Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Cherry Point Vineyard

On the south east side of Vancouver Island is a pastoral setting of rolling green fertile hills surrounded by rugged mountains and majestic softwood rainforests. The Cowichan’s long, Mediterranean like growing season and mild maritime winters make it the most important agricultural area on Vancouver Island and British Columbia’s newest wine-growing region.
The vineyard at Cherry Point was established in 1990 and since wine-growing was still new on Vancouver Island they planted the vineyard with several grape varieties, for nobody really knew which grapes suited the island’s soil and climate. 
The vineyard is planted on a glacial moraine, a gravel and stony hill rich in minerals on top of the surrounding clay countryside. White round stones that lay exposed under the vines retain and reflect the sun’s heat and help to ripen the fruit long after the sun sets. The grapevines thrive in the gravel and sandy soil, an open soil they can get their roots down deep into, searching for water and nutrients. A large pond nearby catches the winter rain as it runs down the vineyard’s sloping hill and the mineral enriched water is judiciously irrigated back onto the vines when they need it in the summer.
Today the 24-acre vineyard is the second largest on Vancouver Island and consists of grapevines that flourish in Cherry Point’s microclimate. Ten main varieties and eight limited varieties are planted including Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois, Pinot Noir, Agria, Ortega, Seigerrebe and Castel. Blackberry bushes surround the vineyard and the pests are few, for the leaf-hoppers favour blackberries over grapes.
The vineyard is owned by Xavier and Maria Bonilla. He is a Colombian-born agricultural economist who, with his trademark black beret, makes the archetypical French or Spanish vigneron. 

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