This week has been crazy BUSY for Babbling Bottles: crazy in the way that everything is growing like mad in the vineyard right now! Between finding support bamboo for those raucous rule-breaking baby shoots and keeping up with the task of lifting wire to support the massive amount of growth occurring with the vineyard's more established vines, this is prime-time for learning all that needs to be accomplished and maintained in a well-run vineyard.
The best part of it all is seeing all the rapid changes occurring in the plants; from tying off winter-stiffened canes that will provide the support structure for copious viniferous canopies housing those precious grape clusters (a high-anxiety effort that had me convinced that our first harvest of Pinot Noir would be hampered by my amazing skills at knocking off those primary buds just as they were beginning to make their spring appearance) to the high point of the summer, where those same canes are now absolutely overflowing with fresh green shoots bursting upward and onwards with no regards to their harvesters intentions. The vineyard is a bustling environment full of changes that I get to witness firsthand! Thankfully, after looking in on the Block 3 (Pinot Noir), I enjoyed a huge sigh of relief to see that those poor victims of my amateur efforts managed to spring to life anyway and are thriving in the Okanagan summer that is seemingly on a schedule of its own this year. A late start to the season was followed by a intense heat wave that could actually burn the protective leave barrier and prevent the fruit from ripening properly. This is because malic acid, one of the primary acids that add freshness and longevity to wine, is highly sensitive to temperatures exceeding 30 degrees C. The result? overly-ripe, 'jammy' wines.
Despite the heat, the work of lifting wire is relatively easier on the back compared to the task of suckering, or removing all undesired shoots from the bases and sides of the canes. I find it incredibly satisfying in the way that the work you’ve accomplished is highly visible, unlike how those darn suckers seem to sprout back overnight, which would often lead me to question whether I dreamed of finishing a block of rows only to come back the next morning and see them covered in green growths that bring to mind the days of rapid sprouting Chia Pets! Both tasks are important to promote the concentration of growth in the areas most wanted - in the canopies of leaves protecting the bunches, and in the fruit itself, which also has to be 'green harvested' at times to prevent over production that would result in sub-par quality fruit. Below I have included a before and after photo of one of the rows I worked on – they really wrangle those vines and whip them into proper shape!
After a hard days work in the outdoors, I decided to indulge a little midweek delight: a bottle of The View’s Silver Lining 2015 (crafted with over 90% of our signature Pinotage blended with Merlot sourced from the Southern Okanagan region) and a bag of my FAVOURITE POPCORN EVER (YES, ALL CAPS IN NECESSARY!) Queen Bee Buttery Bliss Popcorn – a devilishly delicious pairing that perfectly complements the bewitchingly buttery nose of the Estate Red. This particular blend always surfaces memories of going to the movies where the aromas of freshly popped popcorn and cherry cola have re-imagined themselves and found a new home in an adulterously enjoyable format. Honestly, I could just sit and swirl a glass of this Pinotage blend and be transported to wine heaven – without even taking a sip.
Pinotage has an interesting origins story in South Africa in the Stellenbosch University Viticultre program, one that is fascinating - and a tad dramatic - that I hope to share in an upcoming In Focus series. However, for now, I am off to the sunny southern side of the Okanagan to spend an afternoon giving wine tastings to the fine people of Penticton. It looks like I’ll be searching for my next refreshing glass of Rose later on today, if this lovely weather holds up! :)
xo Babbling Bottles