Photo: Deep Roots Winery owners Bryan and Debra Hardman
The Naramata Bench’s bumper crop of new wineries in 2014
(fine and counting) includes Deep Roots Winery, operated by one of the region’s
pioneering farming families.
The Deep Roots tasting room, which opened last month, has
some advantages. It is close to two other wineries, Van Western Vineyards and
Elephant Island Orchard Wines. That sort of critical mass appeals to wine
tourists. Secondly, the compact tasting room, with a second-floor deck,
provides great views over vineyards and Okanagan Lake
More important, there is a warm welcome provided by the
Hardman family, who are the owners, and the other tasting room personnel. Most
important, the wines are well-made and moderately priced.
Here is the profile from the new edition of John Schreiner’s Okanagan Wine Tour Guide,
which will be in stores by the beginning of August.
The winery’s name was prompted by the Hardman family’s four
generations on the Naramata Bench. Bryan Hardman’s grandfather came here in
1919 after four years of military service, working initially with pioneer fruit
grower Carl Aikins who once owned about 250 hectares (600 acres).
The Hardmans became
major fruit growers as well. Bryan, who was born in 1950, once owned 20
hectares (50 acres) of apple trees. He was also an industry activist, serving
as president of B.C. Tree Fruits Ltd., the Okanagan’s apple marketing
organization. It is famously tough to make a living with apples, even for a
grower as progressive as Bryan who regularly
embraced trendy new varieties like Gala and Fuji. “Behind any successful farmer around
here, you will find his wife has a good job,” Bryan quips. His wife, Debra, who has a
master’s in clinical psychology, manages the Ministry for Children and Families
in the South Okanagan.
Bryan planted two hectares (five acres) of grapes
in 1996 “just to see if I liked it.” When he did, he gradually replaced his
apple trees with vines and left the apple business entirely in 2010. Now he
owns eight hectares (20 acres) of vineyard and manages another four hectares
He began thinking
about a winery after his son, Will, who was born in 1983, began working in the
vineyards in 2006. That propelled Will toward winemaking. In addition to taking
course at Okanagan College, Will has done crushes with wineries in New Zealand and South Africa. He also worked with
Rob Van Westen where Deep Roots made its 2012 vintage, a total of 13 barrels of
Merlot, Malbec and Syrah. The new Tillar
Road winery was completed for the 2013 harvest when
the winery added Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Gamay Noir to its portfolio.
The winery launched
with just over 1,000 cases of wine, most of which likely will be sold from the
wine shop. The winery has the capacity to produce between 3,000 and 5,000
cases, with Bryan
still selling some of his crop to CedarCreek, among other wineries. Almost all
of the Deep Roots wines are estate grown. “We’re not going to release
anything that we are not proud of,” Bryan
Deep Roots Winery
884 Tillar Road, Site
5, Comp 20, RR1,
When to visit: daily
11 am to 5:30 pm
Here are notes on the wines.
Deep Roots Pinot Gris
2013 ($19). Slightly off-dry, this fleshy wine has aromas and flavours of
peaches, apricots and spicy baked pears.
Deep Roots Chardonnay
2013 ($22). Although 40% of this wine spent time in new French oak, the 60%
that was matured in stainless steel ensures bright, fruit-forward flavours of
peach, pear and papaya. 89.
Deep Roots Rosé 2013 ($19).
Made with Merlot, this wine charms with aromas and flavours of cherry and
strawberry. A touch of residual sugar gives it a juicy texture. 88.
Deep Roots Gamay 2013
($24). This is a lively red, with aromas and flavours of cherries. The
distinctive peppery notes on the finish add complexity to this very quaffable
Deep Roots Merlot
2012 ($24). This wine begins with aromas of black cherry and black berry.
On the palate, the vibrant flavours include black cherry, black currant and
Deep Roots Malbec
2012 ($28). One of the wine shop’s personnel calls this a “cowboy wine.”
The characterization is not as offbeat as it seems. The wine is both robust and
rustic, with boisterous aromas and flavours of black cherry, vanilla, plum and
Deep Roots Syrah 2012
($34). The winery describes this as a “ripe and brooding” cool climate
Syrah. It begins with aromas of blueberries, blackberries and black cherry.
Those carry through to the flavour, along with notes of raspberry. The wine
also shows the classic gamey flavours and the hints of pepper. 90.