The winemaking at Little Farm Winery is all about creating wines that reflect where and how the grapes are grown. When you plant a vineyard from scratch and nurture it to produce its first crop of grapes, there is a strong bond developed, an attachment to the site which leads you to want to see what the grapes taste like as wine. We believe that the only way to do this is to mess with the winemaking process as little as possible.
Little Farm wines are unique (and we think special) because of their reflection of where and how they are grown. The grapes are grown using organic and sustainable techniques, taking care of the natural eco-systems in the vineyard and then carefully respecting the natural processes involved in transforming the grapes into wine. We strive to let the grapes shine through in the wine by carefully guiding the wine making process with minimal intervention.
The vineyard. Our vineyard is carefully and respectfully farmed, with a great deal of time, care and attention, it produces high quality grapes with intense flavour character. We attribute this to the unique calcium carbonate rich soil, the intense sun, the often bone rattling wind and how all this comes together with the six different clones of Riesling and three different clones of Chardonnay. Reflecting this unique combination of elements is what our wine is all about, this is what shines through, this is what we carefully make into wine and put into bottles.
Our vineyard and the care we take of it, the condition it is in as a system of many ecosystems, the quality of the grapes it produces, this is all inter-related and is key to our wines. What we think of as highest quality, intensely flavoured fruit comes from balanced vines, a low crop load and organic growing practices. These factors determine the wine we can make – its quality and its flavour. The health of our vineyard, it’s vines, and their fruit is integral to our ability to make wine in the minimal intervention style, removing the need for adjustments and additions and minimizing the need to take corrective measures.
The cellar. In the cellar it is about minimal intervention, age-old techniques and traditions, careful respect for the natural process of winemaking and the importance of good grapes. Using the least intrusive methods, we strive to let our grapes shine through in the wine by carefully guiding the winemaking process and maintaining as much of the integrity of the grapes as possible.
We are interested in older, traditional methods such as using neutral barrels, long cool ferments, full solids, lees aging and stirring and as little else as possible.
Winemaking is a great responsibility, taking all the hard work of the farming year and preserving, protecting it, and transforming it into wine. We take it very seriously that good wine cannot be made without good grapes, and we realize the responsibility we have to understand and carefully guide the complex natural process of fermentation.
Pied de Cuve – Natural Wines! The Pied de Cuve wines are the result of winemaker Alishan’s passion for and fascination with natural wines. For those not familiar with the somewhat controversial title of natural wine, these are wines that receive almost no intervention from start to finish and are therefore a pure reflection of the place, the grape and the vintage. We have named this range of wines Pied de Cuve. Pied de Cuve is a technique to start a fermentation using only the yeasts that are naturally occuring on the skin of the grapes.
About a week before harvest we picked a bucket of grapes, crushed it by foot and left it to ferment in the vineyard. It is kept in the vineyard and away from the winery so the grapes’ own yeast can start the fermentation, rather than in the winery where ambient yeast living in the winery from previous vintages could take over the fermentation.
We were excited to see any flavour differences that might occur from these natural yeasts and by using the natural vineyard yeasts we hoped to produce a wine that had even more of a sense of place. After a couple of days, the bucket was frothy and fermenting nicely. When we harvested the rest of the crop, we added the Pied de Cuve to the pressed juice to kick start the fermentation.
We wanted to make these wines in the most natural way we could using really low-tech, old-school methods. The wines were fermented in old neutral barrels (and some stainless steel for the Riesling) and left to age on the lees for over 10 months. Nothing was added or taken away from these wines. They were left to clarify naturally with time and were not fined or filtered. We chose not to use any sulfur during the winemaking and only added a very small amount prior to bottling (10ppm for the Riesling and 20ppm for the Chardonnay).
We feel these wines have a sense of place and taste of our Mulberry Tree Vineyard where they are grown. They show the true characteristics of the Similkameen Valley – ripe fruit, racy acidity, purity and minerality. With the influence of the natural ferment and lees contact there is wonderful texture and savoury complexity.