Sage Hayward Vineyards is found on Saturna in the Southern Gulf Islands, between Vancouver and Vancouver Island. The estate is planted across the Island’s south flank on seventy-six of British Columbia’s most beautiful acres. Behind us a steep expanse of ridges and cliffs descends from the peak of Mt. Warburton Pike. Before us is Plumper Sound, a little finger of the Pacific Ocean that runs between us and Pender Island. Nestled between sheer cliffs and ocean currents, our vines enjoy unique climatic conditions tailored to their special growing requirements.
The first vines were planted here in 1995, making it one of the oldest vineyards in the coastal region. They are rooted in dense soil, a complex of sand and loam resting on clay permeated with ancient marine sediment. These rich compounds infuse our terroir with a hint of the Salish Sea. To the north is Brown’s Ridge, a near-vertical exposure of massive sandstone. Its steep bluffs create a heat trap that benefits the fields below, radiating additional warmth down onto the ripening grapes. The soil remains saturated through the winter months and then gradually dries out through the rest of the year until the rains begin again in late fall. Fir, arbutus and juniper trees are abundant; lavender, rosemary, yarrow and sage grow around the vineyard perimeter alongside blackberries and wild roses.
The climate here is designated cool maritime Mediterranean: mild, wet winters and warm, dry summers with enough growing-degree days to support several vinifera varieties. Pinot noir, Pinot gris and Pinot meunier all flourish here, along with Gewurztraminer and Chardonnay. From these vines, select fruit is hand-picked and pressed to create Pinot noir, Pinot gris, Nuance (our aromatic white blend), and Camellia a dry Rosé. In 2023 we will release our Pinot noir Reserve and Verve, a traditional method sparkling wine, both from our 2021 vintage.
This unique and remarkable property is of utmost importance to the Sage Hayward team. It is managed attentively and thoughtfully, with all actions measured against the long-term health and vitality of our soil, our island ecosystem and our fruit. It is said you grow vineyards for your grandchildren, a statement which gives perspective to every decision. Our vineyard is populated by bees who forage in the old orchard amongst the flowers, and sheep who eat weeds and deposit fertilizer as they meander up and down the rows. We augment our soil with seaweed and compost to nourish the vines. Clover, mustard and vetch are planted as cover crops to discourage invasive plants and fix nitrogen. Falcons and owls are encouraged as predators, and our vineyard dog, Kaiya, keeps the vole population in check. Chemical herbicides and pesticides will never be used here – instead of introducing harmful elements, we work to find natural solutions that maintain a balanced ecosystem. Healthy soil is the beginning and end of our farming practices.
There’s no community quite like a small island. Whatever the disparate backgrounds and interests of its inhabitants, we are all bound together by the facts of life that circumscribe our daily routines. Other Canadians get to commiserate about the weather but we have a whole additional host of topics to unite (and divide) us: the ferry system, the state of the roads, the frustration of intermittent internet service, and the challenge of procurement – everything from groceries to oil filters to those pesky quarter-inch lag bolts that you’re always one short of.
There is also no community that comes together like a small island. We want to say a huge THANK YOU to all Saturnalians for their support and encouragement – it means the world to us.