Laughing Stock Vineyards

No joke.

What is it about wine that makes intelligent and sane people give up successful lives to kick dirt around and clean tanks and barrels? It is not a question easily answered, but one thing is true: those who enter the wine world driven by passion end up making the best wine. Cynthia and David Enns of Laughing Stock Vineyards are a classic example, having given up accomplished careers in the investment industry to become farmers and winemakers. They have now completed their 10th vintage, and their passion remains strong while the already very good wines keep getting better and better.

So why do rational people do irrational things when it comes to wine? “Perhaps it is the pursuit of adventure, or maybe we just got tired of wearing suits!” says Cynthia. “When we decided to start a winery, our colleagues thought we were crazy. The name is a tongue-in-cheek reference to our previous careers and the fact that we wake up every day with the motivation not to live up to our name.”

For David, it is about creativity. “We felt the need to be creative but still be able to use our existing skills in business and science—and still make a living,” he says. Even though it sounds clichéd, there is something about the ridiculous amount of hard work in growing grapes and making wines that does make the irrational rational.

MONTECRISTO Magazine: Laughing Stock Vineyards

David and Cynthia regularly taste benchmark wines from around the world and look at what they can do in the vineyard and cellar to keep improving. “It took us 10 years to figure out that we are making wines that are from B.C. and not to try to recreate U.S. or French wines,” says David. “We need to embrace the unique character the Okanagan Valley offers. The more we focus on this, the better the wines will become.”

The best wines are also made by those who are the most closely involved. The vineyard managers with dirt on their boots who can tell you about every nook and cranny of the vineyard and the winemakers with red wine-stained hands are going to be that much more intimate with their wines. “We are one of a few wineries where the owners also grow the grapes and make the wine,” says Cynthia. “It’s not just about writing cheques—it’s about doing it. I think it ties us to the business both financially and emotionally, at every level. I was surprised at how grounding it was to be involved with growing and being more connected to the nature cycle. A nice contrast to days of pinstripes and elevators.”

The Laughing Stock brand has a fun feel to it; the labels show tickertape stock prices wrapping around the bottles, taken the day the grapes are harvested. Coming as no surprise to the brains behind the business, this has created a handy tie to their past and a great market for corporate gifts in the financial industry. Production has reached around 6,000 cases led by Portfolio, the flagship Bordeaux variety blend. Paying homage to their background, the Blind Trust wines—a red and a white—are named after a kind of financial trust in which the executors have full discretion over the assets, and the trust beneficiaries have no knowledge of the holdings of the trust. As such, the label advises drinkers that “the winemaker has full discretion over the blend, so you’ll just have to trust us.”

It may have been a big leap of faith from the comfort of the office tower to the harsh elements of the vineyard 10 years ago, but for David and Cynthia Enns, that world now seems a lifetime away. Their passion for producing great wine is stronger than ever, something that will ensure success and likely prove that the irrational jump was quite sane after all.

Post Date:

September 30, 2013