Greetings from the newly minted Second Chapter Wine Company,
Following the sale of Church & State last year, we honestly thought we’d be back at it within a few short months. Well, of course the devil is in the details, and getting a fully licensed winery up and running took a lot more time than we initially thought. It has been a very eventful year, but we’re proud to finally share all our hard work with you. We appreciate everyone’s support and patience as we’ve strived to define what our second chapter would become.
We will be launching our new wine club and website on Thursday, November 15th, and will be ready to send the first collections of our wines to members in the first week of December. We’ll send a reminder that morning with links, but we’re planning some really special “thank you” bonuses to those who wish to join us and support our new winery.
The New Club
For those who join the new Second Chapter Wine Club, we’re going to give you a free bonus collection of our back-vintage library wines from Church & State along with your second delivery, and another collection along with your fourth delivery. If you’re a full-case member, you’ll get 12 back vintage bottles each bonus collection, and a half-case member will receive 6 bottles. So, a member who receives four full-case current release packages over the coming year will also receive two full cases of back vintage library wine as a free bonus. We think it’s a great way to celebrate our history and share our “greatest hits” with those of you who’ve supported us over the years. The bonus collections will be selected by us, and given the age of some of these wines (2004!) we can’t guarantee everything, but we will be trying each wine before including it and only sending what we feel has aged well. We think it’s going to be a very cool experience trying and sharing all these wines that have been aging in our cellar for so long.
The packages we’re going to offer at launch will be offered as both six and twelve bottle memberships. There will be a 50/50 split collection between red and white, and there will be an 80/20 red and white pack. Given the limited quantities we are producing, we won’t be offering all-red or all-white options at this time. Individual wines will be available for order on our website starting Thursday morning as well, so, as before, you’ll be able to add your favourites to your membership packages.
We spent a lot of time debating our new name. The winery name is what sets our tone and direction, both to ourselves and to our supporters. We initially leaned towards the name Compass – when everything we do in BC viticulture and winemaking is so deeply ingrained in a sense of direction, the Compass metaphor really spoke to us. We’re in the northern corner of the wine producing world, but the southern extreme of that region. When we farm differently, and different grapes, on the east and west sides of the valley, that sense of direction is so important. We bottled a small selection of our wines under the Compass label, so you’ll see the original look of those bottles in the coming weeks.
However, the name Second Chapter kept coming back to us – it just felt like it was what needed to be done. This really is the next chapter of our story, and, as in every good book, when things really start getting good. It also speaks to our history – we’ve farmed the Second Chapter vineyard for years, and along with Rattlesnake, the two sites were always the best parcels of vineyards we farmed. So, we made the decision just before launch to embrace the name Second Chapter Wine Co. and to commit to the name that speaks to our past and our future.
The Cellar & Vineyards
We started out in the spring licensing our new cellar facility, located on Tinhorn Creek Rd. Because the vineyard was being just planted, and being a land-based winery, not a commercial winery, we had to have all the vines in the ground before they’d issue our license and approve the wines in barrel we kept. So that took us through to June right off the hop. The vineyard was planted in Cabernet Franc and will produce about 350 cases when it is first harvested in 2020. It’s gently sloped eastward, with a dense rocky soil. The site had been left fallow for 24 years, and through extensive soil sampling we went with a blend of Clone 214 and Clone 327 Cab Franc as most suited to this unique site. We’re really excited about the potential quality of this new small parcel.
In May we bottled our first wines – the Rattlesnake Merlot and Second Chapter Syrah were the first reds in, along with the whites other than Chardonnay and Rattlesnake Viognier – Marsanne, Roussanne, Second Chapter Viognier and Pinot Gris. They’re tasting great and have now enjoyed a full summer in the bottle settling in. The remainder was bottled at the end of August, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec, right before (what we thought would be) the start of harvest…
The growing season was off to an amazing start early in the season and we anticipated beginning to pick at the start of September. Given the smaller acreage than we used for farm at C&S, we got to obsess over the vines; pressure readings every day, minutely detailed irrigation programs, hand managed vines at every step – we can confidently say we farmed the best fruit at Rattlesnake and Second Chapter we’ve ever managed. However, the forest fires and cool August weather changed our timeline, and we didn’t start harvesting this year until mid-October. This was actually a blessing, as it allowed the vines to further develop some incredible flavours and gave us much needed time to dial in the cellar before we brought in fruit.
The nice part about starting fresh after 15 years running Church & State is that it allows to you dial in exactly how you want to make your wine. We started by ordering La Garde tanks from Quebec – they’re beautiful rectangular stainless-steel fermenters that allow for fantastic cap management. We also brought in two peristaltic pumps, which work on compressing a soft inner hose to move the fruit – these pumps are so gentle on the wine you can pass full tomatoes through them without damage. Being a single floor, flat plane building, but wanting to gravity feed our tanks, we had a custom “bathtub” developed that allows us to load the fruit into it, lift it over the tank with the forklift, and pull the plug, draining the fruit gently into the tank. The cellar may be small, but it’s set up exactly how we want it, with everything we need to produce the highest level of wines we’ve ever done.
We started working with Pascal Madevon on the Second Chapter and Rattlesnake vineyards at the end of 2016, and when we left Church & State at the end of 2017, we continued to work with him in a full consulting winemaker capacity. Pascal is a BC icon, as winemaker of Osoyoos LaRose since its inception, and consulting on some of the highest-level wines in the province. Pascal came to BC following a very illustrious career in Bordeaux, being drawn in by the exceptional quality and terroir offered in the southern Okanagan Valley. Pascal has been instrumental in helping us make our wines to a quality level beyond anything else we’ve ever done.
Joining us next week as winemaker will be Phil Glazebrook. Phil was an assistant winemaker at Church & State for about 5 years, before moving to Road 13 as assistant winemaker for another 5 years. In that time, he got married and had two children. When we caught up recently, he mentioned he was ready to move into a full winemaker position, and we knew it was a perfect fit. Phil will continue under Pascal’s direction for a period as he settles in the role, and to continue the programs and regimes we’ve been developing over the past two growing seasons. As we launch Second Chapter, Phil is joining us for what is his second chapter, both rejoining the team, and moving into the winemaker position.
So here we are, almost exactly a year later, with some amazing wines in the bottle, a great group working together again, and a cellar that’s set up to produce wines that truly over deliver.
Thank you to everyone who’s been patient with us as we get going again, and we look forward to sharing our new wines and club with you on Thursday, November 15th at scwines.ca. We hope you join us as we start our Second Chapter.
The Pullen Family