Our vineyard is the oldest and largest in the Fraser Valley and covers 50 acres, (the remaining 5 areas of the property is used for buildings and parking). Before the land was purchased in 1981, Claude Violet (founder) did extensive research and found that the actual property lies within a small micro-climate which receives approximately 30% less rain than Vancouver. This is ideal for grape growing as it eliminates the need for irrigation. Along with this research, he also imported an extensive list of different vitis vinifera grape varietals to see which ones flourished. He found that grape varietals similar to those grown in Northern France and Southern Germany were best suited to our climate and environment.
The vineyard currently consists of the following vitis vinifera grapes: Bacchus, Siegerrebe, Madeleine Sylvaner, Madeleine Angevine, Reichensteiner, Ortega and a few experimental row of Gamay Noir. Some of our original Bacchus vines are now more than 28 years old!
The Four Seasons of a Vineyard
Winter - The vines lay dormant but the vineyard is not quiet. Pruning back the canes is performed annually during this time. Removing the previous growth ensures that the cane is strong and ready for the following growing season. Catch wires that run the length of the rows and the posts between, are inspected and repaired as needed.
Spring - After lying dormant during the winter months, with the heat of Spring in the Fraser Valley the vines come 'to life' once again. New growth buds start to swell on the vines and pop open as the days get warmer. The ground between the rows is cultivated to loosen it up which allows the rain and nutrients to penetrate the surface. In May new vines and leaves appear and the initial stages of re-growth begin. Small and fragile, they are still susceptible to cold and late frost.
Manually removing 'suckers' or unwanted shoots which are not conducive to grape growing is the main object of the crew. New growth is then tied to the catch wires to ensure that they grow horizontally as our vineyard follows the "cordon" method.
Summer -Mid June to early July is "bloom" time in the vineyard. Each tiny cluster of grapes starts out as a grouping of tiny, white flowers. Each flower represents a grape.
Hail or heavy rains at this time can damage a crop. Throughout the summer the grapes mature and in August 'leaf pulling' begins. This is to allow the maximum amount of sunlight and air to circulate around the clusters to ensure that the sugar levels reach their maximum potential.
During late August the Vineyard Manager and his crew are busy getting the equipment ready for harvest. Tractors are overhauled and bins are checked, counted and stacked. Our pruning shears are sharpened in preparation for our grapes to be harvested by hand. Each row of vines is covered in netting on both sides to protect the succulent grapes from birds. There are 321 rows of grapes and if left uncovered, birds could easily destroy the crop within days. Birds, with their heightened instincts are watching in anticipation for the delicious crop!
Fall -The vineyard manager patiently watches the crop and decides when to begin harvesting. Fraser Valley weather can change drastically from one day to the next and long range forecasts are not always on-target. As each day passes, our rainy season is more and more imminent. In an average year we produce 150 - 160 tons of grapes from our vineyard. Added to these are grapes we source directly from the Okanagan Valley. These grapes are picked and then transported directly to us from the specially selected vineyards. Once they arrive at the winery, they go through the same process as our grapes. De-stemming, crushing and then pressing into fragrant juice which then is moved through huge hoses into the tank rooms to start the wonderful process of winemaking.
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