Photo: River Stone's Ted Kane
On the winery’s website, Ted Kane, who owns River Stone
Estate Winery with his wife, Lorraine,
recounts his one-time concern that all the best vineyard sites in the Okanagan
would be gone by the time they could buy one.
They were then living in Alberta. Ted was a respiratory therapist
with a passion to become a winemaker. Lorraine,
now a family doctor in Osoyoos, was still completing four years of medical
As it turned out, when they were ready to move to the
Okanagan in 2001, the best sites had not all been picked over. They found 9.5
acres of raw land northeast of Oliver and beside the Okanagan River
The next door neighbour was Wild Goose’s Mystic River Vineyard which, even
then, was producing award winning wines.
This little pocket of Okanagan vineyards is good dirt. Ted’s
vineyard has superb sunbathed slopes with southern exposures. In warm vintages
like 2012 and 2013, it produces big ripe wines. Even in cool years like 2010
and 2011, hands-on viticulture can compensate for nature.
The current releases span three vintages and show what Ted
can achieve, whether the years are good or challenging. Here are my notes.
River Stone Splash
2013 ($19). This is a blend of Viognier, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer. The
wine begins with spice and citrus aromas and delivers flavours of pear and
apple. The wine is crisp and balanced to finish dry. 90
River Stone Pinot
Gris 2013 ($20). This vibrant and focussed wine begins with aromas of
citrus, apples and honeysuckle blossoms. It is packed with fruit, including
McIntosh apples, pear and apricot, crisply arrayed around a delicately mineral
spine. The bright acidity leaves the palate refreshed. 92.
River Stone Malbec
Rosé 2013 ($20). This is one of the few, if not the only, Malbec rosé wines
from the Okanagan. The variety makes a rosé memorable as a basket of fruit
flavours, including cherry, strawberry and raspberry, with spice on the finish.
The dark hue has been falling out of fashion with conformist rosé drinkers.
Here, it adds to the visual appeal of a very satisfying rosé. Conformists who
measure the world in Provence
terms will at least be happy that the finish is dry. This wine is delicious.
River Stone Cabernet
Franc 2012 ($26). This wine is made with grapes from 11-year-old vines that
grow very well in this vineyard. Dark, concentrated and powerful with 14.7%
alcohol, the wine begins with aromas of blackberry, black cherry and vanilla.
It delivers those flavours along with a hint of pepper on the finish. While the
wine is drinking well now, cellaring it several more years will bring out its
full potential. 90-91.
River Stone Stone’s
Throw 2012 ($24). Here is a new wine in the River Stone portfolio. It is a
blend of Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. It begins with aromas of cassis
and vanilla. The wine reflects a good vintage, with 14.3% alcohol. On the
palate, the rich and concentrated wine delivers flavours of black currant,
black cherry and vanilla. The bright and vibrant fruit flavours undoubtedly
reflect the contribution of the Malbec. 91.
Cornerstone 2011 ($28.60). This remains the winery’s flagship red – a blend
of 53% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11% Malbec. The
wine had 20 months in French oak and additional bottle aging before release.
This is a wine that reflects a cool vintage. The structure is lean, with 12.1%
alcohol. It begins with aromas of blackberries and, with decanting, delivers
flavours of black currant, with coffee and a hint of chocolate on the finish.