News From the Vardo

Opening for the season May 15!

It's time to open for the season once again.  We will be open Friday night from 5 to 8 (please call to confirm), Saturday and Sunday from 11 to 5.  All other days by reservation.

 

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Whirlwind of Activity Ushers in 2017

Well then... a moment to breathe!  Let's catch up.

It has been a fantastic start to the 2017 season for Blue Gypsy Wines with unprecedented orders from the LCBO, pending acceptance of our wine cases into the Ontario Grocery Store program, and of course, new signs on Highway 416 and County Road 43 bringing new customers to the door.

It all started in April when we did a sampling for the LCBO Eastern Regional Office quarterly meeting.  We were able to provide samples to 35 managers.  Imagine my shock when we got home to orders for over 70 cases!

The patio is open.  Soon, lattice will be added to the roof which will provide shade.  Next year, corrugated vinyl or fiberglass will be added to provide a permanent, waterproof covering.

We've been uncluttering the general area to make room for the additional fermentation vats that we will need to meet the demands.  It's hard to imagine that after only 5 years of operation, we will go from having started making 1000 litres of wine to a project 12000 to 15000 this year.  It boggles the mind!

On the horizon, planning has started for the new winery building which we hope to construct in the next 2 years.  You see, we want to start hosting events indoors where we are not weather dependent.  The winery will be on the ground floor and we will live above it.  There are many advantages to this, including that we will be able to open all week.  More on that to come.

Look for Claire at local Farmers' markets this summer!

That's everything for now.  Remember, for the most up-to-date information about the winery, please visit the Facebook site.  We are also on Twitter and Instagram.

Cheers
Claire and Louis

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We will no longer use Canada Post to ship Wine. Here's why...

As a result of our (final) poor experience with Canada Post, we will be using another carrier to deliver our wine in the future.
This may result in higher costs, but we will attempt to hold the same pricing to our customers.

When a company such as Canada Post pledges to provide a service, it is a reasonable expectation that they do so in a manner that displays integrity and a willingness to go the extra mile.

In the past 2 years, Canada Post has destroyed or damaged over 20 bottles of wine. This is approximately 1 in 4 shipments. Although we are charged for insurance (with no option to decline), we are unable to collect any of it because of Canada Post's rules regarding the shipment of fragile items. It should be noted that NO ITEM considered to be fragile is covered. Even if you buy insurance, you will not be compensated for loss or damage solely because it is fragile.

This situation proves to me that Canada Post does not have any confidence in its carriers and staff to handle parcels marked 'FRAGILE' with any level of care. This saddens me. It also angers me that Canada Post chooses to pass this cost of this incompetence on to its customers by refusing to compensate them for damage or loss THEY cause.

I have decided to write to the Minister (to be named) in charge of Canada Post and request that they look into this. I am tired of being 'ripped off' and I am tired of having my clients disappointed when their shipment is late, lost, or destroyed.

With the holiday season approaching, we hope you will consider choosing our wine as gifts for you, your friends, and your family. We promise to use another carrier to ensure that your gifts arrive on time and intact.

Thanks for your confidence.

Louis and Claire
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New stone on the driveway

Just a quick note to advise you to drive slowly on the the way up the laneway.  We just put down new gravel and it is still a bit loose.  Be extra careful if you are riding a motorcycle.
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Limited Release - 7-Year old oaked cherry wine - ONLY while supplies last


Every year, we produce 50 bottles of oaked cherry wine.  We take our regular cherry wine that has been aging and put approximately 25 litres into a Hungarian Oak barrel, where it stays for 1 year.  This process produces a smooth taste that some have compared to a light port.


Once these bottles are gone, there will be no more until next Christmas.
These will likely sell out in a month, so if you plan on picking some up, please do it earlier than later to avoid disappointment.


375ml - $30 All taxes and deposit included

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613 Night Market - Spring 2015 - May 2, 2015 - Ottawa Convention Centre

Looks like we're going to try a new show in Ottawa.  We won't be allowed to sample or sell our wine, but we will be selling our WINE VINEGARS.

The investment is very reasonable, although we do need to bring a good amount of stock with us.

This will be a good way of introducing our winery to the Ottawa market in our most popular demographic.
People won't get to taste the wines, but we hope we can tempt them to come visit.
In the very least, we get listed as a vendor, our logo is out there and who knows? We might even sell some vinegar.

Estimates are that 5000 people will walk through the door during the 8 hours it is open.  If I can convince 5% of those people to make the trip, that's 250 new faces who walk in the door of the winery.

This show comes at a perfect time for us as we are just getting ready to open the doors for the season.  The 1000 Islands Wine and Food show follows just 4 weeks later, so it should be a healthy kick-off to 2015.

_______________________________________________________

Louis Gaal is the winemaker (and spouse of the ever patient Claire Faguy) at Blue Gypsy Wines in Oxford Mills, Ontario Canada, 45 minutes south of Ottawa. You can find this raving lunatic using the BlueGypsyWines Facebook or Twitter account. Visit them on the web at: www.BlueGypsyWines.com

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Another year, another website

After messing around with the Wordpress version of our website, I finally accepted the fact that I needed to start investing in a real platform for our business.

A friend introduced me to Shopify.

I thought I would be simply referring buyers to the Shopify store, but it turns out to be so much more!

It's a refreshing change and I think you will like the new look. I know you will like the ease of using the new store!

As a bonus, Shopify is Canadian, head office right here in Ottawa.

Nice platform, nice folks to work with, excellent experience.

If you want to shop in person, we will be trying something new this year and opening on December 20 (11-5) and 21 (1-5).

 

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Allergies: Nature is really kicking my backside this year

When I was a kid, I could have rolled in the grass for hours... oh wait, I did, and not suffer the least bit from allergies. It should also be noted that when I was a kid (at least according to my selective memory) I could run far, work long hours and stay out all night without consequence. Well, no more. My current reality is that allergies are absolutely kicking my sorry beehind up and down the field, specifically, the 62 acres of field that make up Blue Gypsy Wines, just south of Ottawa Ontario Canada. I typically start taking allergy medication in May and go through to the first frost. One in the morning has been fine most years, but not this one. By the time noon rolls around, my eyes are itching and my sinuses start to ache. By mid-afternoon, the pressure gets to be uncomfortable. Being a man, I naturally think I am tougher than the allergy. To quote the that irreverent philosopher Spock (of Vulcan, not the Doctor): "I control the pain, it does not control me." Pfffft. Reaching the end of my tolerance, I decided to whine to my wonderful herbalist friend Rebecca Graves. Rebecca is the Herb Wife http://www.canada-shops.com/stores/herbwife/ an awesome herbalist and all-around sweetheart. She supplies us with most if not all of our soap, salves, muscle rubs, etc. I love the fact that she makes EVERYTHING in small batches, often to order. I finally broke down and sent her a Facebook message asking her if she could help me out. She asked me to describe my symptoms. After some reflection and serious consideration, I wrote back: "I feel like crap." In my stuffed up head, I could hear her respond in her lovely British accent, "Yes, I gathered that," she said, "but try to be a bit more specific." So, I went through the whole story about how I would be fine until noon and by then my eyes would be itching so badly I could barely stop rubbing them. How my sinuses would start to throb and if I didn't take something right away, the pain would move across the top of my head and down my neck rendering me about as useful to society as screen door on the moon. I could see her shaking her head... A few minutes later, I received the response I was hoping for. "I'll put something together for you and bring it by the winery tonight." My sinuses jumped for joy. That night, she stopped by with a tea blend, complete with hand-written label giving me explicit instructions which I read through my swollen, blurry vision. "It won't do you any good if it stays in the bag. Oh, and the flavour may not be great. Just add some honey." "That won't be an issue." I said as I hugged the little bag like Gollum hugged the ring... Rebecca then went out in the field to gather some armloads of the numerous herbs we have growing wild all over the place. Next morning, I started drinking the tea. Just to make the experimental data relevant, I skipped the regular antihistamine. I actually felt pretty good. In fact, I felt SO good, that I decided to test this little bag of miracles by mowing 2 acres of goldenrod and assorted other nasties, with the full expectation of needing to run for the antihistamines. OK, that did push it, but honestly, nothing like I usually experience. Yes, I did take an antihistamine after that, but I was treating mild pain and not a 3-alarm pounding migraine. It's Day 4 now and I think I am beginning to stabilize. The pressure is light, actually bearable for now. We'll see how it is in a week or so, but if it keeps up like this, I am going to be a MUCH happier winemaker. Oh, I neglected to mention that I actually liked the taste of the tea, even without honey. Rebecca sells her herbal blends and assorted other wares online as well. If you like to get in touch with her, drop in on her Herb Wife website at http://www.canada-shops.com/stores/herbwife/ If you do, please let her know you read about it here! ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Louis Gaal is the winemaker (and spouse of the ever patient Claire Faguy) at Blue Gypsy Wines in Oxford Mills, Ontario Canada, 45 minutes south of Ottawa. You can find this raving lunatic using the BlueGypsyWines Facebook or Twitter account. Visit them on the web as well at www.BlueGypsyWines.com
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You know it's time to change the system when...

... something is absolutely ridiculous, but accepted as normal because "that's how the regulations are written." I've had a couple of days to cool off, but it's really not helping. For those unfamiliar with the saga, it began with the simple request: "How can I sell wine to a local restaurant?" I contacted the LCBO. Three weeks (or so) later, they tell me it's not their jurisdiction; call the AGCO. I contacted the AGCO. Two weeks later(or so) later, they tell me it's not their jurisdiction; call the LCBO. (Turns out that the AGCO was correct) Frustrated, I contact my Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) Steve Clark. His right-hand man Micheal always gets answers when I can't. We LOVE Steve and Micheal. They contact the LCBO. 24 hours later, they are told it's not their jurisdiction; call the AGCO. I feel like I'm in an Abbott and Costello skit. THIRD BASE! They contact the AGCO. 48 hours later (notice the shorter response times???), they send him a note, copied to me showing the legislation and why it really is the LCBO's jurisdiction. I CALL the LCBO this time using the info from the AGCO (thank you Lyn). I finally get an answer to the question, but it leaves me stunned and amazed at the stupidity of it. Sit down while you read this. Let me start by saying we strive to leave as little of a footprint as possible. We generate only the electricity we need. We source fruit as close as possible to the winery, etc. The nice lady at the LCBO tells me that in order to sell wine to a restaurant, I need to get the order and submit it to the LCBO. Then I need to send the wine to the LCBO head office in Toronto. They will process the order and ship it to the restaurant. The reason I am stunned and amazed is because the restaurant in question is 3 KILOMETRES from the winery. To sell the restaurant my wine, it needs to take a 600 KILOMETRE DETOUR. When Is topped laughing (the LCBO lady was NOT amused, at least, not as much as I), she says to me "I understand the logistical challenges, but that's the way the legislation is written." More laughing on my part. Silence on the other end of the line. THEN, she asks me if I want to place an order! REALLY??? She seems surprised when I reply that no, I won't be placing an order becauser that is the most ridiculous process I have EVER heard of. I mention that I only make $1 or so a bottle, and the LCBO makes close to $6. I can't afford to ship it to Toronto and back. Imagine the carbon miles? "No, it's the client who pays that." She can't see me banging my head on the desk... That would add nearly $4 a bottle to the cost. She was unfazed. I offered to drive it to the local LCBO instead. "They wouldn't know what to do with it since it's not in the system." Could they put it in the system? "No, by regulations it has to be done by head office." If I send you the info, could you put it into the system? "Yes, but it needs to go through the regular process." I know this is in excess of 3 months since we're trying to get our Apple wine in the LCBO (although I'm not sure why...). Once again, I reiterate how insane this process is. Silence on the other end of the line. Something is very, very wrong with this system. I send this to my MPP... he doesn't believe me! Well, he does, but admittedly, it sounds insane. Apparently, the main reason I can't simply drop off the wine and report it is because the LCBO appears to think wineries incapable of filling out paperwork showing a direct delivery to a licensee. After all the practice they give us every month, as far as paperwork goes, you'd think we were ROCKET SCIENTISTS... What about a simple template that we could fill out? So there you have it. Unless you are in Downtown Toronto, it's not very likely that you'll see a small (non-VQA) winery's product in your local restaurant. Call your MPP. Let them know that it makes no sense that a wine from California or Europe can get to the table easier than a local wine. I'm making Blueberry wine this weekend using fine wild blueberries from North Ontario. I would love to serve it to you with dinner, but unless you buy it directly from the winery, you'll need to buy something else. Have an excellent weekend! ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Louis Gaal is the winemaker (and spouse of the ever patient Claire Faguy) at Blue Gypsy Wines in Oxford Mills, Ontario Canada, 45 minutes south of Ottawa. You can find this raving lunatic using the BlueGypsyWines Facebook or Twitter account. Visit them on the web as well at www.BlueGypsyWines.com
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Let the winemaking madness begin as soon as...

It's one of those weeks where I feel like Rabbit from Winnie the Pooh; running around in circles trying to get everything organized. It's time to start making the 2012 wild blueberry wine, but the production room still needs some work. I have buckets and barrels in there because I haven't had the time to finish the cold room yet. As a business analyst/project manager (in the job that actually pays the bills), I like to have a plan. Well, several really. In the project management world, there are things called dependancies. This means that before you can do task X, you need to complete task Y. It also takes into account how long a task will take to complete. For example, it takes a minimum of 3 consecutive passes for your well to be certified potable. That means at least 3 weeks. I always thought it made sense to finish the production area before the cold room, but I am quickly beginning to see the error of that decision. Looks like that plan is going to switch around a bit, if only to make some room! I believe I will concentrate on the cold room. Once the cold room is 'done' I can move the barrels in there and free up space in the production area, which will allow me to finish the walls without having to perform gold medal gymnastics. You think jumping around with a ribbon is tough? Try it while holding a 4 X 8 sheet of gyproc... On the upside, I've discovered that I'm a lot more flexible than I previously thought. Once the walls are done, I can actually move production into the production room. Of course, visitors do seem to like seeing the barrels percolating away in the tasting room. Still, it will be nice to have things in order. At least I will be able to throw open those doors and conduct tours. Ah, back to work.
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