Daddy’s Day

I could list many reasons why our 8YO has the privilege of a Daddy like hers, or I could just let this picture tell one thousand words.

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I flew out of the Kelowna airport this morning.  There’s not much enjoyment in flying these days,  but nonetheless I almost look forward to flying out of there.  Is it that I enjoy security checks?  Maybe on the odd occasion, but generally no.  Do I like the yipping dogs in tiny under seat carriers dreading their journey?  Not at all.  And if you’re wondering, I don’t even like the post-security food available in the waiting lounge.

But I do like to eat at the White Spot because of one waitress that works there.

She has worked the room since I can remember.  Stressed, grouchy, impatient and sometimes rude travelers abound, but there is this waitress, always smiling, energetic, happy.  Genuinely interested in what you’re reading (“Do you like that book?  I have wanted to buy it.  Should I?  Nice!  I will definitely pick it up.”) Asking to where you are heading or what kind of day you’re having.  Not asking like small talk, but waiting for an answer and contributing to the conversation, not contributing to the noise.

I find this waitress fascinating.  In a low paying job with miserable people around her all the time and making a positive impact. She must, because here I am, a half a country and a half a day removed from her and I can’t get her out of my mind.

Small role.  Big impression.  Order me up another one of those, please, before my flight boards.

Posted in Local, Personal Sandra | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Wee Return to Natural?

The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first; Be not discouraged – keep on – there are divine things, well envelop’d; I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell. ~Walt Whitman

The vineyard we purchased almost 20 years ago, the vineyard in front of my home, has always been a good piece of land.  Nice slope on a high up bench, removed from the threat of frost and complex soils formed thousands of years ago from an alluvial fan.  The first vineyard planted on this site was Chardonnay, years before we took it over.  It was irrigated with overhead sprinklers (the norm in the 1980’s and 90’s), mowed frequently between the rows and sprayed throughout the season to keep any pests, weeds and fungus at bay.

Three years ago this Chardonnay block was showing its age and we decided to replant it.  We took the opportunity to replace the overhead irrigation with drip, the first such block at our home vineyard to go through that conversion.  Our vineyard practices changed thanks in large part to our new Vineyard Manager Andrew Moon (@Andrew_Tinhorn on twitter)  the spraying decreased, and in some cases were eliminated, and the drip no longer watered the mid rows (the land between the vine rows).

70% water savings.  Less spraying.  All good.  But there was still the question of what plants would establish themselves between the mid rows.  We are in a desert.  Cover crops (the grasses that cover the ground between the rows) don’t just…well…grow.

For two years the once green grass between the vines turned brown in the summer, some weeds moved in, we continued to mow.  This spring, when the snow had melted, we saw this on the ground throughout the new Chardonnay block, Draba verna. 

Draba verna has the tiniest little wee white flower, that grows naturally in sagebrush country, so it is native to the Okanagan.  It also happens to be a “beneficial” in that its presence helps to reduce damage in spring by cutworms that can crawl up the vine and damage the young, tender buds.

Perhaps Draba verna was here all along and we never noticed it when we were watering the thick grasses between the rows.  Perhaps it was here before our vineyard was planted in the 1980’s and now has made a return appearance.  Or perhaps, it has just found its way onto our land since we’ve changed our farming practices.

Whatever the case, I like what I see.  A wee return to natural?  We can only hope.

Posted in Eco Sustainability, Grapes and Wine, TInhorn Creek | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

What’s a Good Day?

Been so long since I’ve blogged but I’ve given up the guilt many year ago, so onward and upward.  Today I had a good day.   What’s a good day for me?  Well, I can tell you, days like this don’t happen often for me so I thought I’d blog about it.

  1. 7:00 AM Drove to the back of our vineyard to choose a Gewürztraminer vine for #Gewsday (a weekly chronicle of one vine on our property in 2013) with my 8YO daughter.  She was excited to pick the vine and we settled for Vine 5, Row 15 of GT-1 Block on our home vineyard at Tinhorn Creek. Good way to start.
  2. 7:50 AM 8YO safely on the bus for grade 3
  3. 8:00 AM Gave a safety orientation to a new cellar employee–a great new addition to our winery and getting off on the right foot.  All good still.
  4. 9:00-11:00 AM Meetings (well, it can’t all be good!)
  5. 11:00-12:00  More Health and Safety orientation time to new cellar worker, again all good.
  6. 12:00-1:00 PMTasted 46 barrels of Oldfield Series red wines…2011 Merlot, 2011 Cabernet Franc and 2011 Syrah.
  7. 1:00-3:00 PM Lunch with a fellow winery owner.  Best part of the lunch?  Realizing that each winery that commits to Estate fruit is making a real commitment to their own sense of place.  Anyone can buy fruit and ferment it but there is something so special to compare notes with another winery owner that farms their own land.  Gets to know that one piece of earth–its slopes, frost pockets, nutrient levels, drainage, wildlife pressures and on and on.  Power to the wineries that farm their own land! That’s all I can say about that.
  8. 3:00 PM Picked up 8YO from bus, second part of day begins.
  9. 3:10 PM Tasted 24 more barrels of Oldfield Series wine from the 2011 vintage–this time the components of our 2BenchRed blend (Merlot and Cab Franc today, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Verdot later in the week)
  10. 3:50 PM Tasted one “double secret probation” barrel of  something special that’s been at the back of our cellar for 16+ years.  A few people know about it but not many.  Don’t ask me what it is because I will not tell you.
  11. 4:00 PM  8YO sang Happy Birthday to my mother, her grandmother, down in California and that warmed my heart, and hers too I suppose.
  12. 4:30 PM Said good-bye to an employee of ours who is going on her 2-month Tinhorn Creek-paid sabbatical.  If you have worked at our company for ten years we give you two months off paid to recharge your battery.  It made me happy we do that and worth it when I saw the big smile on her face tonight.
  13. 5:00 PM Blogged.  Something I haven’t done in months.

Now I have an entire night to start something new.  Today was a good day in the life of this winemaker, indeed-y.

Posted in Grapes and Wine, Personal Sandra, TInhorn Creek | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

One Teacher

2chairsI saw something come across my twitter stream yesterday–something along the line of “Everyone is a Teacher”.  I have never thought of encounters this way. How great would it  be to see all people as teachers and all encounters, even difficult ones, as a potential lesson from a teacher? It happens without us thinking about it, but somehow all these lessons fade.  We begin to see the knowledge base we have as something gained by our own initiatives and capabilities, when of course, most of it comes through interactions.

Keeping that idea at the forefront I think I will try to write ONE thing I learned from one person each day. One Teacher.

The difficult part:  to stay receptive to the idea that learning can come from anyone at any time.

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Bucket List of Future Wanderings: Updated

A bit over a year ago I posted my Bucket List of Future Wanderings on my blog.  I was blessed to be able to go to two of the ten places this summer (Iceland and Russia) and all I can say about that trip is–boy did we nail it!  Amazing when expectations for a place you’ve always wanted to go to are actually exceeded.  I’ve refined the old list (combined Chicago/New York as one trip–cheating some would say), added to and subtracted from it. My latest wandering desires…

1. Turkey Now more than ever before.

2. Cuba I’d like to get here before the country goes through too many changes

3. Prague Some cities will remain on the list until I see them.  Prague is one of them

4. Peru More than Machu Pichu but I’d certainly like to go there if I ever get to Peru

5. Morocco New to the list this time.  Not sure but the more I see of Morocco the more I am intrigued by it.

6. China/Mongolia Great Wall I’d love to go off the beaten path–and I’d also like to see Beijing’s Forbidden City.

7. New York/ Chicago Art Tour Believe it or not, I’m thinking winter time for this one

8. Yukon/ Northwest Territories If you can call 2,500 kms away “in your own backyard” then I guess this would qualify.

9. Laos I am not in the know as to what to do in Laos, but it still seems like such an undiscovered place

10. Malaysia/ Thailand Of course very different countries but close enough to each other once you have to travel half way around to the world to get to them.

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19th Time’s a Charm

Today’s is the eve of my 19th vintage at Tinhorn Creek.  Technically, it might be my 181/2 vintage since my husband brought in the grapes in 1994 when I was finishing my studies at UC Davis–but I was on the phone and computer throughout.

Someone asked me last night, are you expecting any unusual difficulties this harvest?  My response was “yes”.  Every vintage I see things I have never seen before.  This vintage will be the same.

The difference now from 19 years ago?  I don’t worry about the challenges.  Most are weather related and (although it has taken me years to figure this out) I cannot change the weather.  Problems get solved. Even disastrous situations eventually fade to lessons learned.

My thoughts focus on employees working safe.  Going home healthy.

Bring it!

Posted in Grapes and Wine, Health and Safety, TInhorn Creek | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments