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.
The 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!
Aside 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.
The 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.
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!
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<