vancouver island

The vineyard 411 with Robin - less is sometimes more

Cab-Foch vines with lots of healthy looking clusters of grapes on them.

Cab-Foch vines with lots of healthy looking clusters of grapes on them.

So one of the big tasks that need to be done on all of our vineyards is shoot thinning, and yes it does mean that we are going to each vine and taking off shoots of the vines that do have clusters on them. While it may seem backward that we are taking off potential product for the coming harvest, we are actually going to increase the volume and ripeness in the grapes when we pick them.

The grapevine itself needs a careful balance of shoots per length of vine, that will ensure there is enough energy to fully ripen the berries. If there are too many shoots the vine will ripen every cluster partially, it won’t swell the berries to full size, and you are left with little juice and under-ripe berries (not what a winemaker wants to turn wine into).

By taking off some of the shoots, we are ensuring that the vine has enough energy to fully grow and ripen the berries in the next few months of summer and autumn. By taking off extra shoots and clusters we will end up with more volume and riper grapes-so sometimes less is more!

When we are going through the vineyard, the shoots that we are looking to take off are:

  1. Shoots with no grape clusters

  2. Shoots that are smaller in length than the average of that vine

  3. Shoots with smaller clusters of grapes

  4. Shoots with clusters of grapes with poor fruit set


Fruit Set

So when I say fruit set, I am taking about the grapes that have been self pollinated like this cluster here.

This cluster is an example of good fruit set. There are grape berries evenly spread around the main stem, there are no big gaps in berries in the cluster, and the grapes are all increasing size at the same pace.

When we are looking for clusters that are poor fruit set, which happens all the time in the vine, we are looking for all those things mentioned and then removing that cluster so that the vine can focus on ripening a better set cluster.

Isn’t that beautiful?

Isn’t that beautiful?

My last photo I will leave you with this week is a shot from our Cab-Foch showing just where they are at. With our trellising system at the winery, we actually start the grapes at 5 ft up and let them hang down. This means no tucking the vines and very little maintenance.

Our grapes are almost touch the ground now so we have between 4-5 ft of growth which is the perfect length for them to start ripening at. While this vineyard doesn’t look as tidy as our others, I love the feeling walking through this vineyard. So enjoy one of my favourite work views.



The vineyard 411 with Robin

The vineyard 411 with Robin

Your 411 on all things vine! Every week I’ll be taking you through the vineyards of Rocky Creek and explaining exactly what stage the vines are at, what we are doing in the vineyard to ensure the best quality grapes will be grown for our harvest this year, and as well as the considerations we take and some of the decisions that are made. Fresh from my degree at Brock University for winemaking and viticulture I’m excited to let you into the world of wine, as great wine can only be made from great grapes!

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.