Wines, like people, are shaped by their experiences. From earth to bottle, how a grape is grown, treated, processed and stored affects its taste.
Over two decades ago when we bought our pristine piece of land, we set about farming in a natural and sustainable manner to preserve it for agriculture for future generations. Our commitment was to produce pure and natural wines uniquely expressive of our site and of our personalities. We were not just growing grapes, but we were making wine and balsamic vinegar from them. Many natural alternatives to modern day chemical treatments for pests and diseases could have a negative impact on the wine made from those grapes. Take soap, for instance. It may have been a natural alternative to chemical insecticides, but we certainly did not want soap on our grapes and in our juice. We kept it simple. We use a small number of natural, pronounceable and earth-friendly sprays on our vines, all of which we could safely consume ourselves:
- A tea we make by steeping stinging nettles growing on our property in cold water. This is fabulous nutrition for the vines, providing many micro-nutrients.
- Cold extract of kelp harvested from Canadian waters, again for the natural enzymes and micro-elements it adds.
- Potassium or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) on the dormant vines and in early to mid-spring eradicate any powdery mildew through action on its cell walls.
- Kumulus DF (certified natural sulphur/bentonite blend), usually twice per season (vs every 10 days to 2 weeks in many vineyards).
- Only when necessary, some certified organic nutritional products such as the potassium supplement KDL when plant tissue analysis shows a significant deficiency, as a temporary measure while we build long term soil health.
For us, solving insect problems involved identifying the pest, studying its life cycle and interrupting that cycle using physical labour and natural predators. We embraced the idea of taking viticulture to a beyond organic level. For us, this means no herbicides, chemical pesticides or irrigation. This also means more labour-intensive crops and smaller yields but the rewards are great. Wines grown in this manner will taste different from wines grown elsewhere, as the voice of the land itself can give full expression to that sense of place in our wines.
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