Photo: Harry McWatters with model of Time Estate Winery
Sumac Ridge Founder Harry McWatters has revealed the plans
for his eye-catching new Time Estate Winery on Black Sage Road.
Designed by architect Nick Buvanda – whose previous credits
include wineries for Black Hills and Terravista – will be a dramatic white
structure, partially set in a vineyard gully but with elegantly curved upper
stories overlooking vineyards and the south Okanagan Valley.
“It will be an iconic building that will be visible from
Highway 97 [across the valley],” Harry says.
This graceful architecture is far cry from the architecture
of Sumac Ridge, which grew incrementally from what had been the clubhouse for a
golf course. Although the winery’s expansions always reflected the Tudor style favoured
by Summerland, one wag once compared it to a Motel 8.
No one will ever disparage Harry’s elegant new winery.
Harry expects that construction will begin this year and the
winery, with a capacity of at least 30,000 cases, will be ready for the 2014
crush. The winery is set on a high
point on what is now called the Sundial Vineyard. That
is the half of the former Black
Sage Road vineyard – crucially the half fronting
onto the road – that Harry kept when Vincor (now Constellation Brands) bought
Sumac Ridge in 2000.
Constellation continued to buy grapes from Harry until the
grape supply contract ended several years ago. Constellation owns the Black
Sage Road Vineyard name and farms the back half of the original 115 acres which
was all planted to Bordeaux
varietals in 1993.
Harry no longer has any involvement with either Sumac Ridge
or Constellation, freeing him up to launch what is going to be a family winery
if, as seems probable, his son Darren and his daughter Christa-Lee join Time.
Harry now will have two labels. His McWatters label, which
began with a 2007 Red Meritage and later included a Chardonnay, will be
produced at the Time winery. It will always remain a small brand.
However, Time has also launched its own label, initially with
three wines: a Chardonnay, a White Meritage and a Red Meritage.
Meritage is a term that denotes wines made from only Bordeaux grape varietals.
The term was created in California when the
wine industry there began phasing out Bordeaux
place names on its labels. Harry negotiated the right to use it in Canada and Sumac Ridge made the first Meritage
in the 1993 vintage.
Sumac Ridge has recently discontinued producing either a
white or a red Meritage, in part because Constellation Brands thought the term
is too closely associated with Harry McWatters. That has given Harry the
opportunity to launch Meritage wines at Time.
The Time portfolio will clearly be expanded in future
vintages to include single varietals, among them Cabernet Franc, Syrah and
Carmenère. Harry has just planted 2,750 vines of Carmenère, a late ripening Bordeaux red that has been championed in Chile.
Here are notes on Time’s first three wines, done in a
temporary onsite winery in what was a former machine shop. The wines will be
available in VQA stores and select private wine stores.
Time Meritage White
2012 ($25 for 275 cases).This is 79% Sauvignon Blanc and 21% Sémillon, a
fairly traditional blend that mirrors the many award-winning white Meritage
wines made by Sumac Ridge over the years. This wine is rich on the palate, with
aromas and flavours of tangerine and mango. 90.
Time Chardonnay 2011 ($27.99
for 440 cases). This wine was fairly recently bottled and is not entirely over
bottle shock. Since this is not your summertime unoaked Chardonnay, you would
be well advised to lay it down until the fall when the toasty and citrus aromas
will have come together. On the palate, there are flavours citrus, apple and
Red 2011 ($29.99 for 625 cases). This
is 60% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc. Red fruit aromas
explode from the glass, leading to bright and vibrant flavours of blackberry,
lingonberry, black cherries and red liquorice. The long ripe tannins mean this
wine is already drinking well. This is a wine in search of barbecued lamb