Last week, I was invited along with a small media group to experience a few days in the Okanagan Valley. Our trip not only took in several wineries and restaurants, but an agri-food research centre as well as a unique agriculture farm-turned RV park.
In total, we toured six wineries. This feature focuses on three of the six. I’ll continue with part two next week.
Dirty Laundry Vineyards is a Summerland winery located on a plateau that enjoys the perfect microclimate as well as excellent sun exposure for its vines. We were given a short tour of the shop, vineyard, and tanks by Judi Skinner, Dirty Laundry’s Viniculturist and Sales/Marketing Manager.
Judi’s stories were entertaining, as is the history of Dirty Laundry itself. Many of the varietals have playful names, such as Woo Woo Vines (Gewürtztraminer), Kay-Syrah, A Girl in Every Port, and Not So Knotty Chardonnay.
The history of the Okanagan goes back to the late 1800’s, bridging fur traders, gold miners, and cattlemen with the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. A Chinese worker fled the railway’s punishing construction to open a laundry. Later an ‘unmet’ need brought a brothel to the second floor of his establishment. This story is told with a grin by Judi, as she recalled the roots of ‘hush, hush‘, part of the vineyard’s lore.
Our small group enjoyed several wines with a packed picnic lunch on the patio. In summer, this patio has a vine-covered roof, with live music to entertain wine lovers from all over the world.
Dirty Laundry is located at 7311 Fiske Street in Summerland.
I’m no stranger to Okanagan Crush Pad’s wines, however this was my first visit to both the Summerland facility and winery. We were taken on a brief tour by owner Christine Coletta, later joined by Julian Scholefield in the tasting room.
We were fortunate to arrive on an afternoon where bottles of rosé and white wine were being labelled coming off the assembly line.
This winery can accommodate private clients and wine makers, offering an entire range of services, from vineyard management and winemaking to branding, manufacturing and sales distribution.
The fermentation eggs were a unique sight to see. I’d envisioned a single egg; seeing an entire row was even more impressive!
The Crush Pad range of wines is constantly growing. The original collection includes haywire Switchback Vineyard Pinot Gris Clone 52 ($23.00), Gamay Noir Rosé ($21.00), and Pinot Noir ($27.00), Bartier-Scholefield’s White ($22.00) and Rosé $20.00) Table Wines, and Bartier Bros. The Cowboy ($23.00) and The Goal ($30.00). Rob Feenie has recently bottled a selection or two as well. Expected around Christmas will be 375 cases of haywire Bubble (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay).
We sampled seven wines from the regular assortment above, in addition to a tank sample of 2011 Canyon View Pinot Noir ($27.00), a young, biodynamic vineyard producer that’s aiming to become 100% organic next year. This wine comes from a young vineyard (6th leaf), with black cherry and earthy aromas. It will be released at the end of September, in time for the Okanagan Fall Wine Festival.
Okanagan Crush Pad is located at 16576 Fosbery Road in Summerland.
The winery has been crowned Canada’s Winery of the Year on two occasions over the past quarter century.
We were given a short tour and later tasted five of their wines. Between a 2011 Riesling ($17.90), a 2011 Pinot Gris ($17.90), a 2009 Estate Merlot ($17.90), and a 2007 Platinum Meritage ($39.90), I was most taken with the Merlot. This varietal was released literally two days before our arrival. I found a fully flavourful wine here, with black and red currant aroma, and vanilla/currant taste. This one is really promising for such a young wine. Noticed that I’d mentioned five wines.
At the end of our sampling, a 2011 Ehrenfelser was poured for our group. With its sweet nose but tangy taste, I’d discovered a new varietal on this trip! At $18.90 a bottle, this one’s worth further investigating.
Cedar Creek Estate Winery is located at 5445 Lakeshore Road in Kelowna.