40 Knots Estate Winery located in Comox on Vancouver was established in 2005 on 24 lush coastal acres in the heart of the Comox Valley. The winery was purchased by Brenda Hetman-Craig and Layne Craig in July 2014
The name comes from the 40 Knots winds from the Strait of Georgia. These winds help keep the grapes dry in the vineyard. The wineries founder was a tugboat captain, 40 knots at sea, is a time to come in to land and enjoy a nice bottle of wine. 40 Knots' logo has swallows which are seen in the vineyard and they depict homecoming to a sailor.
Barbara and I visited the winery this summer (2019) and were most impressed by the winery. You can read about that visit here.
We went home from the winery with a number of fine wines including a bottle of 2017 Pinot Gris Botrytis Trie Emily.
Botrytis also known as "noble rot," it is a beneficial mold that grows on ripe wine grapes in the vineyard under specific climatic conditions. Botrytised dessert wines or “stickies” are some of the most sought after and expensive wines in the world. Botrytised wines can be made from many different varieties. The most important requirements for selection of the varieties to be utilized in Botrytis wines are colour, skin thickness, bunch size & density and ripening time. The main varieties used are Semillon, Riesling and Chenin Blanc.
Layne Craig co-owner ( along with his wife Brenda) and winemaker chose Pinot Gris.
Making a Botrytis wine begins and ends in the vineyard. It comes with a certain amount of risk, requiring perfect weather conditions. That is misty, damp mornings and warm, sunny afternoons. There is no certainty that the Botrytis rot will set in at the period of grape ripening – too early and the rot will ruin a whole crop. Many other factors including reaching optimum rot level and quantity picked that also need to be considered.
Once the fungus forms it attacks the skins of the grapes slowly developing and acting as a replacement skin with a porous nature that promotes the evaporation of water from the grapes. Botrytis cinerea also metabolites some of the acids within the grapes resulting in berries rich in sugar content with a stable level of acidity. Botrytis cinerea also imparts other compounds and properties on the grapes it infects – most notably a higher level of glycogen. Picking of Botrytis infecting grapes usually requires individual bunch selection, picking of perfectly ripe, individual berries may take place.
Large quantities of grapes are required in the winery to produce small quantities of botrytised wine. The end result is a very sweat highly sought after wine.
Barbara and I celebrated the new year with the 40 Knots 2017 Pinot Gris Botrytis. An excellent way to start a new year. It also bought back memories of our stay in Parksville and our most enjoyable visit to 4o Knots.
Trie Emily has a strong strawberry flavour. It is very light and quite sweet. A very impressive wine.