of the technical aspects of coopering, and the reasons behind the choice in French Oak barrels for the Pinot Noir.
While the oak for the barrels may come from several different oak forests in France (mainly Vosges, Tronçais, and Allier) the cooperage for the barrels used here maintains consistent density throughout the barrel. The barrels are also divided into different toast characteristics whether they be light, medium, or heavy toast.
The selection of the wine barrel has a significant impact on the flavour profile of the wine, so we hope you'll enjoy this video if you're interested in learning about some of the behind the scenes decisions here at the winery.
Our Brut Sparkling wine is made in the traditional method, or Méthode Traditionnelle as it is in Champagne.
The blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris is fermented with yeast in the bottle to create the bubbles. Over the aging process the bottle is riddled (rotated) through a series of positions until it eventually ends up top down, or sur pointe, as they say in France.
The yeast ends up settling in the neck of the bottle where it is then disgorged; the removal of the yeast plug. The wine is topped up with a dosage, which can be anything from wine, to sugar water, and is then corked and ready to sell.
The entire process typically takes 3+ years from start to market. If you're keen on understanding more about the process Ian gives a detailed explanation in the video above produced by our friend Chris Stenberg at Vine & Beach.
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....
Ian Mavety gives some insight into the Gamay Noir varietal, and in particular the 2011 vintage at Blue Mountain Winery. Typically Gamay can be a lighter red wine crafted in the Beaujolais style, but can also be a slightly heavier wine like a Beaujolais Cru, as the 2011 vintage at Blue Mountain is.
Someone once told me that you know you're from the city when you don't know what a tomato should taste like. While that may be quite a sweeping statement, I fully understood what they meant when I bit into my first heirloom tomato.
Compared to the commercially grown tomatoes I had been eating from my local grocery store, these typically farm fresh, somewhat mutant looking tomatoes had such a rich texture and flavour.
Heirloom tomatoes lack a genetic mutation that allows them to come out looking "perfect" like the commercially grown tomatoes found in most grocery stores. The shelf life of an heirloom tomato is also considerably shorter than that of the other varieties, so it must be harvested and eaten in a short time frame. This results in only the freshest of tomatoes, and the best taste!
Some of the more popular types of heirloom tomatoes around the Okanagan include the Green Zebra, Black Krim, Brandywine, Early Girl, and the Ida Gold.
Pairing tomatoes with wine can be a bit tricky, but something that compliments the acidity and fruitiness of the tomato without overwhelming it is key. On the white side of things think Chardonnay, or a white with a rounder mouth feel. Pinot Blanc may also be a better choice than Pinot Gris as it tends to be a little less acidic. A dry style sparkling wine can also compliment heirloom tomatoes well.
If you're in the Okanagan around the end of August into mid-September, be sure to check out our farmer's markets for the best selection of heirloom tomatoes and be sure to sample all of the beautifully odd looking varietals.
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.