Photo: Adega's Alex Nunes and Fred Farinha
The handsome Adega on 45th
Estate Winery, which opened this spring, brings to mind the realtor’s maxim:
“location, location, location.”
The winery is readily visible from downtown
Osoyoos. It is also on the same street that leads to Nk’Mip Cellars, the first
winery in Osoyoos. It is a location that should keep the expansive tasting room
busy all season.
Operated by two families of Portuguese
ancestry, this is the fourth winery in Osoyoos. The other two are Moon Curser
Vineyards and Young & Wyse. These comprise the critical mass for a day of
wine touring, including a lunch at Nk’Mip and a cultural tour at Nk’Mip’s
desert interpretation centre.
Here is the profile of Adega on 45th winery
from the recent edition of John Schreiner’s Okanagan Wine Tour Guide.
the church bells to communicate deaths and other important village events was
an art that Alex Nunes learned one summer in his native Portugal. He
was 13 and home from a stint in the seminary. Although he emigrated to Canada two
years later, the memory of the two big bells in that village church inspired
Alex to add a bell tower to the winery’s façade when it was built in 2011.
There is, however, no bell in the tower, at least for now. “It is just for
show,” Alex admits.
winery, whose warm butterscotch tones fit the desert landscape of Osoyoos, was
designed by Alex and his brother-in-law, Fred Farinha, who own the winery with
their wives, Maria and Pamala. The winery sits high on the vineyard’s
west-facing slope. The tasting room windows offer a grand view over the town
and the lake. The 557-square-metre (6,000-square-foot) winery has thick
concrete walls and a naturally-cooled cellar, for 400 barrels, buried against
the hillside. The interior’s public areas acquired the instant patina of age by
having walls finished with Italian clay and tiles on the floor.
winery’s European ambiance reflects the Portuguese heritage (adega is
Portuguese for cellar). Alex was born in Portugal
in 1950 while Fred was born in Penticton
in 1966. Their families were among the many Portuguese immigrants who came to
Osoyoos at that time as tree fruit growers. Both Alex and Fred operated
orchards until about 2005 when vanishing returns from tree fruits left them
with a stark choice: sell the land or plant grapes. “We decided to keep the
land and build a winery,” Alex says.
they were going to sell grapes to existing wineries. After planting three
vineyards totalling 15.4 hectares (38 acres), they plunged completely into wine
production. “Create our own future, you could call it,” Alex says. Wine, after
all, is in their blood. “We had wine on our tables and in our homes, always,
since we were born,” Alex remembers. “Your mom would ask to you go to the
tavern in the village to get a litre of wine. It did not matter if you were
five years old or ten years old. You would just go and get it.” While they use
a consulting winemaker, Alex and Fred, with years of experience as home
winemakers, do much of the work in the winery as well as the vineyard.
They grow all the major
varietals found in the south Okanagan. Alex even has two late ripening Touriga
Nacional vines even though he doubts the variety, used in port production, will
thrive in the Okanagan. Adega will make its port with Merlot. Because the term,
port, cannot be used in Canada,
the winery will call it Portāo
Da Adega – meaning door of the cellar.
Here are notes on those wines available for
tasting at the time of my visit.
2010 ($16). Named for one of the family
grandmothers, this is a Viognier. The wine is crisp, with flavours of melon and
pineapple and a spine of minerality. 87.
2010 ($20). Appealing and juicy in texture, this
wine has flavours of peaches and apricots. 88.
Gris 2011 ($20). Consulting winemaker Phil Soo has crafted
a popular patio sipper, with apple and citrus aromas and with flavours of
2011 ($17). This is a somewhat unconventional blend
of equal parts Merlot and Viognier that succeeds as good dry rosé for summer.
It has aromas and flavours of strawberries and a crisp finish. 88.
2010 ($N.A.). This begins with the classic black
pepper aroma and flavour common with South Okanagan Syrah. On the palate, there
are flavours of black cherry, fig and liquorice. The tannins are ripe and
Franc 2011 (tank sample). This is a marvellous,
full-bodied red with the brambly aromas and flavours that distinguish this
varietal in the Okanagan. 90.
2011 ($N.A.). Another unconventional blend –
Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Viognier – this was not yet available when I
visited. The name honours a family grandfather.
on 45th Estate Winery