It was a beautiful late summer day when we drove past the Howling Bluff Estate Winery, a family-owned estate winery that takes pride in growing their own grapes and producing small lots of remarkable BC wines. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time for a wine tasting this trip but found the following background information on the owner Luke Smith and the winery.
It was the spring of 2011 when Luke started converting most of the property to Pinot Noir. The switch to Pinot Noir was terroir driven. Specifically chosen for its premium deep clay soil, west-facing geography, and rolling hillsides, the former peach orchard lets Luke craft fine vintages that reflect the terroir. The deep cut formed by Three Mile Creek, now Three Mile Rd., allows cooler evening air to flow over the vines during the hot Okanagan summer months, while the neighbouring rolling hills protect the vines from frost in the cooler months.
“I have come to the conclusion that you have the possibility of making a world class Bordeaux blend with just Naramata Bench grapes one out of four years,” Luke says. “In three out of four years, you have a chance of making a world class Pinot Noir on the Bench, because of the weather. So why would I fight that?”
Food and wine are much more than just passions for Luke Smith, they are a way of life. Growing up with a mother who was the secretary for the Vancouver International Food and Wine Society meant he was immersed in flavours at a young age and developed a palate and a thirst for bold, adventurous, and delectable ingredients.
Luke left his career as an investment banker in Vancouver in 2004 and moved with his family to the Naramata Bench to pursue his life-long passion for great wines. With the help of industry peers and friendly neighbourhood winemakers providing insights, he released the first Howling Bluff Estate Winery vintage in 2006.
Howling Bluff has won the Lieutenant Governor’s Award of Excellence twice with Pinot Noir. This spring was the winery’s 10th vintage and about 1,300 cases of BC wine were released. Here is a selection of BC Wines from the Howling Bluff portfolio.
Howling Bluff Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (270 cases) Truly reflective of the premium deep clay soil terroir, the warm summer before harvest helped make this one of the best vintages yet that showcases classic Sauvignon Blanc character. The wine begins with aromas of herbs and grapefruit. The fruit flavours are concentrated, showing notes of lime and gooseberry. The wine is crisp and dry on the finish.
Howling Bluff Summa Quies Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 ( 211 cases). NWAC16 Silver Medal Winner. This is a blend of clones 667, 777, 114 and 115. The wine was aged 12 months in French oak (30% new). This bold Pinot Noir begins with aromas of ripe plums mingled with hints of forest floor. On the palate, the flavours are dramatic and profound, showing notes of cherry and plum with a savoury and earthy note on the finish.
For the complete selection of Howling Bluff wines, go to the winery website.
Source: Background and tasting notes from the Howling Bluff website.