Friday, September 21, 2012

Class of 2012: Tyler Harlton Wines

Photo: Tyler Harlton

Tyler Harlton Wines is a tiny 500-case producer in a Summerland industrial park – so tiny that some of the other Summerland wineries had not even heard of it when I was in that community recently.

There is no tasting room, so the winery is not on any of the touring maps. The wines are sold through the website as well as in a few Summerland area wine stores. Tyler is also getting some distribution in Alberta and in Saskatchewan, where he has contacts and relatives.

He is not trying to go head to head with more established producers. “In this valley,” he acknowledges, “there are a lot of good wines.”

His other business is growing organic vegetables on his farm at Trout Creek and selling them to restaurants and at farmer’s markets.

He is a  bit of a romantic personality (“I really like travelling by train”) who belongs to an artistic family. His sister, Angela Morgan, is a Fernie, B.C., artist who sells her work both across Canada and abroad. Her web site lists a gallery in Switzerland that carries her art. Of course, she has provided the colourful label art for her brother’s wines.

Here are notes on the currant releases.

Thw 2011 Apple Wine ($14.10). Tangy and refreshing, this dry apple wine is made with dessert apples. The result is a pleasant, light-bodied wine with seven per cent alcohol. 88.

Thw 2011 Rosé ($21). This delicious wine was made with Cabernet Franc grapes that Tyler purchased specifically to make rosé. It tastes of wild strawberries with a creamy texture and a dry finish. 90.

Thw 2011 Pinot Gris Viognier ($21). Two-thirds of the blend is Pinot Gris. Tyler and his winemaker did fairly complex winemaking here, fermenting seven separate lots, some in stainless steel and some in barrels. Some of the blend got the benefit of lees stirring; some went through malolactic ferment, some did not.  It is a lot of work for 1,000 bottles but the result is excellent. The wine has aromas and flavours of apricots, with the buttery note of ML. It shows a generous weight on the palate and a crisp, well-defined finish. 90.

Still to be released is 48 cases of a 2011 Pinot Noir for $26. Tyler also is maturing three barrels of Cabernet Franc and two barrels of Merlot, which will be blended into one red for release next year.

His peers should take notice of the new guy on the block.

Here is the profile from the current edition of John Schreiner’s Okanagan Wine Tour Guide.

In 2007, during his final year at McGill’s law school, Tyler Harlton had a semester in Paris. On most weekends, he took the train to a French wine region, rented a bicycle, and explored wineries and vineyards, even helping to pick grapes. He had taken courses in wine appreciation but the French experience was life changing. “Seeing the vines in France really connected with me,” says Tyler, who was born in Saskatchewan in 1976 and grew up on a wheat farm. “I had that in my background. The wine industry is sophisticated and popular but at the same time it has an agricultural tradition.”

When he graduated in 2008, he decided to article with a Penticton law firm, attracted in part by the Okanagan’s wine industry. In short order, Tyler decided against a career in law and became a picker and then a cellar hand at Osoyoos Larose Estate Winery. He moved to the cellar at Le Vieux Pin in 2009 and to Dirty Laundry Vineyards in 2010 while planning for himself a holistic agricultural lifestyle including a winery.

“I rent land and grow ground crops and I sell at farmers’ markets and to local restaurants,” he explains. “My idea is to have a sustainable lifestyle where I get to grow food and make wine. My idea is to be working with vines at the same time as I am growing food. The farming season slows down in September and that is when the grape picking starts. I would like to live an old-fashioned lifestyle doing the things that I love – growing food and making wine.”

He crafted a strategy allowing him to open a winery with limited capital. For a processing facility, he leases about 139 square meters (1,500 square feet) in an industrial building next to Ripley Stainless Ltd., the major supplier of tanks for the wine industry. He has handshake agreements with two growers in the south Okanagan for top quality grapes. And he operates the winery under a commercial license that, unlike a land-based winery license, does not require him to be based on his own vineyard.

In their inaugural vintage, Tyler and his winemaker, William Adams, made about 500 cases (Pinot Gris, Viognier, Cabernet Franc rosé, Pinot Noir and a Merlot/Cabernet Franc blend). And because there are plenty of apples available, they made a trial 100-case lot of cider. “Cider for me is another agricultural product,” Tyler says. “There is a really good cider tradition that has died off.”

Tyler Harlton Wines
#1 - 9576 Cedar Avenue
Summerland BC V0H 1Z2
T 250.494.8334


At October 2, 2012 at 3:43 AM , Blogger Jerry Harlton said...

May be in your area in a several weeks to check out (and purchase)

At October 2, 2012 at 3:52 AM , Blogger Jerry Harlton said...

Good report. I will be in your area in a few weeks and will taste (and buy)

At October 2, 2012 at 4:06 AM , Blogger Jerry Harlton said...

I will be in your area in several weeks to taste and ? buy


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