Photo: Robin Ridge's Caroline and Tim Cottrill
This spring, Tim and Caroline Cottrill, the
owners of Robin Ridge Estate Winery near Keremeos, began planting their second
vineyard in the Similkameen
It is an expansion that will support more production
of their best-selling Gamay as well as enabling Tim to add a Meritage blend to
Even more significantly, the location of
the new vineyard will allow them to move their wine shop to a higher profile
site than it currently occupies.
Robin Ridge opened its charming
wine shop in 2008 on a 10-acre vineyard on Middle Bench Road, just a short drive
from Highway 3A, the highway that takes the left fork from Keremeos to Penticton.
It turns out that Highway 3A is the road
less travelled. Much more traffic chooses the right fork just after Keremeos, taking
Highway 3 to Osoyoos – and often missing Robin Ridge
and two other fine wineries not on that road. (The others are Herder Winery
& Vineyards and Clos Du Soleil Winery.)
Tim’s new seven-acre vineyard – formerly a
derelict apricot orchard – has good frontage on Highway 3. His long-term plan
is to move the Robin
Ridge tasting room to this
more visible location than Middle
So far, he has only planted two acres on
the new acreage, choosing Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Robin Ridge
already produces Merlot from its original vineyard but Tim would like to add a
Meritage. “Merlot is a tough varietal to market on its own,” he has found.
He intends to plant another two acres of
Gamay so that he can increase the production of that varietal. The winery now
makes less than 200 cases of Gamay each vintage. The wine, since it is one of
better Gamays in the Okanagan and Similkameen, sells out quickly.
Tim is also thinking of planting more
Gewürztraminer, along with another white variety – still undecided – that he
can blend with Chardonnay.
In the 2011 vintage, Robin Ridge
purchased grapes for the first time to support its rising production. That was
another impetus to the purchase of more vineyard. “You can always buy grapes,”
Tim says, “but sometimes getting the quality you like is tough.”
Robin Ridge does its
best to attract customers to its current location with entertaining events. On
July 7, the winery is sponsoring an archery competition. On July 14, it is
joining with seven other Similkameen wineries to host a barbecue king
competition at the Keremeos Grist Mill.
Here are notes on the wines currently
available in the Robin
Ridge wine shop.
Robin Ridge Gewürztraminer 2011 ($18.90). The wine is delicately balanced to finish almost dry and
food friendly. It has appealing aromas of rose petals and citrus fruits with
spicy flavours of grapefruit and grapefruit rind. 88.
Robin Ridge Chardonnay 2009 ($18.90). Here is a subtly-oaked Chardonnay where the oak does not
bury the appealing flavours and aromas of tangerine, peach and apricot. There
is a buttery richness on the lingering finish. 90.
Robin Ridge Flamingo 2011 ($17.90). Tim’s son, Charles, who is 15, got involved in making this
off-dry rosé with Sovereign Coronation grapes, a table grape variety grown
here. Only 26 cases were made. While the wine has the slightly grapey taste of
the varietal, it is a refreshing apéritif with hints of strawberry, rhubarb and
Robin Ridge Robin’s Return 2009 ($21.90). A blend of Rougeon and Pinot Noir, this is a dark-hued
wine with smoky blackberry aromas and with intense cherry flavours. 88.
Robin Ridge Pinot Noir 2010 ($21.90). The wine, which is developing the classic Pinot texture,
has spicy aromas and flavours of cherry and plum. 88.
Robin Ridge Gamay 2010 ($22.90). The intense black pepper and raspberry aromas follow
through on the palate, along with black cherry flavours. The texture is meaty and generous. 90.
Robin Ridge Merlot 2008 ($21.90). The wine begins with aromas of black currants and plum.
Firmly structured, it has flavours of currants, plum and spice. 88.
Robin Ridge Reserve Merlot 2009 ($28.90). Tim took advantage of the superb 2009 vintage to make a bold,
ripe and concentrated Merlot, with aromas and flavours of vanilla, currants,
figs, plum and chocolate. This wine scored double gold at the All Canadian Wine