Thursday, July 10, 2014

Class of 2014: Mocojo Winery

Photo: Ken and Dianne Oh in the Mocojo winery

The Naramata Bench now accounts for almost a quarter of the wineries in the Okanagan.

While such a concentration of wineries must bring some problems (traffic jams, shortage of hotel rooms), a wine tourist can set himself or herself up here for a week of exceptional tasting.

Mocojo Winery, which opened this spring, can’t do anything about the traffic but it has addressed the accommodation issue: there is also a bed and breakfast here. Tasting room hours are limited; call ahead.

Here is the profile of Mocojo which appears in the soon-to-be released fifth edition of John Schreiner’s Okanagan Wine Tour Guide.

Kon Oh came to Canada from South Korea at 16 when his family moved to Alberta. It was his father’s background in agriculture that brought Kon to wine (eventually).  In Korea, his father was a leader in the 4-H movement, an international agricultural youth movement. That brought him into contact with 4-H members in Alberta. “He got a taste of western culture and lifestyle and he decided to immigrate to Canada,” Kon says.

The family settled in Lacombe. “When we were going to school, my father started a little vegetable garden and we were supplying mostly Korean stores in the city,” Kon says. “We were growing radishes and cabbages, and stuff like that, for Korean people. We started with a little greenhouse in the early 1980s.”

After a stint at retail employment, Kon picked up the family’s bent for agriculture. “The farming life started with vegetables,” he recalls. “I was not really thrilled to grow vegetables. It is a lot of work. I spent a year of research to develop the fresh-cut flower business in the greenhouse. We did that for 10 years, growing fresh-cut roses, competing with the South American cut flower industry.”

He and his wife Dianne built a successful business, even with the disadvantage of heating a greenhouse in Alberta’s winters. “We were working pretty much 24/7 cutting roses,” Kon remembers. Ready for a change in lifestyle, they closed the flower business in 2008 and bought an established vineyard near Naramata.

The number of visitors they hosted that summer led them to develop a bed and breakfast; and the enthusiasm of wine touring guests prompted the opening of a winery. “The amount of wine that was purchased by our guests, it was crazy!” Dianne says. There also was the need to add value to the vineyard’s production. “You know what the vineyard can bring in financially after five harvests,” she says. “We would like to be a little more self-sufficient.”

For winemaking, Kon has been mentored by winemaker Richard Kanazawa, a neighbour and a friend. The debut production in 2013 was 700 cases, including Maréchal Foch, Gewürztraminer, Viognier and Malbec. The wines are marketed under the Mojoco label, created from the first syllables of the names of their three children. And Kon is not planning to get much bigger than 1,000 cases, leaving time for a new interest – a lieutenant in the Naramata fire department.

Here are notes on the wines.

Mocojo Gewürztraminer 2013 ($18 for 227 cases). The touch of residual sweetness will make this popular in the wine shop. The wine has aromas and flavours of grapefruit and lychee. 88.

Mocojo Viognier 2013 ($20 for 143 cases). For those who don’t care for the fat and oily style with this variety, this is the ideal wine. It is light and fresh with aromas and flavours of citrus, apple and mango. The finish is crisp. 89.

Mocojo Maréchal Foch 2013 ($18 for 300 cases). This was a tank sample but the wine has since been bottled for release later in summer. It is a soft, juicy red with black cherry flavours that mingle with a fruitcake spiciness. 89.

Mocojo Malbec 2013 ($24 for 62 cases; October release). This wine begins with aromas of pepper and cherry. On the palate, there are flavours of raspberry and cherry, with a light dash of pepper on the finish. 90.

Mocojo Winery
1202 Gawne Road
Naramata BC V0I 1No
T 250.496.4063


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