A Summer in the Vines

20170619_092049-01Hello and Good Morning 🙂 After yesterday’s inaugural post of The Shadow is Following You, I thought I would switch gears a bit to take a moment and reflect on my time working for The View winery thus far. This has proven to be an exciting adventure that began early April with an offer to work in the tasting room at one of Kelowna’s most exceptional wineries located in historic East Kelowna. I have been blessed with the opportunity to gain real world experience behind the scenes and have been privileged to be a part of the many sides to running such an impressive operation! From bottling Picker’s Hut and giving tastings to amazingly receptive wine lovers, to running the canning line and working in the front lines of the vineyard, I have been busy learning so much that I haven’t had the adequate time to reflect and appreciate it properly!

One of the most valuable aspects to producing good wine is to produce good fruit, something that The View takes very seriously in their terroir based approach to cultivation. Some of the varieties grown on the property include Gewurztraminer, Erhenfelsner, Riesling, Pino Gris, Baco Noir, and, our signature, Pinotage. The team at The View take measures to ensure that we maximize our efforts at sustainable farming, and utilize drip watering techniques at intervals of up to two weeks in order to promote deep roots that need minimal watering. Near to harvest, the grapes are left to drench in the fall sunshine without watering, which results in a slight shriveling of the skins which translates into maximum flavor and sugar concentration without any watering down of those delicate tasting notes.

While The View does amazing things with varietals such as Riesling and Gew (including our Dry Reserve, a revolutionary take on Gewurztraminer that is definitely not your Gramma’s Gew!) – wines that I will have to feature in an upcoming post – the one I really wanted to focus on at the moment was our 2014 Pinotage Reserve. This particular varietal was not one I was familiar with before joining the team at The View, and I quickly learned that this is because Pinotage is not widely known in the Okanagan, or in North America, for that matter. The grape is considered the national variety of South Africa, and apparently they like to try and keep it within their borders, as a matter of national pride! The more I dug into researching this grape, the more I fell in love with the story of its genesis in the 1920’s (coincidentally the same decade that The View’s historic tasting room was being constructed as an apple packing house under the CanWest Tree Fruits organization).

Pinotage originated in a university garden as a cross between the well-known Pino Noir and the regional variety Cinsault, found in the Hermitage Appellation de’Origine controlle (AOC) of France located in the northern Rhone Valley. After doing some more research I discovered that this particular AOC has strict rules (as they all seem to have) as to which varieties can be grown, which include Syrah as the red varietal and Marsanne and Rousanne as two white varietals. Wine makers in this AOC are allowed to blend Syrah grapes from different areas of the vineyards within the AOC (which is only 130 hectares in size) as well they are permitted up to 15% of Marsanne and Rousanne grapes to be added to their blends, a practice that is not widely utilized however. the wines produced in this region are serious reds with high tannins that often need maturation to realize their full potential. Aging these wines soften them and complexities in texture, taste and smell are all enhanced by this process. A rigorous decanting is often suggested.

The crossing of this serious red grape with the light peppery fruity nature of Pino Noir resulted in what i would deem an exceptionally balanced new varietal of wine. This obscure new variety of grape almost fell into non-existence until it exploded on to the wine scene in the 1980’s-90’s, and since then it has seen a significant improvement in quality thanks to the perseverance of South African producers who wished to preserve the grape’s integrity. Known for its notes of earth, dark cherry, coffee, the Pinotage Reserve produced by the View has some of the most intricate and intriguing aromas that always keep me coming back for more! The immediate aromas of buttery nuttiness that exude from a simple swirl of the glass bring to mind toasted sesame, or perhaps the best buttery movie popcorn you’ve ever tasted, my imagination swims as my mouth continuously waters for another sip of this elusive red. Deep dark cherry and a hint of smoke rounds off the finish with a silky smooth mouth feel brought about by a seamless balance of acid and tannin complemented by aging in New and Neutral French Oak.

I’ve gained a whole new level of appreciation for the Pinotage produced by The View from working in the vineyard, where we began the spring season by ‘tying-off’ the buddless vines to the wires that will support their growth in the coming season. After that job came the task of suckering, where I was amazed with the amount of growths that sprout from all over the vine, from the base all the way up the central branches. Seriously, these vines would be quick to overgrow themselves and produce fruit with less than ideal quality, so it was a hugely important task to thin out the shoots and ensure that the remaining shoots were growing to the sides or upwards toward the sky (I guess the tractors still need to be able to patrol the vines and mow down those treacherously long grasses growing between the rows!) The Pinotage blocks in particular were startling to me because of the sparseness of growth and the amount of compromised or dead plants. Our vineyard manager explained that Pinotage is a tricky variety to grow here in the Okanagan, and is prone to die-offs due to issues with the soil and climate. Currently we are doing testing on our most damaged block of Pinotage to get down to the root of the issue (excuse the terrible pun). After seeing the devastation first-hand, every glass of Pinotage I bring my lips to always brings to mind the delicacies of maintaining the vitality of these finicky grapes! Why is it always that the best things in life are always the most difficult to come by.

Just writing about this incredible varietal has left me looking for a phantom glass that should seemingly be perched beside my laptop, but seeings how its only 11 AM I should probably wait until Wine O’Clock, AKA whenever all the errands and chores are done for the day! 😉 In fact, after teasing myself by writing this post I might even have to go on a mission to our wine shop to grab myself a bottle ! Along with our signature Pinotage Reserve, The View is the only winery in North America that also produce Pinotage Rose (silver winner at the Best of Varietals 2017 in Penticton, and I believe also received silver or gold at the All Canadians 2017) as well as our highly unique blanc de noir, or White Pinotage, another exceptional anomaly in the dismally small North American Pinotage market. I wish I could remember all the awards we recently received, but alas my memory is not so sharp (future post update!). We also produce some delicious Pinotage blends, such as our Silver Lining Estate Red that blends Pinotage with Merlot (sourced from the South Okanagan) as well as a pinch of Baco Noir. This smooooooth blend of dark cherry, buttery smoke and spice notes always get my mouth watering, and at the excellent price point of 15.95 (not including my handy dandy discount!) I’ve found myself indulging in more red wine this spring/summer than ever before!

There is so much to say about this amazing place and the amazing wines produced on site, I could babble until the wine cows come home. Until next time, cheers to all of you who made it through this rambling post  and I hope you’ll keep tuning in to hear more stories about my ongoing adventure into the world of wine!

 

xoxo – Babbling Bottles

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