Photo: Sharon and Lawrence Herder
Sometimes it takes me by surprise to find
that a winery has hit a significant anniversary, considering how wineries have
opened at such a blistering pace that one forgets this is a maturing industry.
Herder Winery, I discover, is 10 years old
this year if you count from the year that Lawrence Herder began planting grapes
in the Similkameen
The winery itself opened in 2004 near
Cawston and moved four years later to property on Upper Bench Road, not far from Keremeos.
The original property was sold and is now occupied by EauVivre Winery.
Lawrence and his Canadian-born wife,
Sharon, formerly operated a winery, also called Herder in the Paso Robles
region of California.
They moved to Burnaby in British Columbia to run a family-owned
printing company. That did not engage them very long. Lawrence is a winemaker both by training and
by avocation who began making wine at home when he was 16. When he moved to Canada, he
actually brought along equipment from his first winery.
They moved to the Similkameen in 2002 to
get back into the wine business. While the vineyard was getting established, Lawrence made a couple of
vintages at Jackson-Triggs and one vintage at what is now Road 13 Vineyards. He
has also consulted with several producers, including Stoneboat Vineyards and
He retired from consulting a few years ago
to focus just on the 2,500 to 3,000 cases made at his winery, largely from
estate-grown grapes. This winery’s ambition, it seems, is not to get bigger,
just to be one of the leading boutique producers in British Columbia.
The latest releases are very well made.
Here are my notes
Three Sisters 2011 ($20). This is a delicious blend
of Pinot Gris, Viognier and Chardonnay. It has aromas and flavours of melons,
apples and citrus. The wine has nice weight on the palate but yet finishes
Meritage 2009 ($20). Excellent value, this wine has
all five of the Bordeaux
red varietals in the blend. It begins with aromas of vanilla, black cherry and
black currant and then presents ripe flavours of black currant and black berry.
The tannins are still firm, suggesting that this wine has several years of
development ahead of it. 89.
Pinot Noir 2010 ($35 for 90 cases). Dark and
full-bodied, this wine is made entirely with Similkameen Valley
grapes, all from the Herder vineyard. It begins with aromas of toasty oak (from
16 months aging in large oak vats) and black cherry. On the palate, there are
layers of flavour – more toasty notes, with black cherry, strawberry, raspberry
and mocha. The spicy finish and the sensual texture add to the appeal. 91.
Josephine 2008 ($50 for 3,180 bottles). This is the
flagship red at this winery – a blend in this vintage of 81% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6%
Cabernet Franc. The wine is bold and ripe, with 14.8% alcohol that meshes
seamlessly into the layers of fruit. The aroma begins with black currant, spicy
red fruit, and chocolate. On the palate, the sweet red fruit flavours evolve
into a finish which shows spice, cedar and chocolate. The wine has long ripe
tannins. It shows best with decanting. 92.
On checking the winery’s website, I find
that I have reviewed this wine previously. I am relieved, in the interest of
consistency, to find I made similar comments. Why review it again? Another
bottle seems to have been included in the latest set of samples from the
winery. It was one of my lucky days.