Photo: Therapy Vineyards hilltop winery
Wine tourists on the way to Naramata often remark on the
unusual proximity of Serendipity Winery and Therapy Vineyards.
The Therapy winery is perched on the crest of a hill while
Serendipity seems to be buried into the base of the hill. It always strikes me
a great location for a cable car ride.
Therapy is the older winery, opening in 2005 in what had
been the original Red Rooster winery. It took Therapy about five years to
outgrow that facility and build the much larger winery on the crown of the
hill. Serendipity opened in 2011 and built its current cellar (right) a few years later.
Therapy, which is owned by a group of investors, celebrates
psychotherapy and Sigmund Freud on the labels of many of its wines.
Occasionally, the winery moves away from that, commissioning artist labels,
perhaps in recognition that the Freud puns can wear a little thin – even if the
wines don’t. The winemaker, Steve Latchford, is a veteran vintner who started
his career in Ontario.
Serendipity’s owner, Judy Kingston, formerly had a
successful law practice in Toronto
until opting for the wine grower’s life style. Many of the Serendipity labels
feature an image of Isaac Newton sitting under a tree, with an apple about to
hit his head. You need to read the text on the bottles to get a flavour of the
Serendipity has just hired Brad Cooper, the former winemaker
at Township 7. However, the wines under review here made by Richard Kanazawa
(the 2013s) and by Jason Parkes (the 2010s) with input in both instances from
Judy, who is a hands-on owner.
Here are notes on the wines.
Blanc 2013 ($N/A). This wine is crisply lean, with aromas of lemon and
herbs, leading to flavours of lemon and lime and a repeat of the spicy herbs on
the dry finish. 88.
2013 ($20). This is a stunning wine, brimming with aromas and flavours of
tropical fruit. The lychee, peach and apple flavours explode on the palate and
the bright acidity gives the wine a lively and fresh finish. With just 12%
alcohol, this wine drinks just as well on its own as with food. 92.
Serendipity Rosé 2013
($18). This rosé is clearly made in the style of Provence, with its pale hue and its crisply
dry finish. The wine has aromas of spicy cherries. On the palate, there are
flavours of raspberry, cranberry and cherry, with lingering spice notes. 88.
Merlot 2010 ($N/A). The winery must have a warm and well-managed vineyard
to get a ripe wine like this – 14.6% alcohol – in a cool vintage. This wine’s
aromas of vanilla, black currant and black cherries simply charge from the
glass. The flavours are bold, with black currant, vanilla and dark chocolate.
The texture is still firm, with an interestingly rustic earthy note on the
Sauvignon 2010 ($N/A). The grapes for this wine are from the Similkameen
vineyard operated by a retired RCMP officer appropriately named Walt Makepeace.
He and Serendipity’s Judy Kingston met in viticulture classes and she struck a
deal to get his grapes until he had his own winery. The Makepeace family has
just opened Hugging Tree Winery and Judy will need another good Cabernet
This wine begins with aromas of vanilla (from bold barrel
aging), black currant and blueberry. On the palate, there are flavours of
cassis mingled with cola, dark chocolate and espresso coffee. This wine should
either be decanted or cellared for the three or four years in which it will
continue to get better and better. 91.
2013 ($19.99 for 295 cases). As if Gewürztraminer is not already aromatic,
winemaker Steve Latchford employed techniques to accentuate those fruity
aromas. That included 18 hours of skin contact and then fermenting the juice quite
cool (14 Celsius) with a yeast strain that boosts aroma. The result is a wine
with spice and ginger in the aroma and the palate, along with flavours of
grapefruit. The wine has good weight on the palate. The wine is balanced to
finish dry and food friendly. 90.
Blanc 2013 ($20 for 215 cases). Winemaker Steve Latchford had the vines
managed in a way that was designed to produce a classically herbaceous
Sauvignon Blanc. No leaf thinning was done so that the grapes were shaded. Nor
was the crop thinned. The result is a wine with moderate acidity of 11.7%, with
aromas of citrus and herbs and flavours of lime and lemon. The wine has a
crisp, tangy finish with a spine of minerals. 88.
Therapy Dog Days of
Summer Viognier 2013 ($23.99 for 77 cases). The wine, part of Therapy’s
artist series, is named for a colourful label designed by Langley artist Gerald Alexander. This limited
production wine is available only at Therapy’s wine shop or by the case from
the winery. As soon as I read that the grapes came from Ron Fournier’s
vineyard, I was eager to taste the wine, for Ron is one of top growers in the
South Okanagan. This wine was barrel-fermented in French oak, spending two
months on the lees and then, after racking, three more months in barrel,
probably to enhance the texture. The wine begins with rich aromas of banana,
honeysuckle and apricot. On the palate, there are flavours of apricot on a
subtle frame of soft, but not obtrusive, oak. There is a lovely dry but creamy