With the 2021 harvest in full swing as we write this, and with lots of questions about how it’s going this year given the challenging summer experienced by so many across BC, we thought we’d give a little update on how things are looking here in the Similkameen Valley, and at Clos du Soleil. Clos […]
With the 2021 harvest in full swing as we write this, and with lots of questions about how it’s going this year given the challenging summer experienced by so many across BC, we thought we’d give a little update on how things are looking here in the Similkameen Valley, and at Clos du Soleil.
Clos du Soleil Harvest 2021: Mid-Harvest Update
Our team expects to harvest around 120 tons of grapes this year – our largest ever.
We are finding extremely high quality in the grapes from the Similkameen Valley this year. We were incredibly fortunate to have experienced very little impact from any wildfires this summer, and the intense, dry heat has led to intense, full-flavoured grapes that will make excellent wine.
We are in the final stages of harvesting grapes for our white wines. The only remaining harvests for white wine as of writing (September 22nd) are Chardonnay from La Côte vineyard, and Pinot Gris from Whispered Secret vineyard.
We are just at the very beginning of our red harvest; this will stretch through October, and into early November, so we have some busy months ahead of us.
Despite the warm summer, our grapes have maintained really bright acidity, which is what gives Clos du Soleil wines their lively energy, and makes them such wonderful food wines.
Because we are harvesting most days, if you happen to be visiting our Tasting Room we invite you to pop around behind the winery to our crushpad, where we are always happy to explain what is going on, and to see the action for yourself!
We will provide an update as soon as harvest is done for the year, so watch this space for final harvest numbers, teasers of what’s to come, and musings from our winemaker.
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 […]
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!
Clos du Soleil is delighted to announce the acquisition of a Whispered Secret Vineyard in Keremeos, Similkameen Valley, BC. Clos du Soleil has been working with grapes grown in the Whispered Secret Vineyard since 2014, developing a deeper relationship with this vineyard over the years. Where initially the winery purchased just the Sauvignon Blanc grapes […]
Clos du Soleil is delighted to announce the acquisition of a Whispered Secret Vineyard in Keremeos, Similkameen Valley, BC.
Clos du Soleil has been working with grapes grown in the Whispered Secret Vineyard since 2014, developing a deeper relationship with this vineyard over the years. Where initially the winery purchased just the Sauvignon Blanc grapes grown here, as the years passed the team made the decision to lease the vineyard and farm it themselves. As more time passed, Clos du Soleil became more and more enamoured with this secret pocket of land. So, when the company was afforded the opportunity to purchase the entire property in recent months, they jumped at the chance to add it to their already stellar lineup of vineyards.
“For many years now this vineyard has provided some of the highest quality grapes going into our flagship Capella white wine,” reveals Michael Clark, Managing Director and Winemaker at Clos du Soleil. “In addition, it has provided 100% of the grapes for our late-harvest Saturn wine, as well as our more recent Winemaker’s Series Pinot Gris.” In short, the permanent addition of this vineyard to Clos du Soleil’s portfolio of properties brings with it the promise of an ongoing and consistent supply of the top-class fruit required to create the classic terroir-driven wines Clos du Soleil specializes in. “We are absolutely delighted to have secured this property for the future of Clos du Soleil,” says Clark. “This vineyard consistently produces extremely high quality fruit, that goes into our highest-tier wines at Clos du Soleil.”
Situated on the south side of the Similkameen Valley, on a north-facing slope close to the Similkameen River, the Whispered Secret property is geographically close to Clos du Soleil. Being on the other side of the valley, however, it has much cooler growing conditions. This makes it ideal for the varieties planted there – Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, as well as a small block of Merlot, all planted 15 years ago – as well as the style of Clos du Soleil wines. “The nature of this site produces wines with the signature Similkameen minerality and laser-like acidity that is the hallmark of our wines,” says Clark.
What’s more, with the the property registered for organic status several years ago, and anticipated to be awarded full certified organic status following the 2020 harvest, “I believe that the transition to organic status will only increase the quality of fruit from this vineyard.”
Vineyard & Operations Manager Steve Roche agrees that the purchase of Whispered Secret is a wonderful addition to the Clos du Soleil family. In fact, he waxes quite poetic about the vineyard: “Whispered Secret has to be the most enchanting piece of vineyard land I have ever farmed,” he reveals. “Nestled between sheer rock faces to the south and the babbling waters of the Similkameen River to the north, here we have beautiful alluvial, loamy soils, with fantastic drainage, perfect for cultivating our superlative Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris.”
With the 2020 harvest already underway and looking to be quite the vintage, this 10.3 acres of stunning Similkameen wineland is no longer a whispered secret. It will, however, continue to be one of the secrets to Clos du Soleil’s winemaking magic.
For more information, high resolution images, and questions, please email email@example.com.
“There’s a transcendent beauty to [the Similkameen Valley], one echoed in the character of those who call it home.” If you’ve never heard of the Similkameen Valley, and the many wonderful wineries, orchards and farms that call this sunny, rocky corner of British Columbia home, this is quite the introduction. (One which will no doubt […]
“There’s a transcendent beauty to [the Similkameen Valley], one echoed in the character of those who call it home.”
If you’ve never heard of the Similkameen Valley, and the many wonderful wineries, orchards and farms that call this sunny, rocky corner of British Columbia home, this is quite the introduction. (One which will no doubt have you itching for a road trip…) And if you are already acquainted with the magic of the Similkameen, you’ll no doubt agree with Jeannette LeBlanc’s assessment of the land we call home for her latest feature for Culinaire Magazine (pg 28-31).
We are thrilled to feature in the May/June 2020 issue of Culinaire Magazine in ‘The Resilient, Remarkable, Similkameen Valley’, alongside so many of our wonderful, resilient, remarkable neighbours. Read the full feature here (pages 28 to 31), or click on the image below.
Many thanks to both Jeannette LeBlanc and Culinaire Magazine for their ongoing support of the Similkameen Valley and BC wine in general.
Another harvest season is done! And, in spite of an autumn that was colder than normal for our region, we are happy to report that in 2019 we had an excellent growing season, and are extremely happy with the quality of wines produced. Read on for a little bit of insight into what we’ve been […]
Another harvest season is done! And, in spite of an autumn that was colder than normal for our region, we are happy to report that in 2019 we had an excellent growing season, and are extremely happy with the quality of wines produced. Read on for a little bit of insight into what we’ve been up to since our tasting room closed. Suffice to say: no rest for the wicked… or the winemakers.
Clos du Soleil Harvest 2019
In 2019 we crushed 99 tons of grapes at Clos du Soleil.
Our harvest started on September 4th, and our last harvest of grapes for the season was on November 4th – a full two months of picking. (Not every day, but close!)
As of the time of writing, we are still quite busy in the cellar, pressing our red wines, barreling wines, and monitoring the very end of fermentations. An exciting time, but we are all looking forward to things slowing down in the coming weeks!
A final word from Clos du Soleil Winemaker Michael Clark to get you excited about the wines to come from this year’s harvest: “Our white wines from 2019 are concentrated, intense, with brilliant flavours and bright acidity. Our red wines are full of ripe flavours, full but fine tannins, wonderful moderate alcohol levels, and have the structure that will provide excellent aging potential. We are very excited by all of these wines!”
While we appreciate the sentiment behind author Elizabeth Lawrence’s statement that “Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn”, in reality this time of year leaves us little time for daydreaming, romance and poetic notions! That’s not to say we don’t marvel and wonder in the beauty of Fall – far from […]
While we appreciate the sentiment behind author Elizabeth Lawrence’s statement that “Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn”, in reality this time of year leaves us little time for daydreaming, romance and poetic notions! That’s not to say we don’t marvel and wonder in the beauty of Fall – far from it – it’s just that for us that takes the form of harvest and hard work. The best kind of hard work, mind you, the kind that yields its own poetry and wonder… for what is a beautiful, expressive wine if not poetry in a bottle?
Before that poetry can make its way into the bottle though, we need to get the grapes harvested, the crushing done, and all kinds of other labours of love completed! So why not take time to sit and watch the grapes turn as we reveal exactly what it takes to get the harvest in… Without further ado, we present to you:
Clos du Soleil Harvest 2018 by the numbers
Tons of grapes harvested so far: 67T
Tons of grapes still to pick before harvesting is done: 23T
Number of varieties of grapes we are working with: 8
Number of Clos du Soleil vineyards we farm: 3
Number of contracted growers who grow for Clos du Soleil: 5
Number of people working in Clos du Soleil winery during harvest: 5
Combined years of experience of our cellar team: 51
Number of bottles of wine from one of our barrels: 300
Number of barrels in Clos du Soleil winery: 110
Number of concrete tanks in Clos du Soleil Winery: 3
Number of barrel fermentations this year: 14
Number of hours per day we are working: 25
Minutes of the day when we aren’t playing music in the winery: 0
Number of cups of coffee consumed per day, per team member: 94
Number of hours Mike (Clos du Soleil winemaker) has spent driving the forklift: 74 million