Burrowing Owl Estate Winery is one of the wineries from BC that both locals and visitors to our province know about. I had guests once from New York state want to try Burrowing Owl wine. Burrowing Owl has been a consistent producer and I was happy to try out the latest wines that they sent me to review.
In 1993 Jim and Midge Wyse began to plant their vines on the Black Sage Road with their first vintage produced in 1997. They started off with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for red wines, and Chardonnay and Pinot Gris for white. They later added Pinot Noir, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. They own 3 vineyards. Two in the Oliver-Osyoos area, and one in the Similkameen (for the Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon). They are very proud of their vineyards and even show maps of each vineyard and the blocks within the vineyard on their website. All the grapes for their wines come from their own vineyards.
The name of the winery comes from the endangered Burrowing Owl, which is found in the South Okanagan. According to their website, “100% of the $3 tasting fee charged in their tasting room is given to the Burrowing Owl Conservation Society of BC for their captive release program for Burrowing Owls and to SORCO (South Okanagan Rehabilitation Centre for Owls). The wine shop alone raises close to $50,000 each year for these two organizations“. The Wyse’s are very concerned about the environment and try to ensure the sustained viability of the natural terrain and the plants and animals that live there. They use Integrated Pest Management, recycling grape materials after harvest, which then get added back to the soil mixed with manure in the spring, the use of cover crops, and many more commendable efforts.
My Wine Review Notes
Burrowing Owl Sauvignon Blanc 2014 – Medium lemon green colour in the glass. A very intense, rich nose with aromas of honey, pineapple, passionfruit and green fruit. Dry but very round and mouthfilling. Intense honey, tropical fruit, and dried fruit flavours, with sweet spices in the mid palate. Some pepper and lees also. With decanting you also get pine needles and passion fruit flavours. Medium plus to long length. An excellent wine that you might not recognize as Sauvignon Blanc at first sip.
Rating: Bursting full of honey and tropical fruit on the nose and palate. Round and supple with sweet spice to complement the fruit.
Burrowing Owl Merlot 2012 – Deep ruby in colour. More pronounced youthful aromas of cedar, oak, ripe cassis and black cherries, chocolate and vanilla. Very nice nose. It was dry with medium acidity, tannins, alcohol and body. Flavours of dark bitter chocolate, cassis, black cherries, blackberries, and plums, with oak and vanilla in the back to support the fruit. With decanting the cassis became more pronounced. Firmer tannins. Medium plus length, with sweet spices on the finish. There was sediment in the bottom of my glass, so if you want to avoid these bits, please decant ahead of time. A really nicely balanced wine.
Rating: Lots of ripe dark fruit on the nose and palate along with cedar, oak and vanilla to complement the fruit. Can drink now, or cellar a few bottles and enjoy over the next few years.
Burrowing Owl Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 – Opaque garnet with a bit of translucency at the edges. Light intensity, young nose with cassis, red cherries, red fruits, sweet spices, vanilla and a hint of chocolate aromas. With decanting I also picked up some capsicum. Fuller bodied with lighter mouthfeel. Very fine tannins up front that get stronger on the finish. Bright, ripe red cherries, together with cassis, and hints of chocolate, cedar and capsicum on the palate. A mineral streak through the wine as well. With decanting this wine gets more fruity and peppery. The only thing I wish was that the wine finished a bit longer. As with the Merlot, this Cab has sediment so decant if you don’t want to get any bits in your glass.
Rating: An elegant wine. Give this wine some time to decant and the flavours will grow. Lots of red cherries together with cassis and nice oak support.
Burrowing Owl Meritage 2012 – A blend of Cabernet Franc 43%, Merlot 28%, Cabernet Sauvignon 20%, and 9% Petit Verdot. An opaque mix of ruby and garnet colours in the glass. Light intensity nose with aromas of red fruit cassis, vanilla and sweet spices. Dry but very mouthfilling. Heavier silky feeling. Ripe cassis and cherries up front, with raspberries, plums and sweet spices coming in the mid palate to the finish. Also hints of flowers and dark chocolate. With decanting you also get a hint of capsicum and pepperiness on your tongue. Medium length. Good acidity throughout the wine to the finish. Fine, soft tannins. As with the Cabernet Sauvignon, I wish the finish was a bit longer.
Rating: A fuller bodied red blend that is quite silky and mouth filing. Full of ripe cassis and cherries. A wine that you can drink now, but I think will improve with some bottle aging.