John Skinner
October 22, 2013 | It's all about the wine | John Skinner

Dodging Bullets

Welcome all to my first blog. I feel compelled to share this journey with you for a few reasons. Most of you who know me and my wines know that my heart and soul is in this. To really know the wines I'd like to share with you the true realities that ultimately may encourage you to pursue a like path or convince you to do the sane thing, just enjoy the wine.

Each vintage has it's challenges and while I'm getting used to them, they are never quite the same. In 2010 we had the bear problem where we ultimately lost 11 tons of fruit. Now with the electrified perimeter, while they are still trying, we have managed to pretty much solve that problem. So you'd think it's smooth sailing till the hail storms. I'd sit on the deck of the house beside the vineyard and watch countless storms move up and down Skaha lake, praying they didn't bring hail or if they did please deposit it elsewhere...sorry buddies. There is a small private vineyard, say 2 acres, to the west of our Chardonnay block that recently got hammered by hail and as though it knew to stop at the property line, it did.  I think one advantage of me taking time away is that when I return I notice changes that otherwise might be overlooked if I were always there. Bring on the wasps. I arrived at the end of August for a couple weeks and was shocked by the number of wasps. Walking the vineyard I noticed one Syrah plant completely infested and hit the panic button. I heard about these pheromone wasp traps and raced out to get some. I arrived at the store where we normally get all of our supplies and asked if they had any?  (I never go there so the merchant didn't recognize me) "We got 100 in today but unfortunately they are for our best customers" the merchant replied. "Oh shit, I own a winery on Skaha called Painted Rock and we've got a serious problem." "Ha, you're who we're holding them for" the merchant said with a laugh. "You must be John." So I bought them all. We put 50 out that day around the perimeter and they were virtually filled 6 hours later with probably 300 wasps in each. We put the remaining traps out the next day and our problem was solved. I've since heard stories of some vineyards getting absolutely wiped out, and one sad story of a vineyard owner who went into my supplier looking for traps only to be told "some guy just came in and bought them all" :)   While rot was a significant issue up and down the valley this year I think the combination of active airflow at our site and the varieties we have planted saved us from that problem.

So as I write this we still have 35 of our 70 tons of fruit hanging. The Cabs, Syrah and PV are basking in glorious October sunshine till the next panic comes along.




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