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Welcome to the 40 Knots Vineyard & Estate Winery blogs. Here is where we will be highlighting events and news from around the winery. 

 

Layne Robert Craig

As co-owner with his wife Brenda Hetman-Craig, Layne spends his days enjoying getting back to his family roots of traditional farming. You may see Layne out in the vineyard, at charity events, delivering wine or giving guests special attention as he takes them through the cellar for an in-depth look into how 40 Knots is able to make such delicious clean wines by using traditional methods. Layne's passion for flying is evident. With the vineyard directly below planes turning final for YQQ, it does appear that indeed Layne has found his sanctuary. Contact Layne for anything vineyard or winery.


 

 

Megan Thiel

Megan has a passion for all things wine- from vineyard to tank to bottle. Her passion led her to an extensive apprenticeship with a German winery where she acquired a humbled appreciation for the vines. She comes to us with her WSET 3 accreditation and a comprehensive background; including a season with an Okanagan winery. Having recently moved from Vancouver, she is excited to become a part of the Comox Valley community.

 

Megan Thiel
 
September 21, 2018 | Megan Thiel

Die Deutschen Wein

We are in the middle of the ripening season.  The Comox Valley’s wonderfully warm spring lead our German varietals to achieve early ripening as we kicked off harvest in our 40 Knots Vineyard on Monday with our Schonberger and Siegerrebe white wine grapes.  Our Schonberger is typically found in our locally revered White Seas and L'Orange Blend in our *Amphora.  Our Siegerrebe; Sieger meaning victory, rebe meaning vine - pronounced Tsee-ga-ray-buh, or “Ziggy” is a stand-alone wine and also the name of our famous winery dog.  If you’re lucky, you may see her cruising around our vineyard trails. (come down for our newly introduced GUIDED vineyard tours!  Info found here: /Vineyard-Tour-and-Tasting )  If you’re familiar with the BC Winery Dogs Calendar, she just happened to make front cover for 2019 and we’re so proud of her start in her modelling career!  

Our L'Orange wine is also being invited into very high end restaurants.  It is a great example of old world tradition meeting new world wines.  What makes this wine special is indeed the traditonal farming methods and using the best grapes, but it is also the aging in our rich salt air and our terracotta amphora that make it a Star.  

"What is so special about this Terracotta?"  The centuries-old world renowned Impruneta clay has a unique blend of natural ingredients found exclusively in this region of Italy. It has a long history of use in the preservation of wine since the Etruscan civilization around 7th century BC. Later on, the Romans abundantly used amphorae for the fermentation and preservation of wine, as can be seen today in the remains of Pompei. 

The Terracotta is a neutral vessel with similar characteristics of concrete tanks because it allows macro-oxygenation, but it goes further as its much more natural and allows the fruit to express its full potential better than any other material for the following reasons: 

1- It's primarely made of minerals similar to those in a vineyard soil so the grapevine roots have been feeding on those elements their whole life. Now the grapes feel just like at home during fermentation and aging. The Amphora will exalt your wine's mineral and earthy tones.  

2 - It allows for natural micro-oxygenation due to the porosity of the walls.  

3- It has an extraordinary thermal insulation capacity that will keep cool whats in it by evaporating excess heat. The fermentation will be slightly slower than you may be used to in other materials, steady and without heat spikes. 

German wines typically sold in Canada are a different representation of what Germany actually has to offer.  As with most countries they do not export their best.  Commonly seen in Canada are the sweet and acidic Rieslings.  But there are dry wine regions in Germany that represent the beautiful terroir through minerality and liveliness that you wouldn’t see sold here on the liquor store shelves.  Unlike many European countries with strict wine laws, such as varieties allowed to be planted, irrigation and wine making practices, Canada has not instituted these strict wine laws as of yet.  We have it within our grasp to grow whatever suits our climate and through this, we can achieve some wonderful, traditional old world European styles without paying an arm and a leg or hopping on a plane.  We are located on the same latitude as the majority of Germany’s wine regions, so quite a few German varietals grow here with great success.  In fact, through the government-run Duncan Project back in the 80’s, the German Ortega grape was one of the achievers that helped prove that we could, in fact, grow wine grapes on Vancouver Island successfully.  And for us at 40 Knots, we have one of the best Ortega wines. It boasts stone fruit notes of peaches and nectarine, and has an earthiness with softness.

The leaf colouring in this photo truly showcases how each varietal is affected by the climate.  Siegerrebe, on the left, has its autumn ready yellow leaves, higher Brix (or natural sugars), then its neighbour the Pinot Gris It suits cool climate locations because budburst is late and fruit ripening is very early.  Not unlike us here in the Comox Valley, Germany’s early ripening has brought them the earliest harvest on record.  Champagne and Alsace were not far behind them. For us, watching each varietal ripen at a different period offers us a staggered timeframe to hand harvest each bunch. 

Keeping it local, we only hire locals to harvest our grapes.  Is it on your bucket list to harvest grapes and watch the fruit of our labour come into our cellar?  We can always use an extra hand.  info@40knotswinery.com or 855-941-8810.

40 Knots grows and crafts high quality, ethical, clean wines that are distinct to Vancouver Island.
Time Posted: Sep 21, 2018 at 6:06 PM
Megan Thiel
 
August 23, 2018 | Megan Thiel

The Home Stretch

Wine, Wind and Sea. 

Harvest is on the horizon.  We've had a full season with excellent heat units here in the Comox Valley to promote our vine growth.  Our grapes are on their way to becoming ripe and ready to hand harvest.   Once again this year we see our grapes and vines are favoring our biodynamic methods.

Veraison Stage:  All grapes start out a bright green colour- but it's this time of year that the denseness disappears, the skins begin to soften, and to the untrained eye- they start to turn from green to their variety's skin color.  Veraison is the process of grape ripening, bringing on sugars and lowering acids.  As the acidity decreases, hexose sugars start to rise and the grapes become more concentrated. Physiologically, the sugars have the potential to increase to around 25 percent from sugar development. As we hold off any irrigation, the grapes are becoming concentrated in sugars as well.  Veraison usually takes 5-7 days and from that point, will reach full ripeness and be ready to harvest.

As ripening continues, the fruit becomes attractive to animals due to changes from acidic to sweet.  This is the stage in which we will be gently placing our netting down to avoid any grape damage.  You may also see some of our staff on foot as we gently coax the deer to leave.  Our resident deer know very well when this happens and we are often greeted by them at the gate expecting us to open up for them.

Another effect of veraison is that the grapes change colour as the chlorophyll begins to break down. The grape skin is what gives wine colour and tannin structure.  So for a white wine, the grapes will be harvested and typically pressed right away and passed into stainless steel tanks or terracotta pots.  For red wine's though, the grapes are harvested and left on their skin's and stems for several weeks to allow the wine to absorb its colour and tannins.  

Some grapes such as Pinot Gris have two-toned colours that will start showing up on their skins. This typically white wine has purpled-greyish colour grapes (gris translates to grey) when it's time to harvest.  Some winemakers will choose to leave Pinot Gris juices on their skins for a period to grab a champagne type hue for the final product.  And the colour of Rose?  Well, that comes from red wine grapes left on their skins for a short period of time- for our 40 Knots Rose it's 24 hours from Pinot Noir and Gamay Noir (Noir translates to black). Rest assured, a wine's colour does not come from food colouring or additives- it's all from the grape skins!

(Pinot Gris grapes)

 

It's a wonderful time to pop down to the winery to check out the grapes in all their beautiful colours!  Including our zero skin contact Pinot Gris, our 24-hour skin contact Rose with red wine grapes and our 2-month skin contact L'Orange wine made with white wine grapes!

 

40 Knots grows and crafts high quality, ethical, clean wines that are distinct to Vancouver Island.

/Wines/All-Wines

Time Posted: Aug 23, 2018 at 1:48 PM
Megan Thiel
 
July 31, 2018 | Megan Thiel

Look Waaaay Up!

 

                                                                            

Wine, Wind and Sea.   

The heat wave is upon us!!  Our 40 Knots vineyard has experienced the highest heat on record since the new ownership of Layne and Brenda 4 years ago.  The vines have seen exponential growth since our cool spell in June.  We had shoot ends 2 feet above our top wire.  With this excellent level of health, we’ve simply got to manage the growth and keep the vines in check.  The last few weeks we’ve been tucking and hedging.  It’s been all hands on deck!  What’s tucking and hedging you might ask?  Let’s delve deeper.

 

Tucking is the process of pulling the vines through a trellis system called vertical shoot positioning (or VSP) so that they create those neatly managed rows that you have perhaps walked through once or twice before while strolling in our Vineyard Interpretive Trail /Visit-Us/Vineyard-Tour .  It’s a system of 5 levels of wires where the leaves grow above and the fruit grows below at about 3 feet from the ground.  We keep them neat and manicured so that they provide a perfect canopy for the grapes swelling up below them. The bottom aptly called the cordon wire, is where the fruit will grow and thrive.  VSP is a good canopy management system in cool-climate viticultural parts of the world as it helps to enable buds and fruit to receive proper sunlight.  Moving upwards are the movable catch wires that are clipped in to actually “catch” and train the upward growing vines. We have surpassed the “shotgun” phase, where the grapes are the size of just that.  

Hedging is a pruning method of removing the tops of the shoots that grow above the trellis system.  It essentially depresses vine growth vigor, allowing the vines to focus on fruit ripening as opposed to leaf growth.  Once they’re tucked and secured with the final wire clipped in at the top, then our 6 bladed machine is driven through each row to take that manicure to the next level.  Hedging is essentially giving our vines a buzz cut.  

 

                                

We achieve wonderful health of vines and green farming by not spraying with any pesticides whatsoever.  Mustard seed oil and baking soda are all we need for a healthy environment and proper vine management.  This controls disease and bugs and is completely biodynamic.  Organic calcium is used for fungal spray.  For fertigation, or the drip system used to insert fertilizers into the soil, we use liquid organic kelp a couple times a year and that’s all it takes to keep the roots happy- a little liquid goes a long way when you’ve got roots this deep.  We’re so proud of our healthy Comox Valley vines, our methods are so natural, you could literally grab a leaf from the vine and eat it! 

 

A wonderful slightly chilled BC red wine for the summertime is our coveted and recently bottled Gamay Noir. Beat the heat and come on by for a tasting!

 

 

 

*************** JUST RELEASED FOR SUMMER******************

 

 

40 Knots grows and crafts high quality, ethical, clean wines that are distinct to Vancouver Island.

 

Megan Thiel
 
July 1, 2018 | Megan Thiel

June-uary?

 

Wine, Wind and Sea. 

Well let’s hope that June-uary has finally passed and we can get back to our patio excursions and pretend summer.  It’s like May stole June’s weather in toddler fashion and won’t give it back.  Our vine’s have had a tremendous early spring as we saw record growth with that early short’s weather stint but I think we’re all ready to finally put our winter clothes back into that crawl space for good.  Comox Valley’s ocean breezed micro-climate environment create some of the island’s best kept hidden gems.  Long summer hour nights and 900-1200 growing days make for an extended and steady growing season, producing quality grapes through green organic farming and in turn, beautiful red and white wines.  

Layne Robert-Craig, Owner “We currently sit above our five year average for growing degree days.  Our vines are growing into glacial till soil, which is not typical of this landscape but fell into our micro-climate here in this "banana" belt over time.  We have a high pressure/low pressure ridge loop happening, creating straight and constant airflow."  What does this mean for us?  Red and White wine's with special characteristics all unto their own.  There's nowhere else in the Comox Valley, or Vancouver Island for that matter, that sit quite in an environment that our vines do.  

Pinot Noir and Gamay Noir combined make up our Rose, which is close to that dry Provence style that you would typically see coming from the South of France; where they undoubtedly practice what we at the 40 Knots tasting room preach "Rose all day".  Our Pinot Noir on it's own though, shows beautiful signs of an absolutely elegant Burgundian version of the red wine varietal; showcasing wonderful strawberry and sour cherry aromas with a beautiful white pepper finish. Two BC wines that are recommended to have on hand coming into these Summer months.  

40 Knots grows and crafts high quality, ethical, clean wines that are distinct to Vancouver Island.

 

Time Posted: Jul 1, 2018 at 9:37 AM
Megan Thiel
 
May 15, 2018 | Megan Thiel

Wine, Wind and Sea

 

WINE, Wind and Sea...

with 40 Knots Winery.  Located on our own little banana belt micro-climate here in the Comox Valley.  I’d like to take you on a journey through each step that the Vitas vinifera vine’s in our 40 Knots vineyard take to produce the fruit that creates our delicious biodynamic red and white wines.  What better time to start than in the Spring with bud burst!  The first stage in the growth is when our vine’s come out of hibernation and start to show some green; kicking things off and preparing for the oncoming growth spurt.  This is where the green thumbs and deer alike get excited.  Good thing our fences are secure!

 

 

Our wonderful micro-climate here in the Comox Valley is producing some fabulous, ocean-swept wines with a lively, refreshing palate.  We slow, cold ferment; bringing out the wonderful aromatics of each individual varietal.  We aim to intrigue you with wine’s that showcase our version of some of the best French and German grape’s true fruit potential while keeping our residual sugar components relatively low.  Our beautiful Chablis style Uncloaked Chardonnay, crisp refreshing Pinot Gris and light, tropical patio wine Ziggy (Siegerebe) are just a few examples of wines that really showcase our green farming and organic style.

 

Layne Robert-Craig, Owner “The vineyard had a slow start with a long cool spring. We completed our digs in the glacier till deposit soil to examine the roots (an annual event) and take soil samples for analysis. Worm and ladybug counts are above average and continuing to grow every year. The set of doves are back, and nesting. Our geese have hatched their eggs. And a cougar paid a visit, to the misfortune of one of our sheep. Yet, that’s just a cougar, being a cougar. I wish him no harm. Moreover, a good balance is in on the vineyard for the start of the growing year. Farming is luck and karma. Let's hope for both.” 

 
 

The vineyard workers and tasting room associates alike have come together to prepare the vineyard for the inevitable growth period by training and tying the cordons to the trellis system.  They will be steady now to hold the weight of the shoots when they grow upwards towards the sun, creating a canopy for the grapes that will eventually cultivate underneath them.  We just need some of that warm weather to make it happen. So bring on the sunshine and that delicious BC wine!

 

 

 

40 Knots grows and crafts high quality, ethical, clean wines that are distinct to Vancouver Island.

Ziggy Ziggy
 
December 30, 2017 | Ziggy Ziggy

Ziggy hits Top 10 stories of BC Wine Lover

Ziggy recently hit the Top 10 of the 2017 stories in BC Wine Lover, admist their David and Goliath battle with a Grocery Giant getting caught price fixing bread.  Ziggy is hoping that she will be left alone to run through the vineyard worry free from losing her name.  40 Knot's is yet to understand the Grocery Giant's motives however they are tasked to be cross-examined by their lawyers in February and are hoping with this next step, it may be divulged.  Recent stories such as this one have the Grocery Giant's lawyers very busy and they wonder if their lawyers will even show up...   http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/bread-price-fixing-dont-blindly-accept-loblaw-gift-card-law-firms-warn

BC Wine Lover's writes this:

#BCWine2017Top10: Number 10

This is an odd story that would barely make the “top stories” list if not for the significance of BC’s emerging “wine in grocery” marketplace. The story, as reported in this update by one of BC’s best wine documentarians and critics Karl Kliparchuk, is that mega grocery corporation Loblaws filed a copyright claim against a wine label produced by a tiny Vancouver Island winery called 40 Knots Vineyard and Estate Winery. Luckily, owners Brenda Hetman-Craig and Layne Robert Craig are fighting back.

Ziggy: 40 Knots Winery Dog

The winery has an adorable whippet named Ziggy, which is a riff on the winery’s Siegerrebe (pronounced see-geh- RAY-buh) grapes. Siegerrebe is a vinifera grape we see planted in Germany (where it originates from) and cooler growing areas like Vancouver Island, the Fraser Valley and Shuswap.

The grape’s name sounds just like “Ziggy”, and the winery decided this would be an apt name for one of their wines. Ziggy Siegerrebe will pair beautifully with the fresh shellfish dishes harvested from nearby coastal waters.

Loblaws has reportedly purchased licenses to sell BC wine in a selection of their stores within the province. It was an initiative of the previous BC government that has stirred plenty of controversy. Given that Loblaws is already facing severe damage to its reputation thanks to getting caught for price-fixing on bread products, and the fact that the company wants to curry favour with the province’s wine producers to sell their products, it might be a good idea if the corporation’s grocery division stops flexing its muscle and uses a little common sense by ending its legal bullying of a small business owner in a fledgling wine region.

Megan Thiel
 
September 13, 2017 | Megan Thiel

Cool Climate Wines

What are Cool Climate Wines?

 Vancouver Island is considered a cool climate in which 40 Knots   Vineyard & Estate Winery produces cool climate wines. The type   of grapes that we have in our Vineyard are Chardonnay,   Auxxerous, Sieggerrebe, Pinot Gris, Gamay Noir and Pinot Noir.  We also crop share 10 acres of Epicure and Petit Millot.  Each   type of varietal thrives in our vineyards. The cool climate helps us   to produce wines of finesse, juiciness, and elegance.

  Grapes that are grown in the world’s warmer regions ripen   quickly and make for sweet, big wines that are low in acid and   high in alcohol. Grapes that are grown in cooler regions such as   ours will ripen and accumulate their flavor slowly (think of it as   marinating a juicy meat for quite some time). The wines tend to   be complex and balanced, with higher acidity and more mineral   flavors making them very much food-friendly wines. With the   abundance of fresh locally grown food and seafood here, 40 Knots wines pair beautifully with Vancouver Islands cuisine. 

Though we feel blessed with the effects of our cool climate it can also put us on edge we have to monitor the weather, pH and brix daily so that we can pick the best quality grapes, which may cause us to lose quantity.   The winter frost won't damage them and spring and summer rainfall won't dampen the flavors? Layne has learned to work with the climate to bring you the freshest, tastiest most complex wines. 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time Posted: Sep 13, 2017 at 9:36 AM
Megan Thiel
 
May 1, 2017 | Megan Thiel

Welcome to 40 Knot’s Estate Vineyard Interpretive Trail

 

You are about to enter a trail through our Vineyard that will forever remain in your mind when drinking wine!

Safety

Wear good footwear.
The ground is not level.
Dogs must be on a leash.
Do not litter.
Use doggy bags.
Watch for farm equipment.
Do not wander off the path.

Please

Don't eat our grapes.
Do take pictures.
Do post on social media. (find us at 40KnotsWinery)
Join us for a complimentary tasting in our tasting lounge. 

Trail is approximately 1.5 kms


Our Green Farm 

"40 Knots is committed to sustainability through continuous certification in Green Tourism, a most relevant and credible recognition that requires continuous improvements and team commitment with considerations from cradle to re-purpose."

 In the vineyard where all the grapes are handpicked, resident sheep, duck and chickens mow the grass, weeds and control pests. They are very friendly but please do not feed them. If you happen to see them outside the fence line, please alert a staff member.

 

 


You are Standing on Glacier Till Soil

The tip of an iceberg, just 925 meters from the Salish Sea, where the Powell River ferry lands. The deep harbour was created, in part, by a glacier. The bonus is that the historic event deposited a more than average amount of till, sand, and rocks on this small area, which is now above the sea some 32 meters sloping to 11 meters.

 

Partnering With Mother Nature Naturally

Our Job: Vineyards Job:
Pruning Dormancy
Disease Control Disease Control
Shoot Thinning Flowering
Deleafing Bud Burst
Pest Control Pest Control
Bunch Thinning Fruit Set
Bird Netting Irrigation
Harvest Veraison
  Full Ripeness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terroir  [ter-wahr; French ter-war]

Defined as the environmental conditions, especially soil and climate, in which grapes are grown and that give a wine its unique flavor and aroma

Rich in iron and aluminum, oxidized by acids and water, while subsoils are seasonally saturated (liquefied) by the high water table. The results are leached soils rich in iron and aluminum, with low PH.

Micro Climate:  Refers to area inside vine canopy which enjoys 3.6 degree Celsius higher temps than the recorded temperature.

                       Meso Climate:  Refers to our fields on glacier till soil

Great drainage, mineral contact, and sloping land towards the sea provide in part, a small piece of rare land in the Valley that can sustain noble variety grapes - Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Gamay Noir, Chardonnay.

With great drainage comes stripping of nutrients. Stem testing and soil sampling is a must. With the slow road of composting, and adding that back to the soil, diligence and patience is a virtue.


Food and Water

Water consumption and fertilizers are monitored regularly.

  • Technology is also employed by use of a ASAP Geomatix drone for mapping.  Maps show moisture content, health and level of chlorophyll in plant, temperature and vine height.   This allows targeting of specific areas in the vineyard for nutrition.
  • 40 Knots works with BioFert Manufacturing to source 100% organic fertilizer applications.  All fungicides and pesticides are 100% organic
  • Drip irrigation is used only in the driest of years and it is the most efficient form of watering.  This is also how fertilizer is applied or known as “fertigation”.

                                  

    Although some mold is welcome.  In this photo is Botrytis affected grapes, aka noble rot.  This is a benign fungus that intensifies sweetness and flavor.  Try our Trie Emily Sauterne style wine.

Disease Management

Fungi

Fungi make up the largest group of pathogens, and they come in a wide variety. Commonly known as molds, these mostly microscopic organisms are composed of multi-cellular, thread-like, branched filaments and reproductive structures called spores.  Since they do not possess chlorophyll, fungi depend on either dead organic matter or living plants for their growth and reproduction.

Prevention and Treatment - Sunlight and the wind. Organic sulfur is sprayed up to the flowering. After flowering, potassium bicarbonate and organic mustard seed oil are used.  

Bacteria

Bacteria are microscopic one-celled organisms that can cause diseases in vines. While most bacteria in the environment are beneficial, several are able to cause leaf spots, stem rots, root rots, galls wilts, blights, and cankers.

Plant pathogenic bacteria generally survive in infected plants, in debris from infected plants, and, in a few cases, in infested soil. Bacteria enter vines through wounds, natural openings in the vine or direct penetration, usually in the leaf or fruit but sometimes in roots and stems.

Once inside the grapevine, bacteria begin to reproduce by simple cell division and do not produce spores or fruiting bodies like fungi. Bacteria, like fungi, rely on their host plant for food.


Vineyard Floor

Considerations:  age of vine, vineyard design, soil type, growing region.

Why do we allow grass coverage and clover coverage?

Grass controls soil movement and helps to retain moisture.

Clover is encouraged to bring nitrogen and other nutrients naturally to the soil.  As well it encourages bees to frequent the vineyard which rids the area of wasps and hornets that can harm our grapes.



                                                                            Grape Varieties

The Nobles: The Hybrids:
Chardonnay (France 2007)

Pinot Auxerrois (Vancouver Island 2011)

Hybrid of 3 Pinot Noir clones

Pinot Gris (France 2007,2008,2013)

Schonberger (Vancouver Island 2012, 2013)

Hybrid  of Pinot Noir, Chasselas, Muscat

Pinot Noir (France 2007,2008)

Siegerrebe (Vancouver Island 2011, 2012, 2013)

Hybrid of Madeline Angevine, Gewurztraminer

Pinot Noir (Califonia 2012)  
Gamay Noir (France 2008)  


Trellis System

40 Knots Trellis System allows for flow of air, entry of sunlight, growth stages of our new vines to mature vines, supports drip irrigation system, support of shoots and leaves, allowance for bird netting.

            Considerations:                                                 

  •  Keeping soil organic
  • Growth habit
  • Terroir
  • Vine vigor
  • Mechanization

 Annual Vineyard Calender 

Jan, Feb, March = Pruning
April = BudBurst, Suckering
May = Flowering, leaf thinning
June = Leaf thinning
July = Veraison, maturity
August = Maturity, harvest
September = Harvest
October = Harvest 
Nov to Dec = Dormacy


               

 Pruning - The most important task in the Vineyard. 

 

 

Pruning is removing of deadwood and reducing of living wood allows plant’s energy to zero in on grapes.

Cane pruning offers better frost protection, higher yield and more fruit forward flavors.

Cuttings are mulched.

Once canes are nimble, they are tied to tie wire before bud burst.

Buds are fragile, please do not touch.

We prune approximately 75,000 vines, each with its own personality, each taking careful consideration.


 

Our Enemies

Invasive and protected species.Furry Critters – raccoons may be cute but they are incredibly vicious. Never approach a raccoon. They kill our chickens and ducks and eat our grapes.              

Black Tail Deer love to eat grapes.
 

Birds – Starlings and robins are our biggest threat and can eat 1 acre of grapes a day.

 Eagles and Hawks eat our hard working ducks and chickens.

Wasps and Hornets – eat grapes and bite us.      

 


Vineyard birds we love!

Northern Rough Winged Swallow 

Swallows are a good luck symbol to sailors as they mean home-coming.  They never leave land.

Sailors often get a tattoo of a swallow to symbolize 5000 nautical miles at sea

These swallow live in our vineyard in the summer.

Hummingbirds 

Doves 

Yellow Warblers

Woodpeckers (they do cause damage but we can’t help but love them)


                 


Thank you for strolling through 40 Knot’s interpretive trail

Please join us in the tasting room for a complimentary wine tasting.  We also have an assortment of picnic items that can accompany you on the vineyard terrace.  Giftware and souvenirs are available.

Share your experience with us!

 

Layne Robert Craig
 
August 13, 2015 | Layne Robert Craig

What is Stall Speed?

With the Comox Air show coming up this weekend, I wanted to reflect a bit on my passion for flying, and its relation to the quality of our wines.

The excitement that I still feel when I hear the words "Cleared for takeoff on the active runway," or the peace of the phrase from the tower, “Cleared straight in, number one for landing," are reflections of what care and attention we want in our wines. We enjoy passing on our passions to those that appreciate detail, and a love for great wine.

Although the weather has been fantastic in the Comox Valley, and our 40 Knots production will certainly reflect that, we’re very excited about our Stall Speed vintages. Grown in the Okanagan, but produced and bottled here, the grapes will result in amazing wine.

However, the extreme growth rate of the vines has left me little time to get airborne, so I thought I’d share some reflections of my aeronautical passion, so you can appreciate some pilot, and aircraft activity, at the air show.

Flying is Freedom

Flying, the freedom, the view, the challenge, and a moment in time that life really does stand still, while you are wheels up. There is nothing like it.

Our Stall Speed label was inspired by the wonder of flight. Here are two perspectives.

Dictionary Version of Stall Speed:

Stalls in fixed-wing flight are often experienced as a sudden reduction in lift as the pilot increases the wing's angle of attack and exceeds its critical angle of attack (which may be due to slowing down below stall speed in level flight). A stall does not mean that the engine(s) have stopped working, or that the aircraft has stopped moving.

Layne in the Cockpit:

A stall, a point at which I reduce the engine power. The cockpit noise begins to reduce as the roar of the engine and propeller come to a dull idle, and I am left with the sound of the wind. At first rushing by, and slowly fading to a fast freeze…so silent compared to only seconds ago…leaving an eerie sense of calm and peace in the aircraft…holding back on the stick throughout this dance, the aircraft gives up its grip on the air. It is no longer an aircraft, it is no longer in flight.

It’s a comfortable chair, with a helluva view, falling peacefully towards the earth. The first time you do a stall, it is beyond exciting, almost scary. Now, with experience, it is part of life, and you must understand it, respect it, and above all, not fear it. Know how to get there, recognize it, and get out.

But, enjoy the moment when you bring everything to a brief standstill...when noise, gravity, and speed are all at zero...Every pilot smiles at this point, even for just a second, before the fall and recovery face reappears.

For me, it feels like I conquered life, stopped it and breathed it in for a brief moment, and then let it go back to the wild.
Look Up. Way Up.

As a sit here in the vineyard writing this, an American F16 jet has just been cleared for final to CFB Comox and flies over my head.

The Canadian Forces CF18 arrived earlier today for the Comox airshow. The American B52 Bomber is to arrive yet today.

This weekend’s airshow is a great opportunity to see two awesome squadrons open their doors for the public, to come and see inside our Armed Forces, and Search and Rescue heroes.

Come out and see them. What they all do is Awesome.

Cheers,
Layne

Time Posted: Aug 13, 2015 at 2:10 PM
Layne Robert Craig
 
April 26, 2015 | Layne Robert Craig

Welcome to Tsolum

Welcome to Tsolum. Or, welcome to Comox Valley earth and sub soils, and some agri-science about growing grapes.

The Norm

The general Comox Valley area is predominant to “Tysolum” earth. Our slightly rolling hills have medium to moderate glacial deposits and/or glacial till below the surface, and coarse fluvial deposits near the surface. It’s finalized with a frosting of 4 to 12 inches of organic marine-rich top soil.

What does that mean?

Historically, it means it is great for growing Douglas fir, western red cedar, alder, maple and grand fir trees, supported with an abundance of wild berries like leg-tearing blackberry vines.

However, with rich peat soils and great water retention during early season, and drainage in late, it creates amazing growing areas in the lower lying areas in the Comox Valley, especially for vegetables, fruit, hay crops, and even malt-grade barley.

Variable

So what the hell does that have to do with Grapes? Even more, what does it have to do with grapes from a “Noble variety” vs. those that have been breed to grow in our climate?

For lack of a better term, our little property sits at the tip of an iceberg, just 925 meters from the Salish Sea, where the Powell River ferry lands. The deep harbour was created, in part, by a glacier. The bonus, is that the historic event deposited a more than average amount of till, sand, and rocks on this small area, which is now above the sea some 120 meters.

Poor soil for the general farming activities in the Valley, our 25 acres does not grow blueberries, cranberries, or corn, very well at all.

The plus side - great drainage, mineral contact, and sloping land towards the sea provide in part, a small piece of rare land in the Valley that can sustain noble variety grapes - Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Gamay Noir, Chardonnay, and Auxerrois.

Not without its difficulties, with great drainage comes stripping of nutrients. Pedicle testing and soil sampling is a must. With the slow road of composting, and adding that back to the soil, diligence and patience will be a virtue.

The terroir itself benefits from so much more. This small micro climate inside a micro climate generally boasts 3.6 degree Celsius higher temps than the recorded temperature.

The Facts

Our viticulturist, Theo Siemens, has spent considerable time working with Pedro Perra, a Chilean wine terroir expert, and Dr. Scott Smith, from the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre. Theo is applying his experience and knowledge to the 40 Knots terroir, and has a great go-forward ethical plan for us to work with.

Here are some of Theo’s thoughts and recommendations.

“Comox Valley soil types typically fall into the Tsolum Soil profile with a Gleyed Humo Ferric Podzol subtype. Factors that most influence viticulture practices on these soil types are:

1) Humid
2) Temperate
3) Acidic
4) Leached
5) Sedimentary rock profiles
6) Rich in iron oxidized soils
7) Presence of granite rock brought from coastal mountains by glaciation
8) Soil texture (loamy, sandy, till)

40 Knots soils, rich in iron and aluminum, are oxidized by acids and water, while sub soils are seasonally saturated (liquefied) by the high water table. The results are leached soils rich in iron and aluminum, with low PH. Historic fertilizing practices suggest that the disconcerting anemic soil-sample results are due to leaching and not under-fertilizing. In other words, while fertilizers have been applied by the previous owner (last application in 2012), they are being consumed by plants and/or being washed away by rain.

There lies the crux of your challenge.

It is my strong belief that compost application is the solution for the long term health of the vineyard. As compost breaks down slowly (25% first year, 50% second year and 25% third year), it is the perfect and almost complete time-release fertilizer. Compost, depending on composition, tends to be more alkaline, therefore balancing the soil PH as well. While composts tend to be low in nitrogen, this can be adjusted easily by way of cover cropping, which is already being completed with white clover, or by applying organic fertilizers.”

The Evolution

Focusing on ethical and sustainable farming practices, composting, mulching, adequate cover crops, specific irrigation regime (going towards little to none), we are, in Theo’s words, “creating an evolution in our vineyard, not a revolution.”

Is that it, all done?

Not even close.

Knowing what you have for earth is the beginning. Establishing a realistic plan to be sustainable is next. Being willing to commit to a very long term ethical and sustainable farming model is going to be the hardest decision, or the easiest.

For me, it’s easy.

It is how I grew up farming. As a kid, I saw the benefits in the land and the product.

How could I not see it now?

Cheers,
Layne

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