Winemakers have a grape time

The Nanaimo Winemakers aren’t content just to pour a glass and sip – they enjoy the whole process, from vine to wine.

Doug Morrison of the Nanaimo Winemakers club pours grapes into the crusher on Friday morning outside the Cavallotti Lodge.

The Nanaimo Winemakers aren’t content just to pour a glass and sip – they enjoy the whole process, from vine to wine.

The club gathered outside the Cavallotti Lodge on Friday morning as a huge shipment of grapes arrived from the Okanagan. Club members unloaded 900 kilograms (2,000 pounds) of gewürztraminer grapes, 900kg of pinot gris, 450kg of cabernet franc and 450kg of cabernet sauvignon. They formed a sort of bucket brigade, sharing and weighing the grapes, pouring them through a crusher, bladder pressing some of the buckets and carrying pails of juice.

“There’s a bit of chemistry, a bit of science, a bit of art in making a good wine,” said Dave Burt, club president.

Nanaimo Winemakers seem to get the mix just right. The club’s Don Graham was grand champion at the Amateur Winemakers of Canada competition in Waterloo, Ont., this year, winning gold in other dry red, chardonnay and sparkling divisions, and Don Holmes won gold for his dry red pinot.

“Invariably our wines, in a blind tasting, come out on top of a $25 French bottle,” Burt said. “The return is quite good if you’ve got the mind and the patience and the perseverance.”

The group shows that winemaking doesn’t need to be an individual pursuit. Different club members source barrels, corks and other equipment, and a grape team searches for bulk deals in the Okanagan, Washington State and California.

The club is always looking for new members to join in the winemaking, educational meetings and other social activities like tastings.

“We’re trying to take care of them and make sure that they have success on their first batch of wine,” said Burt.

For more information about the Nanaimo Winemakers, please e-mail

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