Photo: Tightrope's Graham and Lyndsay O'Rourke
The new wine shop which Tightrope Winery opened last month constitutes
one more must-see winery on the Naramata Bench.
The tasting room, generous in size and elegant in design,
offers a superb view over vineyards and Okanagan Lake
beyond the vineyards.
The winery, operated by Lyndsay and Graham O’Rourke, began
selling its wines in 2013 under the license of nearby Ruby Blues Winery. At the
time, Lyndsay also was the winemaker at Ruby Blues. It is a position she has turned
over to Blair Gillingham now that Tightrope has its own license and rising
The winery’s website gives a more extensive account of this
couple than I have published in my books. I take the liberty of quoting that:
Graham and Lyndsay
O’Rourke have had a passion for the fine art of winemaking for years. From the
snowy slopes of the coastal mountains, into the semi-arid desert of B.C.,
the couple has brought their outdoor enthusiasm to the Okanagan valley,
expressing their expertise in the realm of vine growing and winemaking with the
culmination of their new wine label, Tightrope.
After growing up in Southern Ontario, Graham trekked across the country and
spent a few years enjoying the outdoor life that Whistler, B.C. has to offer by
skiing, mountain biking, playing rugby, and meeting his future wife carving the
snowy slopes and sipping fine wines.
Having grown up in
British Columbia Lyndsay has been aware of the fine grape growing conditions
the Okanagan Valley has to offer since the onset of her own wine passion. Once
the couple had their first child they decided that the environment of the
Okanagan would be ideal for cultivating a family as well as their dreamed-of
Initiating a formal
education on the subject of how to best cultivate the vines that produce the
wines they love, they discovered that the vineyard life and winemaking were
passions that they shared and wished to further pursue in their life together.
The growing family relocated to New
Zealand for a more advanced and thorough
education on this subject that has proven to be their life-focus.
honours degrees in both oenology and viticulture while studying in New Zealand at Lincoln
University, Lyndsay and Graham made a
welcome return to the Okanagan
Valley, settling on the
Naramata Bench in 2007.
Since that time both
have been hard at work honing their skills and practicing their trade, enabling
that they can excel in their chosen profession. Lyndsay has traded in her
snowboarding boots for a pair of Wellies, and was been an outstanding,
award-winning winemaker for the Ruby Blues Winery along the Naramata Bench from
2009 to 2014.
In 2012 and 2014 Ruby
Blues won the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for their 2011 and 2013 Viognier.
Lyndsay has now turned her focus to Tightrope Winery full time and continues to
craft award winning wines in the new Tightrope facility!
After their return to Canada, Graham
went to work for Mission Hill Winery as one of their lead viticulturists.
Managing numerous acres of different varietals successfully through many
seasons allowed Graham to put into practice those hours of study, and he has
stowed the mountain bike in the garage in favour of overalls and a tractor.
2012 saw Graham leave Mission Hill to focus on the O’Rourke’s own 10 acre
property along the Naramata Bench at Fleet
Road, from which all of the Tightrope grapes
Walking the tightrope
of a life-in-balance, in her free time Lyndsay enjoys training for the
triathlons that are hosted in the region, while Graham still sports his rugby
cap once in a while. The Fleet
Road Vineyard, in addition to its’ vines, is now
growing not one, but two fantastic little boys! A variety of family pets can
also be found on the farm and are sure to be seen on the next Vineyard Dogs of
the Okanagan Calendar!
Lyndsay and Graham
look forward to sharing with you their enthusiasm and life-long dedication to
wines that are worth walking a tightrope for.
Here are notes on current releases.
2012 ($20). This is now sold out. It has developed into a classic dry
Riesling with “petrol” on the nose and a bit on the palate. Perhaps a better
descriptor is marmalade, especially on the palate. The acidity is balanced with
a bit of residual sugar and the wine finish dry. 91.
2013 ($20). The wine begins with floral and citrus aromas. The wine has
more weight on the palate, with juicy flavours of grapefruit and with 13.3%
alcohol, the result of a warmer year. 90.
2013 ($27). The wine begins with aromas of citrus and cumin spice, leading to flavours of apricot,
tangerine, ginger and vanilla. The wine was partially barrel-fermented. 90.
2014 ($27). Perhaps because there is Similkameen fruit blended in this
wine, it is bold and ripe, with flavours of peach and apricot. 90.
2014 ($21). This is a blend of Gewürztraminer (46%) with Riesling and
Chardonnay. It begins with aromas of rose petal and lychee and has flavours of
citrus, pear and mandarin. The fresh acidity gives this wine a refreshing
Tightrope Pinot Gris
2014 ($20). This is an appealingly refreshing wine made in the
fruit-forward Pinot Grigio style (alcohol of 12.8%). It has flavours of apples,
peaches and pears, with a hint of sweetness on the finish. 90.
Tightrope Rosé 2014 ($20).
This is a blend of 95% Pinot Noir and 5% Barbera. The wine is dark in hue, with
aromas and flavours of raspberry, cherry and strawberry. The texture is juicy
and the delicious finish lingers. 91.
2013 ($28). This is an approachable red blend – 50% Merlot and 25% each of
Cabernet Franc and Barbera. It has flavours of plum, black currant and
chocolate with a touch of pepper and a hint of oak. 90.
Tightrope Pinot Noir
2013 ($32). Dark ruby in colour, this wine begins with aromas of spice,
cherry, strawberry and mocha. It is rich on the palate with flavours cherry,
raspberry, plum and mocha, all subtly framed with oak. The texture is
seductively silky and the finish is persistent. This is an outstanding wine.