Photo: The view over Thornhaven Estate Winery's vineyard
Within the past year, the wineries in and
around Summerland have formed what they call Bottleneck Drive – The Summerland Wine
It occurred to the producers that they
needed to achieve a higher profile in order to lure passing wine tourists off
the highway and into the bucolic countryside where the wineries are located.
Everybody knows Sumac Ridge Estate Winery,
of course, because it has been there – right beside Highway 97 – for more than
It might come as a surprise that there are
13 other wineries in the area, counting The Vinegar Works, which also has a
tasting room for its products. One can spend a full day touring these
producers, if not more. Bonitas Winery and Sonoran Winery both have food
service while Heaven’s Gate and Thornhaven have patios. Visitors are welcome to
unpack their own picnics and buy accompanying wines from the wine shops.
The other thing the producers are doing to
raise their profile is to participate in a wine competition during the
Summerland Fall Fair.
The second annual competition has just
concluded. I was one of three judges, along with Rhys Pender MW and broadcaster
Terry David Mulligan.
Most of the Bottleneck Drive wineries submitted
entries. There were 40 wines which were submitted for judging in several
different flights. Of course, the judging was blind and the judges set rigorous
standards for gold and silver awards. We decided from the outset not to award
any bronze medals. Had we done so, almost every wine would have won a medal;
however, many wineries are not interested in bronze medals since these have
little weight with consumers.
The general quality of the Summerland wines
is competitive with wines from any other region of the Okanagan. Bottleneck
Drive is worth the drive.
Here are the winning wines. The descriptors
are mine alone.
Gold and best of show: Dirty Laundry Kay-Syrah 2011 ($24.90). A big, lush red with vanilla
and black cherry flavours, this is 85% Syrah, 15% Merlot
Dirty Laundry Hush Blush Rose 2011 ($19.99). A juicy wine with aromas
and flavours of strawberry and with a nice dry finish.
Bonitas Winery 2011 Viognier ($24). A wine with herbal aromas and
flavours of peaches, melons and citrus.
Bonitas Merlot 2009 ($40). A dark wine with bold oak,
complementing red berry and vanilla flavours.
Silkscarf Winery Ensemble Blanc 2011 ($21.90). This is a blend of Pinot
Gris, Riesling and Gewürztraminer, with intense aromas of spice and flavours of
spice, tangerine and orange peel.
Thornhaven Gewurztraminer 2011 ($17.90). This winery often wins
awards for its Gewürztraminer wines, made in a bold style, with aromas and
flavours of lychee, peach, apricot and spice.
Thornhaven Syrah 2010 ($24). Dark in colour, this wine presents
gamey aromas and flavours of the variety, with flavours also of pepper, fig and
Heaven's Gate Gewurztraminer 2011 ($20). This wine begins with
spicy rose petal aromas. The residual sugar in this off-dry version delivers
appealing flavours of lychee and peach.
Sleeping Giant Black Currant Wine ($17.95). From Summerland’s one
fruit winery, this is a classically intense black currant wine, with a tart
Sumac Ridge Steller's Jay Brut ($24.99). Half the price of Champagne but just as
delightful. The wine begins with toasty citrus aromas. On the palate, the
bubbles give it a creamy texture; but the finish is crisp and refreshing.
Thornhaven T0rtured Grape 2011 ($17.90). This is a blend of Orange Muscat, Riesling and
Chardonnay. The Muscat
contributes spice to the aromas; on the palate, there is spice, peach and
Summergate Muscat Ottonel 2010 ($19.90). The wine has, as you
would expect, spice on the nose and on the palate, along with flavours of apple
Sonoran Rosé 2011 ($17.90). The hue is pale rose and that colour
does not quite prepare you for what comes next – an explosion of fruit on the
nose and the palate. The flavours recall strawberry and rhubarb.
Silkscarf Winery Shiraz
Viognier 2008 ($37.90). A mature red with long ripe tannins, the wine has aromas and
flavours of vanilla, black cherry, figs and chocolate.
Dirty Laundry Merlot 2011 ($22.99). This wine has notes of toasty oak
and red berries in the aroma. The savoury palate has flavours of cherry and