The Dirt On Organic Grape Growing In The Cowichan

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Michael Abbott is the Vineyard Manager at Blue Grouse Estate Winery

The growing season on the Island is short and intense, with Spring frosts and Autumn rains hemming the shoulder seasons into a frenzy of vineyard activity. If you’ve ever come to Blue Grouse in the summer, you’ve surely looked over the vineyard across the valley unto the hills, but if you look closer at the vineyard there’s a whole story of organic transitions to tell.

A keen observer will notice the vineyard floor has an array of flowering plants, tall grasses, mulched rows and a diversity of growth. This is to allow a robust soil structure to develop while also adding important nutrients through strategic cover cropping and mulching. The green vines we see above ground are but the tip of the iceberg as their extensive root systems navigate the healthy soils. Another might notice a deep green tea fermenting in the spring. This is a biodynamic tea that is brewed with plants grown and harvested both along our riparian forest and in our landscaping. 

Those familiar with biodynamic practices will be able to guess at a few of the key ingredients but the recipe is a secret for now. The tea is added directly to the soil and the green growing canopy. It adds nutrients to our vines while also coating their leaves and stems in a healthy mix of bacteria and fungi. These good bugs out compete the bad ones on the vines and thwart the onset of powdery mildew or other noxious pathogens.
What about the bees? We make sure our vineyard is full of the good stuff for our buzzing bees. The multiple cover crops and native landscape give plenty of forage through the year. Blue Grouse has its own hives and hosts hives from local apiarist, Lenora Bee.  Our fan club members got a special honey treat with their winter shipment last year. Check out our website to join. 

Although our tasting room is currently closed to the public pending Covid-19 precautionary measures, you can purchase your favorite Blue Grouse wine online or at your local liquor retail store. Since every bottle that comes from our estate is organically grown you can enjoy those warm summer days in every glass. 

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