Photo: Fernanda and Fred Ganhao (courtesy Lusitano)
This recently-opened winery is the newest addition to the
burgeoning group of Okanagan
This is the profile appearing in the new edition of John Schreiner’s Okanagan Wine Tour Guide. The
book will be available in late July.
To name their winery, Fred and Fernanda
Ganhao simply dipped into their Portuguese heritage. Lusitano derives from
Lusitiania, the name applied by the Romans to indigenous peoples in central Portugal. While
they are only a small percentage of Portugal’s modern population, the
name occasionally is applied to expatriate Portuguese. It is better known today
as the name of Lusitano horses, a breed of beautiful show horses.
Fred and Fernanda both were born in central Portugal. He
came to Canada
in 1966, when he was eleven, when his parents joined relatives who already
lived in Osoyoos. Fernanda immigrated in 1978 to marry Fred. In the same year,
they bought an orchard near Vaseux
Lake, north of Oliver,
and operated it for 25 years before selling it. Several times during that
period, Fred suggested switching to growing grapes but his cautious wife talked
him out of it.
“We sold the orchard in 2003 and we were
semi-retired for three years,” Fernanda says. However, retirement was not
appealing after a life full of activity and they looked for ways to re-engage
with agriculture. In 2006 they bought a rural Okanagan Falls
property that enchanted them. “When you come up the driveway, it feels like you
are closer to the sky,” she says. “You have a beautiful view of the valley.”
The property included a meadow where the
previous owner kept horses. Most of it was covered by pine trees. Fred proposed
replacing the trees with vines and this time Fernanda agreed. In the spring of
2007, they planted close to 25,000 vines in a 5.5-hectare (13.5-acre) vineyard.
The major varieties here are Pinot Gris, Merlot and Pinot Noir, with smaller
blocks on Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and – on a sunbathed south-facing slope –
After several years of selling their grapes,
they retained consulting winemaker Philip Soo to make their debut 1,200 cases
in the 2013 vintage. They continue to sell about half of their crop while
easing their wines into the market. “We did not want to go too far ahead of
ourselves,” says Fernanda, who has not lost all her caution.
She looks forward to selling wines from the
Lusitano tasting room. “When we had the farm, we had a fruit stand,” she says.
“I enjoyed being out there, meeting new people every day. When you have good
products, you can see the smile on peoples’ faces.”
A recent visit to the tasting room confirmed that Fernanda
runs a welcoming wineshop and that visitors have reason to smile.
Here are notes on the wines.
Lusitano Chic 2013 ($18).
This is the name given to the winery’s Sauvignon Blanc. The wine begins with
herbal and citrus aromas, delivering flavours of limes and tropical fruits. The
finish is crisp and tangy. 88.
Hills Chardonnay 2013 ($17). This is an unoaked Chardonnay, in part because
Fernanda is not a great fan of oaked white wines. This wine has citrus aromas
and flavours of citrus, apple and white peach. It is crisp and refreshing. 88.
Rosé 2013 ($17). Made from Pinot Noir, this juicy rosé has aromas and
flavours of strawberry. A charming wine with a slight touch of residual
sweetness, it has a silky finish. 88.
Pinot Noir 2013 ($19). This is great value – a full and silky textured
Pinot Noir with aromas and flavours of cherry and strawberry and an intriguing
note of cloves on the finish. 89-90.
Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($18). This wine is a blend of 86% Cabernet
Sauvignon and 14% Merlot. It has had seven months in oak but it would have
benefitted from more time in barrel and bottle. The wine is too young to rate
but will be satisfying with at least six more months of bottle age.
2318 Rolling Hills Road
Falls BC V0H
Open daily 9:30 am – 6 pm May to October