One of the great things about living in the Okanagan is the opportunity to take a wine tasting detour on the way home. After a cloudy and rainy Victoria Day weekend, when the sun finally came out it was a perfect time to visit wineries as they just started to pour the newly released vintages. The detour was to Volcanic Hills Estate Winery, where Julie Masi was pouring a selection of wines from their considerable portfolio. We tasted the Rosé, Gamay Noir, Magna Red Blend and the Pinot Noir and also had the opportunity to talk to winemaker Daniel Bontorin about the 2015 vintage.
Since the 1960s, it was Sarwan Gidda’s dream to grow grapes that would produce world-class wines. This all began when his father, Mehtab Gidda, came to Canada from a small town in East Punjab, India. Having just $5 in his pocket and not a single word of English in his vocabulary, the dream of a better life began in 1958, when he settled in the Land of Wonder –the Okanagan Valley. They were the first and only Indo-Canadian family in West Kelowna for 15 years. The family purchased their first property in 1963 and soon after was the largest apple farmers in West Kelowna. In 1978, Sarwan and wife Sudarshana pursued a new venture of growing grapes. Today, their 80 acres of grapes, apples and cherries are managed by the Sarwan’s family. In May 2010, the children fulfilled their father’s dream of establishing Volcanic Hills Estate Winery which borders Mt. Boucherie winery. It was voted “Best New Winery” in 2011 and was awarded the Lieutenant Governor’s Award of Excellence for their very first Rosé. They currently produce around 11,000 cases of wine. Their winemaking Philosophy is to craft BC wine with minimal interference and low-impact techniques and to showcase varietal characteristics through sustainable grape-growing.
The Wine Maker – Daniel Bontorin
Daniel’s Italian heritage fostered a natural and intuitive understanding of wine. In 2000 he graduated top 5 in the winery assistant program through Okanagan University College. Over the next four years, he developed his winemaking expertise under the guidance Eric Von Krosigk and with some of the most notable BC wineries including Tinhorn Creek, Hester Creek, Pentage, Domain Combret, Fairview Cellars and Hillside Estate. Daniel made the Lieutenant Governor’s award-winning Gamay Noir Rosé for Volcanic Hills and continues to produce the Rosé.
The inspiration for the Seven Directions (his own label) Rosé comes from France. The Pinot Noir Rosé are partially fermented in new French oak. The organic Pinot Noir is grown by Kalala Vineyard. The wine is sold by Volcanic Hills and has won many awards.
Daniel commented that the 2015 vintage for whites has a real challenge. 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. The Pinot Noir yield was lower due to a hot summer and water restrictions, but fruit flavours will be more concentrated and have a more jam-like quality. The drought year leads to smaller berry and cluster weights which also resulted in less juice produced from the fruit.
From the afternoon’s tasting, our two favourite BC wines were:
Rosé 2015 – Light ruby red in colour and bursting with aromas of strawberry, cherry, pink grapefruit, floral with hints of spice. The palate is a juicy blend of strawberry and cherry, with ripe cranberry, pomegranate and spice that linger on the finish. The fruitiness of the palate is well balanced with a vibrant lime acidity. This off-dry Rose is bright and clean and has Super, Sexy, Summer Sipper written all over it. Serve at 10-14 C. It’s best consumed within 3 years of vintage.
Magma Red 2013. This is a blend of Zweigelt, Pinot Noir, Gamay. Marechal Foch and Merlot. The wine is fruity, with aromas of plum, boysenberry, butterscotch earthiness with a little touch of pepper, spice and vanilla. On the palate, it’s bursting with dark cherry and plum with just a touch of black pepper on the finish.
Please make sure you visit Volcanic Hills the next time you are in West Kelowna.