It is always exciting to taste a new vine as it pours out of the press into an enamel cup. Behind the sweetness, a hint of the wine tantalizes the mouth, like a sun that has gone behind a cloud. Today was harvest day for the pinot noirs of The Rise, in Bella Vista. The event was well-attended.
Celebrants demonstrate the correct method for getting underneath the protective netting.
A second group of harvesters stands by:
As usual, they arrange themselves like the notes of sheet music on the wire. For starlings, life and all its days is a sing along.
Both groups of pickers are immigrants. Both have replaced the mountain bluebirds that were here before. So have the grapes themselves, in all their blue and red blush of yeast and light:
Already sampled for weeks by coyotes, wasps, and the local porcupine.
The whole enterprise might be a celebration by immigrants, in a vineyard planted to anchor a housing development, but it is a celebration, and we could use more of that. What’s more, of all the vineyards of the Okanagan, this is one of the very, very few above the level of the former Lake Penticton. In other words, its soil profile is without the clays or alkaline salts of lowland and benchland farms. Its feet lap at the former lake’s shore.
And the grapes? High sugar, spicy acidity, a soft pH balance. They should make an easy-drinking pinot noir, without the leafiness one would expect from such an extreme northern climate. Once the sugar fades away in the fermentation, the soil flavours should come through, as gentle as the needle-and-thread grass that once grew in these meadows.
Sometimes wine can be memory in a glass.