Photo: Sea Star Estate Farms winery on Pender Island
A new winery, Sea Star Estate Farms and Vineyards, has
emerged from the ashes of Pender
’s Morning Bay
Vineyard and Estate Winery.
Sea Star has burst onto the wine scene with a stunning
debut. Its first four white wines, all from 2013 and all from Pender Island
grapes, impressed the judges at the recent Northwest Wine Summit competition.
Sea Star came away with two gold medals, a silver medal and a designation as
one of 16 wineries of distinction in the competition (winners of two or more gold
It is a strong start for owner David Goudge and his
winemaker, Ian Baker. Others also have recognized the quality of the wines.
Even before the results of the competition were announced, Sea Star wines had
been placed on the lists of several of the best restaurants in Vancouver
(Blue Water Cafe, L’Abattoir,
Hawksworth, Chambar, and Homer St. Cafe and Bar).
fact, Blue Water purchased the entire vintage, a little over 200 cases, of
Stella Maris, the winery’s elegant white blend. In total, the winery has
released about 1,500 cases of Pender
white wines. It
has about 600 cases of a Meritage made with Okanagan grapes that will be
released next year.
who has lived on Pender Island
for about six years, purchased Morning Bay
two and a half years ago after it
had closed. He set about resuscitating Pender Island
was opened in 2005 by former
journalist Keith Watt. He had planted a seven-acre vineyard in 2002, following
up by building a handsome winery amid the Pender Island
forest. “When people visit your winery and find that the building is serious,”
Keith once told me, “they approach your wines seriously.”
has discovered that the winery building still impresses. “So often, people
drive up and their mouths drop,” he says. “They don’t expect this. They kind of
think they are going to get a barn leaning slightly to the left or the right.
To Keith’s credit, he dreamed big.”
Perhaps Keith dreamed too big. He listed the winery for sale
in September 2010 as he struggled to operate Morning Bay
under the financial pressure of having built more than a rudimentary winery. He sold the winery to David, operating it under lease for a year as he liquidated his stock of wines.
Since taking over the property, David has invested in new
tanks, new equipment, a climate controlled barrel cellar and an updated wine
shop. However, to those who attended the rock concerts Morning Bay
used to host every fall, the winery will look familiar.
David was born in Ottawa
in 1959 and grew up in a home where his parents shared wine at the dinner
table. “I am a fan of wine,” he says. “I have never tried to learn how to make it
myself. I just leave that to the experts. But I am passionate about wine.”
to Vancouver to study architecture at the University of British Columbia. Then he went briefly
into the restaurant business before establishing himself as a Vancouver real estate agent. Some of the
restaurants that have taken Sea Star wines were restaurants where he
entertained clients. That has given him an edge with restaurateurs not known
for listing island wines.
when I went back into Vancouver,
some of the owners and managers recognized me and ask where I had been,” he
says. “I told them I have started a winery on Pender Island
and they said when the wine is ready, bring it to us. I kind of had a door open
when the wines were available.”
doubt, the elegantly simple but classic Sea Star labels help sell the wines.
Each crisply white label is adorned with a sea star. “For me, the image of a
sea star is reminiscent of beach combing in the summer; or you might be out
kayaking on a calm day and you can see them up on the rocks,” David says. “They
represent summer in the ocean, that’s what I thought.”
also underline that this is the only winery in British Columbia whose property runs down to
Baker, the vineyard manager and winemaker, formerly was a partner at Mistaken
Identity Vineyards on Salt
where he also made the wines and ran the organic vineyard.
Ian is a
one time Department of Fisheries employee and the former operator of a
landscape business in Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island.
More to the point, he was a long-time amateur winemaker with, as one of his
former partners said, “a box of medals.”
He moved to Sea Star in 2013 after about four years with Mistaken
The Pender Island grapes in the winery’s 2013 whites are from
the 5,000 vines at Sea Star’s vineyard and the 7,000 vines at the 5.5-acre
vineyard at Clam Bay Farm on North
Here are notes on the wines.
Sea Star Blanc de Noir
for 312 cases). This Provence-style rosé made from Clam Bay Farm fruit begins
with a rose petal hue. It has aromas and flavours of rhubarb, strawberry and
cranberry. The racy acidity gives the wine a fresh and tangy finish. The wine
is also crisply dry. This wine won a gold medal and “best rosé” at the
Northwest Wine Summit. 90.
Sea Star Siegerrebe
for 425 cases). This wonderfully expressive wine, with Clam Bay
fruit, begins with aromas of herbs, spice and grapefruit. On the palate, there
are flavours of grapefruit, guava, peach and spice. A bowl of tropical fruit
flavours, this aromatic wine has a very long finish. The exquisite balance of
acidity and residual sugar contributes to the clean, fresh flavours. This wine
won gold. 91.
Sea Star Ortega 2013 ($18.90 for 448 cases).
Also made with Clam
Bay fruit, this wine
begins with aromas of melon, herbs and a light pinch of hazelnut. On the
palate, there are flavours of grapefruit and honeydew supported by a note of
minerality. The finish is dry with a touch of spice. Silver medal. 90.
Sea Star Stella Maris
but sold out). This is an estate-grown blend of Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir,
Pinot Gris, Riesling, Ortega and Schönburger. It is a very complex dry white
with the character and body to give it versatility with food. It has aromas of
honey, rose petal, herbs and spice. On the palate, there are flavours of
apricot and melon, with a pleasing touch of herbs and spice on the finish. 91.