• Beauty in a Bottle

    Week Two in my new job was largely consumed helping to bottle last year’s white wines.  The bottling line is an efficient set-up and the process moves fairly quickly, much faster than bottling our previous handcrafted wines which was a much slower process but also on a much smaller scale.

    I started my first day on the corker, taking bottles from the filler, putting a cork in and sending the finished product onwards to be labelled.  There was a learning curve as you see in my first bottle.

    Can you spot the problem?  It’s a common mistake for new corkers, to the hilarity of the rest of the bottling crew.  Now I know to press the button only once.

    It probably took about 60 seconds into my corking career for this thought to cross my mind, “I went to university to avoid doing jobs like this…”  Ah, the irony that this is now my chosen profession! 

    Working the line those four days, images of Lucille Ball and Laverne & Shirley crept into my mind (I realise I’m dating myself with those references but sod it!)

    Another sensory observation from the line was the smell of the wine as it filled the bottles – fresh fruit notes of Sauvignon Blanc, Bacchus and Pinot Gris.  Fantastic.

    I’m still getting used to the degree of change from my old career to my new one.  So far, so great.

  • Early Days

    After only a week of self-employment, I’m already getting more sleep and having fun.

    This past week was taken up principally with signing, sniffing, pruning and strolling.  We had a lot of paperwork to get through with the sale of our Vancouver home, the vineyard purchase and the incorporation of our company, Motovino Wines Inc.  Thankfully, our lawyer, Penny, is skilfully guiding us through this process.

    We had the chance to smell and taste the 2016 white wines before bottling and I was reminded just how much I have to learn about making great wine.

    One of the highlights of the week was learning how to prune a vine.  Roger, the previous vineyard owner, was a very patient tutor, demonstrating the technique to identify the best shoot to keep on the vine (look for the most buds in the right positioning and get rid of the rest), to allow for the most grapes.  I made a few mistakes but the vines will recover.  They are newly planted (one-year old) Sauvignon Blanc vines and I look forward to their maturity.

    I must admit, I felt quite serene, kneeling with pruning shears in hand, no cell phone, laptop or high heels in sight.

    In between other meetings that Zac and I had in Duncan, we strolled around the town to get our bearings.  The numerous totems are quite lovely and there are a number of small businesses that we look forward to frequenting, from the Olive Station (https://theolivestation.com/), purveyors of gourmet olive oils and balsamic vinegars, to Mad Dog Crabs Seafood Market (https://www.maddogcrabs.ca/), where local fisherman bring their catch, I think we’ll enjoy living in this part of the world.

    Next week, I’ll get to experience the bottling process.  Should be good fun.

  • Lift-off

    So I guess it is no longer a dream.  Zac and I are now officially winegrowers.

    After more than a decade of discussion and winemaking in the garage (Montreal) and driveway (Vancouver), we are getting serious, farming 7.5 acres of white and red varietals in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island.

    As ever, Zac is the inspiration behind this ambitious endeavour.  His winemaking has grown increasingly impressive as the years have passed.  I am far less educated about the winemaking process, having been more involved in the catering (feeding the troops) and janitorial aspects of the process to date.  That said, I have done my share of “punching down grapes”, bottling and sampling the barrels over the years.

    Neither of us has ever grown grapes, though Zac has worked on vineyards in Europe and Australia, and he has certainly researched and reflected on it a great deal.

    Running our own business will be new as well, though we’ve both worked in corporations large and small for 20 years.

    We have the passion, the energy and probably most importantly, the sense of humour to be doing this.

    As a lifelong friend said to me when we first embarked on this, “if you guys can’t do this successfully, I don’t know who can.”

    Thanks Ken.  We’ll certainly do our best.