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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, Janitor and Blogger
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, Wine Sales, Wine Teacher, Tour Guide and Blogger
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.
Excitement spurs in the Northern Hemisphere for wine geeks and nature enthusiasts alike. At 40 Knots Estate Winery in the Comox Valley, we have patiently awaited budbreak throughout the vine's swelling stage and with an earlier start than last year, we can begin countdown to harvest as we watch our new shoots grow daily. Swelling precedes budburst, and these first two stages of the vineyard bring invigoration and life to all of us.
Each and every vineyard begins to show life again in the "swelling" stage. The nodes of each cane, with roughly 6 on each side, will display a soft fuzzy looking bump. Waiting for the perfect temperature to begin its new year of abundant growth, the new crop waits in the wings until the temperature is just right. When temperatures finally hang out around 10°C, the signal is given for growth to proceed.
Vine growth is fueled by nitrogen and starch reserves stored in canes, trunks, and roots from the previous year. Believe it or not, compressed shoots are already formed within the winterized cane! Budburst is simply releasing what Mother Nature has already created. Within our 40 Knots Vineyard, we kick off, as always, with two German varietals – Schoenberger and Siegerebe. In this stage, we closely monitor weather patterns and pray that cold evenings do not bring frost to our delicate new growth. We "desucker" or remove shoots that will not flower. This ensures that optimal energy is reserved for eventual fruit. Shoots will reach up into the sky at a vigorous pace as we await flowering to begin.
As part of our biodynamic farming, we continue to watch the vineyard floor and follow its phases. Leaving the yellow dandelion intact to attract a variety of bees, the flower's first release of filament means we can begin to weave between rows to mow the grass. It's also the time of year that you may witness a 40 Knots employee frantically chasing deer out of the front gateway. We have not gone mad, we're just conscious of old deer-y's insatiable appetite for new growth of any kind. We have four cute little goslings on the move and have happily made space for some retired chickens that will live out the rest of their days amongst the 40 Knots vines. Sounds like a dream if you ask me!
Wine, Wind, Sea & the Vineyard Floor
The life cycle of the grapevine can be discussed at great lengths. From budburst to harvest, the hours and energy put into vine, canopy and fruit management are extensive. Some of that attention, however, should be directed beneath our feet to the life found along the vineyard floor. This important cover crop has profound significance for the vineyard ecosystem, productivity and inevitably, wine quality. Here are just a handful of native and foreign plants, and even weeds, that help our 40 Knots Vineyard work with Mother Nature to achieve our increasing biodynamic farming practices.
White Clover (Trifolium Repens)
Chances are, you’ve seen this shamrock shape not only in a vineyard. Incredibly common in North America, this herbaceous perennial is a part of the bean family. Eventually, within its life cycle, a small white flower will draw in many bumblebee visitors, which are powerful pollinators. Into maturity, the white flower will begin to turn pink. Its ground coverage helps balance nitrogen levels and maintain soil health. If you happen upon one with four leaves instead of three, some would say you’d be blessed with the luck of the Irish!
Dandelion (Taraxacum Mongolicum)
The Taraxacum Mongolicum has been used in Eastern medicine for thousands of years, providing many health benefits. When aged, how beautiful the feathery filaments appear when caught up in a summer’s breeze. Kind of nostalgic, isn’t it? For the vineyard though, this perennial's wide-spread root systems are amazing for loosening soil and pulling up calcium from the depths. Grape vines require proper aeration and drainage to produce quality fruit set. Less is more when it comes to water!
Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine Hirsute)
This little white flower is part of the mustard family. In this particular photo, you can see the long slender seed pods getting ready to burst and spread themselves along the vineyard floor. Flourishing in damp, sunny and loose soil conditions, the vineyard is just the spot for the annual Cardamine Hirsute to thrive. It is also edible. It can add a little zip to your salad with peppery flavours, a perfect 40 Knots Pinot Noir pairing! Just like all other types of plants within the mustard family, this one is loaded with nutrients. It’s a spring weed, so as temperatures increase, the sight of them decreases.
Fescue Grass (Festuca Arundinacea)
The grass is basically the bodyguard of the vineyard, its main goal is to protect. The grass' heavy root system safeguards the soil from eroding and compacting. In the heat of the summer, it will enter dormancy and turn brown. This is favourable because it no longer competes for water. It also reduces excess moisture, avoiding unwanted heavy vine vigor.
Where this foliage thrives, so do bugs that feed our vineyard animals.
Biodynamic law teaches that everything has a purpose. With the knowledge of this, we can truly revel in the bounty that is found all around us.
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” –Albert Einstein.
With Spring upon us, we invite you to partake in one of our newly introduced guided vineyard tours. While you’re sipping our 40 Knots wine amongst the vines where it all began, see if you can find some of these vineyard helpers in between your feet!
40 Knots grows and crafts high quality, ethical, clean wines that are distinct to Vancouver Island.
If you've ever purchased a bottle of 40 Knots wine from our cellar door, you may have noticed the Northern Rough-Winged Swallow that adorns our Estate label. These swallows are endemic to our area and frequent our vineyard. Each year we celebrate their arrival because, for us, they are not only our friends but a part of our biodynamic crew. Swallows will only live in areas that surround biodynamic balance and their presence speak volumes that our clean, green vineyard practices are working. Swallows are an excellent bug predator. Unlike other species of birds, they will never harm our grapes. 40 Knots Vineyard is surrounded by farming land and swallows always nest near other farm animals. Next time you're here, perhaps during a guided or self-guided vineyard tour, keep your eyes peeled for swallow birdhouses built to keep the birds safe and give them a home to return to every year.
Swallows are also songbirds, and in maintaining balance it is believed that sound vibrations are important to vine health. Italy has been piping opera out into their vines for many years, and the proof shows that vines closer to the music are the healthiest in the vineyard. At 40 Knots, our version of this is offered not only to our vines but to our guests as well. If you haven't yet had a chance to partake in one of our vineyard terrace Wine Wednesday events, better book now before reservations fill up!
40 Knots is just a stone’s throw away from the Salish Sea. Because our land was created by a glacier, our vines are reaching down through glacier till soil. The rich salt air flows through our vines keeping them aerated, healthy and strong, and the salt air imbeds our oak providing beautiful aging that cannot be accomplished in dry wine regions. While walking the interpretive trail or sipping on our vineyard terrace or balcony overlooking the vineyard, you can hear the swallows singing alongside the sea lion’s barking at the arrival of the new day.
Swallows are an important friend of sailors and are believed to be a good omen. Sailors will often get a swallow tattoo to show off their sailing experience. According to one legend, one swallow symbolizes successful journeys adding up to 5,000 nautical miles, two swallows symbolize 10,000 nautical miles and so on. Another legend is that since swallows always return to the same land each year to mate and nest, the swallow will guarantee the sailor returns home safely. Sailors also believe that if they were to drown, the swallow will carry their soul to heaven.
40 Knots believes that all of us have the right to love and be loved. This is showcased with our gold medal winning Soleil Rose French Traditional style. The label, "Love is Love", supports the LGBTQ2 community. We believe that all are equal and we share the responsibility to support this belief. Even our swallows live with a similar motto. The female and male swallow not only look almost identical, but they also share in responsibilities of the daily chores and protecting their family. Once they mate, they mate for life. This is another quality we give great importance to. We practice loyalty to our community, our family, our friends, and our environment.
Awaiting our much-loved swallows, budburst in the near future and the days lasting a little bit longer, you better believe that we're dusting off that patio set! Come visit us Tuesday through Sunday between the hours of 11 am and 5 pm for a tasting, a glass (or bottle!) and a picnic.
#See you soon in our Vineyard Terrace!
-Marmalade is a big word
Marmalade is a big word. So is sustainability, biodynamic and lutte raisonnee to mention a few. The environmentally friendly wine scene abounds with all kinds of words. It is not easy to know what the terms mean, and sometimes they are carelessly bandied about by producers, consumers and reviewers alike. But alas, there are control agencies monitoring compliance with a diversity of rules. The most talked about is biodynamic, and 40 Knots Vineyard and Estate Winery is excited to be working towards certification. In fact, we have been since the owners purchased the property in 2014. And in fact, it was how their grandparents always farmed before there was a name for it.
So what is biodynamic? Basically, it is quite straightforward... just as marmalade is another word for jam... biodynamic is respect for the environment. It means using products which are not harmful to humans, flora, and fauna. It is about a hands-off approach to farming and allowing Mother Nature to do her thing, and for us, to learn how to work in harmony with her.
Hard Working Pilgrims
At 40 Knots, all of our crew works with Mother Nature in mind. Each has a deep respect for the vineyard and every task they do. And one doesn't have to go far on Vancouver Island to find like-minded farmers and customers. In fact, it is well recognized how forward thinking our community is, and their deep care for this land. It is a big reason why the owners chose this area to farm. When 40 Knots won the 2018 Comox Chamber Award for Sustainability, it was indeed recognized that we could not have done this without you. Check out our video below of Layne giving the "Marmalade" speech.
So what is everyone else doing? Trends are showing that in France, organic wine producing acreages went up 39% in two years, and as of 2012, 8% of wine growing acreage was biodynamic or organic. But is it possible, to ever get the land back to how Mother Nature intended? Some say that it will be for the New World wines such as ours. However, some say that some European vineyards that copiously used lead and arsenic (arseniate de plomb in French) as an insecticide during the twentieth century are beyond repair. As is the high lead content in soils in Bordeaux that may be due to lead arsenate.
Great wines are not made in the tank and the barrel. Great wines come from the vineyard.
So, what about all the fluffy, weird burying of horns and following the moon? It may sound like some sort of witchcraft and some may balk at the idea that moons can have any effect. Well then, we call upon all you non-believers to take the:
Following a lunar calendar is not only the main direction for biodynamic farming, but it can actually help your wine taste better! Have you ever wondered why one day your favorite bottle of wine can taste glorious whereas other days not so much? Studies have proven that the moon can affect the way wine tastes. Following this calendar states that there are root days, fruit days, flower days and leaf days.
There are lots of references to this on the internet, and at 40 Knot's we all love Wine Folly. Check out their link to the Wine Lunar Calendar: https://winefolly.com/update/biodynamic-calendar-fruit-day-wine-tasting/
Fruit Days: The best day for drinking your favorite bottle of 40 Knots wine!
Root Days: Good days for plant development. Wine flavors not at their best
Flower Days: Good days for tending to your flowers and drinking your floral wines such as Ziggy
Leaf Days: good days to prune back your vine’s, don't break out the expensive bottle of wine...
We want to hear back from you after you have completed the Lunar Challenge. Let us know what wines were most affected by the moon, and which wines you think are best left for Root and Leaf days. Leave a comment below, and I will be excited to learn alongside you as we discover together.
Want to connect with our little slice of Mother Nature’s heaven? I will be guiding guests through a vineyard tour where you can sip the wine among the vines that created them. Book for yourself and your loved ones! Offered throughout the Spring and Summer on selected dates and times.
40 Knots grows and crafts high quality, ethical, clean wines that are distinct to Vancouver Island.
Stabilizing and Clarifying
In the 40 Knots cellar, it’s quiet. Our estate grown wine is well past the fermentation stage and is relaxing well into the New Year. Layne’s hard work for 2018’s vintage is mostly behind him, and our close to final product is ready for testing by our consulting chief winemaker Michael Bartier from the Okanagan Valley. http://http://www.bartierbros.com/index.php/the-brothers At this stage, our cool climate wine undergoes sensory analysis and grading. Michael’s suggestions help us push boundaries to ensure you’re receiving the highest quality. Through our biodynamic practices and green farming techniques, we aim to offer you the absolute best of what Vancouver Island has to offer.
Just as this time of the year calls for quiet reflection, so is the stage of a wine’s life. We’re ultimately at the fine-tuning stage, where a young wine prepares to either age or become bottled. There are a few methods to help separate the last naturally occurring unwanted components; clarifying and stabilizing.
Clarification is achieved through two methods:
Fining is the process in where a substance is added to the wine to help it bond with unwanted particles, such as grape fragments or dead yeast cells. Some common agents are animal based, egg whites and fish bladders to name a few. 40 Knots is proud to offer you vegan and gluten-free wine, using none of these products. Our fining methods are achieved by way of bentonite addition; a clay compound notable for absorbing protein and bacteria.
Where our red wine is unfiltered, the filtering process is reserved for our white’s. A biodegradable sheet filter is used to gently run through, polish and ensure sterility of the wine.
Stabilization is achieved through manually lowering temperatures:
This takes place with our white and orange wine. Tartaric acid is the most prominent acid found in wine. This tends to bind with tannins and lees during fermentation and when the wine is inevitably cooled down before consumption, there is potential for crystallization. This has the appearance of glass, which appears unappealing to the naked eye. These are commonly referred to as “wine diamonds” and are 100% food safe! Cooling down our stainless steel tanks through cold stabilization helps to shake down these crystals before the wine hits consumers mouths.
*UPDATE* Absolute excitement for our 2018 vintage, stay tuned for release date announcements!
Guests coming into town for a visit? Looking for exciting new opportunities for your family and friends? Keep your eyes peeled for our upgraded 40 Knots Tour Program! Stay tuned on our Facebook page or website for updates. https://www.facebook.com/40KnotsWinery/
What's in 40 Knots Wine:
This entry is dedicated to learning about what it is that we're drinking when we pick up that delicious glass of vino. Wondering what is specifically in 40 Knot's wines? Read on!
What's NOT in 40 Knot wine? No chemical or unnatural preservatives are used. No added flavoring is used. Our wines are vegan and gluten-free. We achieve our GOLD for our efforts. And we often have customers come to us, surprised, and say they can drink wine again with no adverse effect.
Wine-making methods: First and foremost, there are conventional methods. Sulfites, eggs, milk, and fish are sometimes found in the conventional process of winemaking. Although by law these additions must be stated on the label, this is not always the case, so if this is important to you, read the label or ask the winery. The next level is the certification of organic. It costs a lot of money to get certified and it doesn't always guarantee that what you're drinking is 100% preservative free or that the methods are good for the environment. Us at 40 Knots? Well, we're above organic standards. The term biodynamic has come up a lot over the last couple of years, and while we're working towards fully achieving this certification, you can always rest assure that what you're drinking out of our 40 Knots Cellar is clean, natural, and rooted in our cool climate to give you fruit forward juicy and elegant wines.
What's found in All Wine:
Now let’s take a look at a broader scope and discuss the components found in all wine all over the world.
The number one ingredient found is actually water. No, water is not added, this is the natural "water" found in the grape. Around 75% of wine in fact. Shocking, right? Following this is alcohol, typically ranging anywhere between 8-16%. Doesn’t leave much left. But this is where it gets interesting.
Traditional wine is always made out of a few strains of winemaking grapes. Vitis-vinifera is the most common type used. So when people say they taste blackberries, cherries, or spices- this doesn’t normally mean that those flavors have been added. Although some producers do sneak flavoring into wine, 40 Knots does not. Each grape varietal brings out different characteristics, depending on soil and climate. The only other way that different kind of fruits would be used, would be where the producer would state that what they carry is a “fruit wine” or country wine, as they define it in Europe. So rest easy, you are always drinking juices from grapes that have been affected by a fermentation process!
So moving on, let’s look at what makes up the rest of that 5-10%.
Acids - this is naturally derived from the grape skins. White wines will typically have more acids than reds. There is also a small amount of amino acid found. Volatile acidity, mostly acetic acid, is what would give the wine its vinegar taste if gone bad.
Acetaldehyde - this is a volatile compound that is created when a wine starts to slightly oxidize. It sometimes gives off aromas of yellow apple. Some winemakers purposely oxidize before bottling if they are looking for a result of these flavors, but mostly only found with very old wines.
Glycerol - this is a sugar alcohol that is not technically sugar and gives wines their sweetness. Sugar is also found when the grapes don’t ferment all the way, leaving the wine with residual sugar, or RS for short. Dry wines will have less, typically 0-8 g/liter, off-dry will typically have 8-15 g/liter, and sweet wines will have 20+g/liter.
Higher Alcohol - these are found in very small amounts and will help aid in the wine's primary aromas.
Minerals - calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, potassium, and manganese. Get your daily dose by drinking some wine!
Esters and Phenols - these are compounds that give off aromas of a wine.
Sulfites - this is a naturally occurring preservative of all fruit (easily seen as the white on blueberry skins), and something of a conversation piece. Levels of sulfites range in a wine, but they all have it. Most have an addition of sulfites to help preserve it, especially if being shipped from other countries, or if it is a big commercial winery, or if the wine is packaged in a lesser stable container like tetra boxes or boxes with spouts. Even VQA wines are allowed to have large volumes of sulfites added. People claim that sulfites are what create headaches, this is up for debate. Some people say its the histamines. Varying countries have different histamines and the person's reaction might come from certain parts of the world and not others. If an Australian wine gives you a headache, try Italian. Easier yet, if you get a headache from wine, perhaps it's simply dehydration! Best using the one to one method. One glass of wine, one glass of water etc.
Antioxidants and healing properties? Just google "is wine good for you", and you will come up with many, many claims that it is. Articles say that a daily glass of wine can help with brain function, heart function, ovary function, blood clots, stress, and the list goes on. Hmmmm... is that why it is common to cheer "here's to your health"?!
And so we took this to the road! Spreading the love most recently at the Hopscotch Festival in Vancouver. Soleil Rose - Love is Love (supporting the LGBTQ community) was a major hit!
40 Knots grows and crafts high quality, ethical, clean wines that are distinct to Vancouver Island.
WINE, WIND AND SEA
Gentle hand harvesting has been completed by our local harvesters. Our crew was the best. They worked long hard days and we sincerely thank them for their dedication, getting our grapes off at the perfect time.
We thank Yasir for his guidance as we work towards biodynamic certification. Our grapes are very healthy with no disease and our highest yield to date. They required very little irrigation and little food. No synthetics were used and the grapes are above organic standards. Leaves are now falling off the vines in preparation for a 5 month dormancy period.
Into the cellar, the grapes go, and this is where we reap the rewards from biodynamic farming. The grapes go to work making the wine, with little to no intervention from us. Fermentation is slowed with temperature control which results in fruit forward and natural flavors.
Whites will continue to ferment anywhere from two weeks to three months, leaving on their lees for a creamy body. Lees is life, this is where the profile, taste, mouthfeel, and structure come from. We expect to bottle as early as February, however, each wine will finish on their own time, and it will take a studious eye and palate to know when they finish.
Reds are fermenting on their skins and pips. Reds take a shorter period for the first fermentation and ferment at a higher temperature. We have moved many of the wines now off their skins and pips, into Amphora and Burgundy oak. Now we wait while the wine matures, and watch for the second fermentation, known as malolactic. More about the malolactic fermentation in my next blog.
“My goal is to have all our wine aging in Amphora”. Layne Craig, owner. Stainless steel aging is airtight and imparts zero flavor. Oak aging imparts just that- oak flavor. Amphora, however, allows that slight oxidation to soften wines and add complexity.
REPURPOSE TO VINO-CARE - Vino Therapy Skin Care: Grape skins and stems, full of anti-oxidants, will be saved for use in our Vinocare skincare line. As we once again receive GOLD in Green Tourism Green Step, an international program, reusing these nutrient-packed bi-products of wine is a no-brainer for reducing our footprint. Partnered with Michelle from Royston Soap works, we have a full line of products that provide anti-aging and gentle skin healing for all skin types. My personal favorite picks for these upcoming cold winter months:
Halo Blu body scrub: made of granulated sugar- a powerful exfoliator that polishes and cleanses away dead skin cells, leaving the skin super silky smooth and incredibly (seriously) nourished
Ruby Moon facial soap: this natural cream soap is a detoxifier that provides hydration while helping improving skin texture. It contains lactic acid which has anti-aging components. This stuff leaves your skin feeling slightly tingly and incredibly refreshed!
Halo Blu body lotion: I totally love the smell of this one. Like the Halo Blu body scrub, its fresh ocean breeze aroma is super pleasant and long-lasting. The lotion is light and doesn’t leave a thick creamy residue on your palms.
Looking for an early Christmas present for your loved one? Check out our beautiful birchwood cases holding the entire line. Choose your favorite scent: Kadence Rose or Halo Lily Blu.
Want an evening of Class? Wine Class? Looking for something fun to do in these dreary winter months? Book us for Wine School! We offer beginner to intermediate and specialty classes such as food pairing and proper wine service.
Want to Party? Or just get out of the office? Stall Speed Lounge rents out for business meetings, Christmas Parties, Birthday parties, and any other reason you may find for a reason to get your crew together. firstname.lastname@example.org
Next Blog: What is in wine?
Wine, Wind, Sea, and the bounty surrounds us! We are smack dab in the middle of harvest here in our 40 Knots vineyard. The fall colours, brisk mornings, the way that the yellow sun reflects off of the orange and red leaves can't help but leave a feeling of nostalgia. We've been harvesting our Pinot Noir and Gamay Noir for our Rose. We harvest them a tad earlier to retain a little acidity. For our Pinot Noir and Gamay Noir stand alone red wine, grapes are left on the vine to get a little more concentration of fruit. The juices will be pressed off after 24 hours, the typical timeframe for our Rose, to grab just a touch of colour from the grape skins.
When we make these two grapes into a red wine, the juices remain on the skin for 2 or 3 weeks to grab more colour and tannin structure and then transferred to Burgundy oak. For our Pinot Noir clone 115 Amphora driven wine, the juice is left on skins in Amphora for up to four months. Thereafter, the skins are pressed off and the wine is returned to Amphora to continue aging. Stay tuned for our 2017 Pinot Noir Amphora driven wine to be released in the New Year!
When visiting our tasting room during this time of year, you will be surrounded by the delicious smells of the wine beginning its fermentation process. Here's a snapshot of wine fermenting in burgundian oak barrels:
The gases emitted during harvest can actually be quite dangerous. Our 40 Knots cellar is equipped with a C0² monitoring system, air evacuation and purge systems to ensure safety. During this fermentation process, yeast will eat the sugars and convert it into alcohol. This process will typically take a week unless the vat has been cooled down to elongate the process. This is common for the majority of our delicious 40 Knots white wine's. The natural temperature of fermenting wine can get in excess of 30 degrees C. This is quite volatile for a wine. By cooling it, or calming it down, we retain all of the beautiful juicy aromatics and help to showcase each individual grape at its full capacity. There are essentially two ways to ferment a wine, one being inoculation with a certain strain. This is the safest bet and will produce safe, consistent product. Some of our wine is fermented through a process called wild or indigenous fermentation. The choice is made on the day of harvest which direction he is going to go and there are many considerations. Wild fermentation is the old school way to get the job done, and the riskier one. There are no guarantees with wild yeast. It is typically found hanging out around the winery. On clothes, on walls. Many winemakers swear by wild yeast fermentation. On the other hand, many swear at it because of its unpredictability. Choosing this route though will create depth of character, complexity and bigger fruit notes. This is the risk that we're willing to take.
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. email@example.com or 855-941-8810.
40 Knots grows and crafts high quality, ethical, clean wines that are distinct to Vancouver Island.
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!