The Cooler Side of BC’s Emerging Wine Regions

Grapevines at Recline Ridge Winery

Grapevines at Recline Ridge Winery

In my previous article, I divided BC’s emerging wine regions into a warmer and a cooler side.  In this article I would like to concentrate on the cooler side, which for me covers the Salmon Arm and Lake Country areas to the north of the Okanagan Valley.  Lake Country is warmer than Salmon Arm, which is to the north of it.  Lake Country still has a desert look to it, much like the Okanagan, but the climate is cooler than the Okanagan.  North of Lake Country is the area around Salmon Arm.  Salmon Arm, is located on the south shore of Shuswap Lake.  There are tree covered hills making the area looking more lush than the Okanagan.  This truly is a much cooler area; I think it is the coolest area of the Emerging Regions.

For this part of our Emerging Regions tour, we visited Recline Ridge in Tappen, northwest of Salmon Arm, and Arrowleaf Cellars in Lake Country.  We also had a chance to try some wines from Sunnybrae Vineyards, Lavina Estate Winery, and Celista Estate Winery during a dinner at Quaaout Lodge Resort & Conference Centre. These 3 wineries are located on the north side of Shuswap Lake.  While the warmer side of BC’s Emerging Regions can be as hot as the south Okanagan, it is the shorter growing season and cold winters that limit it.  In this cooler area within the Emerging Regions, the growing season is even shorter, and the average temperature is cooler than the Okanagan.  The average July temperature for Salmon Arm is 18.6 degree Celsius. Oliver, BC, in comparison has an average July temperature of 23 degree Celsius.  This really temperate climate keeps the acidity in the white grapes, but can be problematic for red grapes to ripen and soften their tannins.  Growing a cooler climate red grape, which may include hybrids, is a way around the climate issue.  Below are my abbreviated tasting notes for the wines that I tasted at the above wineries.

Recline Ridge Vineyards & Winery

Graydon Ratzlaff outside the Recline Ridge Winery to greet us

Graydon Ratzlaff outside the Recline Ridge Winery to greet us

Run by owners Graydon and Maureen Ratzlaff, they have their own vineyards; 7 acres at the winery and another 15 acres a few miles away, and grow Ortega, Kerner, Bacchus, Siegerrebe, and Optima.  They also have some vines of Marechal Foch, Blaufrankish, Pinot Noir, and Zweigelt red grapes. The winery is located in Tappen, which is near the northwest corner of Shuswap Lake, and is the closest to Salmon Arm.  The tasting room has an interesting history, being made as a log home for a Japanese family, it was shipped across the ocean, but was damaged, and sent back to BC.  The log house was purchased here in BC and now is a very nice tasting room.  You may notice some Japanese Kanji lettering and symbols at the Tasting Room.  Graydon and Maureen focus on aromatic white wines, which I think they do quite well, but their reds are also enjoyable. They did discuss the climate of the region around their winery and vineyard being cooler than areas nearer to Salmon Arm. Bud break at their vineyard is 2 weeks later than in the Okanagan.

Recline Ridge Shuswap Serenade 2014 – a mix of Madeleine Angevine and Madeleine Sylvaner. Grapefruit nose.  Dry and tart.  Light body.  Lime, grapefruit, and some stone fruit flavours. 4 Stars

Recline Ridge Ortega 2015 – Peach and tropical fruit on the nose.  Dry and refreshing with medium acidity.  Light tropical fruit, with peach in particular.  Also a hint of sweet spice. Tasty. 4 Stars4.5 Stars

Recline Ridge Kerner 2015 – Marzipan and pears aromas.  Dry, with light herbal, floral and stone fruit flavours.  Light body and refreshing.  Medium acid.  Longer length. 4.5 Stars

Recline Ridge Bacchus 2015 – Pine needles, stone fruit and vanilla aromas.  Off-dry, light acidic prickle.  Light stone fruit and herbal flavours.  Tasty. 4.5 Stars

Recline Ridge Siegerrebe 2015 – Tropical fruit, lychee and peach on the nose.  Off-dry, medium minus body, with light mouth feel.  Peaches and light tropical fruit flavours, with an edge of herbaceous ness.  Lychee on the finish.  Light and elegant. 4.5 Stars

Recline Ridge Too Many 2014 – Made from 100% Zweigelt ( a red grape I think more people should try ) has a ripe red cherry and cranberry nose.  Fuller body, but light mouth feel.  Dry with flavours of tart red cherries, some sweet spices, and red crisp apple.  Medium tannins. Very fruity. 4.5 Stars

Recline Ridge Just Being Frank 2014 – This wine is made from the Blaufrankisch grape, which I also think more people should try.  This wine has a tart red fruit nose along with sweet red cherries.  The wine is smooth and dry, with light tannins.  Ripe red fruit and floral flavours.  Light peppery finish. 4.5 Stars

Recline Rdige Hawk’s Haven 2014 – a blend of Zweigelt and Blaufrankisch grapes.  Cranberry and red cherry aromas, along with a hint of vanilla.  Smooth, medium acid, with flavours of tart red fruit and light spice.  Tart finish. 4.5 Stars

Recline Ridge Marechal Foch 2014 – Quite smoky along with dark fruit aromas.  Fuller body.  Flavours of dark ripe fruit, dill, smoke and cocoa.  Medium minus tannins.  Spicy. Very good quality. 4.5 Stars

Recline Ridge Hummingbird’s Kiss 2015 – Nice mandarin orange nose.  More mandarin orange on the palate along with some apricot flavour.  Medium sweetness and light body.  Salty minerality on the finish. 5 Stars

Recline Ridge Ridgeport 2014 – A fortified French oak-aged Marechal Foch.  Rich red cherries and a hint of foxiness on the nose.  Sweet, dill, spicy flavours.  Medium plus body. Round. usr 4] – 4.5 Stars

Arrowleaf Cellars

A beautiful view of Lake Okanagan at the patio restaurant of Arrowleaf Cellars

A beautiful view of Lake Okanagan at the patio restaurant of Arrowleaf Cellars

Arrowleaf Cellars is a family-run business by Joe and Margrit Zuppiger and their son, Manuel Zuppiger, who immigrated to Canada from Switzerland in 1986.  The winery officially opened it’s doors in 2003. They have a very new, modern tasting room, which also has a patio restaurant, overlooking Lake Okanagan. A fantastic view to enjoy a glass of wine and expertly cooked food.

Arrowleaf Wildblume 2016 – This is the first sparkling wine that Arrowleaf has made.  It is from the Vidal grape.  It has lots of lychee, floral, stone fruit and sweet spice aromatics.  High acidity, semi-sweet with small biting bubble. Tropical fruits, candied lemon, and floral flavours.  Medium body. 4 Stars

Arrowleaf Pinot Gris 2016 – Peach, pear and citrus pith on the nose.  Dryish with medium body; smooth. Flavours of peaches and pears, along with some floral.  Apples and banana on the finish. There is some salty minerality in the background. 4 Stars

Arrowleaf Riesling 2016 – Nice lime and pine needle aromas, along with hints of floral and peach. Slightly off-dry, medium minus body, with flavours of lime, lime skin, and ah int of peach.  Some spice on the finish. A quality wine. 4.5 Stars

Arrowleaf Rose 2016 – Very aromatic; ripe strawberries, cranberry and grapefruit nose. Higher acidity, slightly off-dry to start then the acidity in the wine makes the wine taste drier.  Strawberry, citrus and grapefruit flavours.  A bit of pepperiness.  Cranberry on the very finish. Very good. 4.5 Stars5 Stars

Arrowleaf Pinot Noir 2015 – Very aromatic, ripe raspberry and cherry, together with some smokiness and light vanilla/oak nose. Medium plus body, with raspberries, cherries, red fruit, some floral and spiciness. Roundish.  Soft tannins and some salty minerality. Very good quality. 4.5 Stars

Arrowleaf Solstice Pinot Noir 2015 – Richer, deeper cherry nose, along with some nutmeg and oak.  Fuller body, dry and round.  Peppery and light oak touch.  Red cherries and sweet spice flavours.  Medium tannins. 4.5 Stars

Sunnybrae Vineyards, Lavina Estate and Celista Estate Wineries

These are three small wineries located east of Recline Ridge Winery, along the north side of Shuswap Lake.  While we did not have a chance to visit each winery, we did taste some of their wines when we dined at Quaaout Lodge Resort & Conference Centre.  My notes below are a bit abbreviated as we tasted these wines while we ate dinner.

Barry and Nancy Turner, and their children purchased their property, Sunnybrae Vineyards, in 2005 with the winery being built-in 2010.

Sunnybrae Vineyards Rose Roses, red cherries and some floral on the palate. Off dry. Medium acidity. A nice wine. 4 Stars

Sunnybrae Redneck Red 2015 – Dark fruit, tarry nose. Higher acid, spicy, dark fruit. Vibrant dark fruits and bitterness. Finishes peppery. 4 Stars

Celista Estate Winery is owned and run by Marg and Jake Ootes.  They purchased the land in 1995 but did not start planting grape vines till 2002.  Jake is originally from Holland and Marg from Chilliwack, BC. They met and lived in the NWT, where Jake became the MLA of the Northwest Territories for Yellowknife Center in 1995 and again in 1999.

Celista Estate Winery Ortega 2016 – This wine has ripe pears and light apricots flavours. Medium acidity. Slightly off-dry. 3.5 Stars

Celista Oak-Aged Foch 2015 – Deep ripe fruit and cassis nose. Full bodied, quite peppery. Dark fruit with a bitter edge. 4 Stars

Lavina Estate is the second indigenous winery in BC. They are located in Armstrong, south of Salmon Arm, starting in 2009 on their mother Lavina’s land.

Lavina Estate Madeleine Angevine 2015 – Tart citrus crabapple nose. More on palate. Higher acid. Different. Not a sipping wine but works well with our salad as the tartness is reduced. 3.5 Stars

When you are next in the Okanagan, consider driving north past Vernon, up to Salmon Arm and give these wineries a try.

Drink Good Wine. That is my motto and I really want to help you drink good wine. What is good wine? That can be a different thing for each people. Some people prefer red wines. Some only like Cabernet Sauvignon. MyWinePal was started by Karl Kliparchuk, WSET. I spent many years with the South World Wine Society as the President and then cellar master. I met many great wine makers. I love to travel around the world, visiting wine regions and sharing my passion for food & wine with you. Come live vicariously through me, and enjoy all my recommended wines.

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