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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. Keep up to date of the latest trends, the happenings of the winery, learn how we farm and make wine, and get the inside scoop of our new releases and events.  

Our Bloggers

Blogger, image of Layne Craig   Blogger, image of Michael Johnson

Layne Robert Craig
Janitor & Blogger


Michael Johnson
Self-proclaimed Sipster


Brenda HetmanCraig
October 6, 2023 | Brenda HetmanCraig

Celebrations: Is it Okay to Wear Sunglasses to a Themed Wedding?

At outdoor daytime weddings, the bride and groom may even encourage their guests to bring their own sunglasses as a form of protection against the sun’s rays. After all, excessive sun exposure can result in eye discomfort and damage that can certainly dampen the wedding festivities. Overall, it is definitely okay to wear sunglasses at a wedding—provided you are mindful of your eyewear choices, especially if the wedding has a specific theme.

How to select sunglasses for a wedding

These days, wedding ceremonies and receptions have become more creative. With the various wedding themes people can choose from, including everything from fantasy to rustic setups, it is important to familiarize yourself with what the bride and groom have taken the time to select for their special day. Before anything else, check the dress code for any restrictions before selecting sunglasses that complement both the wedding theme plus your own outfit. If the dress code leans more towards the informal side, simple and casual sunglass frames will suffice. However, for more formal and extravagant weddings, it may be best to utilize sleek, black frames for some elegance.

Overall, avoid any brightly colored and flashy sunglasses that can serve as a distraction so as to not look out of place at the wedding and, more importantly, remain respectful to the couple and other guests. To get you started, here are some common but tasteful wedding themes where sunglasses can most likely be utilized, along with what type of frames would best suit the occasion.

Rustic wedding

Rustic weddings are typically inspired by the great outdoors, with a lot of focus on handmade touches. From forests with lots of leaves and branches as decor to farms that look a bit more organic and boho, rustic themes are considered a balance between thoughtful vintage pieces and country-inspired details. As such, some of the best sunglasses for this theme are those with delicate pastel-colored frames, such as the Derek Cardigan Crater and Main and Central Newton. These types of frames are some of the top eyewear trends of the year. The neutral color palette will match perfectly with a rustic wedding, as well as the love of nature the theme encapsulates.

Vineyard wedding

Vineyard weddings can range from dinner among the vines to an affair at a winery. Either way, this type of wedding is sure to provide decadent wine and gorgeous scenery to enjoy your glass with. These venues typically accommodate dining, cocktail, and long table settings depending on the number of guests and the couple’s preferences. Sunglasses with wooden frames that resemble the oak barrels used to age the wines would be a nice touch for a wedding of this theme. Some examples of these types of frames are Waidzeit Design’s Merlot, Chardonnay, and Freedom Whiskey Sunglasses. These are extremely lightweight and provide the best comfort. Additionally, the simplicity of the material and neutrality in color make them suitable for the occasion while providing a stylish touch to your wedding attire.

Beach wedding

Beach weddings are a popular choice for couples, as it allows them and their guests to strip away all the fuss that comes with a traditional wedding. More importantly, the venue provides an extremely romantic setting, with the relaxing sound of ocean waves and a beautiful view of the sunlight against the ocean overlooking this momentous event. Sunglasses will likely be encouraged at this type of wedding and may even be offered as a favor. However, if you want to elevate your appearance, opt for oversized sunglasses. Brands like Loewe have Oversized Round Sunglasses in various colors such as black, light brown, honey, and havana that are sophisticated in appearance and offer the best protection against the sun, which is very much needed in a seaside venue where not a lot of shade is available. These frames are also very common, which makes it easy to pick out details like shape and color to match the rest of the wedding theme.

While choosing the right clothes for a themed wedding is very important, don’t forget your sunglasses, as they can elevate your appearance to the next level.

Time Posted: Oct 6, 2023 at 5:45 AM Permalink to Celebrations:  Is it Okay to Wear Sunglasses to a Themed Wedding? Permalink
Zoe Williams
March 27, 2023 | Zoe Williams

What kind of wedding theme should you go for?

What kind of wedding theme should you go for?

With so many beautiful wedding options to choose from, picking the perfect theme for your wedding can be difficult. Themes are a vital aspect of planning your wedding, as they will help you to seamlessly combine the look and feel of the day. Ultimately, your theme should closely represent you and your partner's personal tastes and preferences. You can even use a theme to convey an important part of your story as a couple, or to showcase prominent features of your personalities, such as a love for nature or alternative styles.

Let's take a look at some of the most popular wedding themes to see which you most resonate with.

Bohemian, rustic or earthy
Image of attractive woman in bohemian wedding dress and hat.

Taking your wedding outdoors and enjoying the natural world is perfect for the free-spirited and those who want a more relaxed, ethereal feel to their day. Let the trees and wildflowers be your decorations and keep your clothes simple but stunning. Choose a sustainable menu, reusable cups, and locally grown flowers to honour the planet as you wed. After the sun goes down, solar-charged festoon lighting and candle-lit lanterns can help to keep the party

Beach vibes
Image of bride and groom walking on beach.

For those lucky enough to be tying the knot somewhere sunny, a beach theme may create the perfect romantic setting. Whether or not you choose to have your ceremony and/or party on the coast, you can easily incorporate beachy elements to your decor. Using feathery Marram Grass, clovers, orchids and other coastal flora in your vases will bring the waves and the sand to your venue. Create your own decor from seashells, driftwood and floaty
fabrics to enhance the dreamy beach vibes.

Gothic fantasy, steampunk or historical
Image of woman in gothic dress.

Why not step back in time and celebrate your big day by encouraging your entire wedding party to celebrate a more unconventional theme? Whether you buy or craft your own extravagant outfits, or keep them historically accurate by thrifting vintage stores, basing your theme on your favourite time period is a great way to create an unforgettable experience for all who attend. As well as being fun for everybody, you’ll be sure to get some pretty unique wedding photographs to look back on for years to come.

Image of bride and groom dancing in decorated barn.

Raise the roof of a brightly lit barn for an authentic countryside wedding theme. Perfect for those interested in farming or country living, why not invite your guests for a folk-style affair complete with straw bales and tartan blankets. Warm wooden beams, real fires and a live band playing, your guests are sure to have the time of their lives in this informal, relaxed setting. Plus, look forward to some truly beautiful wedding photographs in the surrounding fields, woodlands and trees.

Unique to you
Image of gay couple dancing at wedding.

Finally, remember that this day is yours, so why not pick a theme that’s as individual as your love for each other Whether you’re both fans of horror flicks or crazy about singing, pick a theme that celebrates a passion you both share or one that brought you together, to make your wedding theme as unique as possible.

Time Posted: Mar 27, 2023 at 6:34 AM Permalink to What kind of wedding theme should you go for? Permalink
Ziggy Ziggy
January 11, 2023 | Ziggy Ziggy

How to Host a Vegan Wedding Reception in Style

How to Host a Vegan Wedding Reception in Style

Image of wedding setup with chairs, flowers and alterThere's a lot to consider when planning a wedding, but for those who are planning a vegan celebration, it can be particularly stressful to make sure the big day fits in with their lifestyle. Here are three steps to help you get started in hosting a vegan wedding reception in style.

1. Choose a Vegan-Friendly Venue

It's important that your wedding venue respects your desire for a completely vegan wedding so that they can tailor their services and produce accordingly. For example, you might ask that they avoid serving beverages that contain animal products or using decorations that contain things like feathers and leather. You may also want to hire an outside caterer rather than using their in-house catering services if the venue is inexperienced in producing vegan food.

When visiting venues, be upfront about your needs to see how receptive they are in creating a vegan environment. You might also consider the wider impact of a venue on animal welfare. For example, a rural venue that has acres of land surrounding it might use this to farm animals or host hunts. Be sure to ask questions about how the entire venue is used and not just the parts that you'll be using for your wedding. This will give you peace of mind that your wedding isn't contributing to animal cruelty.

image of bridal gowns hanging on a rack

2. Prep Bridal Boutiques and Tailors Before Visiting

Silk, which is harvested from silkworms, is a common material found in wedding dresses. It's often included in satin, chiffon and tulle, so it's not enough to simply avoid pure silk when searching for a wedding dress. When it comes to suits and tuxedos, wool and cashmere are common non-vegan materials to avoid. It's also fairly common for luxury ties, suits and shirts to contain silk. There's leather to avoid when buying shoes and purses, and it's important to avoid jewellery that contains real pearls or feathers.

Luckily, there are plenty of vegan materials to choose from that offer just as much style and luxury as their non-vegan counterparts. It's useful to seek out bridal boutiques and tailors that either specialise in vegan clothing or have a dedicated line of vegan garments. Make sure you inform businesses about your vegan requirements before you visit so that they have time to prepare garments and materials that are suitable for you.

image of a plate of gourmet vegan food

3. Encourage Guests to Taste New Dishes with a Vegan Buffet

A difficulty many vegan wedding planners come up against is reluctance from guests to eat vegan dishes. Unfortunately, many people believe that vegan food is bland and boring, or that they'll come up against new flavours and textures that they won't enjoy. Vegan dishes can be just as delicious and satisfying as dishes that contain meat and dairy, and once you introduce people to good quality vegan food, they soon realise these stereotypes are wrong.

A great way to overcome cynicism from non-vegan wedding guests is to have buffet-style dining. Guests can pick and choose the dishes that look most appealing to them, and they have an opportunity to sample lots of different foods at once. You won't have to worry about guests going hungry when there's plenty of variety on offer to suit all tastes. Plus, you can showcase the deliciousness of vegan food and change some attitudes about veganism along the way.

Buffets are also a good way to reduce food waste. 15% of wedding guests only eat one or two of their three courses when sitting down to a traditional wedding breakfast. With a buffet, people can tailor servings to their appetites more easily.

Celebrate in Style with An Ethical Reception

While planning your wedding reception might be a little trickier as a vegan, the extra work will pay off as you enjoy your special day safe in the knowledge that your celebration is as ethical as possible.

Time Posted: Jan 11, 2023 at 9:53 AM Permalink to How to Host a Vegan Wedding Reception in Style Permalink
Ziggy Ziggy
February 26, 2021 | Ziggy Ziggy

Grape Vine and Fruit Tree Pruning

Grape Vine and Fruit Tree Pruning

The ideal time for Grape Vine and Fruit Tree Pruning is when they are dormant, to give them their best chance at. producing for you.   What you do this winter will affect your fruit yield for the next two years.

At 40 Knots, we listen to our customers.  Our service goes beyond serving a glass of wine.  We are proponents for traditional responsible farming, and nothing gets us more excited than chatting with a fellow farmer.  Whether you own a backyard or many acres, we love to help.  Farming is our passion.  Caring for the environment and leaving it better than what we found it, is in our blood.

Image of Layne Craig pruning a fruit tree

A few years ago, we started delivering free workshops to those in our community.  With a Viticulturist and Aborist on staff, you are in great hands.  I think we have a total of about 120 years of experience in our small Crew.  Our workshop leaves you feeling confident.  And we leave feeling great about our contribution to farming on Vancouver Island.  We love hearing from those that attended about their great harvest and increase in yields and quality of fruit.

If you missed our annual workshop, here are a few Cole’s notes:

Fact:  No fruit grows on old wood.  If you want more fruit, you need to prune.

Fact:  A vigorous grapevine can produce 150-200 feet of linear new growth a year.

Fact:  Pruning is best when trees and vines are dormant.  In Vancouver Island, it is usually after Christmas.

Fact:  To prepare for dormancy ensure you supply food and water to protect

Safety Equipment:  Buddy up if you are needing to use a ladder.  Always wear gloves, eye protection, and proper footwear.

Tools:  Use sharp tools and if you notice any disease, use peroxide to disinfect your tools before moving to another branch or vine.  You can actually pass disease if you don’t do this.

Design:  Choose a design, and don’t be scared. Especially with vines.  In some countries, they are considered a weed and they are very resilient.  You can find many designs on the internet.  I would list them all here, but it is a blog after all.

Age:    Young trees should be at least 3 years old before pruning.

Canopy:  Consider that you will need sunlight and protection, and this is where canopy management comes in.  You will be a good balance of vegetative growth to ripen the crop yet sufficient fruitful buds to provide adequate yield.

Suckers and Dead Wood:  Always remove suckers and deadwood.  If there is only one thing you do for your trees and vines, this is the one.

image of Layne Craig giving lecture in the outdoor terrace.

Meet Andy on Youtube as he explains apple tree pruning:

Sign up to 40 Knots newsletter HERE so you are the first person to hear about any community workshops.

Sign up to be a 40 Knots Farmer during our harvest HERE.

Time Posted: Feb 26, 2021 at 12:23 PM Permalink to Grape Vine and Fruit Tree Pruning Permalink
Ziggy Ziggy
December 27, 2020 | Ziggy Ziggy

Carbon Emissions and Net-Zero

Carbon Emissions and Net-Zero

image of Green Step Tourism Gold logo

This is a big, big topic.  And we are not experts.  But we do know, that we have choices.  2020 has taught us many things.  We consume less, we buy what we need, and we buy Local first.  When purchasing, we consider the carbon footprint of the goods.  (What is the impact on those plastic forks shipped here from a factory in China?)

What does it mean to be Net-Zero?  There is a lot of information out there.  We chose to be a Gold Certified member of Green Step Tourism for their guidance and because of their very tough certification process, which assists us to be continuously diligent.  We are not experts, but we like what we have experienced since becoming members in 2016.  

And we continue to research and learn.  I came across this blog.  Sadly, I don't see Canada mentioned. 

World Resources Institute

And then I found a calculator!  Right or wrong, I used this one.  I was super happy to see how low my carbon (paw) footprint was but was shocked to see how high our country's carbon footprint was.

Carbon Footprint Calculator for homes

If 2020 showed us anything, it showed how we could use less and use smarter.  

Image of top 10 ways to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

And so in 2021, I commit to doing my part.

I Declare a Climate Emergency

40 Knots Winery has signed up to Tourism Declares, an initiative that supports tourism businesses, organizations, and individuals in declaring a climate emergency and taking purposeful action to reduce their carbon emissions as per the advice from The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to cut global carbon emissions to 55% below 2017 levels by 2030. 

Like all signatories, we have committed to the following five actions:

1. Develop a ‘Climate Emergency Plan’ within the next 12 months, which sets out our intentions to reduce carbon emissions over the next decade.

2. Share an initial public declaration of our ‘Climate Emergency Plan’, and update on progress each year.

3. Accept current IPCC advice stating the need to cut global carbon emissions to 55% below 2017 levels by 2030 in order to keep the planet within 1.5 degrees of warming. We’ll ensure our ‘Climate Emergency Plan’ represents actions designed to achieve this as a minimum, through delivering transparent, measurable, and increasing reductions in the total carbon emissions per customer arising from our operations and the travel services sold by us. 

4. Encourage our suppliers and partners to make the same declaration; sharing best practice amongst peers; and actively participate in the Tourism Declares community

5. Advocate for change. We recognize the need for system change across the industry to accelerate a just transition towards carbon-free tourism.

The Crew at 40 Knots Winery

Are you a Tourism Business?  Join us HERE

Time Posted: Dec 27, 2020 at 8:07 AM Permalink to Carbon Emissions and Net-Zero Permalink
Michael Johnson
October 9, 2020 | Michael Johnson

Sipster Vol.4

Becoming a Sipster vol. 4

Hello my friends, greetings, and salutations to you all on this auspicious day. The seasons, they are a-changing. Usually, I’d follow up with “where has the time gone?” or “this year is flying by” but that would be a big fat lie. It has been a long year for all of us and it’s not over yet. In fact for us at 40 Knots the year is only ramping up. This sipster is pumped for harvest time! 

This will be my first harvest so I am looking forward to really getting into it and learning as much as I can. By the time harvest is over I hope to have a few stories for volume 5 but first I need to get out there! I’ve been told it is hard yet rewarding work. Equal parts toil and celebration. So it’s pretty much just like the rest of life. And like life, you don’t always get what you want, but if you try, sometimes you might just get what you need. Okay, I stole that from the Stones but the sentiment is true. You don’t always get what you want when it comes to harvest. Something all farmers know and the rest of us take for granted is that you can do everything right and still not get the harvest you want. Mother nature is a fickle mistress. Weather, bugs, gremlins, all manner of forces conspiring to decimate the fruits of our labor. Time itself is against us! In the face of such insurmountable odds, it would be easy to give up yet we perceiver. Our wine, our time, it’s all worth it. Because someday very soon we will have all the turkey and drink we want! We will give cheers and celebrate this...interesting year.

Whether its growing grapes, raising a family, or working in an office, we might not always get the reward we expect for the amount of time we put in. But if we are present and we really try, I think you will find, you might just get what you need.

Speaking of not always getting what I want but definitely getting what I need my wife Alana has agreed to help me with a wine tasting tonight!

Mike: “Hey, thanks for helping me with this tasting tonight, first off what are we drinking, I meant ‘tasting’?”

Alana: “This is our 2019 White Seas. Literally the fruits of our labor in one bottle.”

Mike: “Literally how?”

Alana: “Well, when you pour a glass of White Seas your sampling a blend of six of our very own varietals grown right here on the farm. You’re experiencing our biodynamic farming methods, our terroir, and our climate. White Seas is a beautiful representation of 40 Knots as a whole. It says a lot about us.”

Mike: “Soooo now we drink?”

Alana: “No first we look.” Alana tilts the glass at 45 degrees above the white table cloth. “What do you see?”

Mike: Mimics Alana. “What do you see first?”

Alana: “I see a pale gold horseshoe. It’s clear in the center and gold around the outside.”

Mike: “Oh I see it! Now we taste?”

Alana: “No, we smell.” Alana swirls the wine glass and inhales the bouquet with her dominate nose hole(she means nostril)

Mike: Mimics Alana “I smell fruit and rain!”

A: “That’s a good way to explain it, the fruit is coming from the varying characteristics of each varietal. The rain...minerality from our glacier tilled soil.”

M: “Seen it smelt it, now can we have a taste?”

A: “Yes.”

M: Takes a sip makes an obnoxious slurping sound.

A: “How does it feel on your palate?”

M: “Like little bubbles maybe?”

A: “That's the effervescence from our bottling process. (CO2?)

M: “Interesting, what else?”

A: “Try this, take a good sip swirl it around then tilt your head forward. Pay attention to your saliva glands. This is a good way to taste the acidity or lack thereof. My mom taught me that.”

M: Follows instructions, drools saliva on leg. “So is that a good thing?”

A: “Yes! We are fortunate to have a cooler climate which means higher acidity. Which makes it easier to balance the wines acid and sucrose levels.” (FACT CHECK) What else do you taste?

M: “I guess maybe some apple, like a tart granny smith apple. But at the same time kind of peachy?”

A: “Tropical fruit, tart lemon, spice. The spice comes from the pinot noir. Juices pressed off the skins. Add spice to the finish. Similar to Gewurtztraminer.”

M: “Gesundheit!”

A: “Very funny. It might seem like a lot but its really about each person’s own palate and enjoyment. There isn’t really any right or wrong answer, do you like it or don’t you?”

M: “I love it actually. I love you and thanks for trying to teach me a few things about White Seas!”

I thank you for reading this, we encourage you to pick up a bottle of White Seas and taste for yourselves. Maybe you agree maybe you have another opinion. Share it with us and my wife will be happy to argue...with anyone...anytime...anywhere.


Time Posted: Oct 9, 2020 at 1:27 PM Permalink to Sipster Vol.4 Permalink
Michael Johnson
August 8, 2020 | Michael Johnson

Sipster Vol.3

Sipster Vol.3

Welcome back, friends! This is Part 3 of my ongoing foray into grape life as a self-proclaimedSipster. It has been a tough few months for all of us, yet here we are and I am very thankful.  I’m thankful for health and safety of our friends and families. I’m thankful that I was able to continue to work this whole time.  I am thankful to all the frontline workers who had our backs throughout!  I'm sending a huge shout out to everyone who donated community cups.  It was a pleasure delivering them to the R.C.M.P. officers, the Comox by-law offers and the hospital and ambulance essential workers. A lot of love was shared over the past several months and I think it was the positivity and support that floated us through. I know that we as a local business couldn’t have done it without all the local support and the support of our wine club members everywhere.  Thank you!

Some things have changed, there were hoops to jump... I mean regulations to follow in order to re-open safely. All the extra steps have slowed some of the services but increased the safety of our customers and staff exponentially. So I’d say it’s a fair trade. I wanted “Slow and in control helps keep the corona low!” on our chalkboard but I couldn’t sell it.  I’ll work on some more slogans.

What I think is most important now, is that we can celebrate again. Wine Wednesdays are back, our employees are back and the tasting room is opened!  In fact, one of the good things to come of all of this was the new format for tastings.  My wife Alana says the tastings have become more intimate with more storytime and more sharing.  More leisurely like wine should be. 

Sounds nice right? I wouldn’t know.  I’ve been sweating away in the vineyard here as well as the vines on Quadra!  Yes, we are farming another vineyard on Quadra island, complete with an apple orchard. As well we are farming another orchard to the south of us.  Rumour has it we might be dabbling in some traditional sparkling apple wine. But first I have to get through harvest.

If you haven’t been out to the winery lately, our vines are growing like crazy. I’ll add some pictures for you of both vineyards and see if you can guess which is which. The toiling is paying dividends because we got little baby grapes or “bapes” peeking out everywhere.

I keep meaning to do a smoldering exposé on how we make our traditional Brut and Soleil Rose but I'm always playing catch up with so much stuff going on!  I do want to give a shout out to the amazing people who were on the bottling line the past couple of weeks, we couldn’t do it without you and I had fun popping all those bottles. I can’t express enough how much support and dedication it takes to keep a winery as large as 40 Knots going. It literally takes a whole community. That’s why I’m so proud when we are able to give back. The donations to our frontline workers or Agriculture for Autism initiative Brenda and Layne have been involved in for six years or the open vocal support of our LGBTQ community, I’m going to put an, etc here because I could go on and on but that’s what being part of a community is.  I for one am proud of our not so little farm.  We are cultivating grapes and love. Come by and visit soon, bring your whole family.

Time Posted: Aug 8, 2020 at 9:59 AM Permalink to Sipster Vol.3 Permalink
Michael Johnson
May 4, 2020 | Michael Johnson

Becoming a Sipster, Volume 2

Becoming a Sipster Vol.2

Everything changes.

This was my mantra while I was trying to figure out how to write Volume 2 of becoming a Sipster.   I am now reconciling the person I have become, with the one I was, when I started the first blog. I had some grandiose ideas back then.   I had a planned trajectory for how this series of little stories would transpire. There have been at least four months between Sipster Volume 1 and now.  I have learned much more about the art of winemaking and the joy of sustainable farming.

Everything changes.

image of Michael Johnson in grape fields

closeup image of plant blooming

image of terracotta wine cask

A lot of parallels can be made between life and wine. I’m sure better writers than me can really wax-poetic about the life cycle of grapes and how it symbolizes the life of a human being. But that’s cheese and I’m not in the cheese-making business. Although as a side note Natural Pastures are true artisans.  I digress.

A lot of parallels can be made between life and grapes.  Both are subjected to mother-nature and both have some of their own control.  At the same time, they differ on the most fundamental level. Making wine is structured, carefully planned, and well thought out, followed by concise execution.  Life is chaos with many more effects beyond our control.

As I drive through the vineyard on my repurposed golf cart, hauling organics to the compost pile, I marvel at the rows upon rows of precisely pruned vines. Their twin cordons just now sprouting little fuzzy buds at almost the exact time they did last year and the year before that. The symmetry of the careful spacing and design matched by the symmetry of their growth from all the years they existed on our land at 40 Knots. It’s beautiful and their wonder isn’t lost on me. There is something pure about all those acres teeming with new life.  I am beginning to understand their life cycles, and how to support them through what Layne is teaching me.  I can honestly say I learn something new every day.

Winemaking seems daunting.  Foremost is the time it takes. Some of our wines have been in aging for years.  And wine does not just lay around, many exciting things are happening in their vessel.  Back before I even started at 40 Knots, those vines had been pruned, the grapes were harvested, crushed, filtered, and gently set to rest, year after year.   

I sampled the Pinot Noir 2018 from amphora yesterday and it filled me with appreciation. This ambrosia had started its life as little fuzzy buds years ago and now it was in my glass. Soon it will be in bottles so that you may experience it in your glass.  As you sip, I encourage you to think of this cycle and the history that this wine has experienced.

As I sip this history, I think about how everything changes.  In a few short months, how uncertain things became.  All the while this wine from out of time has just been doing its thing, impervious to the chaos of our lives.

“Clean ethical wines are our promise. Great wines are not made in the tank and the barrel. Great wines come from the vineyard.”   I now understand why Layne believes this.  You have to believe in the product you put into those tanks, barrels, or amphoras.  It will be months to years before you know the result.  More important than belief is knowledge, it’s not enough to throw it all together and hope for the best. That’s where best practice and tradition comes in. Wine has been around for thousands of years and by studying the best practices of other countries and other winemakers, we can stand on the backs of giants and make a great wine that’s rooted in tradition yet uniquely ours.  Even so, I suppose it’s not always perfect. Sometimes a batch doesn’t turn out the way you expect it.   

Then there are all the times that bottle of vino exceeds our expectations. We come together as friends and family around the dinner table to share what man and nature have created together.  Upon looking around the table, we understand that man and nature have also created energy and love around the table.  Yes, we have experienced lesser wines and lesser moments.  All the more reason to celebrate finer wines and special moments.

Everything changes.

Time Posted: May 4, 2020 at 9:28 AM Permalink to Becoming a Sipster, Volume 2 Permalink
Michael Johnson
April 13, 2020 | Michael Johnson



My Quest to Become a “Sipster.”

Chapter 1: Two Types of Wine.


Not long ago I thought there were only two types of wine, expensive and cheap. Even the color made little difference to me when I was expected to grab a bottle for some dinner or another at a friend’s place. I picked one that was in the middle of the road for pricing and hoped for the best. If someone at dinner recognized it and paid it a compliment, then I would take credit for the choice. If they complained I said that the person at the liquor store recommended it. So it went for many a year, buying wines at random, sometimes winning sometimes losing. I had no emotional stake in wine whatsoever. Back then I valued alcohol quantity over quality. A 24 of beer could be purchased for the same price as single bottle of wine. Economical!

Then in 2014 my mother and father in law bought a winery. Out of nowhere two very influential people, renowned in their professions, gave their notice then sold their assets in Fort St. John BC to buy a winery on Vancouver Island! You can’t make this stuff up. Needless to say, my wife Alana was a little excited at the prospect. I seen in her eyes the reflection of vines and waves, the spark of a dream she hadn’t dared dream but was now a possible reality.  Suddenly I was being sent to the liquor store with concise instructions. Words like ‘pairing’ and ‘pinot something or other’ were becoming relevant to what I was purchasing. Yet I held firm, I was a bearded beer drinking man from the wild Canadian west and wine was fancy people drink.

The years passed as they tend to do and I found myself being forced to try more wine in order to be polite. I watched with feigned interest as they swirled their glasses then gingerly sniffed at what they called aroma or made comments about the clarity. “When in Rome” I thought as I copied them in order to fit in. It was a farce at first then suddenly out of nowhere I was pleasantly punched in the palate by Layne’s Pinot Noir, 2014 I believe. I couldn’t begin to quantify it. Like when I was a young lad and saw Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman for the first time, something fundamental that I didn’t yet understand changed inside of me. A veil fell from my eyes and I was rocked by the first of many startling revelations, people didn’t just drink wine to get drunk, it could taste good! Not only that but it could be used to enhance the taste of my food or the light of a sunset. I felt like I had been holding my golf club the wrong way all these years and was suddenly able to mitigate my slice. A wind from the west coast had blown clear a hidden path and to my chagrin I truly wanted to follow it.

So my quest for ambrosia began and fortunately for me I had a head start. If you haven’t yet guessed my in laws Brenda and Layne purchased 40 Knots winery and I can attest it has been a true labour of love for them. My wife Alana began spending summers at the winery helping and before long we were moving to the coast. I signed on full time December 2019 and will never look back. Everyday I learn a little more of the style and science it takes to craft fine wine and its as interesting as it is tasty. I had been missing out and I don’t want any of you to make the same mistake. Therefore, I am reaching out to all my brothers and sisters who may harbour a booze bias. Like you I love beer & whiskey, I’ve just learned that wine offers different yet equally enjoyable experience. Wine is a potent potion of love or enchanting flavour enhancer for dinner when selected correctly. It’s something you should equip in your arsenal for 2020 ladies and gents.

In closing allow me to give you this parting advice. If you think wine is something fancy for ‘other’ people, then like me you just haven’t had the proper experience. It can be as accessible or extravagant as you desire. It might also be daunting when you are just starting out, so I recommend taking the easy way like I did and learning from people who are not only knowledgeable but passionate about their product. Take the first step by coming in to 40 Knots for a free tasting. You have nothing to lose and you might just be surprised.

Tell them Mike sent you or ask for me personally, I’ll be the guy with the big black beard smiling because when you love what you do, you never really work a day in your life…maybe leave that part out if you talk to my boss.


Stay tuned for Chapter 2: Riddle Me This!

Time Posted: Apr 13, 2020 at 2:10 PM Permalink to Sipster Permalink
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February 22, 2020 | New Blog

Gamay Noir at 40 Knots

Gamay Noir at 40 Knots: A bit of History

Gamay Noir a Jus Blanc originates back to the 1300s, with first traces found out of the Burgundy region of France.  Its DNA shows that it is indeed a descendant of the Pinot Noir noble grape.  

After the Gamay grape revived the Burgundy economy during the Black Death Plague, The Duke of Burgundy “Philip the Bold”, banned its production in the 1300s, citing that Pinot Noir was a more elegant and sophisticated choice.  This forced the migration of Gamay to the southern French region of Beaujolais. 

In the 1980s, Gamay Noir was center-stage as producers and growers alike reveled in the demand for Beaujolais Nouveau wine’s, and held parties to celebrate the young wine before aging.  If you haven't taken in a Beaujolais Nouveau celebration, watch for the release on the third Thursday in November every year. 

Nowadays, most plantings are found in Beaujolais and the Loire valley with remnants remaining in Burgundy.  In Canada, it can be found in Prince Edward County, the Niagara Peninsula, The Okanagan Valley and here on Vancouver Island. 

Gamay is gaining respect and interest as a serious wine.  Styles vary across wine regions in the world, as well as flavors.  Some are kept in stainless steel and some are oaked.  Warmer climate regions tend to produce Gamay Noir with bubblegum and cotton candy notes whereas cooler climates like ours offer a tart, red fruit component.

40 Knots Gamay

40 Knots grows the Gamay clone 509.  This rootstock was purchased from France in 2007 and 2008.  Although there are currently 38 Gamay clones in France, this particular 509 clone is known to produce more full-bodied, balanced and aromatic wine that some other Gamay clones.  It thrives in cool climate regions like ours here in the Comox Valley, has large clusters, and is a bit less fussy to grow than Pinot Noir. 

image of the Gamay Noir section of winery

image of gamay noir grapes hanging from branches

thick, juicy Gamay Noir grape clusters from the 40 Knots 2019 harvest

image of 40 Knots Gamay Noir bottle

This elegant Gamay is harvested from September to October.  The first fermentation is in stainless steel and then moved to neutral Burgundy oak barrels, where the wine continues to soften and age, until bottling between June and August.

image of 40 Knots Rose bottle

Our traditional Rosé is made of Gamay and Pinot Noir co-fermented in stainless steel.  This beautiful Rosé is dry and bursting with flavors, perfect for the barbecue, brunch or sipping with friends.


At the 40 Knots cellar door, the newly released 2018 vintage has a hint of spice on the finish, something not seen in previous years.  Boasting naturally acidity and uncomplicated notes of raspberry, sour cherry, and white pepper, this rustic wine is perfectly paired with a wide variety of dishes, including roast turkey and salmon and is served best with a light chill.  If you like red wine but don’t enjoy heavy oak and harsh tannins, this wine is most certainly for you!


image of 40 Knots Gamay Noir wine info graphic

Time Posted: Feb 22, 2020 at 2:21 PM Permalink to Gamay Noir at 40 Knots Permalink