We went up to the Okanagan wine district for the Canada Day weekend this year, and I think it’s about time I wrote down some of my impressions of the vineyards and the wine. We took my friend Sally (she of G&T fame who knows a lot about wine), and had a great time. Tim mostly entertained the offspring while Sally and I tasted the wine, which seemed like a good division of labour to all of us. I typically like wines with body and heft, such as shiraz, much of the cabernet family, and rieslings; my impressions of other wines depend on what they evoke (sitting on the deck in summer, or some food pairing). So here are some notes about the wineries and the wines, none of them are anything scientific or indeed anything other than my impression of that day!
- Hawthorne Mountain Vineyards
- Great view, but a very commercial vineyard with lots of schnick-schnack to buy. I’d bought some cabernet franc here in 1995-6 which was great after a few years cellaring, but the 2003 Cabernet Franc they had on offer this year was too light and didn’t give me any confidence it would develop the way I like. The pinot gris was good so I got some of that. The gewürztraminer was ok though we’d had better at other wineries, so that didn’t go home with us, and although I thought the See-ya-later pinot noir could develop, I didn’t feel like taking the risk.
- Wild Goose Vineyards & Winery
- Very friendly people, good whites (some have won prizes) though not what I’d call earth-shatteringly great. I bought a mixed case of whites, including the 2004 Riesling, 2003 Stony Slope Riesling, and the 2004 Gewürztraminer.
- Stag’s Hollow Winery
- Unfriendly server but a good vidal (2004 Tragically Vidal), which is an unusual grape, and the 2002 Renaissance Merlot struck me as worth taking home, so I bought a couple of bottles for the cellar. It should be really good in a couple of years.
- Hainle Vineyards Estate Winery
- Nice people, organic wines; they’ve learned a lot about making organic wines palatable since I last visited in 1996 or so. Good bistro for lunch outside on the deck as well. The 2002 Hainle Chardonnay, 2002 Hainle Pinot Blanc, 2002 Deep Creek Pinot Meunier (nice rich taste, like the Hawthorne Mountain one from 1995 or so), and 2003 Deep Creek Z2 were all good, the 2003 Hainle Syrah ok. Bought a mixed bunch to cellar, mostly the Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay as they’re in short supply and I figured I probably couldn’t find them in Vancouver.
- New winery and quite far north. Friendly people. Bought a couple of bottles of 2002 Zeigelt for the cellar, and some 2004 Bacchus (nice light grape) and 2004 Gewürztraminer for drinking.
- St Hubertus Estate Winery
- Much of the winery was destroyed in the big fire of 2003, but they’ve rebuilt with a bigger tasting room. The rubber stamps are now in the tasting room rather than in a separate building; they add a touch of eclecticism to the place. Decent selection of wines. We picked the 2004 Dry Riesling to take home (with Tim warning by this stage that we didn’t have much room left in the car!)
- Raven Ridge Cidery
- Not quite a winery, this one, but a cidery connected to an orchard with a good restaurant. I picked up their last two bottles of Sparkling Cider as well as a bottle of Braeburn iced cider (like ice wine, but tastes of apples), just for a change.
Touring Okanagan wineries is an excellent experience, and having the kid around meant we also tried out some of the other tourist things rather than just sitting in the car. So although we didn’t see as many wineries as the 1996 trip, we still filled the car and have wine enough to last us for quite a while!