It all began in 1983 when founder Adolf Kruger purchased a barren piece of land east of Okanagan Falls. Upon his return to his newly purchased property, he discovered a large flock of Canada geese feeding amongst the tumbleweeds, boulders, and rubble. As he approached, the flock of geese took flight and flew to the north. This vision inspired Adolf to call the property Wild Goose Vineyards.
Adolf first planted Riesling and Gewurztraminer and Mission Hill produced outstanding wines from these aromatic grapes. In the late eighties, Adolf and two other parties formed a plan that would allow smaller wineries to make wine using grapes grown on the site that could be sold through the “farm gate”. After much lobbying, the farm gate winery was born in British Columbia.
Wild Goose Winery was established in June 1990. The winery started producing Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Marechal Foch. Consumers quickly took to the concept of small wineries and flocked to the Okanagan Valley to spend time on the beach, play a little golf, and tour wineries. Over time Wild Goose would establish itself as one of the premium small producers of VQA wines.
Wild Goose Winery sources grapes from a number of vineyards. Okanagan Falls Vineyard is the ten-acre parcel located at the winery site. This is home to the Stoney Slope Riesling which is grown in glacial soils on a beautiful south facing slope. Despite the rough terrain the fruit grown here is highly coveted by Okanagan winemakers and lends itself well to late harvest wines. As the slope of the vineyard eases, the soil type transitions to lighter clay. It is in this flat clay loam area of the vineyard that Gewurztraminer is grown.
Trailing the banks of the South Okanagan River near the town of Oliver lays the five-acre Mystic River Vineyard. The soil here is sandy clay and pea gravel without a stone in sight. The fertile land and proximity to the river are a winning combination for the Mystic River Pinot Blanc and Gewurztraminer varietals – both two-time recipients of the Lieutenant Governor Award of Excellence.
The newest addition, planted in 2008, is the eleven-acre Secrest Road vineyard, comprised of pure silty loam and clay and is located on a westerly slope near Oliver overlooking the South Okanagan Valley. The site has been planted with Gewurztraminer, Riesling, and Merlot. Wild Goose also contracts from premium growers up and down the valley.
Hagen Kruger has been producing wines at Wild Goose since 1998, yes, the vintage of the century, then followed by 1999, the coldest vintage ever experienced by Wild Goose since opening the winery in 1990! Hagen’s wines have garnered accolades locally, nationally, and throughout North America. He is a stickler for consistency and cleanliness, resulting in wines that are fruit forward and embracing the natural acids for which the Okanagan valley is so well known.
Hagen provided the following comments on the 2016 Vintage. “The year started out so hot that early expectations were that harvest was going to begin in early August! However, as mother nature often does, a balance occurred and summer started rather tentatively with an unusual amount of rain and cool weather in June. The rest of the summer was pretty normal and as we headed into fall we were excited that the fruit on the vines was looking excellent with minimal disease evident. The grapes ripened at different intervals with a bit of a gap between waves. This was nice as it gave us time on the crush pad to process the fruit in a timely manner. After the hot 2015 growing season we made adjustments in the winery to be able to process fruit more quickly and we were excited that these changes worked extremely well. We had really clean ferments in 2016 resulting in excellent wines with good backbone. The wines and vintage rank as one of the top 5 we have ever had! We can hardly wait to get these into the bottle.”
Wild Goose Vineyards Mystic River Pinot Blanc 2015 underwent a cool fermentation in stainless steel with a portion of the wine barrel-fermented and stirred on the lees for added complexity. The nose shows melon, grapefruit and vanilla, while the palate tastes of anise, pear and rose hips. The mouthfeel is balanced with a lengthy finish (Sold Out).
Wild Goose Vineyards Stoney Slope Riesling 2015 was produced from a few select rows at the home Riesling vineyard at Wild Goose, this wine is predominantly fermented using “Goose Gone Wild” wild yeast. Following a style similar to the great Germanic Wine Estate ‘Keller’, the winemakers took a portion of the free run juice and put it straight into barrels to ferment. The tasting of this wine starts in the nose, with wonderful aromatics of dried apricot and apple. Intense flavours of flint, clover, and minerality, balanced with excellent crispness.
Wild Goose Vineyards Merlot 2013 Grown at the Wilson and Hest vineyards, where small-crop viticulture works to maximize ripening and intensify flavours. A hot fermentation that extracts flavour and colour and 12 months in American and French oak create a wine that is dark, rich, and robust. Exhibits smoky, earthy notes with plum, berry and black currant overtones. Dense, with firm tannins and a lingering finish, it pairs well with steak and will age beautifully.
For the complete selection of Wild Goose Vineyards BC wines, please go to the winery website.
Roland Kruger provided the following. “Wild Goose is always trying to move forward with new innovation and modern technologies yet maintaining our roots and history as having been in the BC grape and wine industry since 1984. We are trying to add new vineyards, of course this is challenging because the valley does not have much surplus land for the planting of grapes, while the other option is to find good growing partners to work with to help slowly expand our production. As much as it is tempting to add a new wine or varietal to our portfolio, we still concentrate on the wines that have made us popular today, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, and of course our popular blend Autumn Gold. If the right opportunity comes along we are always interested in adding a new wine if we feels it fits into the plan. Excitement has been growing over the last few years with our red program as we have reshaped how we handle our reds, reducing production and trying to do as much hand work as possible. This has resulted in our Meritage, Red Horizon, and Pinot Noir getting excellent reviews since we have instituted this new program.
We are so excited about the growth of our industry over the last 25 years and thrilled at the quality of wines being produced not only in the Okanagan, but throughout the entire province. The BC Wine industry has a lot to be proud of, however, lets not take our foot off the gas pedal!”
Source: Background, photos and BC Wine tasting notes from the Wild Goose Vineyards website.