Photo: Gary Misson of Montakarn
When to visit: Daily 10 am – 6 pm May through
The newest winery on Black Sage Road is
Montakarn, which opened early this summer, with a red roof that can be spotted
from across the valley.
It just happens that the
roof is red to match the roof on the house next door, the residence of the
owners. But the coincidence is helpful for drawing wine tourists down the long
driveway between the fruit trees remaining from the property’s orchard
It was primarily an
apricot and peach orchard in 2003 when Gary Misson and his wife, Monty, bought
it. They knew nothing about fruit trees. They just wanted to move some place
with a drier and warmer climate than the Lower Mainland, which Monty, who is
found too damp.
“My sister had a small
orchard up here,” Gary
recalls. “We came up for a weekend, Monty and I.
could finally could be outside and not feel cold. She liked it. I said, why
don’t we buy some land up here?”
Born in Campbell
River in 1957, Gary
spent 25 years sailing on tug boats and other coastal vessels. He still has a
shaggy seaman’s beard even though he tired of the sea years ago and earned a
diploma in agricultural engineering in 2003. Between classes, he vacationed in Thailand
and met his wife, Monty, short for Montakarn, which inspired the winery’s name.
The move to the Okanagan
in 2003 was also a lifestyle decision. “I was finishing school,” Gary says. “I didn’t want
to go back to the boats and tow logs and stuff. This was something we could
both do together. She is a university graduate, too. When she came, she knew
with her language difficulties, she would not be able to do what she was
trained to do. She would probably be working in McDonald’s. She has a
bachelor’s degree in business and marketing.”
The decision to replace
the fruit trees with vines reflected Gary’s
long-time interest in wine. “I have been making wine for myself since I was
20,” he says.
He began making kit wines
at home in Vancouver.
He made his first dry table wine in 1984 with Concord grapes growing on a trellis at his
“It was not very palatable,” he
remembers. “It was too foxy. I gave the wine to a Romanian friend who distilled
it. He said it was the best moonshine he had ever made.”
In 2009, he planted about
three hectares (seven acres) of Merlot, Malbec, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and
Chardonnay. Despite vine damage from the bitterly cold 2009 winter, Gary pressed ahead,
retaining consultants Philip Soo and then Daniel Bontorin to make the 2011 and
2012 vintages respectively. The winery’s initial release is under 1,000 cases.
The red-roofed winery is
just off Black Sage Road,
with wine shop windows giving a commanding view looking west over the Okanagan Valley. The ground floor is 4,200 square
feet while the second floor, which includes an outdoor deck, is 1,200 square
The winery’s outward
design reminds some of the neighbouring Le Vieux Pin winery, if only because
both have large overhanging roofs that protect against the hot sun. “It is a
completely different building,” Gary
says. “They have got a hip roof. Mine goes the other way. I don’t think I
Montakarn 2012 Tippy Toe Un-oaked ($19.90 for 211 cases). The blend is 70%
Chardonnay, 22% Sauvignon Blanc and 8% Viognier. The result is an appealing
aroma of tropical fruits, leading to tangy flavours of melon, pear and citrus.
On the finish, the wine is crisp and ever so refreshing. 90.
Montakarn 2011 Tippy Toe Oaked ($19.90 for 97 cases). The blend is 75% Chardonnay,
16% Sauvignon Blanc and 9% Viognier. The wine was aged nine months in neutral
oak. The oak (and probably malolactic fermentation) come through as notes of
butter, coconut and tangerine on both the aroma and the palate. The texture is
Montakarn 2011 Merlot Blend ($20.90 for 329 cases). The blend is 38% Merlot,
23% Cabernet Franc, 22% Syrah, 17% Malbec. The wine spent 15 months in barrels
(30% new French oak). The wine begins with bright brambly aromas. On the
palate, there are vibrant flavours of blackberry, black cherry, chocolate and