2020. Phew. We’re not going to lie, the declaration “Thank goodness for wine” may or may not have been uttered, more than once, by more than one of our team, in this strangest of strange years. We do feel very lucky at Clos du Soleil though: for all of your support throughout this year, and for the fact that winemaking has kept us busy, happy, fulfilled, and mostly far from the madding crowd. We only hope that our efforts have kept you happy too!
So, in the spirit of finding silver linings and sparks of joy (also known as glasses half full of delicious wine!) in a year that has been undeniably tinged with turmoil and sadness, we give to you this fact-filled and humorous review of our 2020, with answers provided by Clos du Soleil winemaker and MD Michael Clark.
Clos du Soleil in 2020
What did Clos du Soleil harvest this year?
6 white varieties ~ Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Viognier
6 red varieties ~ Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Syrah
How many tons of grapes did we crush?
110 tons – one of our largest harvests yet!
Number of vineyards we farmed in 2020?
Clos du Soleil has four vineyards. Three of them are on the Similkameen Upper Bench (our original Estate Vineyard, our La Côte Vineyard, and our Les Collines Vineayard). The fourth vineyard (Whispered Secret Vineyard) is on the south side of the valley, near the Similkameen River.
When did harvest start and when did it end?
Harvest started on September 4th, when we picked Sauvignon Blanc on our Les Collines Vineyard. It ended on October 28th, with the harvest of our Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Pretty much a full two months of harvesting!
Funniest moment of the 2020 harvest?
We laugh a lot at Clos du Soleil. Sometimes we laugh about funny things, and sometimes about not much at all, which probably gives outsiders the impression that we may have lost our minds. But we think it is important to enjoy our work, and we make better wine when we are laughing. More specifically, a lot of the laughing occurs when we are using our forklift to gravity-feed crushed red grapes into tanks using a process we have labelled “Tip-tip-wang”.
Most stressful moment of the 2020 harvest?
2020 was an excellent harvest, with extremely high quality wines being produced from it, so there wasn’t much stress. However, picking and processing fruit in sub-zero temperatures in late October was one of the more unpleasant parts. But at least the grapes were excellent, even if the work was cold!
Number of hours per day the Clos du Soleil team works during harvest?
Favourite harvest playlist?
Historically, Clos du Soleil has probably played more Smashing Pumpkins than any one winery ought to be allowed to play. But in 2020 we more biased to classic rock, particularly cheesy classic rock. We have also been known to rock out to that Lego-movie song, “Everything is AWESOME when you’re part of a team.”
Minutes of the day when we aren’t playing music in the winery?
Favourite post-work beverage during 2020 harvest?
Best keep-up-the-energy snack during winery work hours?
We have consumed a significant number of cheese burgers and french fries from the local café. A significant number.
Number of cups of coffee consumed per day, per team member?
Which wine destined to come out of the 2020 vintage are you most excited about?
That is a hard question, because all of the 2020 wines are showing amazing potential already. But I have to admit that having some more Rosé in stock is going to be really nice – no matter how much we make, it always sells out too quickly!
Number of bottles of wine from one of our barrels?
300 bottles in one of our standard barrels that we use for ageing red wine. But we also use larger puncheons for many of our white wines, and they hold 667 bottles each!
Number of barrels in Clos du Soleil winery?
About a hundred.
Thoughts on the 2020 vintage?
The 2020 vintage was an exceptional one, in the end. Most of the growing season was good, with generally moderate temperatures (which is our preference) but a little delayed versus prior years. However September, and much of October, was extraordinarily warm and dry, leading to first-rate ripening conditions. As a result we are very excited about the quality of wines we have produced in 2020, both white and red.
Current number of employees at Clos du Soleil?
During the harvest season we have a variable, but extremely important, vineyard crew that works seasonally for us. But during the rest of the year Clos du Soleil has a tight-knit group of 5 employees.
Your favourite thing about working at CdS?
Amanda, Tasting Room Manager: “The team! I love working with our team! It is a lot of hard work but it wouldn’t be worth doing if I wasn’t doing it all with our crazy little team of weirdos!”
Steve, Vineyard Manager: “My favourite thing at CdS is the people I work alongside. They are fun, but at the same time we share an attitude of doing the work to the same exacting standards, no matter how early or late it gets. [Singing:] ‘Everything is AWESOME when you’re part of a team!'”
Mike, Winemaker: “Well it sure as hell isn’t my team. Joking! Yes, of course, the best part is working with my awesome team!”
What can Clos du Soleil look forward to in 2021?
We are blessed by a very loyal customer base, who have supported us throughout 2020, and as a result many of our wines have sold out. Therefore one of the things we are really looking forward to in 2021 is bottling MORE WINE for our customers!