Photo: The new tasting room at Wild Goose
Guess what Okanagan winery has added a bell
tower with a real bell?
It is Wild Goose Vineyards and Winery and
it is only the second winery with a bell above its tasting room.
The first was Mission Hill Family Estate
Winery, with four French-made bells that chime the hours from a slender tower
above the winery.
Wild Goose is also a family winery, run by
Adolf Kruger and his sons Hagen and Roland, with considerable support and
involvement of the three Kruger spouses. The Krugers are humble and so is their
The stubby bell tower caps the new tasting
room and wine shop that is about to open here. While the tower was always part
of the design, there was no intention of putting a bell in it until they were
given one by a friend.
The bell apparently once was on a German
merchant ship called the Simon von Utrecht. Roland advised me to google the
name but that did not turn up much detail on the ship. Possibly, it was a
merchant ship that was subsequently owned and registered in Greece. How and
why the friend got the bell and passed it on is a story for another day.
And don’t expect the bell to chime the
hours. That was never in the cards at Wild Goose.
In any event, people visit this Okanagan Falls winery for the wine and for the
tasting room congeniality. The new wine shop, which is spacious and has
dramatic view over the Stoney Slope Vineyard, will accommodate far more people
that the tasting room that has served Wild Goose for 15 years. It is expected
to open to the public by the end of June.
The new wine shop is part of an overall
expansion at Wild Goose, now producing about 11,000 cases of wine a year. The
underground cellar has been extended. There are new offices for the staff, a
VIP tasting room, a commercial kitchen to support functions and an outdoor
deck, allowing the functions to spill out of the tasting room.
This expansion has been necessary because
of the success that Wild Goose has enjoyed. The winery opened in 1990 at a time
when there was so much pessimism about Okanagan winery that a government
official said they would be lucky to sell 1,000 bottles a year! But within nine
years, the winery was selling enough wine to support the purchase of the Oliver
vineyard now called Mystic
River. Wild Goose planted
its third vineyard, also at Oliver, four years ago.
The winery’s specialty for many years was
whites made with Gewürztraminer, Riesling and Pinot Gris. The portfolio has
gradually expanded, adding several more whites and reds.
Over the past decade, few small wineries
have won as many awards as Wild Goose. The winery has been a multiple winner of
the Lieutenant Governor’s Award of Excellence for most of its whites - even for
Autumn Gold, its easy-drinking summer white.
When I dropped in recently to look at the
new wine shop, I also tasted many of the current releases. Here are my notes.
Goose Chardonnay 2011 ($18.99). This is the first
Chardonnay that Hagen, the family’s winemaker, has made in a dozen years and it
has been such a great success that Wild Goose has already contracted Chardonnay
grapes for a 2012 wine. This 2011 is just bursting with fruit – pear, apples,
citrus and whatever else you can find in a bowl of tropical fruit. It was the
acidity to give it a very refreshing lift on the palate and a bright, clean
Wild Goose Riesling 2011 ($18.99). This
is a mouth-watering Riesling, with flavours of lime and other citrus fruits,
with mineral hints in the texture and with bright, tangy acidity. The acidity
is so brilliantly balanced with 19 grams of residual sugar that the wine tastes
much less sweet than that. The sugar lifts the fruity flavours and aromas. 90.
Mystic River Pinot Blanc 2011 ($18.99). The previous vintage won a Lieutenant Governor’s Award and
this wine is surely its equal. It has lovely fruit aromas and juicy flavours of
apples, with a dry finish. 91.
Goose Gewürztraminer 2011 ($18.99). The intense
aromas and flavours of this wine reflect the 28-year-old vines from which the
grapes came. The wine begins with aromas of spice and rose petals. On the
palate, there are flavours of spicy grapefruit and grapefruit rind. The wine
has a crisp dry finish. 91.
Goose Merlot 2009 ($19.99). In recent years, the
winery has retained some consultants to help raise its red wines to the same
calibre as its whites. The strategy has succeeded. This Merlot is bold, ripe
and juicy, with flavours of plum, blackberries, vanilla and chocolate. 91.
Goose Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Kerry Hill Vineyard ($24.99).
This is an elegant and ripe red, with notes of vanilla, blackberry and black
currant and with a mouth-filling texture. 90.