Photo: Saxon Winery's Jayne and Paul Graydon
Strictly speaking, Saxon Estate Winery is
not new; it is a winery under a new name and under different management.
Located in the bucolic countryside behind
Summerland, this winery opened in 2007 as Hollywood &; Wine. It was so named
because one of the founders, Neil Massey, spent many years driving equipment
trucks for companies shooting movies in British
Last year, Neil and his wife, Betty, both
in their 70s, decided they had had enough of the onerous work of vineyard and
winery management. They sold the winery to a younger couple from Calgary.
I consider it new for 2012 because Paul and
Jayne Graydon, the new owners, have totally rebranded the winery. They also
hired Danny Hattingh, a young South African winemaker, to polish the wines,
including wines they had purchased from other producers to raise the winery’s
Danny did a pretty capable job, as the
reviews below would indicate. However, I anticipate another jump in quality
with Saxon’s 2012 vintage, over which Danny had total control.
There are no prices on the winery’s web
site. However, each wine is not only described graphically but with a useful
sound bite. This is a clever feature and I am not aware of any other winery
that has picked up on the idea yet.
Here are my notes on the wine. You can
compare them with Saxon’s sound bites.
Pinot Gris 2011. A wine with a slight blush, this
has aromas of pear and flavours of pear and citrus, with good weight on the
palate. It is well balanced, juicy yet dry on the finish. 89.
Viognier 2011. This is a light and lean white with
aromas and flavours of citrus; a bit short on the finish. 87.
Gewürztraminer 2011. Here is a fine Alsace-style
wine with aromas and flavours of spice and grape fruit. Full on the palate, it
finishes dry and the flavours linger. 88.
Léon Millot Rosé 2011. Here is a rosé with a
vibrant hue, thanks to the red flesh of the grape. It has aromas and flavours
of plums and cherries. The juicy texture gives this wine good weight. The
finish is crisp. 90.
Pinot Noir 2009. The shortcomings of this wine – it
is over-extracted – can be laid to the previous management. This wine is still
firm, with aromas of cherries and plums. 86.
Merlot 2011. The winery decided to make an unoaked
Merlot, succeeding with a juicy quaffer that has aromas of cherries and ripe
plums, with plum flavours and a chewy texture. 88.
Léon Millot 2011. Dark in colour, this begins with
aromas of chocolate, plum and blackberry, followed with flavours of plum and
mocha. The tannins are silky and the finish is long. 89.
Cranky Old Man 2011. This has to be one of the
better names for a man, again attributable to the previous management and
returned by the current owners. Any number of their customers walk away with
bottles as gifts, perhaps to make a point. This is an unconventional blend of
70% Pinot Noir, 30% Merlot. (It’s enough to make a Pinot Noir fancier cranky!) There
are aromas of plum and liquorice, leading to flavours of raspberry and cherry.
The winery’s back label notes, which generally are very accurate, describe this
wine as having silky tannins. I find the tannins firm enough that I would age
this wine another year. 88.
Here is the winery profile from the
recent edition of John Schreiner’s
Okanagan Wine Tour Guide.
Paul Graydon liked what he found when
changing careers in 2011 to buy, with Jayne, his wife, Hollywood & Wine
Winery in Summerland. “I come from this dog eat dog software industry,” he says.
“It is refreshing to come to the wine industry where watching your back is not
the first issue. It sounds like there is room for everybody to play.”
Born in London in 1960, Paul pursued a high-flying
sales career, first with Xerox Corp., then as vice president with a software
company called Emtex and with Pitney Bowes, which bought Emtex in 2006. That
was three years after he had moved from London
to Calgary to accelerate the Emtex business in North America. In the summer of 2010, he and Pitney Bowes
parted company and he decided he had had enough of that life.
“I said to Jayne that I could go back into
the software industry and earn the big dollars,” he says. “But I was fed up
with looking at airport ceilings and travelling all over the USA and Canada. I wanted something that we can both do
together, without having to report to our boss every day.” So they set up a
wine agency called Great Wines of the World. “We had always been wine people,”
Paul says. “I had been drinking the best wines in the world, having travelled
all over Europe and the USA
on expenses.” Jayne had also spent several years selling Piper-Heidsieck
Champagne in Britain. When they began looking
for Okanagan wines to supplement their agency’s European wine portfolio, they
concluded that owning a winery better suited their career objectives.
Hollywood & Wine, one of several
wineries they looked at, is an attractive rural property established by Betty
and Neil Massey. They had moved there in 1998, planting about four hectares (10
acres) of vines for their winery that got its name because Neil was a trucker
for movie production companies. Both in
their 70s and only selling about 1,000 cases a year, they were ready to retire
when Paul and Jayne came along. The Graydons, given their commercial
experience, are targeting annual sales of 3,000 to 4,000 cases for Saxon
Winery, named for the historic Anglo-Saxon region of Britain they come from.