2017 YEAR IN REVIEW, 2018 GOALS

2017 year in review wine

The year has blown by. Once in a while, I looked up to find a month had passed in a blur. The overwhelming feeling I have for 2017 is gratitude that I can earn a living doing something I adore. Thank you for reading this blog, and thank you to the wonderful wine students around the world who inspire and spur me on!

I'd love to hear about your goals for 2018 - please share in the comments section below.

Big Things 2017

~ I was elevated to Full Judge at the IWSC, and attended in April judging the wines of Canada and USA.

~ Presenting two seminars at Cornucopia Wine Fest, on the best wines from BC and wines from old vines, was a thrill. It gave me perspective on the huge volume of work behind the scenes for every tasting and festival. I also gained insight into the importance of importers and distributors, and knowing their portfolios. 

~ My husband and I continued to work on our small Similkameen vineyard (bought in 2016) and build our house. After last year's serious haircut, our overgrown vines started to look on their way to manicured. Ultimately, however, we failed to bring in a crop of wine grapes due to powdery mildew, which was a heartbreak, although there were some tasty table grapes which had the requisite heartiness to survive our steep learning curve. We bought a small tractor, a Kubota, which didn't arrive until July - but will hopefully improve our success in 2018. This year tested some of the more romantic ideas I held about farming, such as how often the vines needed to be sprayed with sulphur. It was also edifying to do more real vineyard work. Book smarts are not a substitute for hands on experience.

~ The greatest joy I had this year was working with my fantastic students, who live around the world (in over 20 countries!!!), helping them prepare for their wine exams. Reading your tasting notes, emails, comments, and essays has been such a pleasure, and I find it so very inspiring. There are now four Diploma level theory prep courses and a new Level 3 prep course in the stable.

Goals for 2018

Travel:  Each spring, I look forward to visiting London for IWSC, and this year I'll be journeying to Portugal afterwards to visit Lisbon, Porto and the Douro. I'm also heading to Verona in January for Anteprima Amarone, then on to Rome for a few days of wandering, mainly restaurants, ruins, and museums. I'd like to return to Walla Walla in Washington, and Oregon's Willamette.

Harvest: Bring in a proper crop of wine grapes. This will be the second full pruning we give our vines. Now that there's snow on the ground, we can see the new canes are in the right spot (before, the trunks reached to nearly the top of the wires), and I'm confident we can get them looking spiffy with a real crop of fruit. There's high demand for organic Chardonnay in the Okanagan/Similkameen, and we have a tractor to pay for!  

Book: I'm releasing the second edition of Winetripping in spring 2018. There are fast changes going on in the Okanagan, and many new producers to visit (I heard there are close to 100 applications for new wine producers in BC). Have you been before? 

Courses & Secret Project: Updating and enhancing my Prep Courses. New features include a blind tasting and exam strategies clinic! I love working one on one with students and this is something I will be incorporating more of in the New Year. Plus, there's a surprise project I'm working on right now, something that I think will be really useful for wine students in their blind tasting efforts. 

Study: Applying to the MW program has been on my radar since passing the WSET Diploma. I'm making on a 6 month study schedule which will begin in January 2018 to prep for the application which opens in summer.

Taste: By scouring importer websites and restaurant wine lists, I've put together a sheet of key producers by region. My goal is to be more focused in learning about producers in 2018. The body of wine knowledge is so delightfully vast: first you learn grapes, then region, then winemaking, then producer. Then you start all over again at a deeper level! 

Here's a link to your 2018 wine goals worksheet. I'd love to hear what your New Year plans are. 

Wishing you vintage Champagne, generous friends, good health, and plenty of joie de vivre for the New Year!

Cheers & Cin Cin,

Rachel