• “No one can be told what the Matrix is

    You have to [taste] it for yourself”.  This month we released the 2014 Matrix with our new label and branding. 

    2014 was a hotter year than 2013, resulting in a rich blend of ripe fruit complemented by six months in a French oak re-coopered barrel.  This wine is perfect for pairing with hearty meat dishes and other winter fare.  We featured the new Matrix along with our 2015 Merlot at a tasting at the Tudor House Liquor Store in Victoria.  Many thanks to Jacques and Marta at the Tudor House for the opportunity to pour these two wines. 

    As we approach year end, we reflect on all that we’ve accomplished at Alderlea since taking the reins in late April this year.  In addition to learning the ropes in the vineyard, we developed our new logo, label, website and social media presence on Facebook and Instagram.  We created the Plaid label and participated in weekly summer farmers’ and Christmas markets.  We had the pleasure of meeting loyal clients and welcoming many friends to our vineyard and tasting room throughout the year.  It has been a great adventure thus far, and we look forward to continuing our journey in 2018. 


  • All I Want for Christmas…

    November passed in a blur composed primarily of winemaking activities and Christmas markets where we were selling our Plaid wine.  The Plaid labels in red and green lent themselves well to the Christmas themes at Kris Kringle in Nanaimo and Winterfest in Qualicum Beach. 

    The brand continues to be popular and we are now looking at different options to expand it in 2018.  We continue to sell Plaid every Wednesday from 3:00 to 6:00pm at the Island Roots market in Nanaimo, which has moved indoors for the winter to the Pleasant Valley Social Centre.  The Island Roots market features a diverse selection of goods from local producers.  We are particularly fond of pies from @georgiespiesetc and macarons from @thepastrybench

  • Harvest

    Our first harvest was a definite learning curve but all in all, it went very well.  We weren’t altogether sure what to expect but we had a lot of help from our experienced picking crew and “swampers”, the folks who went around and collected the bins full of grapes and brought them back to the winery for crushing. 







    The grape volumes were down a bit in the whites (Bacchus and Pinot Gris) due to the long cold spring which negatively impacted the fruit-set.  Fortunately, our long, hot summer helped with ripening and sugars.  We were lucky to get everything picked before the monsoon-like October rains started and I ended up with only one wasp sting, while managing the press which was a popular spot for those unpleasant pests.  Many thanks to Zac’s dad – Chris, Frank, Cody and the swampers, and Surinder and the picking team who made our harvest go so smoothly.   

  • To Catch a Starling

    As we approached the fall harvest, we put up the nets around our vineyard to keep out the birds who would eat us into poverty if they were given the chance.  The process of putting up nets and closing any gaps or holes takes several days and is quite strenuous, involving a lot of ladder-climbing.  There were definitely some lighter moments as we had to free a tangled Vino on a few occasions when she tried to exit a different place than she entered on our daily vineyard walks #puppyshame  She quickly proved her worth, however, as she developed a technique for catching the invasive starlings in the nets and, well, you can imagine the results.

  • Getting FED

    At the end of August, Zac and I had a chance to join downtown Victoria restaurants and for the third annual Get FED Summer Party in the Fort Common in downtown Victoria.  FED‘s mission is to create a district in downtown Victoria that is a destination for sustainable food, full of amazing eateries and a growing number of edible gardens.  Alderlea Vineyards’ 2016 Bacchus and our newly released 2015 Merlot were served alongside beers from Hoyne Brewing Company.  FED members Very Good Butchers, Chorizo & Co, Foo Asian Street Food, Habit Coffee, Olive the Senses, Pizzeria Prima Strada and Yalla were serving up tasty bites to accompany our wines and Heidi and her team did an outstanding job, raising nearly $2000 to support urban agriculture projects in downtown Victoria.  We look forward to further collaboration with FED members.

  • Barrels

    When we took over Alderlea we had a fair amount of red wine in tanks, three years of Matrix and a vintage of Merlot.  We were able to taste the wines and tweak the blends a bit.  We determined that they would benefit from a bit more oak, as largely neutral oak had been used previously. In keeping with our sustainability mandate, we looked at re-coopered barrels. 

    Over the last two decades, the technology of re-coopering has come a long way.  The inside of the barrel is machined away under vacuum, completely removing the wine-soaked and toasted interior surface.  The barrel may then be traditionally toasted and reassembled. Being able to re-cooper barrels this way significantly reduces our environmental footprint by diminishing the need to cut down new trees and ship the barrels from Europe.  From a winemaking point of view, the re-coopered barrels give all the flavour of a new barrel at only 85% of the intensity, which suits our delicate Vancouver Island reds perfectly.  Our barrel program uses 70-80% neutral oak and 20-30% new re-coops on our Matrix and Merlot reds.  Our Clarinet is aged in neutral 2000 litre and 225 litre oak vessels.  Our 2017 Pinot Noir is 90% neutral oak and 10% second fill re-coops.  We are sourcing our re-coopered barrels from Ontario’s DRM Re-coop who have become a trusted partner for our barrels.



  • Motovino Wines Inc.

    This month, we launched our Plaid wines under our Motovino label at the farmers’ markets in Nanaimo and Parksville.  Our aim was to produce approachable, food-friendly blends that could be sipped on a patio or paired with your favourite summer dishes. 

    Plaid is available at the  Island Roots Market and through our wine shop at the vineyard.  thus far, response to the wines and the label has been extremely positive.  

    For more information about Motovino Wines Inc., check out the Motovino page on our website.

  • The Accidental Garden

    So we’re big composters and have been since our time living in Vancouver.  When we moved to the vineyard, we were delighted to see the large pile of pomace from the leftover grape skins after each year’s harvest and winemaking processes. Our soil has historically been quite nutrient rich, given that the trees that formerly occupied the land were careful removed by the roots, leaving the soil profile intact. 

    Over 20 years on, it is time to put a little something back into the soil, gently mind you, as we don’t want the vines to get over fertilised and put all of their energy into the vegetation and not the grapes.  Enter the pomace or what has now become known as the accidental garden.

    When we came over from Vancouver, we brought our composting bin and proceeded to populate the pomace pile with worms and material from the bin.  Low and behold, a few months later, we have a large, unplanned compost garden of zucchini, tomatoes and bell peppers, all originating from our household waste. 

    Everything in the pile seems to be thriving.  In fact, the sorry looking Roma tomatoes in our greenhouse may soon be relocated to the compost pile as given how well it’s doing.

    Most importantly, on the vines we find these little guys: With the warmer temperatures, they are starting to gain momentum.  We’ll be tending the vines carefully in the weeks to come to ensure they get enough sun and avoid overcrowding.

  • Tucking & Suckering

    Upon reflection, that title sounds a bit dirty.  I guess I do get a bit grubby as I crouch down to remove unwanted vine shoots or “suckers” from the trunks of the wines.  We don’t want these new shoots to take away any of the nutrients and attention from the main vines from which our grapes will grow.  In addition to removing these enthusiastic shoots, we also want to thin the vines a bit to avoid overcrowding and facilitate picking the eventual ripe grapes.  The vines also need to be “tucked” so that they grow straight upright (like soldiers at attention) and allow for full growth and ease of picking.  

    I admit to being a complete amateur and to having accidentally broken off a few shoots during this process.  For now, I am leaving the tucking and thinning to our experienced vineyard staff while I focus on the suckering and removing any pernicious weeds that grow alongside and into the vines.  

    The wet spring followed by some sun sent everything into a growing frenzy and we returned from Tofino to a veritable jungle.  This has make it challenging for our vineyard staff to work the wines with the long grass and weeds taking over between the rows.  Things are much better now since mowing and the consistent sun and warm temperatures have slowed the regrowth to some degree. 

    The flora on the rest of the vineyard are also enjoying the warmer temperatures as our figs, pears and plums start to ripen.  

    The sunny conditions are also necessary if the grapes are to catch up this year.  The long winter and wet spring have set them back about two to three weeks but they can rebound if we get steady hot weather in July and August – fingers crossed.

  • Tofino

    Zac and I spent just over 10 days in Tofino in June, meeting restaurant clients and attending Grazing in the Garden, an annual food and wine festival hosted in the Tofino Botanical Gardens.  Roger Dosman has attended the event every year it has been running (15 years) and we intend to keep up the tradition. 

     Whilst we are a relatively small vineyard and winery and do not participate in very many tasting events like this, Tofino is an important one for us given the strong following and support we have with clients in Tofino and Ucluelet.  Tucked away near Bernardo O’Higgins Homestead, we poured for patrons who knew our wines and many who got to taste them for the first time. 

     In addition to Grazing in the Garden, we had a chance to meet a number of our clients face to face as we did tasting events in their restaurants with staff to discuss the wines and answer questions about farming practices, food pairings and the varietals themselves.  It was inspiring to meet people who were so enthusiastic about our wines and who make a real effort to build our brand with their own clientele. 

     We really enjoyed both the scenery and the cuisine of Tofino, be it the fresh Dungeness crab we purchased along the road into town, the delicious charcuterie from Picnic (www.picniccharcuterie.com) or the outstanding seafood platter at The Schooner (www.schoonerrestaurant.ca), which paired so well with our Bacchus wine.  Thanks to Sean and the team at The Schooner for being so welcoming to us.

     We had a little downtime during our visit and had the chance to walk the Lighthouse Loop of the Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet. I would highly recommend this easy hike for its amazing vistas and lookouts.  Gorgeous.

     We definitely look forward to Grazing in the Garden 2018 and to reconnecting with our customers in Tofino and Ucluelet.  Thank you for all your support!