Happy 2nd Anniversary!

Another year has come and gone, and I am pleased to say that The Demystified Vine is still guiding people to love & understand wine more and unravel the mysteries behind this fascinating topic! Okay, I’m done. Mission accomplished.

Just kidding.

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In the Similkameen Vineyards, 2013

In the last two years, I have seen The Demystified Vine grow significantly. In its first year, it had approximately 4,000 views. During its second year, views more than doubled. I have been working hard to not only grow as a writer, but also provide better content to my readers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Fond Memories

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Reporting at the Black Hills Estate 14-year Vertical, 2013

The 2013-2014 blogging year was memorable. I was fortunate enough to spend some time in my BC vine-backyard (the Okanagan) and taste some amazing wines. In October 2013, I was asked by Natalie Maclean to represent her at the Black Hills Nota Bene 14-year Vertical Tasting. The following day, I attended a 6-year vertical tasting at Clos du Soleil Winery in the Similkameen Valley. What experiences! I was passionate about BC wines before I went into the interior that weekend, but post-trip, it deepened widely. I realized how lucky I am to live in such a quality wine region of the world. We DO have age-worthy wines here in BC.

 

 

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The Riesling tasting leftovers

 

 

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Spectacular line-up of Clos du Soleil whites!

In addition to attending the Vancouver International Wine Fest and numerous wine tastings around town, I was fortunate enough to record some podcasts with Wine Country BC (@winecountrybc). How could I not also remember talking with a number of winemakers and winery owners to bridge the gap between readers and wine? In June 2014, I attended the Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Barbara, California. I’m still processing many of the new things I learned. There have been so many wonderful experiences, and I am wholeheartedly looking forward to having more…especially more Marechal Foch and Riesling tastings!

 

 

Changes are Coming to The Demystified Vine

The Demystified Vine is going to be going through some changes. I have decided that I am going to be refocusing my website, in order to develop more engaging content about wine and the industry.

Previously, my focus was on reviewing wines and doing write-ups about wineries. In between those publications, I slipped in some wine-related posts or had guest bloggers. (Who could forget Martin Knowles (@mkphotomedia) and I writing wine Christmas Carols about Robert Parker?)

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In Venice: I love me some Valdobbiaddene DOCG!

I want to shift gears. My passion has steered me into examining a more theoretical side of wine. I want to engage in conversations about the philosophies behind wine, wine making, and examine why wine makes people tick. The Demystified Vine will still do some wine reviews and the like, but for a while, at least, I want to see what other perspectives can bring.

I hope that you will continue this journey with me, as I have appreciated you being here. Feel free to “Like” The Demystified Vine on Facebook, too! The Page is up and running!

Once again, thank you to my readers; I wouldn’t be here without you! Many blessings. Cheers!

 

 

 

Valerie Stride
Writer of The Demystified Vine

 

PS: I hope you like the new look!

Wine is art. There is no debate on that. I refuse to even entertain the idea that it is not.

First Let’s Talk Santa Barbara Wine Country

With the nickname The American Riviera, how could you not want to travel here? Santa Barbara County is a vigorously growing grape region. (See what I did there?) With almost 21,000 acres of wine grapes being grown, and more than 50 grape varietals being focused on, it is no wonder why the vitality of this region has some vivaciousness going on. (Leave me alone, I’m voraciously in an alliterative mood.)

Valerie Stride 2014

Santa Barbara: The American Riviera

The top three grape varietals that are being produced here by over 200 wineries are all of the vitis vinifera type [groan]: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, & Syrah. With effective microclimates, Santa Barbara County is doing its thing, and doing it well. According to the Santa Barbara Vintner’s website:

The unique, transverse nature of the valleys of Santa Barbara Wine Country provides a patchwork quilt of microclimates and terrains, resulting in one of the most diverse grapegrowing regions in the country. The valleys in the Pacific coastline actually run east-west rather than north-south, and both the coastal Santa Ynez Mountain range and the more interior San Rafael range are transverse too. Because of this geologic oddity, the ocean breezes sweep eastward, channeled by the hills and mountains that ring the region. Heading east into the foothills, the temperatures are warm during the day and very cool during the night, whereas the vineyards that lie westward toward the ocean enjoy a mild and moderate climate. Coupled with soils that run the gamut from ancient beach and diatomaceous earth to chirt and limestone, there is a near-perfect place for a wide variety of winegrape varietals.

To my knowledge, nowhere else in California has such a keen focus on Rhone Valley varietals. This is one reason why I was drawn to tercero wines (yes, that proper noun should be in lowercase letters) on the day of the vintner’s luncheon.

The Chosen One

At the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Barbara, California (July 10-13, 2014), I had the pleasure of meeting Larry Schaffer of tercero wines. Larry was just one of the many wine industry professionals pouring vino at the Santa Barbara Vintners Lunch on Saturday July 12th. Alongside those delicious pourings, savory salads of various kinds were being handed out. Leafy greens and wine? You had me at “lunch”.

Valerie Stride 2014

Wine Friendly Summer Salads

Since I had had a solid breakfast that morning, I wasn’t ravenous. As a result, my focus was on the wine. Yes, I wanted those greens; by that point, I felt like a single carbohydrate molecule from all of the food I had chosen to eat during previous days while traveling. After I had found a spot to sit, I walked to the nearest salad station and immediately noted the colourful presentation before me. Southwestern Fried Chicken Salad, you say? You had me at fried. (I’m sensing a pattern here.)

At this lunch, I was inspired to turn my focus on one winery. The chosen one: tercero wines.

 

tercero wines: Visions of the Rhone Valley

I spoke with Larry Schaffer about his winery and libation inspirations. Not only is Larry an interesting fellow to chat with about our favorite subject, but he is also down-to-earth and entertaining. His personality is one reason I decided to focus on tercero wines that day; he exudes a noteworthy, energetic passion. Here is what Larry had to say on naming his winery and why he is focused on Rhone Valley-inspired wines:

  • The Demystified Vine: I’m forever fascinated with knowing why people name things the way they do. Why did you choose “tercero wines” as your winery name?
    Larry Schaffer: It is always somewhat daunting and challenging to name a ‘venture’. Much time was put into finding just the right name at the time the brand, tercero wines, was started. First of all, ‘tercero’ means ‘third’ in Spanish. I am a third child, have three children, was married to my ex-wife on the 3rd (but alas, I am NOT on my 3rd wife), and tercero is also the name of the dormitory complex that I lived in when I attended UC Davis. The number “three” seems to pop up a lot in my life.
  • The Demystified Vine: According to your website, you source your grapes from five different vineyards. What is your reasoning behind sourcing grapes from a variety of vineyards?
    Larry Schaffer: I actually work with about 10 different vineyards throughout Santa Barbara County. I make about a dozen different wines and strive for diversity in what I do; I will not release a wine if it is too similar to another that I am releasing. The vineyards I work with are all unique, and I try to be somewhat ‘transparent’ in my winemaking to allow a sense of ‘place’ to be noticeable in the final wine. I work with vineyards in both cooler and warmer climates; vineyards that have sandy soil and loamy soil; vineyards that see quite a bit of fog during the harvest period and others that see none. This allows me to have more ‘pieces’ to fit into my winemaking puzzle, if that makes any sense . . .
  • The Demystified Vine: If you were to attempt to use only 5 adjectives to describe the experience you want people to have while enjoying tercero wines, what would those 5 adjectives be?
    Larry Schaffer: That is actually tough! Limiting me to 5 words when I’m as loquacious as I am? I’ll try: honest, thought-provoking, food-friendly, enjoyable, unique.
  • The Demystified Vine: Santa Barbara County is quite focused on Pinot Noir. Why do you focus on Rhone varieties?
    Larry Schaffer: As I mentioned when I moderated the panel at the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference on Pioneering Winemakers of Santa Barbara County, yes, there has been a real focus on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in our county. These two varieties are the most plentiful white and red varieties in our county and have been for quite some time. That said, this county is unique in that it has plenty of viticultural ‘nooks and crannies’ that allow for a plethora of other varieties not only to survive here, but to thrive and produce top notch wines from them.
    Due to this variety of soil and climate, Rhone varieties thrive around here – in both warm and cooler climates. To me, Santa Barbara County is home to the most ‘balanced’ Rhone reds and whites in the state. I know that’s a strong statement, but I base this on tasting through hundreds of Rhone wines each year from throughout California. One other reason I love working with Rhones? The pricing on them tends to be much more ‘moderate’ than other varieties at the same quality level, and I prefer not to have my wines only in the ‘high rent district’ so to speak.
  • The Demystified Vine: Are you currently experimenting with any other varietals other than the Rhone varietals?
    Larry Schaffer: I currently make one non-Rhone variety, and I’ve been making a wine that I call “The Outlier” since 2008. It is a dryish Gewurztaminer, and it is truly a ‘purpose’ wine. I prefer dry white wines to off-dry ones, and Gewurztraminer is traditionally made in an off-dry manner domestically, with a few exceptions. Mine usually has between .75 – 1.25% residual sugar, but also has at least 7 grams of acid per liter and a very low pH. What therefore happens is that the wine has some apparent sweetness, but not too much. Why a ‘purpose wine’, you may ask? I love spicy Indian and Thai cuisine, and I make this wine to accompany those meals. I will also be making my first Albarino this harvest. I’m always drawn to aromatic whites that I can make in a ‘food friendly’ style. I really like Spanish and Mexican seafood dishes, and I hope my wine will pair well with them. I continue to have the opportunity to work with a lot of other red varieties, including Pinot Noir. I learned a long time ago to never say ‘never’, but I prefer to keep as much focus as I can on my offerings these days.
  • The Demystified Vine: What is the tercero philosophy with winemaking? Are you organic/biodynamic at all? If so, why? If not, why not?
    Larry Schaffer: The philosophy behind my winemaking is pragmatism. I’m not a fan of dogmatic practices in general, and really disdain them when it comes to winemaking. Most of the vineyards I work with practice sustainable farming practices, choosing to use things like pesticides only in ‘worst case scenario’ vintages. I work directly with the vineyard owners/viticultural managers to let them know what I am looking for in my grapes, but at the end of the day, I am not a viticulturist. I put myself in the hands of those who are and therefore know I lot more about it than I do. I therefore can rest easier that I do not have to micro-manage them, but instead, just interface with them to ensure I am getting what I’m looking for.

    Once the grapes come to the cellar, the fun begins – and I don’t necessarily plan out in advance what I’m going to do with each lot that comes in. I have a pretty good idea with some, but with others, I’ll change things up fermentation-wise or stem-inclusion wise just because I can.  Ultimately, I do not control the entire process, and I don’t act like I do.  I don’t have all of the answers, but instead use instinct, experience, and ‘educated guesses’ to get me from point A to point B.
Valerie Stride 2014

tercero wines: the line-up

The Tasting Experience

For the record, all of the wines paired quite well with my Southwestern Fried Chicken salad. I really had no complaints. Some fared better than others with the salad, but none of the four wines detracted from the savory salad.

The 2011 tercero Grenache Blanc was light and still youthful. Sliced nectarine, ripe peach, melon, and citrus notes fused together nicely. Good minerality was found on the palate, too. It was a fine partner for the Southwest Chicken salad, as the black olives, avocado, and roasted red pepper created a lovely flavorsome relationship.

Valerie Stride 2014Onto the 2012 tercero Roussanne I went! Larry pointed out while pouring this wine that he likes to serve it warmer than a white normally is. (Doing so with a white wine typically shows off its bouquet and flavors more so than if it were over-chilled.) My olfactory senses detected peaches & cream, lemon curd, cotton candy, and delicate white floral notes. I made a note that said, “something celebratory in the nose”. I guess I had turned poetic.

My personal palate does not tend to lean towards French-style rose, but I will always try a wine. Next up was the 2013 tercero Mouvedre Rose. Hello fast legs! An enthusiastic expression of an old world rose, this wine shone tenderly with cherry blossom, strawberry candy, unripe raspberry, and hints of rose petals. Softly aromatic, I felt like I should have been sipping it at a wine bar, leaning over the piano, listening to the handsome piano player move that ebony & ivory… [What? Oh, sorry...moving on!]

Lastly, I tried the 2010 tercero Syrah. A developing wine that I felt would peak in 2017, it was brimming with notes of not-overly-sweet jam made from red fruits and a backbone of pepper. The palate provided some additional red plum notes, and I noted that this wine was velvety. A definite cellar-worthy libation.

Thank you to the Santa Barbara Vintners for sponsoring such a great lunch, and thanks to Larry for taking the time out to engage in some wine chat with me!

tercero label

Used with permission from Larry Schaffer

Cheers!

Inspired at the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference

I was recently at the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Barbara, California, on a scholarship. During the conference, I attended a number of intensely interesting seminars, in addition to having some serious talks with industry folks about wine. I spoke with fellow bloggers, PR reps, wine writers, winery owners, and even winemakers. Throughout the conversations and seminars, I kept pondering on the relationship between wineries and wine bloggers, and that this relationship needs to be developed and intensified.

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Social web network marketing diagram Brands Rousers Luis Gallardo

Now, before you jump on this, read with an open mind. This post is not being written to complain about wineries intentionally disrespecting wine bloggers. The whole point is to create awareness and dialogue of where wine blogging stands, how wine bloggers are helping wineries, and illuminate the not-entirely-functioning relationship between wineries and wine bloggers. I am writing in an attempt to change perspective, not to cause a ruckus.

 

 

Corbett Barr – “Superstars & Tastemakers”

The keynote speech, conducted by Corbett Barr, entitled, “Superstars & Tastemakers” was an eye-opener for many. Barr’s entire message was centered on the fact that there is a bright future for wine bloggers. How could I not agree? The dawn is already here.

In North America alone, there are more than 740 wine bloggers who are passionately sharing their stories, experiences, favorite wines, interviews, photos, education, passion, connection, and opportunities. Wine bloggers are writing about what they love: wine.

Now, before I continue my thoughts, I must take the time to note that I fully understand Corbett Barr’s message that:

Drinking wine + blogging ≠ Wine blogging

There are wine blogs focused on merely reviewing weekend party wines, or those that fail to do their research. I get it. However, for those wine bloggers who are actually dedicated and maintaining a blog (it is hard work), I think that these writers should be more intensely supported by wineries.

Barr highlighted that most dedicated wine bloggers have various struggles including: motivation, audience, design & technology, respect & recognition, finding opportunities, earning a living from their writing, and reaching their full potential. Why? Writing for ourselves is fine and dandy, but we are passionately trying to share our stories and knowledge with others. Gaining an audience from the ground-up is a difficult mission. Wine bloggers spend countless hours attempting to build audience in one way or another. Did I mention they do it for free? Additionally, wine bloggers crave to share their experiences with the world, and that sharing includes material on wineries & their wines. There is more opportunity for a wine bloggers’ voice to be heard if wineries put in more effort to support them.

Being in the Trenches

One thing is for certain: wine blogging can be very powerful, and it can also be like being in “the trenches”, as Barr noted.

When good wine bloggers are not recognized as “wine writers”, we are left in the dust of those who are fortunate enough to host local newspaper wine columns or write general articles in government liquor store magazines about Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir. The truth of the matter is that wine bloggers are also driving forces for the wine community whether or not people will admit it. Wine bloggers do not get paid to publish their ideas, thoughts, and knowledge about wine. Additionally, when it comes to writers getting paid for writing, the writing world is in a downward spiral. Generally speaking, writers are financially compensated less and less as the years pass; more people are writing for free or for very little. These writers are almost at blogger status. So, what is the real difference?

Not all established writers are critics or have their MW (Master of Wine) or MS (Master Sommelier) titles. I appreciate that those who have these certifications are deemed as the “experts”, and that they could talk lovingly about wine for hours. They painstakingly worked to get where they are; I will never deny this for one split second. I only have my WSET Advanced Certification, but I will tell you one thing: I could talk your ear off for hours as well. I also intensely enjoy educating others about wine and its elegant delicacy. Words are powerful to everyone in any context. Again, what is the real difference?

 

Wine Bloggers Are the New Wave of Wine Writers: Give More Respect

Wine bloggers are the new wave of wine writers. Our voices are gaining strength, and we are increasing in onandon569number. However, readers of anything published should still be critical about distinguishing what is considered good and this-needs-improvement material. I subscribe to this.

That being said, I am finding a reservoir of courage within me to speak up for a group of dedicated writers, who are trying hard in their own authentic ways to be heard and to communicate their passions about wine and the industry. We are doing it amongst the well-established writers.

As such, I need to reiterate a comment that Barr mentioned in his keynote speech: that the “wine community is not as tight” as it could be. This signifies that change needs to happen; there are many relationships (of various types) that have the opportunity to be strengthened.

Bridge the Gap Between Wineries and Wine Bloggers

I want to encourage wineries to help bridge the gap between themselves and wine bloggers. If a wine blogger spends his/her time researching, interviewing, questioning, deconstructing, writing, and educating his/her readers and the social media world about your winery, show them some love. To my knowledge, although I am sure it happens somewhere in the world, wineries are not paying wine bloggers to publish stories on them or reviews about their wines. Wine bloggers want to tell these stories. We are purveyors of biographies, history, and narratives much in the same way that paid professional writers are. Bloggers of wine are essentially, through their blog posts, showing enthusiasm for wineries and what they are offering. Why not share this?

If I can also bring in social media to this argument, then I should not leave out the fact that customer relationships are now in “Likes” and in “+1s”. This is how people share, show appreciation for something, and communicate interests. It could be argued that a winery has been advertised (for free) for every read wine blog post that gets a “Like” or a “+1″. Paul Mabray (@Pmabray), who spoke at “The Business of Wine” seminar, said:

There is an average of 1.5 million organic conversations about wine [on the internet] each day. Wineries get 2-20 organic messages a week, and over 80% go unanswered.

If we deny that social media is fostering organic conversations, we have a problem. Wine bloggers are utilizing social platforms in a way that has never been seen before to communicate their messages and interests about wines, wineries, and the industry. Mabray also added that, “Bloggers are the people who help consumers find wine, discover it, and buy it”. In essence, wineries need wine bloggers, and bloggers need wineries.

Thus, Wineries, there is an unstated relationship between you and those who blog about you. Wine bloggers create opportunities for your winery whether or not you realize how deep that may go. Please, be picky; it is a right. I am not suggesting you give respect to every Joe-Blow that writes about a bottle of your wine. However, do not ignore those who are fostering education in others about your wine and winery practices, who do their research, who want to engage and share.

Bloggers, if you are writing about wineries, this unstated relationship exists between you and the wineries you write about. You provide a number of things for wineries including your time and free advertising (which, we all know, everyone pays a lot of money for).

I want to create dialogue about how this relationship is being fostered.

If you are a winery:
What are you doing to help support wine bloggers? Are you doing more than just retweeting the bloggers link one time? Do you thank them? Do you consider a solidly-written write-up just as good as an accolade? Why or why not?

If you are a wine blogger:
How have wineries responded to your posts about them? How have they shown support for your work? Do you feel they could be doing more? How so?

I hope that you agree and disagree with some of these things. It means that I am doing my job of helping you think critically about this topic. I encourage both wine bloggers, winery folks, and others, to think about this.

Thank you kindly in advance for reading.

Cheers!

Note: unless stated, the opinions written are my own and do not represent the Wine Bloggers Conference.

I recently returned from a two-week jaunt through Italy – one of the world’s leading producers of wine. This was a pleasure trip for me; I haven’t had a real vacation in years. Why Italy? First, my mother’s family is Italian. Capisce? Secondly, I not only wanted to jump the pond that is the Atlantic, but I also wanted to try some of the glory that is Italian wine that we don’t get enough of in our North American (Canadian) market.

I found myself enjoying a few glasses of some not-worthy-to-be-talked-about-in-detail red on the flight over the Atlantic, since I was finally on a holiday. It’s all they had! What do you want me to say? Okay fine. Here’s my tasting note: it was red. However, my first few nights on holiday dining in Ostia Antica’s beautiful beach-side restaurants proved to me that I was about to take on a food & wine adventure.

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Saltimbocca

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“Nord Est” Vermentino

My housemate, Kat, and I landed our first real meal deal at a beachfront property on the western coast of Italy just outside of Rome. We enjoyed local Roman-inspired dishes like vegetable risotto with zucchini flowers and saltimbocca (a dish that consists of wine or saltwater marinated veal, prosciutto, and sage). To pair with it, I chose a Vermentino Di Sardegna called “Nord Est” from Cantina del Vermentino. This crisp and clean white went down easily under the hot Roman sun. It didn’t overpower the food, and the food definitely didn’t overpower the wine. This bottle of beauty had gorgeous citrus notes with hints of lime zest, light herbaceousness, and that salty almond skin note that you would expect. While we weren’t on the island of Sardinia enjoying this wine, we at least sat facing the island from the mainland while sipping it.

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Kat & the Il Peccat Originale menu

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Me holding the Colosi Grillo

The following evening in Ostia Antica, we ate at this quaint little ristorante called, “Il Peccat Originale” which translates into Original Sin. Our experience here was actually pretty fantastic, if I do say so myself. We innocently sat at our window-side table and ate and drank until we were sure we would have to roll ourselves back to the cottage we were staying at. Here we enjoyed a 2013 Cantina Colosi Grillo IGT from Sicily. As soon as I saw Grillo on the wine list, I was very excited! (Again, we don’t see a lot of Grillo in Vancouver.) Lemon, stone fruits (white peach & hints of nectarine), whispers of melon rind and star fruit all drifted from the glass with some aeration. The palate was dry, with a medium body, and was less fruit-oriented, but had interesting green apple and yellow plum notes with a kickback of herbaceousness and minerality. I’ll take another bottle! I get it now. This is where the oh-so-sinful aspect comes in.

In Part II, I’ll revisit my wine adventures in the Veneto and Florence regions (including a visit to an organic & biodynamic Chianti vineyard). Bubbles are on the horizon!

Cheers!

Ever have those moments where you accidentally walk in on someone’s conversation and you feel really awkward about it? Then you’re asked to join, and you get to try some amazing wine? Alright, maybe that doesn’t always happen, but I’m sure you’ve had a similar experience of some sort. This is how I met David Goudge of Sea Star Vineyards from Pender Island, and boy, am I glad I walked in on that conversation!

As David was in the middle of doing a tasting at Broadway Wine Shop, I was fortunate enough to try his Ortega 2013, Siegerrebe 2013, and the Blanc de Noir 2013. I was very impressed with what I was tasting from this small winery that is just hitting the pavement. I wanted people to know who they are. [pause] Which is why I am here.

Sea Star Ortega 2013The Ortega 2013 was beautifully well-rounded with ripe stone fruits and an aromatic wild flower bouquet. With a good mouth feel and not too high in acid, this wine brought me to a summer picnic on the beach or under the shade of an old oak tree (not that we’re allowed to responsibly enjoy a libation on a beach or in a park in BC or anything…). Hints of honeydew wafted from the glass. Verdict: Yum!

 

 

 

Sea Star Siegerrebe 2013Aside from not too many folks being able to pronounce Siegerrebe correctly (SEE-geh-RAY-buh), this vitis vinifera grape is not widely planted anywhere on the entire planet. Needless to say, I got very excited. Sea Star’s Siegerrebe 2013 vintage was also stunningly aromatic, with a lively grape note. Hints of white pepper, honey, and ripe green pears were all exhibited. Because of its lower acidity level, this wine would pair perfectly with spicy east-Asian dishes.

 

 

Sea Star BdN 2013The 2013 Blanc de Noir was an angelic pink colour. A light intensity wine made from Pinot Noir, this libation gracefully presented true wild strawberry notes, tart cranberry, and snappy rhubarb. A faultless summer sipper.

 

 

 

 

 

Besides the fact that I gained a deeper intrigue about the winery because they are growing Ortega and Siegerrebe, David was very kind to take some time out to answer some of my questions about Sea Star Vineyards and Winery a few days later.

The Demystified Vine: One of the most important things I learned is that “everything is in a name”. Tell me about why you decided to call your winery “Sea Star Vineyards”.
David Goudge: To the best of my knowledge no other vineyard in BC actually is a beachfront property. Ours is, and to me viewing sea stars while beach-combing or kayaking on a calm summer day are symbolic of the tranquil nature of Pender Island and our location in the Salish Sea. The 7 wines all depict a different local sea star that are found in the waters that surrounds us. We are proud to be growing our own Coastal grapes – authentic about the wines that we craft.

Photo used with permission from David Goudge 2014.

Photo used with permission from David Goudge 2014.

The Demystified Vine: Your vineyard is organic. What were your reasons behind going organic?
David Goudge: We are growing our grapes organically, as well as with a healthy respect for biodynamics and sustainabilty. But we don’t put this on our website or labels because these have become ‘buzz words’. Instead visitors to our vineyard can see for themselves when they visit our vineyard – examples that include using a rainwater capture pond for irrigation, and our Southdown Babydoll sheep to manage weed control rather than pesticides. They are productive at fertilizing as well!

lawn-mowers-seastarvineyards

Photo used with permission from David Goudge 2014

The Demystified Vine: I think it’s commendable that Sea Star Vineyards has such a strong hand in fundraising and the community. Providing support for Pender Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and the BC SPCA, for example, show a strong commitment to strengthening awareness around important causes. Tell me a bit more about your community endeavors and why it is such a priority to SSVW?
David Goudge: We support 4 animal welfare causes because we care deeply about this issue, and the community of Pender Island cares. The World is experiencing so many challenges in terms of disappearing/diminishing habitat loss, but Pender is like a nature preserve and respectful of our environment. This is the riding of Elizabeth May after all!
The overall connection and support we lend to the community is also just a smart business practice.

The Demystified Vine: What is the reasoning behind growing not-so-well-known or popular varietals such as Ortega, Siegerrebe, and Shoenberger? I think BC’s climate is great for these grapes to thrive. What is your opinion on why they aren’t as popular?
David Goudge: We are proud to be growing our own Coastal grapes – authentic about the wines that we craft. 100% of the grapes we used are grown on Pender Island, grapes that grow well in our coastal climate. The only exception is a Meritage blend that is currently aging in oak and will be released in 2015. In our opinion some varietals such as the Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon that go into this blend can’t be successfully grown in our climate so these were sourced from 4 vineyards in Oliver and Osoyoos. So knowing what varietals will grow well, and what to purchase is fundamental.
The wine-lovers continue to be intrigued by unfamiliar varietal choices (and new wineries). I believe Ortega is finding that popularity already, and Siegerrebe will become increasingly popular even if most people stumble over the pronunciation.

The Demystified Vine: What is Sea Star’s mission, and how does the winemaking philosophy contribute to that mission?
David Goudge: Our mission is simply to make excellent wine. Our winemaker Ian Baker’s philosophy is that ‘it all begins in the vineyard’. Great grapes make great wine, and inside the winery the mantra is ‘clean, clean, clean’.

Thank you so much, David, for taking the time out to help demystify a little part of BC’s wine culture. Here’s to many more vintages! >clink<

Cheers!

Yes, this is an unedited post. I was sitting at my computer, and I suddenly had this urge to write this. So, I thought I’d share it. Folks, I’m going informal tonight!

i love wine

Want to know why wine is amazing?

Wine is amazing because of its mystery, its history, its bounty, and the pleasure it brings. It is a force of nature that is always changing; vintages are always different because Mother Nature says so. Different grapes grow differently in different places. Sauvignon Blanc tastes like tropical fruits in New Zealand, but claims more herbaceous, grassy notes in North America. Wine making styles are used to take nature’s gift of grape juice and make the juice express itself. There are over 10,000 varietals of varying clones and types. A wine expresses itself through acid, sweetness, body, tannin, intensity, its palate, its bouquet, its life span, its region, its growing conditions and types, its maceration times (or lack thereof), aging, the brix it was harvested at, and the list goes on. This is complicated stuff, and I wish more people would appreciate what goes into that glass that they sip from. Or for those of you who don’t know much about wine, let me tell you that the process of getting that liquid into your glass is really fascinating and intriguing because it is literally a long-term, dedicated process and commitment both in faith and financially. I can’t forget to mention the joy it brings people, the commitment individuals have to learn an entirely new language and understanding of how nature works. The opportunities it brings to clink raised glasses in a toast of celebration. The warm feeling it gives you on a cold winter night, or even the way certain wines pair fabulously with cuisines from all over this good Earth.

Wine is art.

Valerie Stride, WSET ADV Certified:

Luke & Calli from winecountrybc and I recently got together one afternoon to chat about wine snobbery and some of the aspects revolved around the evolution of the human palate. Check it out!

Originally posted on Wine Country BC:

When did you start drinking wine? Was it good? Was it sweet? Be honest…

There’s a psychological reason for that sweet tooth according to Andrew Barr, the author of Wine Snobbery: An Insider’s Guide to the Booze Business. It’s not a new book by any stretch but Valerie chose a couple of pages that were particularly interesting. The essential argument is that we have an innate dislike of bitterness so we have a natural tendency to seek out sweeter wines. As we age, our palates evolve and the assumption is that we learn to desire that bitterness and see sweet things as being ‘immature’ or ‘simple’. This argument rationalizes the disdain and condescension for simpler, sweeter wines like Mateus, White Zin’s, or the Liebfraumilch’s of olde, which can never be ‘taken seriously’ in the context of fine wine appreciation.

But does this argument hold water? Or maybe wine? Calli, Valerie, and I try…

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