04.16.2013. That’s the date that the Okanagan Falls Winery Association (OFWA) launched their Inaugural “The Heart of Wine Country Comes to Vancouver” event to show their wines to the wine trade, which includes wine writers like me, but as well wine shop and restaurant owners and staff. If you ask someone in Vancouver where is the Naramata Bench, they could probably tell you and name at least one winery. But if you ask them about Okanagan Falls, they may be stumped. But they shouldn’t be because the Okanagan Falls area produces some delightful wines.
Where is Okanagan Falls?
Okanagan Falls is about midway between Penticton to the North and Oliver to the South, located at the south tip of Skaha Lake. According to the OFWA’s website, they quote Blue Mountain founder Ian Mavety, who has been growing grapes at Okanagan Falls since 1972, about the terroir: “The most important features of the Okanagan are the warm days and cool nights,” he says. “Not many areas of the world have that combination. It creates a uniqueness to the wines. The warm days with the bright sunshine result in ripe fruit characters. The cool nights retain the acidity in the grapes, which just accentuates the fruit flavours.” The OFWA also notes “One of the most important geological features is McIntyre Bluff, at the south end of the Okanagan Falls growing region and on the west side of the valley. This feature, together with McIntyre Canyon on the east side of the valley, is big enough to change wind and weather patterns.“
Which Wineries are in the OFWA?
You have probably tried wines from many of these wineries before but never knew where they are located. The 12 wineries in the association are:
- Blasted Church Vineyards
- Blue Mountain Vineyards
- Kraze Legz
- Meyer Family Vineyards
- Noble Ridge Vineyard and Winery
- Painted Rock Estate Winery
- See Ya Later Ranch
- Stag’s Hollow Winery & Vineyard
- Synchromesh Wines
- Top Shelf Winery
- Wild Goose Vineyards
My Wine Picks
Blue Mountain Brut NV sparkling ($23.90). This sparkler is a favourite for many BC residents. Always quality that you can count on. This wine had a nice citrusy, yeasty nose. High acidity, with nice bright lemony flavour and some yeasty notes. Small aggressive bubbles and some bitter peach pit on the finish.
- Blue Mountain Pinot Noir 2011 ($24.90). Nice aromas in the glass of smoky cherries and raspberries. Light body, dry with sour red cherries, some vanilla/oak/sweet spices. Good quality.
- Kraze Legz The Black Bottom Stomp 2009 ($28.95). This is Kraze Legz Reserve level wine, made from Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Nice dark fruit and cherry aromas in the glass. Full body, very ripe dark fruit flavours Round mouth feel. Tannins in the mid palate followed with vanilla, cherry and cocoa.
- Meyer Family Vineyards Gewurztraminer 2011. I only had a chance to try Meyer Family’s Gewurztraminer this day, but their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are very good quality. Here is a previous review of their wines by me. The Gewurztraminer had light aromas of lychee and stone fruit. Off dry, round with light body. Lychee with a herbal edge on the palate followed with some baking spices.
- Noble Ridge Vineyard & Winery Chardonnay 2010 ($23.90). A nice light sweet spice nose. Light plus body, medium acidity, nice tropical fruit and vanilla, with some sweet spices behind. Tasty.
Noble Ridge Vineyard & Winery Pinot Noir 2009 ($24.90). An interesting dark garnet colour in the glass. Nice cherry and cinnamon aromas. Light body, dry, with cherries, dark fruit, vanilla and sweet spices on the palate. A mineral streak throughout the wine.
- Painted Rock Estate Winery Syrah 2010 ($40). Plum, blueberries and vanilla aromas. Full body with fine tannins. Very ripe dark cherries, plums, and blueberry flavours. Vanilla there to enhance the fruit flavours. Round mouth feel. Very tasty.
- Stag’s Hollow Winery Heritage Block 2010 ($24.99). This is a Bordeaux blend of 60% Merlot, 23% Cabernet Franc, and 17% Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2010 Heritage Block marks the first vintage to be packaged under a screw cap. This wine had a toasty, ripe dark fruit nose. Full body, round and soft. Nice ripe black fruit, soft tannins and medium acidity. Some vanilla too. Very nice.
Stag’s Hollow Winery Renaissance Merlot 2010 ($29.99). The Renaissance level is their Premium label. It is 95% Merlot, with 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. It has very nice aromas of ripe plums, vanilla, and spice. Full body, very plush mouth feel, dry with medium minus tannins and medium acidity. Ripe plum fruit flavour. A very balanced wine.
- Synchromesh Wines Thorny Vines Riesling 2012 ($19). This Riesling has a nice flowery honey nose. Off dry, high acidity and very tart on the palate. Citrus and green apple flavours, with a crab apple finish. Very good, but be prepared for the tartness.
- Wild Goose Vineyards Mystic River Gewurztraminer 2012 ($23). Lots of lychee and flowers on the nose with a hint of oranges. Light body, off dry with a round mouth feel. Stone fruit, lychee, and honey flavours. Tasty. This is their BRAND new vintage release.
- Wild Goose Vineyards Merlot Reserve 2010 ($25). Ripe cherry, plum, and vanilla aromas. Full body, lots of ripe cherries, plums and black fruit with vanilla to support. Medium-fine tannins giving a smooth mouth feel.
Thank you to Brix Restaurant in Yaletown for hosting this event.