Photo: BC Wine Studio's Mark Simpson
Access to farmers’ markets for British Columbia wineries was one of the
better changes in the recent overhaul of the province’s liquor regulations.
Wineries began participating in those markets last fall,
offering tastings and selling product. From the reports I have heard, this is
generating valuable exposure and sales.
That is not to say it is always operating well. Farmers’
markets in Nanaimo
and James Bay on Vancouver Island
are not allowing wineries to participate.
It seems that the other market participants worry that wine sales will be done
at the expense of the sales of other produce. That is an arguable proposition.
Some markets also try segregating the wineries in an area
separate from the other producers. Wineries would prefer to mix in with other
producers, with visibility to all shoppers. They don’t want to be pigeon-holed
into tasting rooms, if only because not many people are up to serious tastings early
in the morning when the markets are busy.
Having said that, the access to farm markets is valuable
breakthrough that is appreciated by wineries. It is important to position wine
as a farm product – and likely one that contributes farm more to the economy
that some of the other products in the markets.
Mark Simpson’s BC Wine Studio, which makes wine under the
Siren’s Call brand (among other labels), is one of those wineries.
BC Wine Studio’s production facility is on Oliver Ranch Road, south
of Okanagan Falls
. While there are plans for a wine
shop, it is not open yet.
Because Mark lives in Vancouver
he began showing his wines last year at the Vancouver Farmer’s Market. Its
Hastings Park Farmers Market is run every Sunday at Hastings Park
(the Pacific National Exhibition grounds). When the market re-opened for the
season in March, Mark was there.
“I am pleased to announce that BC Wine
Studio has have been invited to return to the Vancouver Farmer's
Markets this spring and summer,” Mark announced in a recent email. “I had a
great time last summer, met some great people and had really yummy food bought
from my fellow vendors. My favourite food was the great vegetables from
the Pemberton Valley
Here are notes on some of the wines you might find at Mark’s
Siren’s Call Viognier
2012 ($20). This is a ripe and luscious white with aromas of tropical
fruits and with flavours of mango, apricot and ripe peach. The alcohol is 14.4%
but the fruit flavours and texture are so lush that the alcohol is in balance.
Harmonious 2011 ($29). This is a blend of 39% Merlot, 21% Cabernet
Sauvignon, 16% Cabernet Franc, 14% Malbec, 8% Petit Verdot and 4% Syrah. This
is a medium-bodied wine with bright aromas of cherry and vanilla leading to
spicy black cherry flavours. The silky tannins make this wine appealing and
Siren’s Call Petit
Verdot 2011 ($27). This wine is almost back in hue, which is characteristic
of Petit Verdot. There is a dramatic aroma of plum, black cherry, chocolate and
cedar, echoed in spicy flavours of black cherry, mulberry and plum. The wine is
full on the palate and the finish lingers. 91.
Siren’s Call Malbec
2012 ($27). The grapes for this vintage come from Manmohan Gill’s vineyard
near Osoyoos. I note that to observe that Gill will be opening his own winery,
called Bordertown Vineyards, this spring. As this wine proves, he is a good
grower and he sold his grapes to a good winemaker in 2012. This wine begins
with a lovely aroma of plums and cherries, leading to spicy red fruit flavours
including cherry and black currant. With decanting, the firm texture becomes
rich and generous. 90.
Siren’s Call Pinot
Noir 2012 ($22). This is a delicious wine with a full and silky texture. It
begins with aromas of spicy cherry. This is echoed on the palate, along with a
Burgundian earthiness on the finish. 90.
Siren’s Call Syrah
2012 ($25). This big and bold red begins with aromas of black cherry, oak
and delicatessen spices. On the palate, there is more black cherry and plum
with classic notes of white and black pepper. 90.