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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.
Layne Robert Craig
You've probably dreamed about owning a vineyard. Who hasn't? The romantic notions of tending to grapevines, making wine, and hosting visitors from all over the world are hard to resist. When you live in wine country, the temptation can pull even more strongly. But before you take the plunge into vineyard ownership, you must understand what you're getting yourself into.
Choosing a Location
Finding the perfect place to put a vineyard isn't only a matter of acreage and zoning—prospective buyers need to consider everything from the orientation toward the sun to the soil's acidity. Buyers should also consider the land's topography, as hillsides can affect everything from maintaining the temperature (cool air sinks and can "roll" down a slope) to the timing of the grapes' life cycle. Other essential factors include proximity to markets and infrastructure and the overall cost of the agriculture property.
By considering as many factors as possible, buyers can choose a location that will give them the best chance for success.
Soil Quality & pH Balance
A vineyard's soil is critical because it affects the drainage and nutrient levels available to the vines. Vines do best in well-drained soils, and grapes planted in such an environment tend to deliver more concentrated flavours and aromas. "Loamy" is often used as a descriptor for the ideal grape-growing soil, typically a crumbly mix of sand, silt, and clay blended with the rest of the soil. Gravelly soils tend to drain well.
However, there's definitely such a thing as too much of a good thing. Soil that's heavy in clay can trap water around the roots. Look for soil that's highly porous and retains heat.
While grape varietals have different pH requirements, grapes prefer slightly acidic soil, with a pH balance of 5.5–6.0. It's possible to ameliorate the soil if it's too acidic by raising the pH balance with limestone, but finding land that naturally has the proper pH balance is less hassle.
Selecting the Right Grape Varietals
The climate is one of the most important factors determining a vineyard's ideal grape varieties, as it will directly impact the types of grapes that can be grown. Grapes need warm summers and cool winters to thrive. Some varietals are more vulnerable to unexpected frosts; others have higher sun requirements. Working with a professional viticulturist is a good idea.
Vineyard owners don't have to limit themselves to just one type of grape—many vineyards with wineries will plant multiple species to blend into their final product.
There's good news for grape growers, however. While location and climate are essential factors in deciding which grapes to plant, don't expect to be "trapped" into any particular variety. Vineyard owners in Canada, for example, have found success in growing over 60 grape varieties in the Okanagan Valley. There's plenty of room to create unique wines.
Other Location Factors For Your Vineyard
There's more to a vineyard than the grapes it grows, so expect to do a lot of research before buying a parcel of land. Prospective growers will want to consider every angle, such as utilities, infrastructure, and more. It also wouldn't go amiss to ask potential neighbours if there's anything you should know about the area. Winemakers can run into unexpected challenges.
"Water rights," says Keith Wallace, a winemaker, professor, and founding member of the National Wine School. "When working in Napa, this became a growing issue. The other major challenge was getting top-tier labour for harvest."
Vineyards also don't exist in a vacuum. Therefore, prospective growers need to consider where they'll be able to buy needed materials and eventually sell their products.
Upfront Prices: How Much Does it Cost to Buy a Vineyard?
The cost of buying a vineyard can vary widely, depending on the property's location, size, and amenities. It can also vary depending on how developed the property is. When someone says they're "buying a vineyard," they can mean several things, including:
Buying undeveloped agricultural land
Buying an already-planted vineyard
Buying a producing vineyard complete with winery equipment
Naturally, the prices will reflect how much work the new owner will have to do to start their business. Owners should also consider their end goals. For example, if a grower plans on selling grapes rather than wine, they can skip some of the upfront equipment costs.
Cost of Vineyard Land
Vineyards in well-established wine regions like Napa Valley or Kelowna will typically cost more than properties in less developed areas. However, there's a good reason "wine countries" are where they are – they have fantastic climate and soil conditions for growing wine-worthy grapes.
A general rule of thumb for the size of a profitable vineyard is a minimum of five acres if you plan to sell directly to the consumer and a minimum of 10 acres if you plan to sell wine to wholesale markets.
In the Okanagan Valley, a producing five- to 10-acre vineyard with existing structures on the property (such as homes and warehouses) will typically list from the high $800s to around $4 million CAD. In California's Napa Valley, prices for planted vineyards run from around $350,000 to $1 million USD per acre.
Cost of Planting a Vineyard
If your vineyard isn't already planted, you'll have to factor in the cost of the grapevine seedlings, the labour involved in the planting, and equipment such as trellises, irrigation systems, and more. When calculating how much it costs to plant your vineyard, you also need to consider the terrain—a steeply sloped vineyard that needs infrastructure installed can cost tens of thousands more to plant than a flat field.
Vineyard owners will often apply extra nutrients to amend the soil, so they'll also need to factor that in. They'll also want to budget for annual vineyard maintenance, which can amount to several thousand dollars per acre.
Equipment Required for Maintaining a Winery
To successfully maintain a winery, you'll need the following items:
Crusher Destemmer: Detaches the grapes from the stalks and crushes to allow the juice to flow out, aiding fermentation.
Wine Press: Separates the grape juice/fermented wine from the skins, seeds, and pulp. Bladder presses are the favoured option but are more expensive than basket presses. The difference is in how the grapes are squeezed, which affects the quality and quantity of the resulting juice.
Wine Tanks: Also called amphora tanks and typically made of stainless steel, but also can be made from concrete, plastic, or oak wood. These are used for storage, fermentation, blending, and bottling.
Must and Wine Pumps: A must pump can accommodate and move entire crushed grapes. Wine pumps transfer fermented wine and aren't meant to accommodate solids.
Safety Equipment: Proper safety gear and equipment is essential for keeping employees safe while working with equipment and machinery.
Lab Equipment: Proper testing equipment in a wine lab is vital for quality control beyond taste and smell.
Bottling Equipment: A wine bottling line includes bottle rinsers, fillers, corkers, cappers, labellers, and other accessories.
Vineyard Operational Costs
Once the foundation is in place, vineyard owners can move on to operational costs. Here are some of the most common operational costs for vineyards:
Vineyard Maintenance: How Many Employees Does a Vineyard Need?
Growing grapes is a year-round activity that includes pruning, trellising, pest control, canopy management, and more. If you don't have a large enough staff to complete all the required tasks, you may need to outsource or hire seasonal workers. You'll need to find workers with the skill to evaluate and prune dormant vines, specialists to maintain equipment, managers if the operation is large enough, etc.
Fuel, Utilities, and Materials
Not only do you need to power the pumps and other equipment, but the wine needs to be kept at a specific optimum temperature throughout fermentation. Wine bottles awaiting sale will need to be stored in a climate-controlled space. Irrigation will need to be managed according to the weather.
Grapes or wine need to be adequately packaged for storage or transport—not to mention purchasing bottles, producing labels, and other material requirements.
If the wine is being shipped rather than sold on-site, you must factor in shipping prices, vehicle fuel and maintenance, and other applicable costs.
Insurance is important to protect your investment, employees, and customers. Also, don't forget to keep your liquor license up-to-date.
Marketing & Tasting Room Costs
Once you've made the perfect bottle, you need a way to tell the world about it! In addition to physical marketing materials, creating and maintaining a website, social media accounts, and a Google My Business profile is a good idea so your customers can easily find you.
Many vineyards have tasting rooms where visitors can pay to sample the wine. If you plan to open a tasting room on your vineyard property, you'll need to factor in construction costs, supplies, staff, and marketing.
As you can see, there are many factors to consider when determining how much it costs to start a vineyard.
The Grape Lifecycle: How Much Time it Takes to Make Wine
Buying a vineyard is a long-term investment—it's generally at least four or five years before owners start seeing income from selling wine. To put things into perspective, here's a quick overview of everything that needs to happen before the wine ends up in the bottle.
- Planting: Assuming you're doing the first planting yourself, it will generally take a young vine about three years of care to be ready to produce grapes.
- Dormancy: Before each season, the vines will lack foliage, and winter pruning takes place. This is a skill-intensive process, as the pruning determines the balance of shoots and buds (leaves and grapes) and will affect how well the grapes grow and ripen
- Bud Break & Flowering: In the spring—generally in April in the Okanagan Valley—the new flower buds and shoots emerge from the dormant vines. Flowering typically happens in June. Growers can start estimating the eventual yield by the number of flower clusters.
- Fruit Set: Grapevines are self-pollinating plants, so young green berries quickly begin to form. Growers manage the canopy of leaves throughout the process to control heat, sun exposure, and the amount of energy the vine expends, producing leaves and lower-quality grapes, thus intensifying the remaining grapes. Pruning out the lower-quality grapes is called "green thinning" or "green harvesting."
- Veraison: During this growth phase, the grapes begin to ripen and develop colour and sugar content. Veraison typically occurs in late August in Okanagan vineyards.
- Harvest: The grape harvest in British Columbia typically begins in September and runs through late October. Some late-harvest wines will even be harvested into November as the vines go into dormancy and the grapes start to wither on the vine from lost water content, concentrating their sugars and flavours. For icewines, harvest continues into December, as icewine grapes need to be frozen at -8° Celcius for at least three days. Grapes can be harvested either by hand or by machine.
- Pressing/Crushing: White wine grapes are pressed out of their skins before fermentation. On the other hand, reds are fermented with their skins to extract tannins and colour. The grapes are then run through a crusher/destemmer to release the juice.
- Fermentation: Yeast is added to the resulting barrels to begin fermentation. Depending on the characteristics the grower is seeking in the final wine, fermentation can take several months or years. Some wines go through a secondary fermentation process with added bacteria for malolactic fermentation, which "softens" the wine by converting malic acid into smoother lactic acid.
- Aging: White wines can be released soon after bottling, but reds are usually held back for months or years to continue development before sale.
Selling Your Wine
After all that time and effort, you're finally ready to sell your wine. You may also consider hiring a sales team or working with a wine distributor to get your product into stores. You can also open a tasting room on-site at your vineyard, which can be a great way to connect with customers and build a following.
Where to Sell Wine
There are a few different ways to sell wine. You can sell it online, through a wine club, or directly to customers through a tasting room or vineyard events. You can sell to restaurants, grocery stores, and farmers' markets. You can also distribute your wine through a wine wholesaler. The best way to sell wine is the way that works best for you and your vineyard.
If you're a small operation, selling directly to customers through a tasting room or online might be the best way. However, working with a distributor or wholesaler might be a better option if you want to reach a larger audience.
The easy answer for how to price your wine is "however much people are willing to pay." Many factors go into this price, ranging from brand image and perceived value to the operational costs of the vineyard. Wines with a longer fermentation period are priced higher due to the time investment. Small wineries calculate prices differently than large operations because they invest their time and costs differently.
The three major costs that should be factored in are the vineyard, the production costs (such as picking and hand-sorting grapes), and sales and marketing.
Make Connections in the Industry
One of the best ways to get started in the wine industry is to connect with people already involved in it. Go to industry events, join trade organizations, and network with other growers and winemakers. You can also learn a lot by working at another vineyard or local winery, so don't be afraid to get your hands dirty and start at the bottom. The more you know about the industry, the better equipped you'll be to create a vineyard.
Owning a Winery Without Owning a Vineyard
Wineries and vineyards are two sides of the same coin. Just as there are vineyards that sell grapes rather than wine, there are wineries that buy their grapes rather than grow them.
Depending on which parts of winemaking spark your passion, you may find that investing in a winery only rather than a whole vineyard is more appealing.
However, that's not to say that winery ownership doesn't experience challenges. Lydia Martin, the founder of Liquor Laboratory, has this to say:
"The unexpected challenges that I faced upon starting a winemaking journey is that although there is an abundance of crop sources, there are seasons that these sources will become limited. My team and I actually started to experience this in the first year of our winemaking journey. It was a hard obstacle to overcome, but since this is a passion of ours and not just a business, we powered through this together and worked to find more crop sources for our wines. That's the thing about the wine business, I guess – you cannot stick to just one or two suppliers. On our end, we had diversified from local crops to actually importing an ample amount to keep the ball rolling and it has helped us through!"
It's Not All Challenges—There Are Many Rewards of Vineyard Ownership
Buying and running a successful vineyard is often more complicated than most people think. But if you're up for the challenge, it can be an immensely rewarding experience. There's nothing quite like making a product from scratch and being able to share it with others who appreciate it.
Many winemakers find the process itself can be unexpectedly enriching, too.
"Sometimes during crush, I didn't have time or the energy to go home, so I pitched a cot in the vineyard," says Wallace. "Best sleep I have ever gotten! Another unexpected but whole rewarding aspect of winemaking is the camaraderie, it didn't matter who you worked for or what your job was. It felt like family. And still does."
"This is not a journey that ends when business ends," says Martin. "If there ever comes a time that I will have to close down the business, I can keep the winemaking journey going by making personalized or customized bottles for loved ones and friends. Plus, winemaking is not really something that ends because when the time comes that I will be too old to go on, I'm sure my family will keep the winemaking journey going!"
Are You Ready to Take the Plunge?
There are many factors to consider when starting a vineyard, from the cost of land and grapes to the time commitment required for proper care. But if you're passionate about wine and willing to put in the work, vineyard ownership can be a hugely rewarding experience. Do you think you have what it takes to run a vineyard?
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.
thick, juicy Gamay Noir grape clusters from the 40 Knots 2019 harvest
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.
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!
With the crocus’s emerging, we wait indoors and anticipate warmer days and longer daylight hours. Now is the time to trim back our 40 Knots vines in preparation for the Spring budburst! There are numerous styles of vine pruning that suit many different regions. The vineyard layout, climate and soil composition will help determine the appropriate method for proper vineyard structure.
Cane pruning is the main style found in the 40 Knots vineyard. This is the best option for #cooler climate regions with minimal growth left out in the elements and reduces the opportunity for negative effects of cold winter weather. A selection of last year’s strongest canes will replace growth from the year before with one cane left on either side of the crown of the vine. In most cases, it is important to leave a couple of canes on either side as insurance against the cold. This insurance vine can be cut back in the Spring when there is no more threat of frost damage.
Depending on the location and the climate, pruning one or two weeks later could potentially push budburst later into Spring. This is especially helpful for cooler climate regions where the exposure of late frost is a strong likelihood.
In some parts of the world, vines are considered weeds- they are incredibly hardy and can withstand up to -28°C degree temperatures with roots shooting down 15-20 feet. Good news for you backyard growers concerned about making a wrong move!
With the pruning complete and more that ¾’s of the growth cut back, the vines will look rather bare. The cane that is left over will be tied down along the crown of the vine and to the bottom "fruiting" wire on the trellis system, with a twist tie, thin wire, or the old school way- by slowly and carefully twisting the cane to hold it into place. The canes will snap if manipulated too quickly, so patience is a virtue in this case!
With a great turnout to our Community Pruning class here at the 40 Knots Winery, we have some informed backyard growers going home a little wiser!
Join me next time, when I dive deeper into one of our estate red wine's and focus in on our Gamay Noir. How it grows, how it drinks and what food to pair with it!
*FREE community pruning workshop. See below for further information*
At the dawn of a new decade, we welcome a fresh start in the 40 Knots Vineyard. With 2019 behind us, we look forward into 2020 with revitalized hope, energy, and enthusiasm for a fabulous new vintage. Just like winter hibernation, the 40 Knots vines are in their dormancy stage and await the new spring sun. Winter dormancy occurs after the last autumn leaf has fallen and carries forward until early Spring.
Shorter winter days kick-off two phases of dormancy.
Endodormancy: (Greek word endo meaning inside) during this first stage, the grapvine become cold hardy. The plant growth regulators inside the bud prevent each grapevine from growing, even in favourable environmental conditions. Endodormancy is usually complete by the end of December.
Ecodormancy: An external force that follows environmental conditions. In the Northern Hemisphere, the ecodormancy stage starts around February. In this stage, the vines await higher temperatures to proceed with budburst. With ecodormancy and climate change, vine growers must be vigilant to monitor low temperatures as to not kick off budburst too soon. This is where our #coolclimate region in the Comox Valley has a leg up!
With the vines seemingly lifeless and naked without leaves, the activity underneath the soil is charged in preparation for the new year with energetic vines sending out new roots. This “root flush” (think tiny hairs at the bottom of carrots and beets) reaches downward in search of nutrients from the soil. Internal starchy carbohydrates build inside the roots, trunks and cordons in autumn and until the first frost, and this stage is critical for proper flower, leaf and bud grapvine growth development for the following season.
Above the soil, the vines will dehydrate themselves as water contracts and glides into intercellular spaces. This phase almost steels the vines from the inside out, avoiding freezing during these chilling winter temperatures. Sugar and protein compounds come together to bind water, serving as cryoprotectants. So strength DOES come in small packages!
Join us for a FREE community pruning workshop
Calling all viticulturists, farmers and outdoor enthusiasts interested in learning vineyard pruning methods for both cane and spur vines. We are hosting a complimentary community pruning workshop on February 1st from 1-4pm at 40 Knots Winery. Click HERE to RSVP.
Unable to attend? Read about how much fun we had in my next blog post where I discuss winter grapevine pruning.
Happy New Year, from the crew at 40 Knots and me,
Aging wine in the cellar before bottling is a process that takes patience, diligence and the knowledge of one’s terroir. Grapes grown in cooler climate regions will need a different aging process than those from warmer climates. The trick for quality though is to know which vessel suits which varietal, and how long each one needs to rest before bottling. In the 40 Knots cellar, we age our wine in three different vessels: Amphorae, french oak and stainless steel tanks.
Remnants of these ceramic style terra cotta pots have been spotted as far back as 6000 BC, with archaeologist having found remains in the Republic of Georgia. Once the amphorae reached the Mediterranean, ancient Greek’s and Romans used them as the main transportation and storage of wine. A huge benefit of amphorae is the stabilization of temperature through exceptional thermal insulation. With a porous surface, the wine stabilizes through slight oxidation; double the oxidative effects of oak! In today's wine world, there has been an insurgence of amphorae in wineries that farm organic or biodynamically. In following this biodynamic route, amphorae pots found in our 40 Knots cellar have been growing in numbers over the last year. All three of our amphorae come from Artenova in Florence, Italy.
40 Knots wine aged in amphorae:
The oak barrel is thought to be created by Spanish Celts around the fifth century BC. Embracing oak over amphorae around the 2nd century AD, the Romans and colonizing Europeans chose this transportation method for small goods and liquids. Most of the wine oak barrels that you’ll see around the world nowadays typically come from five main forests in central France or California and some of the eastern states. Wine flavors showcased from oak aging are spices, earthiness or a toasty characteristic and sometimes sweeter flavors of vanilla, caramel, and butterscotch. The barrels that you will find stacked in the 40 Knots cellar are from various areas in France.
40 Knots wine aged in oak:
Stainless Steel Tanks
With the creation of stainless steel in the early 20th century, winemakers began the journey of aging wine in stainless steel tanks. Unlike oak, a wine created in these airtight, neutral vessels imparts no flavors and undergoes no oxidation. Wine flavors formed to display the truest nature of the fruit, boasting crisp, clean and fresh characteristics. The 40 Knots cellar is filled with Italian tanks from a company called Albrigi out of Italy.
Look for these crisp, fresh wines in our portfolio. Unlike some other terroirs, there is no need to oak these beautiful whites as they are naturally full with lots of juiciness, and far from flat.
Celebrate New Year's Eve, or any other time that demands emphasis of flavor on the celebration, with our "in bottle" fermentation, French Traditional style bubbly!
Gift baskets made to order or pick one up today in our store. Got your Christmas cards out yet? Pick up one of our gift cards or we can e-send off! No expiry and may be used for purchases, vineyard tours, premium tastings and picnics.
Back by popular demand, check out our gift of Pinot box - Pinot Noir sale
!!!HUGE SALE ALERT!!!
From December 20 to December 24, you'll receive $25 off a case of wine! Just mention "I read about it on Megan's Blog"
Give us a call for Canada wide shipping options 855-941-8810, or visit us in the tasting room today.
Christmas hours: closed December 24 at 3pm, CLOSED ALL DAY December 25 & 26
New Years hours: closed December 31 at 3pm, CLOSED ALL DAY January 1 & 2
Thanks for following my blog posts for 2019! I look forward to picking up again next year in 2020. Please email me if there are topics you would like me to blog about, or if you ever have any questions about the blog. Or even better yet, stop in and see me at the winery!
“Just like a fine wine, you keep getting better with age”. We’ve all seen this Birthday Card for sale on the rack. The common misconception is that all wine surely does get better with age. This statement, however, is only true for a small number of wine types found around the world.
It is estimated that 90% of the wine is meant to be enjoyed within a year of production, and 99% of wine within 5 years.
For some of you, the goal is to drink wine when in the prime of its life. For most of you, it’s as soon as you bring it to an awkward family dinner party. Back in the day, the Old World regions (aka. Europe) were notorious for releasing wine that demanded a minimum 5-10 year lay down (think astringent, high tannin Barolo’s). Nowadays, you will find more and more European styles following New World regions (aka. anywhere that isn’t Europe) with wine that is ready to drink now.
Studies have shown that the average person waits 21 minutes between purchasing and opening a bottle of wine.
Tannin and acidity are structural elements that act as naturally occurring preservatives, allowing the wine to evolve without falling apart. Sugar and alcohol also factor in, but the body must be supported by tannin and acidity.
Because white wine grapes rarely go through skin contact after harvest, the lack of grape skin tannin is your first clue that white wine doesn’t have much age-ability (with the exception of Orange Wine). Many Chardonnay’s, however, have seen some barrel aging. This adds tannin from the oak barrel and creates the potential to lay that bottle down for several years. Because of current wine trends, an unoaked style of Chardonnay is quite popular in today’s market.
40 Knots White Wine
With all of our white wine grapes grown right here on Vancouver Island, our crisp and dry style white's are a perfect pairing with anything that comes out of our local ocean.
USUALLY BEST IN THE FIRST THREE YEARS
ONE FOR YOU AND FIVE FOR THE CELLAR, ENJOYABLE EVERY YEAR FOLLOWING
40 Knots Red Wine
Unlike wine from warmer climate regions, our estate reds are light in body and have soft tannins and moderate acidity.
STICK THIS ONE IN YOUR CELLAR!
Drinkable now and try on each year for the next 6-8 years. Prime is expected 3-5 years after vintage year.
DRINK NOW OR SAVE FOR MANY, MANY YEARS.
Sparkling bubbles will become very refined and soft with a baked brioche flavour, Trie Emily will be soft and deeply luscious, drink Safe Haven in 10 years while you sink deeply into your armchair and reminisce.
Stall Speed Collection Red Wine
These reds boast grapes coming in from the Okanagan Valley where the climate is slightly warmer.
At 40 Knots we have already done the aging process for you, with vintages ranging between 2008 and 2011.
If you DO decide to lay something down for a period of time, be sure that it is away from sunlight, vibrations, and temperature fluctuations. A cool basement emulates a cellar, so this is your best bet.
Ready to cross some Christmas gift purchases off of your “to-do” list? Visit us in the tasting room and get your custom gift basket- wrapped with your choice of goods, to your price point.
To barrel or not to barrel, to amphorae or not to amphorae: what are the different aging techniques BEFORE a wine is bottled? Stay tuned for my next blog post.
With the demand for natural consumer products on the rise, the pursuit of natural wine has become increasingly mainstream. With more and more negative effects being felt from consuming additives and unknown ingredients, the need for transparency has people delving deeper into what they are pouring into their glass.
So, what is natural wine? Simply put, it is a wine that has nothing added and nothing is taken away. Our mission at 40 Knots is to follow natural winemaking techniques while continuing to meet European natural winemaking requirements. This pursuit guides us from the vineyard to the cellar and right into the bottle. The process starts in the vineyard. Natural wine is made with grapes that are organically or biodynamically grown. Our biodynamic practices help us achieve this first step. In the cellar, there must be little to no intervention. Much natural wine created will not undergo fining or filtration, leaving the wine cloudy. Some winemakers will wait until all the sediment has fallen to the bottom of the tank, barrel or amphorae. For fining in the 40 Knots cellar, organically certified bentonite or compostable filter sheets are used to produce wine with a clear, un-cloudy appearance.
In contrast, conventional farming and winemaking have only been taking place for a few decades. With the need to uphold brand loyalty through consistency, there are adjustments that can be made to create a similar tasting product vintage to vintage. While all wine naturally contains low levels of sulfites, conventional wine allows for the addition of significantly more sulfites to help preserve the wine. Conventional methods actually allow up to 72 legal additives! Organic wine can still allow the same additions as conventional methods, as long as they are certified organic. 40 Knots assures above organic standards with natural quality and minimal intervention, from every vintage to every bottle.
As winemakers forge this naturally approached path through the love of the land; this will undoubtedly become a clear road carved out for future generations. While no legal definition of a "natural wine" currently exists, as the natural product market rises, so will awareness. This will surely connect us further to our surroundings, Mother Nature and life itself.
Want to impress your friends and family over this upcoming holiday season with something special!? One interesting style of trending natural wine produced at 40 Knots is the L’ORANGE. Never heard of an Orange method wine? In a nutshell, it is white wine grapes made in the style of a red. Long term skin contact and amphorae ageing with 0 grams per litre residual sugar is enough to make any Keto dieter sing. Stone fruit and orange zest on the nose yet the pallet boasts a spirit type quality. Think Grand Marnier without the sugar! Found at our cellar door during opening hours. We warmly invite you to visit us and taste.
Ever wonder how long you should cellar that bottle of vino? Or what ageing wine will do to the flavour components? Catch me next time, when I delve deeper into wine ageing techniques.
40 Knots grows and crafts high quality, ethical, clean wines that are distinct to Vancouver Island.
With harvest behind us, the 40 Knots cellar is a bustle of activity as our grapes now begin their journey to become wine. With a hands-off approach to winemaking, Layne's job is to coax natural fermentations where yeasts now convert natural sugars into alcohol.
The amount of alcohol in our wine is actually determined by the sugar levels in the grapes at the time of harvest. 40 Knots is known for the soft, easy-drinking wines with naturally lower alcohol levels, avoiding "hot" and unbalanced wine. Our styles are reminiscent of old-world natural wines. We allow a natural fermentation process converting sugars into alcohol, and finishing at the point of natural balance.
Over the last few months, I have posted about the main components found in wine – acid, tannin, sweetness and alcohol. I close off my four-part series now with Alcohol. So how do we decide on how much alcohol should go into the bottle? Well, we don’t. The natural fermentation process will carry on through converting sugars into alcohol, and quit at the point of natural balance. If a winemaker so chooses, there are techniques to add alcohol, including a process called fortification*. This will create a dessert wine of high alcohol and high sugar. Fortified wine’s include sherry, brandy and port*. There are also ways to reduce alcohol, such as boiling it off. This, however, will drastically reduce quality. If a winemaker decides to cultivate a wine with naturally low alcohol, the grapes can be harvested earlier when less sugar has yet to form.
So how do we test the alcohol level in our lab? Seen in the picture below is a traditional instrument, invented by the French, called an Ebulliometer. An Ebulliometer measures the current boiling point of water and then matches that with the boiling point of the wine in question. With the orbital slide calculator, you determine the % ethanol.
The proper alcohol percentage is essential for balance and structure of the final product. With all components in harmonious balance, you will find a wine of wonderful drinkability. At 40 Knots, we thrive upon balance both in the vineyard and the cellar. With our minimal intervention approach, we aim to craft wine of natural quality. This is our continued 40 Knots promise.
40 Knots French Traditional sparkling wines have naturally lower alcohol percentages as the grapes are harvested earlier than for still wine, with lower brix levels. With sparkling wines, this style goes through primary fermentation in a stainless steel tank and secondary fermentation in the bottle. First fermentation results in a lower alcohol, so when secondary fermentation takes place, it will not drive a high alcohol content, and thus resulting in a balanced wine. Spindrift, as an example, results in less than 10% in the primary fermentation, and finishing at a elegant 11% alcohol. Chardonnay for still wine is then harvested later in the season, with higher brix and pH which can result with the same alcohol percentage as our finished sparkling wine.
As an example, in our cool climate, a brix sugar level in our grapes of 20 will convert to just short of 11% alcohol. In a region such as California, with their big reds, where their grapes may exceed 30 brix when they harvest, this converts to an excess of 15% alcohol. Some wine in California even goes through a de-ethanization process to reduce the amount of alcohol.
In some styles of wine, usually where a very high residual sugar level is desired, such as a sweet dessert wine, the natural sugars from the grape may be retained in the bottle without adding sucrose, by stopping the fermentation early. Traditionally and today in Portugual, their port wine and our port-style, uses high percentage spirit addition that stops the yeast in the fermentation process.
*fortification is the addition of a spirit while fermenting wine is still naturally high in sugar, thus halting the fermentation process by keeping the sugar levels naturally high. Our *port style dessert wine is a delicious accompaniment to dark chocolate. But don't take my word for it, come try it out for yourself! Our 40 Knots tasting room is open all year round. Come enjoy a glass of port while taking part in our Music Trivia Nights, every Saturday night at 6:00pm.
But don't take my word for this. Check out our balanced wine for yourself! We are open all year for you to come and taste these wines for yourself, or bring your friends and join us in our Music Trivia Nights, every Saturday night at 6:00 pm.
with the growing demand for natural wine, have you ever wondered what in fact it actually is? Check out my next blog post to find out!
Wine, Wind and Sea.
With harvest well underway, the bounty of our 40 Knots vineyard is welcomed in the bucket loads, as the hard-working harvesters continue to snip our biodynamic grapes off of our naturally healthy vines. White wine grape varietals are typically put through a de-stemmer and grape press right after harvest. The ageing process for white wine generally happens in stainless steel tanks (with the exception of some Chardonnay’s and our Orange style wine). Rose's are pressed after 24 hours of skin contact. Red wines, however, are not pressed for 6-8 weeks. This allows the juices to be in contact with the grape skins/stems and pips (seeds) to create a tannin structure. Following this, the majority of reds are aged in amphora or oak barrels to add further this tannin structure along. In this vessel found below, the grape skins are floating on top of the juice where a wine cap punch down tool is used to mix up the skins with the juice, adding natural tannin.
Tannin is a naturally occurring phenolic compound, which gives the feeling of astringency and bitterness. This “drying” feeling taking place on the sides of your tongue and front part of your mouth and when well balanced with sugar, acid and alcohol levels, creates a wine of quality and age-ability.
40 Knots use Burgundy oak barrels to impart tannins. Other wineries may use a more affordable approach through the addition of oak chips or staves or adding a tannin powder. Oak tannins integrate into a wine quicker than naturally occurring tannins found from the skins. So, when putting a light-bodied, naturally lower tannic red like Pinot Noir into oak, it can create a wine of overwhelming tannins, especially when young. This can be avoided by using neutral oak barrels or a vessel that doesn’t impart further tannins.
Come in to 40 Knots and try the difference. Taste our uncloaked un-oaked Chardonnay and our lightly kissed by oak Chardonnay. Try our Pinot Noir fully amphora aged next to our burgundy aged. Try our shortly aged in oak Gamay against our Carmabolage with high tannin grapes and extensive ageing in Burgundy oak.
Belong to a Wine Lover's Group? Take a couple of our Burgundy oaked reds to taste against a commercial wine that uses staves.
Do you want to learn more about wine? Practise, practise, practise. And join us for one of our classes that you can find on our events calendar.
To finish off my four part series, my next blog post will be on alcohol in wine!
Sweetness in Wine
The Summertime in all its sweetness is drawing to a close. The leaves are changing colour and the first day of harvest in our 40 Knots vineyard has begun in our Schoenberger block.
At this stage of the grape growing cycle, sugar levels are monitored to decide if the grapes are ready to harvest by units called Brix. The volume of sugar levels can be measured with a small contraption called a refractometer by dripping the grape juice onto its detection lens.
One Brix equals 1% of sugar found in a liquid solution and usually equates to half of the alcohol in the final product. This means that a grape harvested at 20 Brix should equate to roughly 10% alcohol in the bottle.
Once the grapes are harvested and the juices start to ferment, the term Brix is no longer used and the residual sugar level is the unit of measurement. As a wine ferments, the sweetness drops and the alcohol levels rise. The term residual sugar is the sugar left over once the fermentation is complete. Wineries describe the residual sugars found in wine as grams per liter, this can be confusing as liquor retail shops use a “sweetness code” to rate the sugar levels found in wine. Here’s a handy charge to help better distinguish how much sugar is actually found in finished wine:
There are many different styles of sweet wine and different methods to achieve higher sugar levels if the natural sugars don't do so. Fortififying a wine is the addition of a grain or a grape spirit to halt the fermentation, keeping the natural sugar levels high, and our port style dessert wine is just that. Late harvest wine is achieved by leaving the grapes on the vine for a longer period of time to allow the grapes to bring on a good rot called botrytis. Our Trie Emily is a late harvest Sauterne style that is created with our Pinot Gris grapes.
Indeed a very rare wine
Want to learn how to harvest grapes without a huge commitment? Come join me for a harvest tour! Learn about the terroir, climate and growing stages of the vineyard, join the crew for a half-hour hand harvest session, and come inside for a refreshing glass of wine and a picnic lunch!