Monday, October 8, 2012

Class of 2012: Privato Vineyard and Winery

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.

Privato 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 landscaping needs.

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.

Privato Vineyard & Winery
5505 Westsyde Road
Kamloops, BC V2B 8N5
T 250.579.8695 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            250.579.8695      end_of_the_skype_highlighting


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