SIMILKAMEEN SPONSORSHIP: CHARDONNAY PROJECT FROM OUR VINEYARD

When we bought our vineyard in the Similkameen Valley last summer, my husband and I inherited a crop of grapes and weren't sure what to do with them!

The vineyard was (and still is) a wild place, full of weeds, wildflowers, bugs and birds, and the grapes were growing with abandon, having not been pruned the past two years. We decided to sponsor two young winemakers who wanted to make their own wine for the first time, Keenan and Madison, with a small lot of grapes.

They visited our vineyard in late August 2016 to harvest, and spent the winter creating their wines. This weekend, we picked up a few bottles from their efforts: a pet nat and a still version of the Chardonnay.

 Happy Chardonnay bunches destined for Keenan & Madison's project

Happy Chardonnay bunches destined for Keenan & Madison's project

This project was fun to be a {small} part of, and we plan to do this again. If you know someone in the Similkameen or Okanagan who is an aspiring winemaker, we will be awarding one lot of grapes for them to work with under our Similkameen Sponsorship this harvest season! I'll link to the details soon.

 Intrepid young winemakers braving what was a very cold 2016 winter

Intrepid young winemakers braving what was a very cold 2016 winter

Here are some pictures from the journey:

 After picking, straight to the crush pad. They whole cluster pressed until midnight! Lots of yeast from the organic site made for a vigorous ferment. Natural wine begins...

After picking, straight to the crush pad. They whole cluster pressed until midnight! Lots of yeast from the organic site made for a vigorous ferment. Natural wine begins...

 A DIY pupitre

A DIY pupitre

 Time to disgorge - a messy business

Time to disgorge - a messy business

It’s certainly been a learning experience. We’ve learned it’s important to settle the juice as best as possible before it starts to ferment...tomorrow’s disgorging may be a nightmare but we think that might have given us a clearer wine. We’ve also learned how important it is to be in a community of friends to help when needed.

Most of all we’ve learned to appreciate new flavours and aromas in wine. After our own project, all we want to drink is other folk’s experimental and funky wines. {Madison}
 Enjoying the final product: Similkameen pet nat

Enjoying the final product: Similkameen pet nat

Congratulations, Madison & Keenan! I wish you all the best in your wine careers and am anticipating big things from you both.

Cheers,

Rachel

MY FIRST ARTICLE FOR WINE ENTHUSIAST

When I woke up this morning, it was to some fantastic news: my first article for Wine Enthusiast has been published! What a thrill to see my story on their home page:

 My article on the left. Hey, there's Guy Fieri!

My article on the left. Hey, there's Guy Fieri!

When I started the WSET Diploma, it was my dream to become a wine writer, so you can probably imagine how exciting this is.

It's a story about buying our small organic vineyard in the Similkameen, and getting to know what's involved in fixing up some very overgrown vines. I hope you enjoy it, please do leave a comment on the Wine Enthusiast page.

READ THE ARTICLE HERE

Hopefully there are more stories to come!

WINETRIPPING: A GUIDEBOOK TO BC'S BEST OKANAGAN & SIMILKAMEEN VALLEY WINERIES

 Looking down towards Osoyoos from the Golden Mile near Oliver

Looking down towards Osoyoos from the Golden Mile near Oliver

I've been a busy bee lately, just back from trips to England and Italy, which were respectively to be an associate judge at the IWSC on Canadian and American wines and study at the Vinitaly Italian Wine Ambassador program.

Now that I'm back in Vancouver, regular trips up to the Okanagan and Similkameen have recommenced. I've been continuing my grand tour of wineries, both new and old favourites, as I finish the research for my book Winetripping. Which is no hardship! The weather's beautiful {pool weather in April? yes, please}, and the desert flowers are in bloom in Osoyoos, a rare sight.

Winetripping is something I've been working on for over a year, and am so excited to see released this June. My goal in writing this winery guide comes down to my passion for the region, which I think is some of the most beautiful wine country in the world. I want you to come and visit! 

Certainly, the Okanagan is one of the friendliest wine regions you can explore, with sweeping valley views, glistening lakes, oh, and let's not forget the hundreds of unique wineries with tasting rooms and restaurants ready for your arrival!

Ultimately, there are more wineries than you can visit, so I've curated a list of places I love recommending to friends and family. I want you to have an awesome time on your trip up to Osoyoos, Oliver, Naramata, Kelowna, Vernon or Keremeos!

There's nothing like hitting up the tasting rooms on a sunny day, choosing your very favourite wines to bring home with you, then opening those bottles up months later to reminisce about your trip.

I've heard from wine lovers that there're so many wineries that it can be overwhelming choosing where to go, and planning which you'll include and which you'll skip. So, my guide is all about making it easy for you to find the exact kind of tasting room you love, whether that's somewhere with a log cabin and dogs wandering through the vines, or a modernist producer with fancy glassware and a view over the lake.

In addition to the 89 wineries listed, other handy sections will cover arranging a tour, getting to know the local grapes, wine tasting etiquette, and suggested itineraries based on your interests (love bold reds, want the hidden gems, or maybe you're into Riesling? I've got you covered).

I feel strongly about supporting our local wineries, who work day in and out to produce this incredible beverage we all adore. By visiting the wineries, dining at their restaurants, and buying wines on site, we consumers are not only having a great experience, we're ensuring that they're able to keep doing what they love while making a good living. Cheers to that!

Find out more here.