BC’s Movers and Shakers

I previously examined a number of the trending wines from Ontario.  This week I will identify a similar group of wines that are on top of the wine scene in British Columbia.  The wineries presented here are based on my own interpretation of critic reviews and award results over the past year.  The information presented about each winery has been gathered from the winery web site.

Unfortunately, none of this particular group of wines is available in liquor or wine stores outside of B.C., but a number of them are accessible from the winery web sites.

The wineries are presented in alphabetical order.  Though the critically acclaimed wines are presented, I doubt you would be disappointed in any of the wines offered from these establishments.

Blasted Church Vineyards

The winery is on a former church site so they focus their story on local folklore; the blasting of a local church with dynamite in order to move it from one location to another. The owners have played out the church theme well, in everything from the wine names and labels to the organization of their web site.

Notable wines:

  • 2016 Merlot – $27
  • 2017 Pinot Noir – Sold out
  • 2012 OMFG (white) – $40

Cedar Creek Estate Winery

Cedar Creek has been Canada’s “Winery of the Year” twice.  Winemaker Taylor Whelan is building upon three decades of winemaking history and defining a new chapter with estate-grown, organic wines.  Both the Home Block and Cedar Creek estate vineyards have been officially certified organic following a three-year conversion of the estate’s viticulture and winemaking practices. For the Kelowna winery, it was a three-year conversion process, accredited by Ecocert Canada, which began in August of 2016.

Because of planting decisions made in the early 1990’s, they now have 30-year-old vines at the heart of everything they do.

Notable wines:

  • 2018 Chardonnay – $19
  • 2018 Platinum Block 7 Pinot Gris  – $30
  • 2018 Platinum Block 3 Riesling  – $30
  • 2017 Platinum Riesling Icewine  – $58
  • 2017 Platinum Haynes Creek Vineyard Syrah  – $50
  • 2017 Pinot Noir 2017 – $27

Deep Roots Winery

Deep Roots is a family owned and operated winery perched on the clay cliffs above Okanagan Lake on the Naramata Bench.

The family has been farming the land around the winery for 100 years, spanning four generations. After many years of selling grapes to other wineries they produced their first vintage in 2012.

They have two vineyards at two sites on the Naramata Bench: the Hardman Vineyard and Rayner’s Vineyard.

The Hardman Vineyard is home to nine acres where they grow Muscat, Gamay, Merlot, and Malbec. The Rayner property is home to eleven acres of vines including Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Malbec, and Syrah.

Both of these farms were planted with fruit orchards for much of the previous century, which has contributed to the unique and rich terroir of the area. All of the vineyard work is done by hand.

Notable wines:

  • 2017 Syrah – Sold out
  • 2016 Parentage Red – Sold out
  • 2017 Malbec – Sold out

Fort Berens Estate Winery

Fort Berens Estate Winery is a culmination of the dreams, vision and pioneering spirit of several entrepreneurs. The winery is owned by a team of eight individuals who share a common belief in the incredible winemaking potential of British Columbia’s Fraser Canyon and a shared vision to make Fort Berens into one of Canada’s leading producers of fine wine.

Notable wines:

  • 2017 Cabernet Franc – $28
  • 2017 Cabernet Franc Reserve  – $32
  • 2017 Pinot Noir Reserve – $30
  • 2017 Meritage  – $26
  • 2017 Meritage Reserve  – $32
  • 2017 Red Gold  – $45
  • 2018 Pinot Gris – Sold out
  • 2018 Chardonnay – $20
  • 2017 White Gold Chardonnay  – $26
  • 2018 Riesling Reserve  – $24

Gold Hill Winery

Gold Hill opened in 2009.  The founders, brothers Sant and Gurbachan Gill, are farmers from the Indus Valley region.

Sant moved to B.C. as a 20-year-old. He headed straight for the Golden Mile fruit belt and began growing. His younger brother, Gurbachan, soon followed. The brothers grew grapes for a number of wineries from their home vineyards, in their natural element. They understood the area’s microclimate and its dry, rocky soil to perfection.

In time, they bought land and planted vines. Soon they had a healthy business selling grapes to a growing number of notable B.C. wineries–but they had bigger plans for their land.

In 2009, Sant and Gurbachan decided to open a winery with the support of their family. For the location, they chose their prime vineyard on the slopes of a hill along the Golden Mile, between Oliver and Osoyoos.

They partnered with winemaker Philip Soo, a well-respected wine consultant with a terroir-driven approach and scores of great wines to his credit.

Gold Hill’s inaugural 2009 Cabernet Franc was honoured with the prestigious Lieutenant Governor’s Award of Excellence in 2012.

Notable wines:

  • 2013 Syrah – Sold out
  • 2014 Syrah – $35
  • 2013 Merlot – Sold out
  • 2014 Cabernet Franc – $35

Hillside Winery

Grow the best quality fruit possible, pick at optimum physiological ripeness, ferment cool, and intervene with nature only when necessary are the objectives of Hillside. The temptation to constantly “fiddle” and “improve upon” Mother Nature is really more about manufacturing. Natural, beautiful wine is not manufactured—rather, it is carefully guided through natural phases to become the glorious essence of the effects of sun and soil on specific grape varieties.

It is their belief that great wines start in the vineyard, and to this end, they use only the best quality fruit available from their twenty acres of grapes densely planted on hillside terraces surrounding the winery. They also have partnerships with select vineyards along the Naramata Bench.

They are committed to producing hand-crafted, naturally fruit-forward, well-balanced wines that represent the true character of the grapes. The wine is fermented and aged in many small batches to maintain the varietal character and integrity of each grape type and vineyard.

Cool temperature fermentations for the whites using state of the art steel fermenters allow them to produce intensely aromatic and flavourful wines that captivate the senses. More traditional techniques are applied to the reds involving open top fermenters, French and American oak barrels, and a very hands-on winemaking team, resulting in rich, classic style wines that have consistently won accolades from wine judges.

Notable wines:

  • 2016 Cabernet Franc – Available to their wine club members only
  • 2016 Merlot Malbec – $26

Kitsch Wines

The Kitsch family’s Okanagan roots stretch back to 1910, when Kelowna was still a small, lakefront pioneer settlement. Four generations later, this entrepreneurial family takes great pride in helping to shape the past and the future of the Okanagan Valley.

Founders Ria and Trent Kitsch have blended their passion for wine and creative entrepreneurship to produce premium, sustainably-grown wines. With a little help from some friends, the young family transformed overgrown fields into lush vineyards, set on historic apple orchards that originally served as the Kelowna Land and Orchards (KLO) headquarters.

Notable wines:

  • 2017 5 Barrel Pinot Noir – $69
  • 2018 Maria’s Block Riesling – $25

Lake Breeze Vineyards

The wines of Lake Breeze are known to be clean, crisp and fruit driven in style.  They endeavour to take the natural expression of the grape and transfer it to the bottle with as little intervention as possible. 

The newly introduced Lake Breeze Cellar Series is a luxurious collection. Each varietal pays tribute to the regional wind that embodies its unique winemaking style.

In 2016 they introduced an additional premium wine made by Garron Elmes under the MacIntyre Heritage Reserve label. These wines are a bold and prideful celebration.

Notable wines

  • 2017 Aura – Pinot Noir – Sold out
  • 2016 Mistral – Syrah – Sold out

Lakeside Cellars

Lakeside Cellars is situated on the eastern shores of Lake Osoyoos.  The estate is comprised of a 14-acre parcel of land that was originally a vast cattle and agriculture enterprise dating back to 1882. In 2015, Harbans and Harkesh Dhaliwal purchased the historical landmark and resting place of the old Haynes Homestead.

Lakeside now also sits on the site of the first commercial orchard owned and planted by Leslie Hill. The Hill Ranch stretched 1,100 acres on the eastern slop around Lake Osoyoos. Orchards of cherries, apricots, nectarines, plums, prunes, peaches, pears and apples were the first planted in the Okanagan north of the U.S. border.

Upon purchasing the lakeshore property in 2015, the Dhaliwals inherited old-vine plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc planted in 1998. Their mission was to continue the tradition of agriculture on the property and guide its rich history towards the current Okanagan lifestyle.

Notable wines:

  • 2016 Portage Red, Okanagan Valley- $24
  • 2016 Syrah, Okanagan Valley – $26
  • 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, Okanagan Valley – $26
  • 2016 Cabernet Franc, Okanagan Valley – $28

Martin’s Lane Winery

The winery consists of three tiny estate vineyards.  They take a micro view of the vineyard and think about wines right down to the single block or vine. They consider their winemaking approach gentle and guiding.  The wines are tended, harvested and crafted by hand.  They don’t use a single pump as they believe this brings out elegant and complex expressions of Pinot Noir and Riesling.

Notable wines:

  • 2016 Simes Vineyard Riesling – Sold out
  • 2016 Naramata Ranch Vineyard Riesling – Sold out
  • 2016 Frtizi’s Vineyard Riesling – Sold out
  • 2014 Simes Vineyard Pinot Noir – $100
  • 2015 Simes Vineyard Pinot Noir – $100
  • 2015 DeHart Vineyard Pinot Noir – $100
  • 2015 Fritzi’s Vineyard Pinot Noir – $150
  • 2015 Naramata Ranch Vineyard Pinot Noir – Sold out

Mission Hill Family Estate

Making great wines and providing a special place where people can enjoy them is the aim of Mission Hill. They want their winery to be a refuge from the hurried pace of daily life.

Notable wines:

  • 2018 Terroir Collection No. 19 Brigadier’s Bluff Rosé – Sold out
  • 2017 Terroir Collection Border Vista Cabernet Sauvignon – Available only to wine club members
  • 2017 Reserve Shiraz – $27
  • 2017 Reserve Pinot Noir – $28
  • 2018 Reserve Rosé – Sold out

Moon Curser Vineyards

Moon Curser Vineyards is a small, family owned winery on the East Bench of Osoyoos, BC.  It has been in operation since 2004, when Chris and Beata Tolley purchased an old orchard in need of replanting and set about converting it into what is now the Moon Curser home vineyard block, winery and tasting room.

The winery is known for growing unusual varieties such as Tannat, Dolcetto, Touriga Nacional, and Arneis to name a few. These varieties have not historically been a part of the South Okanagan viticulture but thrive in the unique terroir on the Osoyoos East Bench.

The vines have thrived in Osoyoos and continue to deliver unique, world-class interpretations of these traditional wines. Moon Curser has brought home many a gold medal from Canadian and international wine competitions.

Notable wines:

  • 2017 Touriga Nacional (red) – $40
  • 2017 Dead of Night (red) – $40
  • 2017 Syrah – $26

Nk’Mip Cellars Winery

Nk’Mip Cellars is the dedicated guardian of a proud legacy. They claim to be the first Indigenous-owned winery in North America and they express their culture in everything they do. The winery itself is a bold celebration and a strong reflection of their commitment to authenticity and deep respect for their colourful past. They have had international award-winning wines.

Notable wines:

  • 2018Qwam Qwmt Riesling – Price not provided
  • 2018 Winemakers Dreamcatcher – Sold out
  • 2016 Red Merriym Meritage – Price not provided

Red Rooster Winery

Red Rooster Winery was founded in 1990 by a European couple who settled in the area. The first vintage was released in 1997. It was not long before the winery became known for producing award-winning wines that express the very best of BC and the Okanagan. 

Notable wines:

  • 2018 Riesling – Sold out
  • 2017 Rare Bird Series Pinot Noir – $35

Sandhill

Each bottle of Sandhill wine is made from grapes that come from one of six unique BC vineyards – Sandhill Estate, King Family, Phantom Creek , Osprey Ridge, Hidden Terrace and Vanessa Vineyard. Each vineyard possesses a unique combination of soil composition, slope, sun exposure and drainage.

Each vineyard manager employs techniques that bring subtle influences into the growing environment. These one-of-a-kind conditions inevitably produce grapes with unique characteristics.

This, in turn, provides the opportunity to create a wine that’s truly distinct. In the winery, a non-interventionist approach allows the character of the fruit to shine through in the wine. This allows the complex, subtle, unique character of each vineyard to reveal itself.

Notable wines:

  • 2018 Riesling Icewine – Sold out
  • 2017 Single Vineyard Syrah Sandhill Estate Vineyard – $40
  • 2016 Single Vineyard ONE Vanessa Vineyard – Sold out

Township 7 Vineyards and Winery

Township 7 focuses on the production of small lot wines made from carefully chosen grape suppliers from the Okanagan Valley and from estate vineyards in Langley and on the Naramata Bench.

Notable wines:

  • 2018 Pinot Gris  – $19
  • 2018 Raju Vineyard Viognier – $25
  • 2017 Merlot – $25 at the winery
  • 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon – $28

Van Westen Vineyards

Situated in one of the most scenic wine regions in all of North America, Van Westen Vineyards has evolved from over 50 years of family tradition cultivating the soils of The Naramata Bench and producing some of the best wines in British Columbia.

With their expertise and emphasis on sustainable, cool climate viticultural practices, they continue to grow quality vinifera grapes and make premium wine.

Notable wines:

  • 2016 Vulture (red) – $40
  • 2018 Viscous Riesling – $25

Wayne Gretzky Okanagan

The Wayne Gretzky Okanagan winery doesn’t appear to have a web site and www.gretzkyestateswines.com only provides information on the Niagara winery.

Notable wines:

  • 2016 Signature Series Shiraz – No price
  • 2016 Signature Series Riesling – No price

The majority of these wineries are smaller family run operations built on pride and personal commitment to the creation of high quality wines.  Prices can range dramatically on the wines within and between the various wineries.  Some of the wineries have been producing great wine for many years while others are newer operations who are quickly making an impressive name for themselves.

Sláinte mhaith

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