“What’s in your glass should never become more important then who you are sharing it with.”
– Mike Nierychlo, Tractor Driver (oh yah . . . . & President) of Emandare Vineyard
I am often asked; “Why are you so passionate about wine?” My response is likely not what you would expect. Yes, wine is this incredible art form with an endless number of variables that could only be grasped through living countless lifetimes, but what is the point of an incredible artform it is isn’t shared. The reason that I am so passionate about wine is my love for people and sharing a glass together with the ones you love.
Almost 10 years ago, as it is said, I caught the wine bug and began making wine in my garage. I didn’t begin this journey alone, my brother-in-law (also named Mike) was right there beside me in the ice-cold garage as we crushed vintage after vintage with our feet. I would love to tell you more about the wine adventures of Mike & Mike but you’ll just have to come by the winery and ask. I’ve never made wine from a kit, instead my winemaking experience grew through sourcing grapes from premium wine growers, studying every bit of wine literature that I could get my hands on and a stint of time spent in wine media, where I was privileged to develop relationships with wine makers from around the world. Many of which learned their craft through family generations. Also during this period of time I had the opportunity to taste A LOT of different wines, both locally and internationally.
Very quickly my palate became fascinated with wines that tasted more like somewhere instead of something. I also noticed that these wines had an indescribably clean texture and drinkability about them. I once heard it said that great wine isn’t hard to drink, instead great wine is a pleasure to enjoy. We’ve all heard of wines described as cherry, or peppery, or oaky, or apples or fruity, but the wines that caught my attention were wines that you couldn’t describe with simple flavors and aromas. Instead, they confidently shared a distinct sense of place with every sniff and sip. These wines began to make me wonder, what am I tasting, and why does it taste so different from so many other wines? I soon discovered that these wines, the wines told a story all shared something in common, they all have a genuine relationship with the land that they came from. How is this relationship between the land and grape captured so well into the bottle? This is where it gets interesting.
With much trial and error wine has been made for thousands of years around the world and through conversations with winemakers who either learned their craft through generations or winemakers who learned through their own trial and error, one underlying philosophy became evident to me. Old world and low intervention technique was the key to achieve greatness in your wine.
With old world philosophy and our core belief that nature was created long before we came along, the philosophy behind the wines of Emandare was born.
It all starts with the farm, I truly believe that wine is not made, wine is grown. Being blessed with this beautiful piece of land in the Cowichan Valley, it has become our responsibility to steward it to the best of our ability. For that we look to the old world. They all farmed organically, not for marketing or because it was trendy, but simply because that was how they farmed. Not against nature, but working alongside nature. It is our goal through bio-diverse and sustainable farming practices like dry farming, composting, mulching and future animal husbandry such as chickens, sheep and bee keeping, to breathe abundant new life into our land. The beautiful byproduct of farming this way will be a healthy balanced vineyard.
When it comes to our winemaking, the relationship between our vines and our wine is vital. Wine is made in the vineyard and many of my winemaking decisions are made in the vineyard. This is why we only make 100% estate grown wines. I am a firm believer in the word terroir, a French word that can be translated to, sense of place. This is where our low intervention winemaking practices come in. My goal in the winery is to allow our wines to capture a glimpse of Emandare in every bottle. I believe that this can be achieved through what has been coined as natural wine making practices, which has been defined as; nothing added and nothing taken away. Though we love the ideology of natural wine, we do responsibly use tools such as filtering our whites and organic amounts of sulphite. At Emandare we have nothing to hide. We allow the naturally occurring yeasts on the grapes to take care of the fermentation and we don’t use any additives to techniques to fiddle with the flavor profile of our wines. A winemaker whom I have huge respect for once told me: “Sometime you need to have the courage to do nothing.”
My wife Robin and I are still in the early stages of our journey together into the wine world and we are humbled by the reaction to the wines that have come out of our cellar so far.
“Simply put, Emandare Vineyard is our home and we are privileged to work alongside nature to capture a glimpse of this place in every bottle.”