BC Wine Institute’s fall tasting this week was a coming out event for C.C.
Jentsch Cellars, the most recent winery to open this summer.
Jentsch – the “J” is pronounced “Y” – has come out of the gate quickly because
proprietors Chris and Betty Jentsch
already had a suitable building right on Highway 97, midway between Oliver and
Osoyoos. The finishing touches are being done on the tasting room.
is a dramatic story behind this winery beginning with the Testalinden Creek mud
slide on a Sunday afternoon in June 2010.
is how the Globe & Mail reported the event:
Betty Jentsch was home with her
16-year-old daughter Emily Sunday afternoon when she heard "a roaring
thunder sound that wasn't stopping."
Mrs. Jentsch looked out her window at
Testalinden Creek, which flows down a hill next to her property from a reservoir
lake built in the 1930s. "Just a wall of mud was coming down the
creek," she said.
She ran upstairs and grabbed her
daughter. When she got back downstairs, she looked out the back door and saw
"a mountain of mud with my vehicle coming towards the house," she
Mrs. Jentsch and her daughter ran out
another door and headed north as quickly as they could move, running through
orchards and hopping several fences until they reached higher ground. "She
turned around and looked back and saw the mountain of mud with our garage
heading our way," said Mrs. Jentsch of her daughter.
Mrs. Jentsch, whose family is now
staying with relatives, has not spent too much time worrying about who is
responsible for the mudslide. "I'm just glad that we're okay. Everything
else can be replaced," she said.
[Eventually, the Jentschs moved to a new
home near Summerland.]
slide missed the nearby Jentsch packing house, a modern building just beside
the highway which was then being rented to Road 13 Vineyards for wine storage.
That was a stroke of good fortune for Road 13, and now for Chris Jentsch.
self-described entrepreneur, Chris, who was born in Kelowna in 1963, is a third-generation
Okanagan fruit grower. He became an independent apple grower in the 1980s. He
built his first packing house in 1989 and rebuilt it after fire destroyed it in
1991. When apple prices collapsed in the mid 1990s, he converted his orchards
to cherries. “We were in a golden time
for cherry exports, with a 63 cent Canadian dollar,” Chris recalls. “Cherries
were getting air freighted to Taiwan.”
In 1999, Chris planted his
first vineyard, a 7.6 hectare (19-acre) on the Golden Mile, just south of the
Tinhorn Creek winery. He sold it five years later to go to a much larger
project – replacing his cherry trees with vines after overplanting led to a
cherry surplus. “That was hard because
we were ripping out highly productive cherry blocks that were picture perfect,”
In his usual style, Chris
jumped in with both feet. Between 2005 and 2008, he planted 65,246 vines on a
superb 19.4 hectare (48-acre) plateau on the Golden Mile. Once the vines
produced, he sold grapes to several wineries, including Andrew Peller Ltd. But
Peller’s own vineyards now are in full production. Chris, facing uncertainty
about where he would sell all of his grapes, has made the final jump by
converting the packing house into a 10,000-case winery.
When he asked Okanagan
Crush Pad to make his initial vintage in 2012, Chris had more modest objectives
“My intention at the time
was to continue on with my 2,000 cases, and continue to sell to Peller,” he
says. “But with the Peller situation, I got forced into doing my own thing. But
really, it fits me better. I would rather die by my own action, right or wrong.”
The expertise at Okanagan
Crush Pad has launched him with good wines and, more critically, with marketing
C.C. Jentsch opened with 300
cases of Viognier, 120 cases of Gewürztraminer, 550 cases of Syrah and about
900 cases of a Meritage blend called The Chase. Chris has arranged to have Matt
Dumayne, one the OCP winemakers, make the C.C. Jentsch wines in 2013.
Here are notes on the
C.C. Jentsch Gewürztraminer 2012 ($17.99). This is a fine dry wine, beginning with
classic aromas of spice, rose petals and grapefruit. The wine is full on the
palate with flavours of grapefruit and a hint of lychee. 90.
C.C. Jentsch Viognier 2012 ($24.99). This wine has fully ripe flavours of
apricots and peaches with tropical fruit aromas, all set on a rich palate with
the variety’s typical spine of minerals, tannin and alcohol. 89.
C.C. Jentsch The Chase 2012 ($19.99). This is a blend of 35% Merlot, 34%
Cabernet Sauvignon, 12.5% Petit Verdot, 11% Cabernet Franc and 7.5% Malbec. The
wine has been made in a soft and approachable style for early drinking,
although perhaps not this early. I would lay it aside at least six months. Now,
it has aromas and flavours of cassis and blueberry but is still developing in
C.C. Jentsch Syrah 2012 ($28.99). Here is another ripe, mouthfilling red.
It begins with aromas of black cherry, chocolate and spice. It delivers earthy,
cherry flavours with a touch of white pepper on the finish. 90.