The second winery in Kamloops, Privato Vineyard and Winery, has
released its first wine.
It is an attractive Chardonnay made with
Okanagan grapes, since the vineyard at the winery is still not mature. As well,
it remains to be determined what varieties will get through the winters here.
One has to admire the owners for pushing
the envelop while establishing their label with grapes from a less risky
viticultural region. Necessity may make this part of the long-term business
plan. As long as the wines are as finely crafted as the initial release,
consumers will not care where in British
Columbia the grapes have been grown.
The winery has no tasting room or wine shop
at this time. The wines are being sold directly from the winery, or will be
once the website is live. Meanwhile, the owners are endeavouring to get the
Chardonnay onto the lists at select restaurants. A second release, a 2011 Pinot
Noir, is still maturing in bottle.
Here are my notes on the debut wine.
Vineyard and Winery Chardonnay 2011 ($28.90 for 147
cases). This crisp, fresh wine showcases the fruit – aromas and flavours of
citrus and apples – against a background of subtle oak. The flavours and the
texture do a balletic dance on the palate before going on to a long finish. 90.
Here is the winery profile from recent
edition of John Schreiner’s Okanagan Wine Tour Guide.
John and Debbie Woodward know that their vineyard is marginal, even
with its sunbathed slope facing southeast, toward the North
Thompson River. The property, a half hour drive north of Kamloops,
is one of the more northerly vineyards in British Columbia planted to vinifera
(Pinot Noir and Chardonnay).
They are being advised by Torsten and Gustav Allander, the father
and son who operate Foxtrot Vineyards on the Naramata Bench, the origin of
John’s Pinot Noir cuttings. “If we can bring the grapes to maturity, you could
end up with a great wine. Pinot Noir likes it a bit cooler”, John says. They are not betting the farm on the
experiment, however, because they also have relied on Gustav to source Okanagan
grapes as well and to help make their wine.
“Debbie has always wanted a vineyard,” says John, who was born in Kamloops in 1954. A
professional forester, he and Debbie, a certified general accountant, met when
they worked for the same forestry company. Preferring to work independently,
they bought their 36-hectare (90-acre) farm in 1987. Here, they established a
tree nursery now growing 30,000 Christmas trees and deciduous trees for
Early in his forestry career, John, encouraged by his employer,
began making wine at home from kits. He liked the wine until he moved it to
storage that was too hot over summer and the wine fell apart. That ended his
winemaking until he and Debbie vacationed among Italian wineries during crush
several years ago. Seeing tiny wineries harvesting and processing grapes
inspired them. “It was just the fuel we needed to get going,” Debbie says.
They figured there was nothing holding them back: they had land for
vines and farm buildings readily convertible to winemaking. And they had
finished putting their children through school. “Before, we were running a
business with the purpose of supporting the family,” Debbie says. “Now we are
doing it because we are passionate to make a really good glass of wine.”
In 2010, they planted 1.2 hectares (three acres) of vines—Pinot
Noir, Chardonnay and one row of Maréchal Foch. John is open to changing the
varieties if these do not make it through the Kamloops winters. “We’ll end up growing what
will actually grow here,” he says. He also reacquainted himself with winemaking
by making two barrels of wine with Gustav in 2010. The first commercial
vintage, about 600 cases of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc, was done
in 2011, with Gustav’s guidance, for release in 2013.
The Woodwards intend to sell their wines through restaurants and
directly to consumers without a wine shop, in part because they consider their
farm too far “off the beaten path.” Chances are, however, that the customers
who have cut their Christmas trees here for years also may choose some of their
holiday wines here.
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