Friday, June 29, 2012

Robin Ridge plants a second vineyard

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 Valley.

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 the portfolio.

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 Bench Road.

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 citrus. 87.

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 Championships. 90.


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