Three Things Essential To The Winemaking Experience At Orofino Vineyards

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Tradecraft takes Scout readers into the workshops, kitchens, and toolkits of Vancouver’s most talented crafts-people. From trusty pencils and custom-built machines to good luck charms and bespoke chef’s knives, this new column aims to get to the bottom of every creative attachment. No laptops or cellphones allowed!

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Today we hear from John Weber, owner/winemaker at Orofino Vineyards in the beautiful Similkameen Valley. He and wife/partner Virginia are hands-on in every aspect of their picturesque, eco-friendly strawbale winery located just above the small town of Cawston. They launched Orofino – home to summer’s legendary 1.6 mile dinner (and one of our favourite pieces of earth on the planet) – in 2005, and it keeps getting better and better with every vintage.

1. BLUNDSTONES | “These are quintessential winery and vineyard work boots that we love. All day, all night comfort, steel-toed safety, cool enough to wear to the bar. Bomb-proof. I get a new pair every couple of vintages but the new ones sit in the closet for a month or so cause I just can’t part with my old beat up ones.”

2. WINE CRANK | “Its simple but really the key tool that allows us to explore grape varietals and wine styles from around the world. Tasting is a key component to our winemaking. We open wines, taste, discuss, and hopefully bring an expanded point of reference to what we can do in our own cellar. It’s important to us to keep learning and a corkscrew opens up the door to the classroom.”

3. PUNCHDOWN TOOL | “Old school tool for extracting all of the good stuff out of red grapes during fermentation. Nothing fancy or mechanical about it but it’s the only way I know how to make our red wines. It allows us to smell, to listen, and to feel what’s going on in the small, open-top fermenters that we use. As the CO2 builds during the ferment it pushes the grape skins to the top to form a thick dry cap. Two or three times a day it’s our job to push them back down to mix the juice with the skins. This is heavy physical work but totally worth it. Pumpovers and fancy mechanical methods are for pussies.”

MORE TOOLS & OTHER TRADES

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