Stoneboat Vineyards relies on thoughtful farming in winemaking process

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      Stoneboat Vineyards (356 Orchard Grove Lane, Oliver)

      Tim Martiniuk has a lofty title as cofounder and general manager of Stoneboat Vineyards. But in a small family business, that doesn’t mean he gets to avoid the grunt work.

      “I’ll be out mowing the lawn one day and doing paperwork the next,” Martiniuk told the Straight. “The wine business requires a lot of hard work. But at the end of the day, we all consider ourselves really lucky to be in an agricultural business and to be able to be creating a fantastic product that people enjoy so much.”

      Martiniuk’s parents, Lanny and Julie, are two of Oliver’s wine pioneers. Lanny has been growing grapes for 33 years and, according to Tim, still gets into the vineyard at 6 a.m.

      “We follow a philosophy that Dad calls ‘thoughtful farming’,” he said. “We aim always to achieve balance in the vineyards so that nature takes care of the problems that you might otherwise be combatting.”

      At Stoneboat Vineyards, there’s a focus on minimizing the use of chemicals. Martiniuk said that is because any intervention with vines, grapes, or wine can interfere with the honest expression of the fruit.

      He quipped that after decades of growing fruit, the family finally opened its winery in 2005 when there were “sufficient resources”—i.e., children—to perform the labour.

      Martiniuk and his two brothers, senior foreman Chris and founding winemaker Jay, have both since found time to obtain university degrees.

      “Jay is doing his master’s degree at UBC and is working at the Wine Research Centre,” Martiniuk said. “He’s doing studies of native yeasts in our vineyards.”

      Rather than applying commercial yeasts, Martiniuk said that Stoneboat sometimes relies on yeasts already present on the grapes, particularly with Pinot Noir. Jay is examining genomic sequencing of these wild yeasts.

      “There are multiple strains of yeast that are not commercially available and that are in our vineyards,” Martiniuk said. “That’s an exciting thing for us because it’s one way of expressing the terroir. We’re still learning more about it.”

      Stoneboat’s winemaker, Bill Adams, has continued the winery's noninterventionist tradition. The wine shop is in a refurbished 1940s farmhouse that includes a grand piano.

      The winery’s namesake is an old farming tool called a stoneboat, which resembles a sled.

      “You drag it behind a horse or tractor when you’re picking rocks off the land—and pile them on the stoneboat” Martiniuk said. “That was how our home vineyard was first cleared back in the 1950s when it was an orchard.”

      Signature wine: “Our Pinot Noir and our Pinot Gris are really Stoneboat hallmarks because they’re so expressive and so honest,” Martiniuk said. “They’re two of the wines that we’re best known for.”