Shanyn Ward is a WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust) Diploma graduate and wine buyer for Cask & Barrel Liquor Store. (Photo: Carmen Weld)

Shanyn Ward is a WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust) Diploma graduate and wine buyer for Cask & Barrel Liquor Store. (Photo: Carmen Weld)

Wineology: Let’s talk organic wine

Check out Okanagan sommelier Shanyn Ward’s bi-weekly column

Organic, sustainable, bio-dynamic – What does it all mean?

In the last decade or so, the culinary world, as well as consumers, have really grasped on to the idea of “Farm to Table” in food preparation. Eating fresh and eating local is an idealism we embrace and actively seek out.

The idea is simple really – let’s grow what we eat in order to nourish ourselves and in the process create a sustainable method of farming that food.

Growing your own garden gives you first hand insight into how plants work, what they need to survive and in a surprising way, can teach you how versatile they can be with minimal input and just a little water. And at the end of the day, you have naturally-grown vegetables which have seen little to no chemical sprays, which you feel happy to put on the table for you and your family.

We have seen the same movement in the wine world to make a shift towards a more natural process of grape growing and wine making.

I am asked constantly by customers, “How do I know if a wine is organic?”

This can be tricky, as not all vineyards here in the valley choose to be certified organic. It can be a costly process to transition this way. And while many vineyards have been technically farming sustainably or organically for years, the idea of not being able to protect their vineyards against a possible sudden onslaught of rain or the introduction of a vineyard pest we have never seen before is too great a risk when considering going fully organic.

Fortunately, we have a climate here in the Okanagan that favors a vineyard regime of reduced spraying of herbicides and pesticides. It is dry enough that mildew is not as much of an issue and while vineyards pests and insects exist, they do so in an amount that is manageable.

Many vineyards and wineries have chosen to participate in the Environmental Farm Plan, which is a government run, voluntary assessment of an agricultural property. They assess factors such as air quality control, soil quality, water usage and storage, composting programs, building designs and more.

There are definitely some leaders in the valley of these practices and over the next few weeks of articles I will highlight some of them and their different grape growing and wine making programs.

You just might be surprised how many wineries are actually employing practices emphasizing sustainable and organic farming.

What I am loving this week:

Tinhorn Creek:

Last year I had the opportunity to spend a full day at Tinhorn Creek. I came away from that day with a much greater appreciation and respect for their brand.

In the vineyard, I was pleasantly surprised by the actions they take to contribute to a healthier way of farming and taking care of their land. For example, they use minimal pesticides and focus on planting cover crops that will attract beneficial insects to the vineyards.

The amphitheatre below their vineyard, which will not be planted, was built with the idea of working to re-introduce native species to that area.

Their viticulture team works closely with Land Conservation to achieve this goal. They have been recognized by Salmon Safe, which is a rigorous assessment ensuring safe run off of irrigation water and any pesticides used – they were the first winery to ever receive this certification. Since 2010, they have been able to reduce their water needs by 70 per cent, by installing drip irrigation.

One of my favorite wines that can be picked up at almost all liquor stores is their 2016 Chardonnay.

From a vintage that was more challenging in the form of disease pressure, vineyard steps were taken to ensure quality fruit was pulled from the vineyard. A portion of this wine is barrel fermented with native yeast and the rest in stainless steel. There is a lovely biscuit and cooked citrus aroma on the nose followed by honey and stone fruit with crisp acidity on the palate.

Cheers!

shanynward@gmail.com

To check out past Wineology columns, click here.

wineology

Just Posted

Teenagers make their way to Truswell Road after a party is broken up by police at the end of Mission Creek (Lorraine Besner/Contributed).
Truswell Road residents concerned about ongoing alleged underage beach parties

Public urination, property damage, drinking and drug usage have become weekly concerns

Voix du Coeur is bringing music to seniors in retirement homes as restrictions slowly start to ease. (Twila Amato/Black Press Media)
Trio sings opera to Okanagan seniors as pandemic restrictions ease

Voix du Coeur travel around the Okanagan to bring the joy of music to seniors for free

People participated in a walk to honour the 215 children found at a former Kamloops residential school, as well as residential school survivors. (Twila Amato/Black Press Media)
Kelowna marks National Indigenous Peoples’ Day with walk to remember Kamloops 215

“Let’s speak the truth and deal with the truth, and heal.”

Kelowna Cabs’ dispatchers will be coming back to work now that their union and the taxi company have come to an agreement. (Facebook/Kelowna Cabs)
Kelowna Cabs dispatchers set to go back to work

The taxi company and the dispatchers’ union have reached an agreement

t
Motorcyclist critically injured in Westside Road collision

Motorcyclist collides with vehicle, struck by another: preliminary police findings

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

People look over the damage after a tornado touched down in Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal, Monday, June 21, 2021. Dozens of homes were damaged and one death has been confirmed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
One dead and extensive damage as tornado hits Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal

Damage reported in several parts of the city, and emergency teams dispatched to sectors hardest hit

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Photograph By MICHAEL POTESTIO.KTW
Former Kamloops security gaurd wants job back after kicking incident caught on video

Rick Eldridge quit when a video surfaced of him kicking a man outside a facility for homeless

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

Most Read