When we drove into the parking lot at the Moraine Winery we knew this stop was going to be different, because of the sign that greeted us! We were early, only a few cars were parked. However, we were following a winery tour bus so it was time to be nibble before the wine loving hoard disembarked. Moraine is a family-owned winery and the vineyard is located on the white clay cliffs of the Naramata Bench overlooking Lake Okanagan.
The winery owners are the husband-wife team of Oleg and Svetlana Aristarkhov, who, at a time when they were ready to make a career change, were enchanted by Moraine’s setting. Oleg chose to name the winery Moraine as the name means a glacially formed accumulation of soil and rocks, whose minerals contribute to the grape’s complexity. The couple believes that wine offers one of life’s most simple, enjoyable, and accessible pleasures; and this philosophy spurred their leap into the wine industry. They relocated from Alberta, where they had lived for 15 years, to make premium BC wines.
The winery looks out to the lake over the seven-acre Anastasia estate vineyard, which is eight years old and is planted with Merlot, Pinot Gris, Viognier, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Shiraz and Riesling. The seven years old 3.5 acres Sophia Vineyard, is located closer to Penticton and supplies the Pinot Noir for the winery.
Jacq (Jacqueline) Kemp is a former research nutritional scientist who put aside her lab coat to follow her winemaking passion. She received her winemaking degree from Lincoln University New Zealand in 2000, and she has since gone on to work multiple vintages in Burgundy, Western Australia, New Zealand and Canada. At Akarua winery in Central Otago, New Zealand, Jacq gained national, and international, recognition for their Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. Since having a family and moving to Canada Jacq has focused on winemaking in the Okanagan Valley and, has joined the Moraine team this year to follow her passion for making Pinot Noir and Bordeaux reds. Jacq strives to make vineyard focused wines that are balanced, elegant and distinctly varietal.
The morning we visited the winery, Toshie was pouring the BC wines and was able to effortlessly look after the crowded wine tasting room. and She was very knowledgeable on both the vineyards and the wine and really helped us enjoy our wine tasting.
Moraine Cliffhanger White 2015 The blend is 80% Pinot Gris and 20% Gewurztraminer, cold fermented in stainless steel to capture the varietal aromas. Aromas of peach, pear, lychee and orange blossoms intertwine with rich nutty tones. The wine has a generous texture with is an appealing spice on the long finish. Good value at $17.50.
Moraine Riesling 2015 The multiple award-winning Riesling is whole bunch pressed and fermented at cool temperatures. Citrus aromas Citrus with spice ginger and stone fruit. The natural acidity of this wine is balanced well by the natural residual sugars.
Moraine Cliffhanger Red 2015 A blend of Malbec and Merlot grapes that were produced on the Anastasia vineyard. Bottling took place after 4 months in French oak, creating mouthwatering aromas of raspberries, blackberries, and cassis married together with mocha and dark chocolate. For a young wine, the tannins are soft and easy to approach. This was our favourite Moraine wine from this tasting and a good value at $19.
Moraine Malbec 2014 Medium-bodied and juicy in texture the wine was aged in oak for 10 months. Aromas of black currant, blackberries and black cherries dominant whilst soft, rounded tannins linger on the palate. Only 200 cases were produced.
Moraine Syrah 2014 was aged in premium French oak barrels for 11 months. Vibrant aromas of dark chocolate, white pepper and floral aromas are complemented by the juicy inviting tannins.
Moraine Red Mountain 2013 is composed of 40% merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc and 30% Malbec grapes. Each varietal was nurtured in small fermentation vats allowing for optimal temperature control, tannin and aromatic extraction. The wine was aged in 40% new oak for 20 months. Aromas of dark cherries, plums, and black currants topped off with a hint of smokey oak.
Make sure you try the Moraine Cliffhanger Red for great value in a BC wine.