In the beginning
Marty Gunderson was looking for a challenge when he took over a Naramata winery in receivership and rebranded it Quidni Estate Winery. Born in Fort McMurray in 1972, he grew up in Edmonton and plunged into business without bothering to finish a degree at the University of Alberta. His profile on LinkedIn describes him as a “SCREAMING Capitalist, Disrupter and Challenging authority since 1972. Knowing very little about wine making Marty surrounded himself with a strong team.
The name of the winery is an interesting point as well. Quidni is Latin for “Why Not?”. According to Marty “When I bought the winery 2 years ago, I was asked why I bought a winery when, at the time, I didn’t know anything about the wine business. After trying to justify it a few times, I finally just said, Why Not?. It’s been my mantra for the last few years. The theme of the winery is living out your dreams, taking risks, etc. In fact, we have our manifesto on two of our bottles.”
Vineyard and Winery
The nine-acre vineyard is planted with Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Viognier, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Pinot Noir and Gamay. Marty took over the winery during the 2014 harvest and helped produce 1,500 cases of wine, enough to get Quidni through its first season. In the 2015 vintage, Quidni doubled production – 250 cases of Viognier; 100 cases of Riesling, 450 cases of an aromatic white blend of Pinot Blanc, Riesling, and Gewurztraminer; and 450 cases sparkling Rosé. Merlot was also crushed for Quorto, the winery’s port-style wine.
Robert Thielicke is the winemaker. First generation Canadian, born to German immigrant parents (Father is from Berlin and Mother is Bavarian – grew up close to Munich). Rob grew up in a winemaking family and took these skills to become quite the bootlegger during his university years on the coast. In 1999, he returned to the Okanagan, working for Kettle Valley Winery (Naramata) and various organic vineyards, while also completing his Enology & Viticulture Diploma. In 2003, he was hired as Assistant Winemaker with Mount Boucherie Winery (West Kelowna) and continued with them as head Winemaker until Spring 2008. Rob then moved his career back to Naramata as head Winemaker and Vineyard Manager for Joie Farm Winery. Joie Farm initially produced 6,000 cases and Rob successfully increased their volume to 15,000 cases, maintaining consistency and quality to produce multiple award winning wines.
Quidni wines are offered in three tiers, beginning with two affordable blends, WhyNot White and WhyNot Red. There is a varietal series, all under $20. The small lot top tier is marketed as barrel select wines.
- “WhyNot” White is a Gewurztraminer & Riesling blend. It has intense fruitiness in the aroma and on the palate. Its crisp finish will be welcomed on any summer deck which makes this wine a great all-rounder.
- 2015 Riesling Aromatic. Sourced from 39-year-old vines on the Naramata Bench, hand harvested at 22 Brix in late October, then carefully de-stemmed and crushed. Soaked on the skins for twelve hours in the press for flavour extraction, then fermented for 14 days and carefully racked off the first set of lees. The wine was left for 5 months on secondary lees without stirring, producing aromas of citrus, pineapple and apricot with a well-balanced finish.
- The 2015 Old Cicero is a blend of Pinot Blanc 15%, Riesling 40%, Gewürztraminer 40%, and Pinot Gris 5%, made with vines ranging from 25 to 40 years old. Grapes were hand picked at 24 Brix, followed by a warm fermentation in small lots with several yeast strains. This detailed process gives this blend multiple layers of complexity. On the nose take in waves of warm spice, floral notes, ripe pear and stone fruit. Mouth-watering acidity and a round long spicy finish lend this wine to cuisine from all over the world.
- The 2015 Viognier is a blend of fruit from our Estate Vineyard and the Lutz Family Vineyard in Summerland. Viognier has higher tannin than other white grapes, so our process is to gently de-stem and whole berry press. Aromas of honeysuckle and peaches with a rich floral feel and long mouth watering finish. Viognier lends itself to several types of cuisine; spicy Asian food, seafood, hard and soft cheeses.
5. 2015 Sparkling Rosé. All the grapes were sourced from the Naramata Bench. Predominantly Pinot Noir with small batches of Gamay Noir and Pinot Meunier. This wine is intensely aromatic with ripe raspberry being the front contender. It’s well balanced on the palate with a long lingering cherry finish. Enjoy with friends and lots of sunshine.
6. “WhyNot” Red is a Merlot and Cab Franc blend. Its smooth and medium bodied qualities make this wine great for casual get togethers. This wine will impress the new wine drinkers as well as the experts.
7. The 2014 Quorto is made from our Estate grown Merlot, picked in December to maximize sugar and phenolics. We made this Port Style wine to show how good port from the Bench can be. Very low yields and just two barrels made and one barrel bottled after a year of ageing. Gravity bottled with no filtration allowed for the full expression of the unique terroir from our Quidni Vineyard. Aromas of cherries and blackberries with excellent acidity with velvety tannins give way to this extremely drinkable wine.
If you would like to buy any of these wines the link to the winery site is here.
Marty’s thoughts on the future are, “Our future goals are to be included in more top restaurants and liquor stores in Alberta and BC. We also are looking to operate a bistro / restaurant in the future on our deck overlooking the vineyard and Lake Okanagan.”
If you are in the Naramata/ Penticton area, consider staying in one of the 3 luxury suites at Quidni Estate Winery, rated #1 of 17 in the Specialty Lodging in Penticton category by Trip Advisor. Here is a later post after staying in the Quidni Suites.
Why not, take in the scenery and tranquility of the vineyard and mountainside view from the comfort of your own private suite?
The Tasting Notes and Photos are courtesy of the Winery