Updated May 27, 2016
Nagging Doubt is a small artisan winery located in South East Kelowna. It is a true family sustainable vineyard and winery that practices a small lot, hands-on style of winemaking. I tried Nagging Doubt wines for the first time at Garagiste North in Kelowna last year and was blown away by the quality and nuances of the wines. This week I had the opportunity to chat with Rob Westbury about the 2015 vintage and his plans for the estate winery.
The Vineyards: The fruit for Nagging Doubt wines is currently sourced from single vineyards in four areas: Osoyoos (The Pull and Viognier), Canyon View Vineyard, Summerland (Chardonnay), Naramata (Merlot) which is leased, and Peachland (Pinot Noir). The Sallow’s Road estate vineyard in South East Kelowna was only planted in 2014 and should deliver the first estate Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and White blend wines in 2017. This 5 acre vineyard is planted with 2 acres of Chardonnay (2 separate clones), one acre of Pinot Noir (3 separate clones) and 2 acres of Siegerrebe. Siegerrebe is a white wine grape that is grown primarily in Germany. It was created by German viticulturalist Dr. Georg Scheu in 1929 at a grape-breeding institute in Alzey in Rheinhessen, by crossing Madeleine Angevine and Gewürztraminer. The wine is beautifully aromatic, a hardy grape well suited to the Okanagan climate meaning you should get a crop every year, but you need to pick at the right time as the acid drops quickly on ripening and if left too long you end up with a sweet flabby wine. Rob visited all the vineyards last August and September to make ensure the best picking time.
Winemaking: Rob’s goal is to continue to concentrate on four outstanding wines: Bordeaux blend (The Pull 45% Merlot, Cab Sauvignon 22%, Malbec 6%, Cab Franc 16%, Petit Verdot 11%), Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and White blend (Chardonnay, Siegerrebe and Ortega). However as the 2015 was such a great harvest that yielded more fruit than expected, especially the Merlot from the single vineyard Naramata old vines, he will release a single varietal 2014 Merlot. The winery started 5 years ago with only 126 cases and produced 500 cases for the next 3 years. In 2014 production was increased to 800 cases and he expects almost 1600 cases for 2015. Only 15% of the wine is sold directly to customers. Rob expects this to change as the Sallow’s Road vineyard comes into production. Nagging Doubt has built a very loyal customer base. The first wines produced sold out in 18 months, the next year in 12 months and last year sold out in less than 6 months. Last year customers were phoning upset that there was no wine to be found! This is a great problem to have and hence the doubling of production this year.
The biggest challenge, especially with vineyards south of Summerland, is that the growing degree days and the heat is going up every year. You can easily be in a situation where your sugar levels rise very quickly and acid levels drop rapidly with the faster and more aggressive ripening. For example in 2013 the Merlot from Naramata way picked October 30th, in 2014, Oct 4th and in 2015 it was harvested in late September which provides a magnitude for how more quickly the vineyards are ripening. Very hot, ripe years can lead to more protein in the wine which may need to be removed with more fining.
As was noted above Nagging Doubt has no wine inventory left by March 2016.
Suggest you get your hands on these 2014 Reds and 2015 Chardonnay fast as last year’s production was sold out in six months.