Photo: Wayne Gretzky winemaker Stephanie Stanley
One of the more savvy moves by Andrew Peller Ltd. was its
10-year licensing agreement in November, 2011, with Wayne Gretzky Wines
Under that agreement, Peller gets to make and sell wines
under the Gretzky brand. It would be hard to find wines with better name
After retiring from his lengthy NHL career as a player and
then as a coach, Gretzky ventured into other businesses, including wine. When
he agreed to fold his Ontario
winery into the Peller stable, he allied his celebrity to a company with
powerful technical and marketing skills. At the time of the deal, Peller
assumed $2.7 million of Gretzky’s Ontario
Peller wasted no time in launching a parallel Okanagan brand.
Peller has a good grape supply in the Okanagan and winemaking capacity in the
big Calona winery in Kelowna
And crucially, Stephanie Stanley, who was already making the
Peller wines in British Columbia,
also began making the Gretzky wines in 2011. Indeed, one of her first Gretzky
wines won a Lieutenant Governor’s Award of Excellence in 2014.
By every indication, the brand has been a solid success in British Columbia
, and very likely in the other provinces
in Western Canada
where the hockey great has a
Currently, six Wayne Gretzky Okanagan wines, all VQA, are
available in British Columbia
liquor stores – often widely available. For example, almost 2,000 bottles of the
2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Syrah are spread among 131 stores. During the recent
holiday period, this wine and two others were discounted temporarily by $2 a
bottle, presumably to clear out some older vintages.
These wines, which over-deliver, really don’t need to be
Here are notes on three of those wines.
Wayne Gretzky Okanagan The Great White 2012
This is a complex blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay
and Sémillon. It begins with herbal aromas (a bit of petrol) with a touch of
grapefruit and grapefruit rind. These are echoed in the layered tropical flavours.
The texture is full but the finish is crisp even if the back label says off-dry.
Wayne Gretzky Okanagan The Great Red 2013
Everything but the kitchen sink seems to be in this wine. It is a blend of
Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Mourvèdre and Gamay Noir. The wine
begins with smoky and gamy aromas with notes of black cherry. On the palate,
there are flavours of spicy fruit reminiscent of fruit cake with a touch of
vanilla on the long finish. This is an interesting wine. 90.
Wayne Gretzky Okanagan Cabernet Sauvignon
Syrah 2013 ($17.99). The wine begins with classic minty Cabernet aromas. On
the palate, there are luscious flavours of black currant, black cherry, cocoa
and coffee. There is pepper on the finish of this appealing blend. 90.