Alderlea Vineyards under new ownership

Alderlea VineyardsZac Brown and Julie Powell only took over Alderlea Vineyards in April 2017.  The vineyard comprises 7.5 acres in the heart of the Cowichan Valley.  The varietals include Bacchus, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Foch, Cabernet Foch and Cabernet Libre.  All fruit used in Alderlea wines is estate-grown.

Alderlea Vineyards is the 4th oldest winery on Vancouver Island and was planted in 1994.  The vineyard has the second oldest plantings of Pinot Noir on Vancouver Island with six different Pinot Noir clones.  Alderlea produced the first commercial release of Blattner varietals and has the largest Sauvignon Blanc planting on Vancouver Island.

The Winemaker

Zac Brown Alderlea Zac Brown is an experienced winemaker whose roots in winemaking started nearly 20 years ago while working with a small family winery and vineyard near Vienna. His skills were further honed while he lived in Western Australia. After he and Julie married and moved to Montreal, his interest in winemaking grew into a serious passion. He cultivated his own skills and began winning both provincial and national medals for his wines.  Zac has also taught winemaking to other Garagistes for the last ten years.

The Alderlea Vineyards Wines

 

Alderlea Logo One Colour BlackAlderlea Vineyards Pinot Gris 2016 Low yields and meticulous vineyard practices produce a Pinot Gris with a fuller body and a long finish.  The signature skin-contact winemaking style results in a dry, rose-coloured wine.  Aromas of peach and apricot, with a balanced mouth-feel and flavours of tangerine, orange and mango.

Alderlea Vineyards Pinot Noir 2015 This is a fine wine with true varietal character, including aromas of sweet cherry and allspice.  Hints of eucalyptus and leather balance earthy notes and a long finish.

For the complete portfolio of BC wine please visit the Alderlea Vineyards site here.

Challenges

Julie Powell Alderlea Vineyards
Julie pruning at Alderlea Vineyards

Julie provided the following comments on the early challenges of winery ownership. “This is our first year in the Cowichan Valley, so the challenges of transitioning from the previous owners and standing on our own two feet were our primary focus.  Vintage wise, the long cold spring made for a late start to the vineyard.  Earlier budding white varietals such as our Bacchus and Pinot Gris saw a reduction in crop loads by about 15%.  Our reds had the same crop load as the previous three years.

The summer was hot and dry which helped us recover from the cold spring.  We saw good phenolic ripeness with brown seeds and stems and nice tannin development in the skins, but sugar levels were lower than the previous three years.

The season ends quickly in the Cowichan Valley with the islands swollen clouds dropping an impressive volume of mid-October rain in a surprisingly short time span.  However, but we managed to get the harvest in two days before the deluge started. 

A challenge for us going forward is related to the volume of our whites with the Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc varietals selling out in record time this year, by mid-August.  This has motivated us to look at how we might increase our production in future.”

Sustainability

Julie provided the following comments.  “We have a number of sustainable farming practices in place (details on our website), these include waste water recycling, low impact sprays, DRM Re-coopered barrels, bio-diesel fuelled equipment, worm composting and row cultivation, and we continue to identify other ways to improve productivity while reducing our environmental footprint.”

Future Plans

“With respect to growth, some new Sauvignon Blanc reached maturity in 2017, increasing volumes.  Additional Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris plantings will yield their first harvest in 2018.

We are working to identify more vineyard land for future growth and we intend to expand our production of Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and  Bacchus.”

Source: Alderlea Vineyard provided the Winery and Vineyard information and tasting notes.