Hi Sperling friends,
The afternoon sunshine creates a picturesque golden glow in the vineyards at this time of year. It’s truly stunning to take a walk through the vines. The leaves are putting on a show, the mornings and nights are cool with the threat of frost. We have been carefully harvesting each variety on the dry days. Earlier pickings for Pet Nat are nearing the end of fermentation and will be bottled next week. These go to bottle while fermenting to capture the natural CO2 bubbles along with the purity and freshness of the vintage. All other wines are actively fermenting and will make their way to barrels and vats for aging. Each wine is tasted daily to gain an understanding of the unique properties of this growing year, and decisions to stir or cool or allow malolactic fermentation to begin are taken. We want our wines to tell the story of their place and the year.
Watch the Labyrinth Grow
Our organic Labyrinth Vineyard was harvested this week under the stunning moody skies of fall. This vineyard is planted with Vidal grapes and grown organically. Developed in the late 1930’s, Vidal (aka Vidal Blanc) is a white hybrid grape produced from a crossing of the vitis vinifera variety Ugni Blanc and Rayon d'Or. It was brought to Canada in the late 1940s because it is winter-hardy and disease tolerant. Combined with a tough outer skin, this grape is ideal for Late Harvest and Icewines; and more recently for skin fermented/orange wines and Pet Nats. As a result, you’ll find Vidal becoming the trendy darling grape.
Starting in 1986, winemaker Ann Sperling has had a fascination with Late Harvest and botrytis affected wines. The concentration and texture of late harvested wine sets an exciting challenge to make a harmonious and refreshing wine in spite of the obvious intensity. Ideally, mature grapes are harvested at ~30 brix. Acidity is key to balance in sweet wines, so harvest parameters include target acidity of 10 g/L.
Check out our current offering of Organic 2018 Late Harvest Vidal. This wine pairs deliciously with nuts, dried fruit, firm aged cheeses, and creme brulée. We also offer limited bottles of past vintages of Late Harvest and Icewines. Contact the tasting room for availability.
Amber Pinot Gris Pre-Order Now Open
It’s here! The Natural Amber Pinot Gris pre-sale is now open. A minimum purchase of 3 bottles/pre-order is required. We have 75 cases set aside for the pre-sale and they are selling very fast already! The price is $32/bottle and will ship in April 2022.
If you’re interested in learning more about Orange wines, like our Amber Pinot Gris, have a listen to the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast with our Winemaker, Ann Sperling.
We keep the fun going all year long! On the weekend we hosted our first Silk Scarf SIP & DIP workshop. If you missed it, don’t worry, there are two more dates to choose from on November 21 and December 18. We invite you to make your own water marbled silk scarf. Each artist chooses their colours and floats the paint one drop at a time on the surface of the water, then uses marbling combs, rakes, or stylus to create the design of their liking. Tickets are $49 and include all supplies to make your 14” x 72” silk scarf and wine tasting. Tickets are booked by 2 hour time slots, with 3 time slots offered per event: 10:30am-2:30pm, 1pm - 3pm, and 3:30pm-5:30pm. During the workshop, you will see a demonstration, and then you will create your masterpiece! Up to 8 tickets per time slot available. All current COVID-19 safe rules apply for each workshop. Book your tickets now by visiting our Sperling Facebook page and checking out our events.
With fall comes new tasting room hours. We are currently open for tastings from Thursday to Monday from 10am to 6pm. Reservations are required, book your tasting now. We'd love to see you all dressed up in your Halloween cosumtes this weekend.
Hi Sperling friends,
Since our last newsletter, we’ve been busy harvesting each vineyard block at our heritage vineyard on Casorso Road, on the East-Kelowna-Slopes. Harvesting is done by hand which means that each cluster is cut from the vine with harvest shears and then placed whole in a picking pail. When the pails are full, they are gently tipped to bins and moved out of the vine-rows to the “crush pad”. After weighing, the grapes are tipped to the sorting table where they are graded before moving to the destemmer. We prefer the gentlest handling possible so we don’t actually “crush” our grapes but move them to the fermenter or press by gravity. Gently handling early in the winemaking process means less intervention later in the wines’ evolution.
Watch the Labyrinth Grow
In early September and regularly throughout the fall, the Vidal grapes in our Labyrinth vineyard were serenaded, along with our guests, by the Major Mambo Latin Quartet. We love hosting events under the tent, in the middle of the vines. There’s something about the energy of the Labyrinth, combined with music and laughter, that makes it such a welcoming, calming space.
As you can see in the Labyrinth images above, the full clusters are transformed from green hard berries to softening yellows and gold. The Vidal grapes in the Labyrinth vineyard will be harvested by the end of October. You’ll notice that for now, they are covered in protective netting to keep the grapes from hungry wildlife, mostly birds -- robins and starlings-- but may include deer, raccoons and even bears. Each grape variety requires a specific length of season to mature and ripen, however optimal harvest date is determined by tasting, as well as supporting lab tests for sugar content, and acidity.
Amber Pinot Gris Pre-sale
The music can be heard down the block, drawing the neighbours in to investigate. It’s an old fashioned barbecue, one of those spontaneous late-summer events with family and friends. Crowded on the table, fruit trays, jars of mustard and a big bowl of cranberry punch. I’m dancing with the old folks, swinging around to the blasting radio. You’re at the grill, taking orders, taking swigs, and flipping dogs.
That is the story of our natural, Amber Pinot Gris...like so many things in the past year, this wine has gone viral. We’re trying something new and offering the 2021 vintage for pre-sale - this means you order now before the wine is actually released to avoid missing out on this exciting wine. Please sign up to our newsletter now so you are notified when the presale goes live. Amber Pinot Gris is part of our Vision series of wines. This series is our winemaker’s playground, and Ann Sperling plays in the big leagues as a driving force in the establishment of serious skin fermented white wines in Canada. Our Instagram video shows the beauty of our 2021 Amber Pinot Gris - we keep it in contact with the skins and stems for 3-4 weeks, followed by pressing.
Sperling Wine Clubs
The best way to get your hands on wines that sell out quickly, like our Amber Pinot Gris, is to join one of our two wine clubs. Our clubs give you access to exclusive wines and library back vintage releases that may not be regularly available to all customers. You will also be invited to exclusive club events. Each shipment contains bonus gifts and insider information about the wines you receive. As a club member you receive 10% off of your purchases, online or instore. The greatest thing about the club is the chance to build an insider relationship with our team.
Our Vision Wine Club is inspired by learning, passion projects, small lots and library wines. This club is designed for wine geeks, collectors and new wine lovers alike. This is a 6 bottle club, shipped 3 times/year.
Our Labyrinth Wine Club focuses on the best of the Vision, Heritage, and Market series of wines. This is a 12 bottle club (plus a bonus bottle), shipped 2 times/year. These shipments include some wines for the cellar, some for celebrating, and some for today!
All of our wines are from our single estate vineyard and are certified organic - 100% British Columbia! Sign up today to enjoy our next shipment in the coming weeks.
Thanksgiving Explorer Pack
Enjoy this explorer pack of 6 wines, curated for the curious wine lover. Perfect for the Thanksgiving table, these wines will allow you to explore food and wine pairings while enjoying time with family and friends.
This offer Includes 6 bottles, one each of:
2016 OLV VINES RIESLING - amazing with turkey, or give it a try with a not-too-sweet dessert
2020 FAMILY ROSE - try it with everything, we love rosé for the pairing versatility
2018 PINOT NOIR - wonderful with turkey, be sure to try it with stuffing too
2017 OLD VINES FOCH - enjoy with grilled meats and veggies like portobellos
2010 LATE HARVEST PINOT GRIS - this is a 375ml bottle that continues to taste fresh and delicious over a decade later! Delicious alongside a cheese plate.
Club Price: $176.40 | Regular Price: $196.00
Make your order a 12 bottle case and enjoy free shipping in BC and a flat rate $20 shipping elsewhere in Canada.
We love welcoming visitors to the winery during the fall. It is a beautiful time of year and the pace is a little less frantic than in the high-tourist season of summer. Wander the Labyrinth, and enjoy the wines at your own pace. Soon the leaves will glow a golden hue.
Hi Sperling Friends,
Welcome to our August blog. Harvest is upon us. We are transitioning from a busy summer of guest visits and record sales to shifting our thoughts towards harvest and crush. We continue to safely welcome guests daily knowing that keen visitors continue to arrive to experience our passion with harvest in action!
Watch Labyrinth Grow
It's been a continuum of hot dry weather throughout the summer so caring for the vineyard and our team’s wellbeing has been our focus. In August the grapes transitioned from green to veraison to ripening berries. Some grapes ripen early and quickly while others take a bit longer. It’s a critical time watching the grapes very closely, measuring brix (natural sugar content) and acidity levels, and most important - flavour development, awaiting the perfect moment to harvest each variety. Sparkling and Pet Nat wines are harvested for lower alcohol (less sugar), and higher acidity with brighter aromas. We have begun picking our ‘Coronation’ organic, seedless, table grapes, so you’ll soon find these flavourful black grapes at grocers throughout British Columbia and Alberta. The Vidal grapes in our Labyrinth Vineyard below are late ripening and aromatic, suitable for a range of styles from fresh and light to rich, late harvest wine.
August 26 marked the excitement of crush when we picked our Perle d’Csaba grapes (pictured below) - an important part of our Speritz Pet Nat. These are the oldest vinifera DNA on our farm…first planted in 1929! It will be all hands on deck until harvest wraps up further into Fall. We can’t wait for you to taste this year’s vintage after it has had time to ferment, age, and move to its life in bottled.
Sperling in the News
Our Winemaker, Ann Sperling, is often called upon by the media to chat about her wealth of knowledge and experience. Given her upbringing in the family vineyards, combined with her many years of experience and learning, she can speak authoritatively on many subjects as it relates to winegrowing, winemaking, and natural wine. Here is a round-up of articles published since our July blog post:
- Natural Wine and the Debate over “Healthy” Alcohol, Discover Magazine (August 10, 2021):
“Some critics simply dismissed natural wine and didn’t attempt to understand this changing style, says Ann Sperling, a proprietor and winemaker at Sperling Vineyards in British Columbia, Canada.
She became interested in natural wine after seeing an explosion in the use of oak alternatives, which are cheaper and more practical materials that can mimic the smoky, toasty taste that comes from oak barrel storage. Sperling worries that manufacturers use this technique as a crutch, and she prefers to focus on the flavors derived from the grapes themselves.” Read More...
- Interview with Winemaker, Radio Canada - this article is in French (July 27, 2021):
“Elle a beau avoir grandi en étant entourée de vignes, le métier de vigneronne est loin de lui être arrivé tout cuit dans le bec. Mes parents étaient des producteurs de raisins, c’est-à-dire qu’ils vendaient toute leur récolte à des vignerons locaux, souligne-t-elle. Pour faire du vin, il m’a donc fallu aller travailler ailleurs et gravir les échelons un à un.” Read More...
- Ruby Pet Nat Review, Quench Magazine (July 28, 2021) :
“Sperling Vineyards Ruby Pet Nat, 2020 ($30)
Based on red hybrid grape Maréchal Foch (with 15% Pinot Noir). The former was once widely planted in BC before vineyards were largely replaced with Vitis vinifera – post 1988. Some old plots remain, and Foch has a bit of a cult following. This Pét-Nat is a new take. With fermentation finishing in the bottle, some CO2 is trapped giving a light frothiness – somewhat reminiscent of a Lambrusco. It sports Foch’s signature tooth staining purple colour along with mouth filling, wild dark berries and grapy, bubble gum accents. Slight bitter twist piques the curiosity as well as the appetite. Simply a ton of fun. Adult pop?” Read More...
- Jill & Rickard Branby, General Manager and Winegrower/Winemaker, Tasting Room Radio with Terry David Mulligan, (Interviewed August 2021)
Pinot Noir Pack: August 18 was International Pinot Noir Day. We celebrated by launching our limited time offer - our Pinot Noir Pack. There’s still time to order this box before it’s gone. We have put together this organic and vegan Pinot Noir influenced pack from our Heritage Series of wines at a special price. It includes one bottle of our 2011 Brut Reserve Sparkling wine, one bottle of our 2020 Family Rose, and one bottle of our 2018 Pinot Noir.
Pinot Pack Special Offer Price: $132 | Club Price: $122.40 | Regular Price: $152
We continue to accept tasting reservations daily between 10:30 and 6:00pm. We encourage you to book in advance. When you are inside the winery, masks are required. If you’re not able to make it in person, we recommend joining our wine club and ordering online to have wine delivered right to your door!
Be sure to sign up for our email newsletter to stay up to date on all of our special offers, events, and news. You can sign up by clicking here. Thanks for reading!
Hi Sperling friends,
We’re pleased to present you with our July blog. Below you can read about our next installment of Watch the Labyrinth Grow, learn about our regenerative farming practices, and hear about our upcoming events at the winery.
Watch the Labyrinth Grow
In last month’s blog, the Labyrinth vines had just finished flowering, leading to fruit-set. The small, hard, round, grape berries have started to swell into green clusters. In the first days of August the berries will begin to soften and change colour – a stage called “veraison”. This signals a transformation towards ripening. Up to now the vine has divided its energy to both vegetative parts (leaves and stems) as well as the developing grapes, including the seeds they contain. As the grapes become sweeter, the naturally occurring acids will decrease as the grapes lose their green flavours and ripen. At this time in the growing season we pay close attention to the canopy which is the driver of energy in each vine. The canopy includes the green parts of the vine visible above ground and plays the lead role in photosynthesis and ripening. The canopy can provide shade in a hot summer like 2021. And where we need less shade and more sun and air-flow, we thin the leaves, and position shoots. Canopy management is an important part of organic grape farming; it contributes to wine quality and flavour profile, and the prevention of fungal diseases. In the photos below, you’ll see our vines are now netted. We net the vines to make it more challenging for birds and other animals to feast on the ripening grapes.
As we head into August, we’ll start to see fast-paced changes in the grapes. We are excited to show you the difference from this month’s blog to next month. It’ll be time to harvest before we know it!
Recognizing that farming can be a somewhat solitary existence, we look to foster community in ways that support our values. Sperling Vineyards is a proud member of Regeneration Canada, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting soil health and regeneration to naturally increase soil fertility, mitigate climate change, restore biodiversity, improve water cycles, and support a healthy food system.
“Regeneration Canada helps get the word out about farmers who are committed to grasslands, permanent cover crops, biodiversity, and farming that benefits the environment instead of degrading it. Our treed perimeters, native bushes, and permanent cover crops support habitat, and sequester carbon from the atmosphere, unlike conventional agriculture with tillage that releases CO2.” -Ann Sperling, Winemaker
Regeneration Canada offers an interactive map to keep track of who is farming with these practices. The map has 3 objectives:
- Helps to let people know about good farming practices
- Where they can find products made with regenerative farming practices
- Peer to peer learning between farmers
Our family has been farming this land for 135 years. We have an immense respect for the land our great-grandparents chose for us, and a strong sense of responsibility to work in ways that allow nature’s forces to develop even better conditions for future generations. Regenerative farming practices focus on improving and rehabilitating the land, going beyond the status quo.
Sharing the map is about creating a further connection and deeper understanding beyond a bottle of wine. We are happy to be on this map with many amazing Canadian farmers who care deeply about how the earth is cared for, especially as we deal with extreme weather events and climate change. Other BC wineries you’ll find on the Regeneration Canada map are Scorched Earth and Covert Farms.
Events & Visiting Sperling
We have been having fun welcoming visitors to the winery from near and far. We love it when our club members visit. Be sure to ask about our wine clubs the next time you're here. Joining a club is a great way to get access to exclusive club wines and special events. Tastings are available for club members and the general public daily between 10:30am - 6:30pm, for $10 - $20 per person. Book here.
We have been enjoying live music events and in the centre of the Labyrinth vineyard. Our next live music event takes place Saturday, August 14th. Take in the sizzling salsa sounds of Major Mambo under the tent in the Labyrinth Vineyard and enjoy a bottle of organic wine. The Major Mambo Latin Quartet will perform from 4pm to 6pm. We have picnic tables available or you're welcome to bring own lawn chair. Tickets are $25 each. Learn more and make your reservations today.
Our next Yoga in Labyrinth will take place on Sunday, August 15 at 9am. The yoga practice will be gentle and intended for those wanting to calm the nervous system and open up areas of tightness and resistance. All proceeds will go to Canuck Place Children’s Hospice in Vancouver. Limited spots available. Bring your own mat. A wine tasting is included and will follow the class. Click here to learn more and book now.
If you want to keep up to date with our blog, special offers, and events, sign up for our newsletter so you don’t miss out.
Join Sperling Vineyards Friday, July 16 for an outdoor evening with warm, rich and punchy jazz with Wood, Wire & Fire. Relax under the tent in our Labyrinth Vineyard and enjoy a bottle of our organic wines.
The trio will perform from 5:30 pm to 8 pm. Picnic tables available or bring your own lawn chair.
$20 per ticket
Hi Sperling Friends,
Here we are, already past the summer solstice. During these long days, the vines grow quickly, showing lush green hues to contrast the drying grasses on the mountainside slopes. As the temperatures on the valley floor warm up, everything is in full bloom and will be setting fruit for the fall harvest. See the stages in our organic Labyrinth Vineyard.
Watch the Labyrinth Grow
If you look closely at the images, you’ll see that flowering is mostly complete and we’re at the fruit set stage of growth. Missing is the wonderful perfume of the multitude of tiny grape flowers that flooded the vineyard air last week. Most of the little, round, will-be berries have lost their flower caps, and now the inflorescences are forming into grapes that will soon swell into grape clusters.
We haven’t had much rain this season and are entering a record-breaking heat wave. This makes for dry growing conditions earlier than normal. One relief is that fungal disease pressure is low, reducing the amount of spraying we have to do. Instead we’re paying attention to excessive dryness. The Okanagan is an arid region so we’re equipped with irrigation but our regenerative agriculture and organic practices are key to conserving water, and maintaining our cool-climate wine characteristics. Organic matter in the soil that we’ve encouraged through compost additions and constant soil cover with clovers, grasses and native plants, absorbs and holds moisture, so that any rainfall or irrigation we provide is channeled into the soil and then held there rather than running off or evaporating in the heat. Bare soil can be 15-25 degrees hotter than soil covered by vines plus cover-crop. Our vineyard on the East Kelowna Slopes is characterized by deep mineral-rich soils, and our old vines have rooted deeply accessing soil nutrients and moisture at depths of over 2 meters.
While we humans and our pets may feel like melting in the 40 degrees Celcius heat, grape vines are adapted to our climate. At approximately 35 degrees Celcius, the vines employ a conservation mechanism that minimises physiological activity and conserves water. However, extended periods of drought, combined with heat stress, can result in wines lacking vibrancy with low acidity.
A feature of our blessed terroir in the Okanagan is an extreme diurnal temperature shift - that’s the difference between night and day temperatures. Thankfully for people and grapevines, nights cool off by as much as 20 degrees from daytime highs. We’ve farmed this site for over 135 years and know that respect and stewardship will be rewarded with wonderful wines. We’ll keep you posted on vineyard developments.
We’d love to welcome you to the winery where you can wander the labyrinth, see the vines for yourself, and of course, enjoy our delicious wines. As restrictions ease, we continue to offer an outdoor experience in the shade - in the middle of the labyrinth, on the veranda, or in the wide-open Heritage room.
It’s not a scientific fact, but we speak from experience when we say summer is more enjoyable in the middle of the vineyard with a cold glass of Rose or Bubbles! Keep in mind that our vineyards are certified organic so you can feel safe knowing you’re not brushing up against, or breathing in, pesticides or herbicides when you visit.
Book your visit online. We strongly recommend making reservations so we can prepare an exceptional and safe tasting experience. Tastings are available daily between 10:30 am and 6:30 pm with a range of 4 different tasting options priced at $10 - $20 per person.
Check out our wine clubs and how you can access our exclusive club wines, special offers and events. Not local or not ready to venture out? Order on-line, with convenient and affordable delivery options.
Happy spring Sperling friends!
Can you feel it? The warm sunshine, the garden dirt under your nails, the bottle of rose in the backyard in the lingering daylight? We feel it. We see it in the vines. The buds have burst and slowly the brown is turning to green and the grapes will soon be taking up their home in the vineyards. It feels SO good to welcome visitors back to the winery. We wanted to start a blog to keep you up to date with what’s happening at the winery.
Introducing: Watch the Labyrinth Grow
In this time where free travel isn’t available to all of us, we wanted to bring the vineyard and winery to you. We will be doing a blog post once a month, we’ll include the Labyrinth Vineyard growth progress so you can see the vines develop month by month. After the winter slumber, the vines start to wake up, the sap begins to flow and before long, the buds push through, promising another year’s harvest.
When you are able to visit the winery, we invite you to linger a bit longer and wander the Labyrinth Vineyard, enjoy wine and a picnic in the middle of it. We created this labyrinth to allow guests to wander the organic Vidal vines freely, while visiting with one another.
A labyrinth is a circular and purposeful path that is an ancient symbol representing wholeness. This labyrinth was inspired by our family matriarch, Velma, our head winemaker, Ann Sperling’s, Mom. The circular path allows you to walk without thought or need to check direction, fully relaxing into the surrounding environment. Soak up the energy of the labyrinth and the vineyard. This path is situated with a beautiful view of the mountains and surrounding area.
NEW: Wine Clubs!
Over the winter we launched two NEW wine clubs focusing on small lot, limited edition wines, and all your Sperling favourites for cellaring & sharing. The Labyrinth Wine Club is our choose your own adventure club, offering 2 x 12 bottle shipments per year. You choose from our organic wines from each of our Sperling Series; some for the cellar, some for celebrating & some for today. The Vision Club is for the wine geeks, collectors, and interesting wine lovers. This club offers 6 bottles, 3 times a year, including library wines, exclusives, single barrel experiments and all of Ann’s favourites.
Both clubs offer special perks and we have some exciting club exclusive events in the works. You’ll save 10% off all of your purchases and enjoy no additional shipping fees on your club shipments. Be sure to sign up soon, there are limited club spaces available.
Next Up: May Long Weekend
Starting June 7 we are open 10-7, daily. For the May long weekend at the winery, we will be open Saturday - Monday from 10am - 7pm. We'll be pouring some exciting wines. We’ll have special offers available in person and online, including:
- The Naturiste: Pet Nats (Ruby & Speritz) and our Amber wine, plus chocolate bar $100 +tax
- Organic Market Series: Market White, Market Red & Speritz 2018 x 2 of each $120 +tax
- A fun vertical or two. (Hint, if you love Chardonnay, you won’t want to miss this!)
We are very family friendly with a play structure for the kiddos visible from the tasting area. You can review our COVID-19 safe tasting options here. We ask you to please make your reservation in advance. Grab your mask and come on by! We can’t wait to welcome you.
"We are part of this organization to help get the word out about farmers who are committed to grasslands, permanent cover crops, and farming that benefits the environment (not degrades it). Our treed perimeters, bushes and permanent cover crops sequester carbon from the atmosphere unlike conventional agriculture with tillage that releases CO2." Ann Sperling
The map has 3 objectives:
Let people know about good farming practices
Where they can find products made with regenerative practices
Peer to peer learning from other farmers