Table Flip Vineyard is a blog that will put a smile on your face. If you’re a wine fan odds are high that you’ve considered starting a winery. Most likely the idea arose while at a wine tasting, sitting on the back patio of a beautiful sprawling vineyard. After sobering up though, you realize running a vineyard takes discipline, capital, skill, patience and good luck.
The folks behind Table Flip Vineyard bypassed the whole sobering up part and decided to give the winery thing a go. Based in Creemore, Ontario, Canada, their blog is a funny, unpretentious look at the winemaking process. They admit that they’re novices and that’s the reason you cheer them on. Brendan from Table Flip was nice enough to answer some questions via email about the blog, winemaking and making a “nerdy” product.
Rood (R): What is it about starting a vineyard that is so appealing?
Tableflip (TF): Starting a vineyard is so appealing because it allows you to quell an entrepreneurial voice that hides in the back of everyone’s head and allows you to do it while producing something that interests and drives you. Wine, like many alcoholic beverages, is such a situational drink that says a lot about you. Ordering a drink at a restaurant sends such a strong signal whether it is a glass of Baco Noir or a rum and coke. Being able to build your own beverage from scratch is a great way to express your personality.
R: What made you finally decide to take the plunge and start your own?
TF: Going on wine tours sparked it for us. Seeing the smaller vineyards and the passion they put into their brands drew us in. Opportunity knocked as we had some space at a property up north so we decided to jump on it and see what we could make.
R: Do you live on the property? If so, did you buy it for this purpose?
TF: We live in Toronto and travel up on weekends. We had the property already as a weekend home but never made the connection of being able to grow wine until we decided to take the plunge. I have to say, we foolishly made the decision to start a vineyard before we realized we already had a location.
R:How much time do you spend per week? Do you still have day jobs? How many of you are there?
TF: We spend one long day per week at the vineyard typically. There is a core group of a few of us plus some good friends who help out when available. Jenn, Chris, Jane, Wylie, and myself make up our core however the likes of Alex, Marnie, Derek, Terri-Lyyn, and Sian pitch in as well.
R: What are you using for guidance?
TF: The great and powerful Google has guided plus the odd book, magazine article, and conversations with those better educated than us. We’re all pretty ravenous readers, which helps.
R: How long is the growing season in your part of Canada (Creemore, ON)?
TF: Creemore has a short growing season and only the sturdiest grapes can survive its cold winters. It limited our choices of varietals however vineyards are starting to pop up in the area now as more cold weather grapes are developed. In a few years, it could become a nice little area for wine.
R: You mentioned the nerdiness of the wine on the site. Would you say noir is the nerdiest grape? How are you guys nerdy?
TF: While I can’t attest to the grape’s personality, I can without a doubt tell you we are all pretty big nerds. Myself, I am a HUGE history buff and we have been known to have the odd wine night while watching Game of Thrones. Our logo itself is actually based off of the ASCII art of a table being flipped. Whether it’s horror movies for Jenn, or curling for Chris, we all have that one big obsession that labels us clearly as nerds. (Note from Roodonfood: Do not challenge Canada in the sport of Curling, they will crush you.)
R: You’ve written that grapes should yield in about 3-5 years. That’s a long time to wait. How are you keeping busy in the mean time?
TF: While there is no shortage of work, I’m sure there will be plenty of thumb-twiddling and staring blankly at each other, especially during the winter. I guess we will just have to bide our time by trying out the competition in great volume and ferocity.
R: I love Noirs. What foods do you recommend paired with them? What are some other brands/vineyards you enjoy?
TF: Baco Noir is an every day wine, a working-man’s wine. It pairs beautifully with burgers, pizza, chicken wings, and hangovers. It not very intense and so should be paired with flavors that aren’t intense as well. BBQ and some good companionship is the punchline. Henry of Pelham makes a great Baco Noir. My favorite wines if I’m strapped for cash though is the Trius Dry Riesling. If money’s no object, Duckhorn makes a dynamite Merlot.
R: What would you say are the next benchmarks to ensure you’re on the right track?
TF: I guess our biggest concern is having the vines survive the winter. Temperatures can drop into the teeth-chattering -30s in our area. If they can survive the winter… we’ll drink to early success.
R: Any special steps you’ll be taking come the fall and winter?
TF: We’ve read of quite a few ways to “winterize” the grapes but the most accessible way seems to be to cover the vines in straw or even burying the vines in the earth itself. We haven’t decided on our final method, but rest assured it will be on a shoestring.
Keep up with Table Flip Vineyard progress here.
Be sure to check out RoodonFood’s wine and beer reviews as well.