Monday, February 2, 2015

Class of 2015: Anarchist Mountain Vineyard

 Photo: Anarchist Mountain's Terry Meyer-Stone and Andrew Stone

Anarchist Mountain Vineyard, a new producer from Osoyoos, had its “coming out” that the recent Taste BC event in Vancouver.

What a coming out it was! The winery’s Wildfire Pinot Noir 2012 received a gold medal and the Elevation Chardonnay 2012 earned a silver.

Until now, this producer has flown below the radar screen. It is not yet a licensed winery (because its production is too small) but uses the license of Meyer Family Vineyards. Terry Meyer Stone, who operates Anarchist Mountain with her partner, Andrew Stone, is a sister of JAK Meyer.

The couple own one of the highest elevation vineyards (1,700 feet) in the Okanagan, with 4 ½ acres of vines on the side of Anarchist Mountain overlooking Osoyoos and the valley. A site with a jaw-dropping view, it very likely is the last vineyard to be touched by the sun at the end of the day. Heat units are not an issue here; nor, with superb air flow down the mountain, is frost much of a risk.

This remarkable site was planted in 1985 by Anthony Dekleva. To hear Terry and Andrew talk of him, he was a colourful individual. He maintained a gold claim on the property for some time, thinking that there might be gold since there is a history of gold production in the south Okanagan.

He was also adept at water witching, or dowsing. Now, there is a great deal of scepticism about water witching but it seems that he found the wells on the property that now irrigate the vines.

“He is definitely a pioneer,” Andrew Stone says. “He wanted to build a winery and a tasting room here. He had some health problems and could not complete his dream. He was a good winemaker and made some wine from these grapes.”

Anthony sold the vineyard in 1993 to Michael Mauz, a German-trained viticulturist now working with Mission Hill Family Estates.

Terry and Andrew bought the vineyard early in 2010, a move that involved significant career changes for these two native Albertans.

“I used to host a television show in Edmonton for seven years, a daytime one-hour talk show,” Terry says. “After that, two friends and I started a company called Three Blondes and a Brownie, and we sold low fat muffins to McDonalds nationally, for seven years.”

“I bounced around, trying to figure out what my place was, really,” says Andrew, who was born in 1972. “I started off in the oil fields. That’s where I grew up. It was difficult to have a real life there, so I quit that and went to school and got some education to be a systems analyst. I got a job just before Y2K, worked in a downtown office and lived downtown. I was a real city kid and lived the dream, so to speak. But what I missed the most was being outdoors.”

They got the opportunity after Terry’s brother, JAK, bought a vineyard late in 2008 near Okanagan Falls and asked them to help get the Meyer Family winery up and running.

“It was never on either of our radars to do this,” Terry said later. “For JAK, too, it was a chance conversation he had one night with James Cluer. They were just going to do a little bit of private label wines. He got into it and dragged us into it.  It is such a cool industry to be part of right now.”

Terry uses her marketing background now in running the Tinhorn Creek Vineyards wine club, one of the largest in the Okanagan. Andrew, who has taken viticulture courses, now is vineyard manager at Liquidity Vineyards.

Their vineyard perched on the side of the mountain has three acres of Chardonnay, one acre of Merlot and half an acre of Pinot Noir. There is also a small nursery on site and Andrew has been testing other varietals, although there is little room for additional vineyards here.

The production from 2012 is just 70 cases of each varietal because Andrew and Terry also have been selling their grapes to selected winemakers. That also serves as something of a tutorial in the potential of their grapes.

“When we made the first wine [a 2011 Chardonnay], we did not know what we had,” Andrew told me in 2013. “Now that it is in bottle, we like drinking it. The question has changed from ‘Do we have the right fruit to do this?’ to ‘Yes, we have the right fruit. Now what is the best way to develop a market?’”

“We have enough Chardonnay that we can do 500 cases,” Andrew added. “We could outsource the Pinot Noir and we could outsource the Merlot. We could buy fruit and ferment it here. We could do anything we want. The question is, will the public buy it? It does not seem smart to me to go from zero to 500 cases, because we don’t have a lot of contacts through sales channels.”

That was 2013. Now Anarchist Mountain has an agent in Vancouver and accolades that make the market sit up and take notice. You might find the wines in one of the Liberty Merchant Company stores (Liberty organizes Taste BC) or you could order from Anarchist Mountain’s web site. The Pinot Noir is sold out at the winery, however.

Here are notes on the wines.

Anarchist Mountain Elevation Chardonnay 2012 ($26 for 70 cases). This wine really reflects the terroir, with the minerality and texture one would expect from 30- year-old on a rocky site. The wine has aromas and flavours of citrus (lemon and lime) with very subtle oak notes and with refreshing acidity. The finish is crisp. This is an elegant and complex Chardonnay. 91.

Anarchist Mountain Wildfire Pinot Noir 2012 ($35 for 70 cases). As a winemaker, Andrew has had the advantage of being coached by Chris Carson from Meyer Family and Matt Holmes from Liquidity. It shows in this pretty and well-made wine. Aromas of cherry and strawberry are echoed on the palate, with delicate and lingering fruit flavours. Silky tannins give the wine good weight and a svelte texture. 91.


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