Okanagan Crush Pad: The Taste Test

In my earlier post, Growing Wineries with Okanagan Crush Pad (OCP), I introduced you to the vineyard management, wine making skills, and the growing list of new wineries making use of OCP. In this second part of this article, I will introduce you to these new wineries, and provide you with a few tasting notes on the wines I sampled.

The Wineries

Some wineries at OCPs facilities

Each of the wineries below has a story.  Some are about a single person, but most are married couples wanting to make good wine.

You may recognize the first two wineries in this list as they both start with “Bartier”, and you may remember that OCP’s resident winemaker is Michael Bartier.

Bartier Bros wines

Bartier Bros. is a winery based on two brothers; Michael Bartier and his older brother, Don. Michael had the wine-making experience, and he had convinced his brother Don to plant a vineyard.  Don agreed as he liked the wines his brother produced.  A partnership was born, and OCP was the medium to convert Don’s grapes, into Bartier Bros wines. They produce 3 white wines, and one red wine; Bartier Bros. Chardonnay, Cowboy White (a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Schonberger), a Semillon, and the Goal Red (a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon).

Bartier Scholefield is a joint project between Michael Bartier (who appears to have limitless energy), and David Scholefield. David had a long career as a senior wine buyer for the British Columbia Liquor Distribution Branch. His knowledge earned him a global reputation for the ability to acquire allocations of the world’s finest wines for the BC liquor stores. He has deep knowledge of the wine trade here and abroad. To them, wine is a narrative, so drink their wine and listen to the story each wine tells about where it came from. They produce one red, one rose, and one white wine. Bartier Scholefield Red Table Wine 2008 is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Petit Verdot. Bartier Scholefield Rose Table Wine 2010 is from the Gamay Noir grape. Bartier Scholefield White Table Wine 2010 is a blend of Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, and Chardonnay.

Bella Rose in a riddling rack

Bella is a sparkling wine house focusing on Chardonnay and Gamay Noir wines.  It is owned by a husband and wife team, Jay Drysdale and Wendy Rose.  Both come from a culinary background, and both found they love sparkling wines. Why the name Bella?  It is not because they are fans of Bella in the Twilight vampire movies; they have a bulldog named Bella.

Covert Farms Family Estate winery is nestled at the foot of McIntyre Bluff on a 600 acres kame terrace just north of Oliver, BC.   A large organic farm and country market that features a wine shop, in the setting of beautiful vegetable and flower gardens, a patio and playground. Within the country market you will find organically-grown wines that include Pinot Blanc and Rosé, as well as the proprietary blends The Bluff, Stoneface, MDC, and Amicitia.

Di Bello Wines is run by Tom and Tari Di Bello.  Tom is a well-known winemaker, having worked for 10 years at Cedar Creek winery and winning many awards. All the Di Bello Wines are made in very small lots, with Tom’s talents focused exclusively on developing and maintaining his personal reputation for ultra-premium quality. They produce 3 wines: 2010 Di Bello Chardonnay, 2010 Di Bello Merlot, and 2010 Di Bello Syrah.

Harper’s Trail wines

Harper’s Trail Estate Winery was a surprise to me.  The winery is located in Kamloops, not in the Okanagan.  Some may say the weather there is too cold for the vines to survive, but Ed and Vicki Collett have proven that you can grow grapes successfully.  I met this couple during the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival and heard about their wines.  Now I can tell you I’ve tasted their wines and bought some as I thought they are quite good. Harper’s Trail Estate Winery is named for the cattle drive trail of pioneer rancher Thaddeus Harper and tucked into the city outskirts on the bank of the South Thompson River. They produce 3 wines: a 2011 Riesling, a 2011 Rose (blend of Pinot Noir, Gamay Noir, and Merlot), and a 2011 Field Blend White (blend of Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, and Sauvignon Blanc).

Haywire is the label by OCP owners, Christine Coletta and Steve Lornie. They first looked into the land in 2005 where the vineyard and winery sits, and now in 2012, their winery is officially open. Christine has a long history in the hospitality industry.  She worked for the BC Wine Institute to help BC VQA on the map.  In 1986 she formed Coletta Consultants where she worked on several provincial and federal government initiatives, notably the creation and marketing of the hospitality industry training program “Serving it Right”. Steve Lornie had a 38-year career in the construction and development industry. Steve owns and operates Stonecroft Construction Management and completed The Outback in Vernon, the Shore Club restaurant in Vancouver and several projects for UBC Properties Trust before turning his attention to the wine industry. Together they have 5 VQA bottled wines and 3 VQA quality wines in boxes (to have the VQA label you need to have the wine in bottle only). The bottled wines are Gamay Noir Rosé, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Canyonview Vineyard Chardonnay, and Switchback Vineyard Pinot Gris. The boxed wines are Haywire Crush Pad Rose, Haywire Crush Pad White (a Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Blanc blend), and Haywire Crush Pad Red  (a Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon blend).

Platinum Bench Estate Winery are owned by Murray and Fiona Duncan. They researched the wine business for a couple of years before buying an established vineyard on Black Sage Road and moved to the Okanagan in 2011 enrolling in classes at Okanagan College. The vineyard they bought was planted over 15 years ago with Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Gamay. They chose the name Platinum Bench as the winery name because they had been told that Black Sage Road is a platinum growing area. Their current wines are a 2011 Pinot Gris, a 2011 Chardonnay, and a 2010 Bench Mark Red (a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Gamay Noir).

Rafter F Pinot Gris 2011

Rafter F winery is owned by Bill and Darlene Freding. Bill and Dar, have been cattle ranching together since the late 1970s in the Cariboo-Chilcotin.  Fast forward to 1998, they had purchased some land around Oliver for two-fold purpose: 1) raise cattle 2) grow grapes for wine.  Their vineyard was named the Saddle Ridge Vineyard, a dream of Darlene, who is a wine lover. They planted Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Viognier white varieties, and Cabernet SauvignonCabernet Franc, Syrah, and Merlot for the reds. They currently have released a Pinot Gris 2011, and a Chardonnay 2011. See my review of their wines at this link.

A Few Wine Notes

Below are some of the tasting notes from my short time at Okanagan Crush Pad.

  • Covert Farms Family Estate Pinot Blanc 2011. Light bright lemony green in colour. Nice nose, with citrus, guava and peach aromas.  Dry with medium body and acidity.  Stone fruit flavours. Tasty.
  • Bartier Bros Chardonnay 2011. Medium lemon colour.  Nice pink grapefruit nose.  High acidity with a prickle on your tongue, and grapefruit flavour.  Medium length. Very tasty.
  • Harper’s Trail Riesling 2011. Watery lemon in colour. Lots of line, and some green and gooseberry aromas. High acid, medium-plus body, and slightly off dry. Jalapeno pepper and lime flavours. Excellent.
  • Platinum Bench Pinot Gris 2011. Watery straw colour in the glass.  Peaches and mandarin orange nose.  Medium minus body, dry with orange peel and citrus flavours.
  • Bella Sparkling Gamay Noir Rose. Watery salmon colour.  Light lees and strawberry aromas. Lots of big bubbles in your mouth.  Dry with high acidity.  Red cherriy and red apple flavours.
  • Di Bello Merlot 2010. Medium-plus garnet coloured. Vanilla, raspberry and ripe black fruit aromas. Full body, round with ripe, juicy red and black fruit flaovurs. Vanilla and spice too.  A big red.
  • Rafter F Pinot Gris 2011 is very refreshing.  Bright medium lemon colour.  Citrus, stone fruit, and some lees on the nose.  Medium-plus body, medium acidity, dry with some roundness on the palate. Lots of minerality for this wine, along with pear and apple flavours.  I think the minerality really gave this wine a sense of place and character.
  • Bartier Scholefield Rose 2010. Medium salmon colour.  Very juicy red berries and strawberry aromas. Medium body, round, creamy, with strawberry, red cherry, and rhubarb flavours.  Dry with high acidity makes this wine very refreshing.
  • Haywire Pinot Noir 2010. Light garnet in the glass. Orange pekoe tea, nutmeg, violets, and raspberry aromas with a bit of match stick later on.  Quite a complex nose. Round, dry with red cherries, red berries, violets, some sweet spices and a streak of minerality. Medium length. Subtle tannins, which pick up on the finish. Excellent.

A Bonus Wine

Kurtis Semillon

I mentioned there are 9 wineries, but there is also a 10th winemaker, and that person is Kurtis Kolt. Kurtis is a sommelier, not a winemaker, so why is he making wine? OCP developed “Wine Campus”, a mentorship program designed to further individual study in wine education. Vancouver’s Sommelier of the Year is invited to make 100 cases of wine at Okanagan Crush Pad. Kurtis Kolt is the first lucky sommelier to receive this honor. During our Media trip to OCP, Kurtis released the wine that he produced together with Michael Bartier.  The wine label simply named KURTIS, is a white wine, using the Semillon grape.  The grapes were “wild fermented” using the indigenous yeasts on the grape skins, to help give the truest terroir aroma and flavour in your glass.  You can purchase a bottle(s) of Kurtis’ wine through OCP’s website, as well as some private wine shops in Vancouver.


Author: mywinepal
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. Food also loves wine so I also cover food and wine pairings, restaurant reviews, and world travel. Enjoy life with me. 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 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.