Getting inspired to harvest grapes

The Kootenay means snow, sleds and …fine wine?

Sunset Ridge Bed and Breakfast in Nakusp sits at the end of a long driveway at the end of a long road.

Wine making is complex. Grapes must be picked, crushed and pressed, each step having a million variations for a million different types of wine.

There are, also, a million types of things that can go wrong. The wine could be too sweet, or too dry. It could come out hazy.

It could smell of wet dog, or, apparently, nail polish remover. Even wine-making giants still have problems from time to time, which is why Jody Scott’s operation, “The Vine House” is so impressive.

Sunset Ridge Bed and Breakfast sits at the end of a long driveway at the end of a long road. Tall trees line both, rendering it rather somber and dark. The property itself is open, allowing you to gaze at the impressive mountains the Kootenays are known for. It is here, in the cold and the wet, that Jodi Scott makes wine.

Usually, when thinking of vineyards, the warm, rolling hills of Italy and France come to mind, complete with mustachioed men in silly hats shaking their heads disapprovingly and uttering curses under their breath. What you don’t think of is the Kootenays, known mostly for winter activities such as skiing, snowmobiling or staying inside because you can’t do either.

Nonetheless, The Vine House has been producing wine since 2007, with the help of his family and members of the Arrow Lakes Grape Growers Society (ALGGS).

According to Jody, it started as a small landscaping thing, with a few vines planted here and there. In 2008 he decided to get serious and plant a lot more; additional varieties have been planted every year, and in June 2013, he and the society plan to plant a new crop in Burton.

It’s nice to know that there isn’t just snow business going on in the Kootenays.

Surprisingly, the number one problem with growing grapes here is not the weather. Jodi says that the main problem for him is how time-consuming wine making can be; it can be tough to keep up when you have a regular job.

Of course, that is something that ALGGS helps with, and he says he’s very grateful for that.

While the weather is a factor, he says it would be a cop-out answer, as that is a problem even in the more moderate climes.

Cop-out or not, it is more of a factor here than in Italy or France, so it deserves a mention. After all, Italy isn’t known for its fantastic skiing locations, is it?

“Weather” or not this place is what first comes to mind when someone mentions wine, it’s still a cool thing to have. In fact, The Vine House is all the more interesting because of its seeming incongruity.

A vineyard in the Kootenays is like an orchard in the arctic, and that’s cool. There more unique and interesting things we have here, the better.

So while he may not be selling wine yet (you can buy vine clippings and juice on The Vine House blog), best of luck to him, his family and ALGGS in their endeavor to bring local alcohol to the Kootenays. If you think about it, it fits our culture quite well.


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