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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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
says. “There is a really good cider tradition that has died off.”