Thoughts after the Cowichan Valley Wine Festival – Fall 2018

Thoughts after the Cowichan Valley Wine Festival – Fall 2018

The seasons in the wine business are quite distinct.  We just finished a great festival. See photos from the Cowichan Valley Wine Festival and also our cooking demos recipes. Enjoy the fall season and stay tuned as we are doing this festival again in 2019.

Musings from the Vines – Summer 2018

Musings from the Vines – Summer 2018

The seasons in the wine business are quite distinct.  The ongoing pruning and maintenance of the grape vines is a huge job and keeps our crew busy for most of the summer months.  Grape shoots have to be tucked into the trellis wires, leaves in the fruiting zone have to be stripped.  Extra shoots have to be removed. 

A new change

A new change

So this year we have decided to rebrand our look.  Our slogan is "from corporate suits to gumboots", so we are embracing that.  Our daughter Katherine has been instrumental in helping design our new logo and branding.   We also went on board with Maple Bay Graphics and Design to create a fresh new "creek" on our bottles.  

Our New Bottle Design

It's Mother's Day soon and as a mother I am blessed to have great children and see how have grown.  But I'm also excited now as Katherine will be a part of our journey this year in the tasting room.  Robin is on her last year with her degree to become a winemaker.  So as a mother and president of the company, my children seem to be a big part of the continued journey.

The Swirl

Katherine helped create our logo and design of our fresh modern look.  The logo is a creek swirl, but has a unique swirl that those who have studied "gregg" shorthand will know what the swirl means.  With the recent changes over the last 2 years in the tasting room and now our "rebrand", this gives us all new life in the journey and our passion for our winery to last for generations.

We also have focused to keep improving on all our aspects of winemaking and this year's vintage has just showcased so well already.  I'm not sure if this new look has given us a fresh outlook on life but it has given us a great energy that seems to make this vintage one of our stellar years.  Every year is a good year for us and we just continue to keep improving.

Linda Holford, President

Orange is the new white

There are many choices that have to be made as we get to harvest time.  Last year choices gave us a great intensity to our Pinot Gris 2016.  We didn't want to sacrifice the flavour of the wine to clear out the color.  We knew we always made "orange wine" style with our whites; but this year we wanted to let you know this new trend.  We also didn't have a clear bottle, and the bottle is dark in the stores; so, we placed on bottle toppers with this shot and came up with a catchy slogan "Orange is the new white".  We wanted you to  know that this is white wine made like a red wine with skin contact.  This is "orange wine".  This has been done regularly all over the world; but, there is a new emerging trend for this wine again.  Mark Holford wrote an article on it in the September Valley Voice.  Huffington Post has written an article on this as well called "What the Hell Orange Wine is, And Why It's the New Rose".

Click here to see Mark's article.  

88 and counting...

We found out yesterday that we have won our 88th medal at either a National or International competition.

At Rocky Creek Winery, our winemaker, Mark Holford, has strived to create wines that he can be proud of. Above all else he makes wines he will enjoy to drink himself, not to fit 'in a certain box'. Over the 12 years of having a family run winery currently his wines have been awarded 88 medals to validate his creative and individual take on winemaking.

 In 2006, Mark's first medal was won on his 2005 vintage of the Wild Blackberry wine. It was a silver from the Northwest Wine Summit, a competition we still enter and have won medals at every year since. This win was a momentous occasion as a young winemaker starting out with a small family business. For Mark this was validation that his risks were finally starting to pay off, his wine was now 'award winning'. Since then the Wild Blackberry has won a double gold as well from the Northwest Wine Summit, the highest prestige a wine can get.

Over the years we have worn each medal as a badge of honour to give our wines a pedestal to stand on against their competition. In the Cowichan Valley we are the single most awarded winery and we hope that will speak to our consumers about the quality we want to give them. After 88 medals, Mark and the rest of the Rocky Creek Winery family are very proud of our wines, and our story that goes along with that. Our story is one of family, support, and following our passions.

The latest medal is a bronze for our just released 2016 Pinot Gris at the National Wine Awards.  Full results of the competition will be released over the next two weeks.

Earlier this year we won a gold, two silvers and a bronze at the Northwest Wine Summit and the All-Canadian Wine Championships - for the Wild Blackberry, Katherine's Sparkle and On the Mark.   Every year we enter many competitions because we see the worth in having our wines awarded, so that the public can see our worth as well.  However, we haven't entered as many wines in competitions this year - for a couple of reasons.

First, we were really busy in the spring getting our remodeling done on the tasting room  -  and as a result most of our new vintages weren't bottled in time for the early competitions.

Second, we've made a strategic decision not to enter as many competitions - as they are expensive, and we think we've made our point about the Cowichan Valley being able to produce wines that can compete toe to toe with wines from any other region in the world.

We will still enter in some competitions, just to gauge where our latest releases sit in respect to the rest of Canada and the world.  But our biggest metric on that is how popular our wines are, and how quickly our new releases are selling out.  Our TLC and Robin's Rose are almost completely sold out, and our just-released Pinot Gris is flying off the shelves.  That's the biggest compliment anyone can give a winemaker - so thanks for all the support.

 From where we are now we would only love to achieve more and provide all consumers with the highest quality wine, in a local family business, we want to have people come to our winery and have a unique experience, one they will remember.


Canada 150

Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary of confederation. As a Canadian, you can't help but feel pride for how far our country has come. In the last 150 years, our Canada has done some incredible things and we want to celebrate them.
    In 1885, Canada has successfully hammered down its last spike on a railroad that would span the entire country. During the World War One Canadian's fought at Vimy Ridge and proved their worth as a nation. In 1942 during the Second World War, Canada stormed Juno beach on D-Day playing a tremendous role in aiding Europe. Since then we have created our own unique flag, watched Terry Fox run 143 days across Canada, hosted multiple Olympic games, legalized gay marriage country wide, and enacted a Charter of Rights and Freedoms to truly create a country that is called home proudly by so many different cultures.


Rocky Creek Winery is proud to be authentically Canadian focused on the region we live in and are so proud to call it our home. Our winery was created in Ladysmith in the basement of our suburban home on Vancouver Island and has since moved to bigger operations in Cowichan Bay on Vancouver Island. In our basement, we could have bought from all over the world and just imported grapes; but we chose to be Vancouver Island and all Canadian.
    Our winery is all about family and our story comes from working in oil in gas in Calgary, Alberta to our own local winery on Vancouver Island, or as we like to say; "from corporate suits to gumboots". Vancouver Island is a fantastic region for wine and has a vast amount of wineries, particularly in the Cowichan Valley. Our winery is local and sustainable growing grapes only from the Cowichan Valley region. We are focused on our terroir and turning our own soil and grapes that we are surrounded by, into our end product of delicious and local wine. Our region in particular is a truly cool climate similar to the old world wines of France and Germany but with our own Canadian twist. We have 87 medals internationally to prove this for our winery.


 It was as early as the 1800's that people had discovered Canada has a region for grapes, and therefore, wine. Ever since then Canada has been continuously discovering new regions for grapes and wine to be made. Even with wine being made for so long here in Canada we are still considered a "new emerging wine region," in comparison with majority of the famous wine regions throughout the globe. However the Canadian regions are rich and diverse and create unique and delicious wine varieties for everyone to enjoy. The regions we have across this country are: Lake Erie North Shore, Niagara Peninsula, Prince Edward County, Nova Scotia, Okanagan, Similkameen, Naramata Bench, Vancouver Island, and the Fraser Valley. Each and every one filled with so many unique wineries with completely different climates and varieties of grapes in
each one.
    Canada may still be considered new in the way of wines but so is our country in
comparison with a many of the countries around the world; and like our country, our regions are incredible and one of a kind. We should not be forgotten about but celebrated as a truly spectacular and diverse. Cheers and Happy Birthday Canada.

The big storm

Well the weatherman is projecting some serious rain over the next few days.

Luckily most of our grapes are now safely fermenting away in the winery and what's left should weather pretty much anything. 

Well... except the Pinot Noir.  Despite our best efforts there's a smidge of pinot still hanging in one vineyard.  We made a strategic decision to pick our massive crop of Tempranillo before finishing the last of the pinot.  The tempranillo looks amazing so it is definitely worth it.



 one bunch of tempranillo can be more than enough for a bottle

one bunch of tempranillo can be more than enough for a bottle

So far the pinot us holding on but we now have to wait almost a week before we can finish up.  Why?  Weĺl because a) the weather is predicted to be awful b) I dont have any empty fermenters left until I ferment and press what we've already picked and c) even if I had fermenters and good weather I dont have empty space to put another fermenter.  Yes we're full to the rafters right now.  Not a square inch free anywhere.


 the pinot noir with a little frost damage on the leaves

the pinot noir with a little frost damage on the leaves

So we're in a holding pattern with just a few picking days left before we're done.

So far it's looking like a record harvest may be in the works - or at least on par with our amazing 2015 crop. 

Harvest Continues

So we're right in the thick of it.

All our whites are picked and we're right in the middle of picking our reds.  Pinot Noir is a little over half picked and Tempranillo is on deck followed by Cab-Foch to finish off. 

So far everything has been impeccably clean.  Almost no signs of rot mildew or mould.  Our harvest tends to be drawn out.  We rely on volunteers from wwoof and workaway as our picking crew.  This year I've also been busier consulting and have been away for a week after the whites were finished. 

But the end is in sight.  Pinot should be all off in a couple more days and the remaining reds are thick skinned tough grapes that can stand up the inclement weather quite well


It's hard work chasings Robins from the nets.

and from a couple of weeks ago... pinot gris dark enough to masquerade as a red

Harvest has started

So fall is almost here and we've begun to pick our grapes already.  Siegerrebe is done and we're starting on our sparkling blend for Katherine's Sparkle.  This includes a field blend from one of our leased vineyards of pinot gris, ortega, siegerrebe, kerner, and chardonnay blended with four experimental whites from our estate vineyard.

despite the early colour from the pinot gris this blend wont have much colour when its finished.

Looks like more good news on it's way

Well, we are still a bit overwhelmed by the great result at the All Canadian Wine Championships.  A double gold was the absolute best result we could ever have hoped for.  The other competition we have traditionally done very well at is the Northwest wine summit.  Results haven't been posted online yet, but the organizer, Parks Redwine, emailed me our results today.  I'm waiting for clarification on one item, but there is definitely more good news.

I'll use a true Canadianism...  I think I'm getting a double-double... :)

more to follow.....

Double gold at the All Canadian Wine Championships!

Well, our Wild Blackberry has always been a great wine, but the latest vintage is definitely our best.  We just found out it won Double Gold at the All Canadian Wine Championships and is the Best Soft Fruit Dessert Wine in Canada this year.

Full results of the competition can be found here:

Congrats to the other Vancouver Island wineries who are also bringing home medals - Blue Grouse, Silverside, Enrico, Unsworth and Beaufort Winery.

Our Double Gold Award Winning Wild Blackberry

Great start to the growing season

Well, last year was surprisingly early and this year has been even hotter, and our vines are ahead of last year even.

Bud break was about the same time as last year, but April was very warm (warmest that even veteran grape growers on the island can remember) so our vines have been growing like crazy and are already getting ready to bloom in some cases.

I've almost caught up on vineyard work after our struggles in the early parts of this year - looks like everything is progressing nicely.  


Spring Releases for Mother's Day

Well, winter is over, and spring is here in full force.  We've bottled our whites and rose's, and will be releasing them over the next couple of weeks.

In honour of Mother's Day, we are releasing our newest wine - TLC.  TLC is a white blend  of Viognier, Albarino, Ortega, Kerner, Siegerrebe, and Pinot Gris.

TLC is named after Linda, whose name means "tender and caring".

I'll be pouring both TLC and our latest vintage of Siegerrebe at the Duncan Farmer's Market this Saturday!  


And now presenting....

Well, this is cool.

After 2 years of struggling with our old website, trying to keep it fresh and up to date (and sometimes even struggling just keeping it working) we decided to go in a different direction and completely update our site.

What is surprising?  Well Linda has always been the one wanting to drive the creative content, but has had a hard time getting the programmers to turn her vision into bytes... 

This time we've found an option where Linda did all the design work / programming herself, so the website is totally under her control and we can change *anything* we want about it on the fly.

Super cool.  

I'm so proud of the job she did on this, I think it's a huge step up from the sites we paid for, and it looks way more professional.

Linda, busy programming at her desk

Abbotsford Christmas Show

This weekend we had a good opportunity to be a family team and spend time with each other.  We attended the Christmas show and what a busy weekend.  We met so many people and want to take the time to say how great it was to meet everyone.  We also had a good time with all our neighbors and fellow wineries and distilleries.  It was a long day but the spirit was there and we are very happy to be a part of the artisan section.  The venues of farmer's markets and craft shows fits into the local flavour and sustainability of our wines.  We are so thankful that it is well received by the people attending.  We took the time to really make it festive and our daughter Katherine did a great display of our theme of silver and white.  Cheers to the season and this weekend really put us in the mood.  Time to keep decorating.