Marionette Winery on Salmon Arm’s Broadview Bench

Marionette WineryThe Marionette Winery is located in Salmon Arm area on the North Broadview bench, an exceptional microclimate for growing high-quality cool climate wine grapes. Salmon Arm has warm summers but is not so dry that you need to irrigate.  The complex soils and warm aspect of the Marionette vineyard site is the reason why the winery is located here.

The definition of terroir, however, extends beyond the soil, aspect and weather conditions. It also encompasses the community and cultural identity. With its Independent film society and very active arts council and music scene, Salmon Arm is a perfect place to have a bespoke and regionally expressive winery and vineyard.

Vineyards

Marionette Winery is still developing their vineyards.  Currently in operation is Zweigelt and Pinot Noir (about 2 acres), Pinot Gris (about 2 acres) and a small patch of Siegerrebe (about ½ an acre).  Siegerrebe is an important flavour grape for the Entwined blend.  They have also planted Grüner Veltliner and Pinot Blanc for their estate wines that will be a centre point of the white variety. Jamie and Amanda were trained and worked in European Wineries, so they look beyond the Estate winery model.  They really embrace the idea of collaboration with choice small vineyards and amazing winegrowers.

Amanda’s take on vineyards follow. “While it’s important to focus on what the region grows (Pinot varieties, Zweigelt, Grüner Veltliner) we also want to be able to make exciting versions of Merlot or Chardonnay. Aside from the fact that most wineries in the world take in grapes from choice vineyards in their appellations or greater regions it just makes more sense not to limit yourself to what you can grow on your little patch. There’s a little bit of an obsession in BC about estate wines.  This doesn’t seem that healthy from a winemaker’s perspective.”

The Winemakers

Marionette WineryAmanda Eastwood has fond memories of spending her summer as a child at her grandparents home in rural France. She remembers sipping her parent’s wine during those childhood holidays. Her grandfather has always been a connoisseur of French wines.  She tasted a wide variety of wines which cultivated an inspired interest in wine from an early age. As an adult, she lived in Spain and fell in love with the culture that surrounds Spanish wine.

Marionette WineryJamie Smith is a Canadian, originally from Salmon Arm. He spent 11 years working and living in Europe. Most of those years were spent in Spain, a place where language and culture are so entwined with regional wines that Jamie could not help but be enchanted and drawn into its rich mystery.  While living in Spain he met Amanda and his interest in wine crystallized into a way of life and the beginning of a winemaking career.

After meeting in Spain, both Jamie and Amanda moved to Brighton, England to study degrees in Viticulture and Oenology. They both completed a BSc. Hons and began working in both in England and Europe. The university in which they studied is highly regarded in the world of wine. It has strong links with the Champagne region which has invested a considerable amount into the English sparkling wine industry.

As well as their degrees in Oenology and Viticulture, Jamie and Amanda also studied the WSET professional wine tasting exams.   This has given them a comprehensive knowledge of wines throughout the world. Their WSET training has also helped them develop excellent tasting skills.

Jamie and Amanda worked with renowned winemakers in France, Portugal and England (where some of the world’s finest traditional method sparkling wine is made). In France, they worked under a prestigious Bordeaux wine researcher and academic in his own winery just south of the Loire Valley.  Moving to Portugal, they worked for an exciting young winery in the Alentejo region that consistently gets exceptional reviews in Wine Spectator.

In England, they worked for a small winery with distinguished traditional-method sparkling wine that was highlighted on the wine list at the Savoy hotel in London. After leaving Europe they worked in a beautiful boutique Gulf Islands winery before starting Marionette Winery with Jamie’s family.

2017 Vintage

Amanda and Jamie provided the following comments.  “The 2017 Vintage started wet and that had its own set of problems to contend with. However, by June and certainly by flowering things got hot and dry. That of course was perfect for fruit set but we were soon very worried about the extreme smoke cover that was throughout the valley and pretty much everywhere in BC.

Despite all of the challenges however, by the end of September we were well into the 20s for brix with the Zweigelt and the Pinot Gris so that was a very nice surprise. Our vines are young so the Brix was a bit higher than what we’ll see when they’re mature but we finished at about 24 Brix on the pinot varieties and 23 Brix on the Zweigelt so were excited about the years to come. We also planted a hectare of three quarters Pinot Blanc and one quarter Gruner Veltliner. Both varieties will be center-points of our estate whites once they are producing.

Our contract growers had a great year in the end as well. We were extremely happy with the Merlot that came from the exquisite terroir of Bellamay vineyard down in Keremeos. The Riesling from Ladyhawke vineyards has some amazing minerality and structure to it which is most certainly a product Joann Laserich’s vineyard wizardry and the strange albeit memorable growing year that was 2017.”

The Wines

Marionette WineryWe first briefly commented on the Marionette wines in the 2016 Garagiste North Pentiction post.

Marionette Entwined 2016 is a proprietary blend crafted from select small lots of diverse varieties. It is our opportunity to show our roots and our passion for a more Old World style wine. We take each small lot of wine and blend them like an artist blends colour from their palette. The result is a unique and unforgettable wine. Expect floral notes with hints of cloves and honey.

Marionette Riesling 2016  The grapes are from the Ladyhawke Vineyards in Keremeos, BC.  Tart green apple, lime, pear and lemon with riesling’s characteristic zippiness.  Youthful, this is one to watch in the future.

Marionette Pulcinella 2014 Named for the infamous Italian trickster marionette, Pulcinella is full of surprises. The grape Zweigelt, although Austrian by origin achieves the fullness of a warmer climate red in a cool climate region. Expect dark fruit with nuances of chocolate and plenty of spice but above all expect to be surprised

You can visit the Marionette Winery website for their complete portfolio of BC wines here.

Sustainability

Amanda and Jamie provided the following comments.  “We are avid sustainability enthusiasts and want our vineyards to be a thriving ecosystem that is self-perpetuating and adaptive. Amanda and I both focussed the last year of our University degrees (BSc. Enology and Viticulture) on the study of beneficial insects.   We also did a number of projects on sustainable water use, cover crops and their use in wide-ranging applications from increasing competition on vigorous vines (vine balance) to sustainability (the use of micro clover, for example, to retain water and nitrogen in the soil during the summer).

We left all the volunteer prune and cherry trees that were on the property when we bought it and tried not to disturb the existing ecosystem. All the trees and margin areas are fantastic overwintering sites for spiders, beetles and parasitic wasps which ultimately keep the pests off the grapes.  Masanobu Fukuoka and his Natural Farming model figure into our ethos greatly. Especially his use of cover crops to terra-form a healthy and sustainably productive food ecosystem.”

Future Plans

“We are very excited to be winemakers in a place that is learning what it is and is therefore unwritten in terms of regulation and style. Europe was an amazing place to learn how to make wine and to work in the industry but it is very established – fixed, so to speak. Amanda and I have that knowledge and experience but here we can do so much more in terms of building unique wines and our own distinctive brand and ethos. The best is yet to come.”

Source: The Marionette Winery provided the Winery and Vineyard information and tasting notes.

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