Class of 2013: Cana Vines Winery
Oliver, BC V0H1T2
When to visit: 11 a.m. –
5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Sundays May to October
location is a key to success, Cana Vines Winery launched with an advantage. The
winery, with its three hectares (7.5 acres) of sunbathed vines, is beside the
highway, just south of Vaseux
Lake and north of
McIntyre Bluff. Not many wineries enjoy as much drive-by traffic.
the address is Brauns Road, that is a stub of a street from Highway 97 near Vaseux Lake.
The highway address of the vineyard is 9001 Highway 97.
“They have changed our
address four times since we moved here,” says winemaker Lisa Elgert.
Elgert, a commercial fisherman, bought the property in 1990, he just wanted to
move his family to the Okanagan from Vancouver.
“He was thinking of retiring from fishing,” says Filipino-born Mindi, his wife,
who had to learn to drive because they were distant from a community.
“My dad researched
different crops that could have grown here,” says Lisa, his daughter. “We had
all sorts of suggestions – ginseng, hemp, seabuckthorne. Somebody wanted us to
open a McDonalds. There were all sorts of ideas. He settled on grapes.”
family spent the better part of the decade picking rocks while deciding what to
grow before vines were planted in 1997. The varietal choices – Merlot, Pinot
Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Chardonnay - were made on the advice of Arnie’s
friend, Sandor Mayer, the winemaker at Inniskillin Okanagan.
Vines was registered in 2000 as the vineyard’s name, inspired by a passage in
Mindi’s bible about the first miracle attributed to Jesus – turning water into
wine at a wedding at Cana.
soon was thinking about opening a winery. He sent Lisa to get a business degree
at Trinity Western University
with the object of having her run the business. Then in 2008, Arnie was
stricken with cancer and died that December. “We were so devastated,” Mindi says. “We tried to get rid of the
vineyard so we could forget everything and have a new start.” However, they
could not sell the vineyard because of an economic slump. As they continued to
farm it and sell the grapes, Lisa took Okanagan College
winemaking courses. She and her mother decided to realize Arnie’s dream.
arranged to have their initial 2011 vintage made at Kalala Organic Estate Winery.
That gave them time to turn a three-car garage into a functional winery and to
complete a tasting room and a picnic area with a fine view of vineyards and McIntyre Canyon to the south. And they have
grafted some of their vines to additional varietals, giving them a bigger tool
box for make blends.
wedding at Cana theme has also inspired the
labels of several wines scheduled for release this summer. There is a 2011
Chardonnay called “Water to Wine” and a blend of Pinot Gris, Riesling and
Chardonnay called “The Wedding Feast.” An unoaked 2012 Merlot is called “First
I visited the winery in April, prior to the opening of the wine shop, there
were only two wines in bottle, although I was able to sample several from
barrel or tank. In particular, the unoaked Merlot is juicy and delicious.
are notes on the finished wines.
Cana Vines Pinot Gris 2011: ($16 for 126 cases). This fruity wine with a touch
of sweetness on the finish has aromas and flavours of pear and apple. Sweetness
aside, it is balanced to have a crisp, refreshing finish. 88.
Cana Vines Merlot Rosé 2011: ($14 for 256 cases). Think strawberry. The wine
has a strawberry hue, with aromas and flavours of strawberries. It is an easy
summer-time quaffer. 88.