Kamloops is a hot place in the summer, where grapes can grow and excellent wine can be made. But it also can have very cold winters which can harm the grape vines. It is a gamble to have a winery here, but sometimes the rewards outweigh the risk. I have been told that at the edge of possibility is where you find new and exciting wines. This is what Harper’s Trail Estate Winery has been doing since I met them in 2012. Their wines have changed as their vines age, but as well as their winemaker learns more about the region’s terroir and how to make wines that best show the terroir.
If you have never been to Kamloops, summer is the best time to visit, and Harper’s Trail Winery has a nice tasting room. It is about a 3.5 – 4 hr drive from Vancouver to Kamloops, so you can easily drive up on a Saturday morning, taste wines from Harper’s Trail (and a few other wineries in the area), enjoy a nice dinner in downtown Kamloops, sleep overnight, then leisurely drive back on Sunday mid-day. Be a visitor in your own province.
Below are a solid batch of wines for you to enjoy over this summer.
My Wine Review Notes
Harper’s Trail Winery Thadd Springs Vineyard Chardonnay 2016 ($17.90) – This oaked Chardonnay has a deep lemon + gold colour to it. It has a medium intensity nose, with deep aromas of ripe tropical fruit, pineapple, dried apple slices, honey, vanilla and butterscotch. There is also a hint of pears on the nose. The wine is dry with medium acidity, but fuller body and flavour intensity. Fuller, thick mouthfeel. Deep intense flavours, like you get on the nose. I picked up dried pineapple, tropical fruits, roasted apples, butterscotch and some wet wool. Honey from the mid-palate to finish as well. The flavours come at you all together at the same level of intensity, which is OK. Sometimes I like to taste more high and low notes in a wine. The wine has a medium length finishing with flavours of roasted apples, apple pit, oak and butterscotch.
– An oaked Chardonnay with deep, intense tropical fruit flavours and butterscotch.
Harper’s Trail Winery Field Blend White 2017 ($15.90) – Although the blend is not listed on the label, I believe it is Pinot Gris, Riesling and Chardonnay. The wine is a bright medium lemon in colour. Quite an aromatic nose with aromas of lime, lemon, floral and some lychee. With decanting, tropical fruits start to show as well. The wine is off-dry, lighter body, but round and a touch of acidic prickle on your tongue. Light peach, ripe stone fruit and crunchy apple, with lighter amounts of lychee and orange, which shows up mid-palate. With decanting, tropical fruit flavours appear. There is overall lots of stone fruit flavour with and without decanting. Medium length finishing with stone fruits, tart citrus, some bitter leaf and pepperiness.
An overall solid, fresh fruit wine with a light feel to it that is easy to sip. I’d give it a little decanting time for best aromas and flavours.
Harper’s Trail Winery Pinot Gris 2017 ($17.90) – A mix of medium pear skin and lemon colours in the glass. Noticeable legs upon swirling. This wine has a medium intensity nose with aromas of pear skin and pears mainly, with lesser amounts of floral, apple and peach, but with decanting the pear skin is reduces and the apple and peach aromas increase. The wine is slightly off-dry with medium plus body, higher acidity and flavour intensity. Round mouthfeel with flavours of pears apples, blossom and almond pit. There was also some stoniness to this wine. It is flavourful, but not over the top; a bit austere. With decanting the light acidic prickle on your tongue lessens and the wine feels silkier. The wine has a medium length finishing with mouthwatering acidity, tart apples, pears, stony minerality, and some pepperiness. I like this wine a bit more with decanting.
A bigger, rounder Pinot Gris with pears and apple aromas which continue to the palate.
Harper’s Trail Winery Rosé 2017 ($18.60) – A lighter wild Alberta wild rose colour along with an orange tinge. This wine has a light, bright raspberry and red fruit nose, along with some flintiness. With decanting the flintiness goes away. I actually prefer not to decant as the flintiness adds some complexity to the aromas. The wine is slightly off-dry, with the sweetness a bit more noticeable toward the finish. It is medium bodied and has a higher acidity, leaving a light acidic prickle on your tongue. The wine has a semi-round mouthfeel with an angular edge. You get bright crunchy red fruit flavours, with light bramble leaf in the background. I also picked up some minerality to this wine. With decanting the wine also had some rhubarb flavour as well which I enjoyed. The wine has a medium length finishing with light red fruit flavours, and a touch of sweetness.
An easy sipper, full of red fruit aromas and flavours. Open and drink!
Harper’s Trail Winery Thadd Springs Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2016 ($29.90) – Medium garnet in colour, translucent to the core. Lighter, fresh aromas of capsicum (which burns off quickly), red fruit, vanilla, red cherries and a hint of dark chocolate. With decanting the wine has more vegetal aromas. The wine is slightly off-dry, soft, round, and silky with a light mouthfeel. Fine tannins. A blend of red fruit, plums and raspberry flavours, plus and a hint of roses, and some salty minerality in the background. With decanting you also get red cherries, red apples and vanilla flavours. The red apples are quite noticeable. Also, the wine has a much bigger mouthfeel, and I think decanting is the way to go with this wine. The wine has a longer length, finishing with mouthwatering acidity, ripe red fruits and light tannins. But again with decanting, the tannins become a bit stronger, giving more structure to this wine.
– An elegant Cabernet Franc that is light bodied with red fruit flavours that float on your tongue. Give it a decant to bring out more flavours and tannic structure.
Harper’s Trail Winery Thadd Springs Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016 ($29.90) – Quite a light garnet coloured wine, translucent throughout. Medium intensity aromas that start off with lees (which dissipates quickly), raspberries, brambleberry, and sweet spice red fruit. A fruity-spicy nose. With decanting the brambleberry aroma comes more prominent and you get some smokiness as well. The wine is dry, medium minus body, medium tannins and light tannins. The wine is semi-round, showing some angularity. Flavours of flowers, red fruit, sweet spices, raspberries and red cherries. Also a salty mineral component. A good level of acidity makes lively fruit flavours. I quite enjoyed the fruit flavours as they meandered through each sip like a mountain spring. With decanting the bramble became stronger and I also picked up clove spice. Medium plus length, finishing with red fruits and sweet spices that tended toward pepperiness.
A nice blend of raspberry, red fruit and brambleberry aromas and flavours. Subtle flavour changes throughout your sip. No decanting needed.
The last time I reviewed these next two Rieslings was in 2015 for the 2013 vintage. I described the wines as lighter in style, but in the latest vintage of these two wines, the wines have matured and the flavours have become deeper. (My 2015 Riesling review notes.)
Harper’s Trail Winery Thadd Springs Vineyard Pioneer Block Riesling 2017 ($19.90) – Deep, bright lemon coloured. A lighter intensity nose, with pears and tropical fruit, a hint of red apple and some spearmint notes. With decanting the red apple and spearmint aromas dissipate. I prefer the undecanted aromas. The wine is dry, heavier mouthfeel balanced with higher acidity. Semi-round. Pronounced intense deep fruit flavours. Dried stone fruits, dried pears, roasted and red apples to start followed by peach on the mid-palate. A mix of stony and steely minerality toward the finish for this wine. With decanting you also get tropical fruit flavours, and the dried pears change to fresh pears, but the fruit flavours are overall less pronounced. Medium length finishing with mouthwatering acidity, dried pears, some leafiness and bitterness, and then honey and some pepperiness on the very end.
– A Riesling with deeper dried stone fruit flavours and higher acidity. Don’t decant.
Harper’s Trail Winery Thadd Springs Vineyard Silver Mane Block 2017 ($19.90) – Medium plus intensity lemon mixed with pear skin colour. Medium intensity developing flavours showing ripe, roasted apples, roasted peaches, pears and a hint of floral. More stone fruit flavours with decanting. Slightly off-dry with higher acidity which shows off very tart stone fruit flavours. Medium plus mouthfeel with a slight acidic prickle on the tongue that subsides leaving you with a thicker mouthfeel. Pears, citrus skin and red apples with a touch of lime flavours. Peaches, honey and minerality show up later on in the sip. With decanting the wine becomes softer and the stone fruits sweeter flavoured. The wine has a medium plus length finishing with mouthwatering acidity, and flavours of pears, apples, and citrus rind. There is some tropical fruit flavour at the very end. The acidity level in this wine should give this wine good ageing potential.
– A quality Riesling, with tart stone fruit flavours, mixed with apple and citrus. The acidity level in this wine makes it a good choice for ageing.
Where Can I Buy These Wines?
You can, of course, purchase these wines in person at the winery, but you can also order their wines online from the winery. The winery also has an extensive list of private liquor stores from BC, Alberta, and Manitoba where you can buy their wines.