Thursday, November 10, 2011

Here's what one of our fans just said about the Altostratus on Twitter:

@Blackcloudwine Brad...09 altostratus is outstanding! Very Burgundian...could be right out of the cote d'Nuits #bcwine #premiercru
Pretty great comment! Thanks, Tim!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The 2009 Altostratus is now available.  It should be appearing in a few BC retailers soon.  About 45 cases (including some magnums) are in Alberta and it's available at the Wine Shop on 16th SW in Calgary.

If you'd like to order some of the best Pinot Noir you've ever had, just drop an email to and we'll get the ball rolling.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Pinot Noir Prepares for Premiere.

This is an exciting time of the year.  The grapes are racing towards ripeness as unseasonably warm weather tries to make up for a very slow start.
Here at Black Cloud headquarters, we're preparing to release the 2009 Altostratus.  We're starting with a free tasting and pre-release event at The Wine Shop in Calgary.  The guys at The Wine Shop have been very good to us, easily our biggest reseller and spreading the word about Black Cloud to anybody who will listen. Winemaker Bradley Cooper (me) will be at the store from 2 to 5 this Saturday, September 10.  We encourage our Alberta fans to drop by to taste and chat and maybe pre-order some Altostratus.  A drop in crop levels in 2009 means we won't have as much available as before.

The BC release starts with an event in the works for Penticton (our home base) that coincides with the Okanagan Wine Festival at the end of the month.  Watch this space for details.

We're also excited about the debut of our label re-design.  Here is a rather high-quality photo (lol) of the mock-up. Trust me.  It'll look way better on the bottle.

If you're looking to get some of the 2009 Altostratus, please join our Cloudy Club by emailing to and letting us know you want to get a little cloudy.

Monday, July 25, 2011

2011 Pinot Noir Inspection Tour

 My wife Audralee and I had a chance to drop in to Remuda Vineyard in Okanagan Falls last weekend and take a look at the Pinot Noir with the owners, Dwight and Arnie Gash. 
Although a week or so late, just like last year, there is a lot more fruit. The damage from the 2009-2010 winter is just about resolved.  We're looking for a longer ripening period for the Pinot and I hope the extra hangtime will result in the same rich and complex flavours we're familiar with.
This vineyard is on a 5 to 8 degree slope, with a southwest aspect.  The soils are glacial till.  Lots of gravels and boulders that allow excellent drainage.  In the picture I'm in you can see some the large stones that have been cast up.  Pretty typical for the whole property. 
The vines, grown on a modified Scott-Henry trellis, are in great shape.  A couple days after these photos were taken leaf plucking was started to give the fruit plenty of exposure.  Colour is never an issue for the Pinot on this property.  
All the Pinot from Remuda Vineyard goes to our Altostratus tier.  We're currently selling the 2008 with the 2009 due for release in September.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Wine Making and Winery Ownership in BC - A pastime for the wealthy?

After being in this industry for more than 15 years and observing how things work, I'm beginning to suspect that making wine for a living in this jurisdiction is an activity reserved for the rich.
This in itself is not a revelation.
I'm not talking about the day-to-day labour in the cellar or the vineyard.  By wine making I'm suggesting the ownership of land and facilities in order to do so.
It's becoming clear that the regulations for operating and licensing a winery favour those with substantial financial clout and basically keep people of modest means from playing any significant role. I think some of those restrictions have been created for the sole purpose of restricting the number of players in the field and to promote the BC government's long time agri-tourism push.
And this kind of environment limits innovation, new blood and a free market.
Considering the price of land in BC, it would require a minimum of $300,000 just for dirt for a land-based winery license.  That's before equipment, agricultural costs and infrastructure.  One could entertain a 'commercial' winery license, but that's just basically an extension of the BC Liquor Distribution Board's retail system.  You'd miss out on the great system of kick backs given to land-based wineries that produce VQA products.
Next add in the licensing requirement for a 500 case annual production.  This artificial constraint means you'll be looking at a minimum of 8 tons of grapes (about 60 cases per ton) at a cost of somewhere between $1200 to $3,000 per short ton. Let's split the difference at $2100 per ton or about  17 grand right out of the gate.
The point is: if you're a good winemaker who would just like to buy some grapes, make some wine and sell it on the open market: you're out of luck.  
Why should there be some arbitrary number for production? What has that got to do with great wine?

I queried friends in other jurisdictions.  My contact in California knew of no constraint in the size of the operation while in Ontario another friend suggested things may be even worse.

There's no system to allow shoestring operators to simply take part in the market. I propose licensing follow the precedents set be the food industry.  The priorities should be about good sanitation, proper disposal of waste and other environmental concerns in concert with local requirements.  Not some made up number for case production and the requirement for tracts of land that may be the most expensive agricultural land in Canada if not all of North America.
It's time this lazy, bourgeois style of licensing was changed to allow innovative and dynamic new producers.