Tightrope Winery opened last summer and is definitely one of the must-see wineries on the Naramata Bench. Graham and Lyndsay O’Rourke made the first 900 cases of Tightrope wines in 2012, using the Ruby Blues winery. They had moved to the Okanagan in 2003. Immediately drawn to the vineyard lifestyle, they both took Okanagan College courses in grape growing and winemaking. To further improve their skills, they both went to Lincoln University in New Zealand for honours degrees in those disciplines. The studies paid off quickly. When they returned, Graham joined Mission Hill for six years and developed the yearly plans for the vineyards as the viticulturist. Lyndsay became the winemaker for Ruby Blues Winery in 2009. Graham’s Mission Hill experience was like a postgraduate course in Okanagan grape growing as he was able to work in 26 different vineyards from Kelowna to Osoyoos.
Tightrope has 7 acres of their own grapes planted, including: Riesling, Viognier, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Merlot with small plantings of both Cabernet Franc and Barbera. Prior to 2012 the grapes were sold to various BC wineries and may have been included in wines from Joie, Road 13, Ruby Blues Winery, Domaine de Chaberton and Mission Hill.
Tyler Wilman was the art director and lead designer in charge of naming, brand identity and collateral for Tightrope. For the labels, a classic, simple design was created to evoke a sense of playfulness yet stand the test of time. Centred around the silhouette of a tightrope walker carefully balancing on the high-wire, the bottles are emblematic of all that goes into each bottle of wine and will change dependant on the varietal and bottle. They represent the intricacies, the passion and the select balance that Lyndsay and Graham bring to their brand.
I had the chance for a brief email exchange with Lyndsay when she brought to my attention the fact that the wine awards shown of this website did not include non-BCWI wineries. So please check out the extensive list of awards on the Tightrope web site, including platinum for their 2012 Riesling at the 2015 BC Wine Awards.
The tasting notes below were provided by John Schreiner’s blog.
Tightrope Riesling 2012. This award winning wine is almost sold out so be quick to pick up a bottle. The grapes were whole-cluster pressed and stainless steel fermented with minimal intervention. The fermentation was at a low temperature between 11 – 13 ⁰C and took 17 days to complete and was stopped to leave a small amount of residual sugar to balance out the acid in this wine. It has developed into a classic dry Riesling with “petrol” on the nose and a bit on the palate. Perhaps a better descriptor is marmalade, especially on the palate. The acidity is balanced with a bit of residual sugar and the wine finish dry. 91.
Tightrope Viognier 2013 Half of the wine was fermented in barrel in 2013, up from 20% in 2012 (one new barrel, one second fill barrel and two neutral). The wine also benefitted from more lees stirring. That is perceptible in a rich palate weight. More complex than the 2012 wine, this wine begins with aromas of orange blossom and pineapple. On the palate, there are flavours of apricot and pineapple around a spine of minerality. 91.
For a later article which includes the red white tasting notes please visit this post.