Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Wild Goose opens new wine shop

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 bell.

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.

Wild 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 finish. 90.

 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.

Wild Goose 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.

Wild 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.

Wild 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.

Wild 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.


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