Mark Halford – Rocky Creek Winery
Well harvest is upon us. After the unprecedented early start to the year, warm spring and promising summer we are into the home stretch. This is the time of year that has the most potential for heartache. As vineyards we find out whether all the hard work during the year is going to pay off with a big, ripe crop – or whether mother nature is going to be cruel and throw some wicked curveballs our way.
Anything from Wasps, rain, birds, frost, to plain old powdery mildew taking hold in the final weeks causing rot to set in. The fall is always a nail biter, never knowing for sure whether you’re going to actuallyget those amazing grapes into the bottle until they are actually picked and processed.
This year has been particularly stressful for us. With my injury in the winter putting me out of commission for 3 months combined with a super early spring we’ve been playing catch up all year. We’re still trying to finish our “spring bottling”. Of course the vineyards are first priority. They are incredibly unforgiving about delays in critical steps like pruning and spraying and there is no way that they will tolerate missing these key milestones. Everything else (bottling included) takes second priority.
On a more positive note, it’s also been an amazing year for wild blackberries. Good thing too, after our Wild Blackberry won a double gold and “best soft fruit dessert wine” at the All Canadian Wine Championships, another double gold and “best non-grape wine” in the Northwest Wine Summit, and had the highest score for a fruit wine (and gold medal) at the National Wine Awards of Canada the demand for it has been stunning.
We’ve boosted production to try and keep up. We’re sold out at the winery for the moment waiting for another delivery of bottles. To top it all off we will be holding our annual wine festival again this fall. I still think it’s crazy holding a festival in the middle of harvest, but nonetheless that’s what we’re doing. It’s supporting a good cause (Canucks Autism Network) so it’s but adds another strain on an otherwise already crazy time of year. So don’t forget to stop by your local wineries or visit us at the Farmer’s Market and stock up on your favourite wines for fall and winter – the last few years have yielded amazing wines on the island as judged by all the medals won at nationaland international competitions so it’s getting easier and easier to find world class wines grown right here on the Island.