Photo: Catherine Coulombe and father Ray Coulombe
When to visit: 11 am – 6 pm daily
Despite its name, this new family-operated winery is hiding
in plain sight behind its large highway-side sign.
If the branding is a little unusual, you should know that
the owners, Ray and Wendy Coulombe, previously had successful careers in
marketing and advertising.
With the help of two daughters, they are now pursuing a
retirement career with their own winery for a reason similar to many peers: the
“It is for wine but it is mostly for the lifestyle,” Ray
says. “At my age, I am not interested in making money. I am interested in
making a successful and respected little winery, which I will leave to my
children. And I will have a lifestyle to go with that dream.”
Ray was born in Edmonton
in 1945, the member of a pioneering family. His grandparents, Delphis and
Marie-Claire, moved from Quebec
in 1901 to a
homestead near Edmonton
Ray’s father, Frank, after operating a barbershop and pool hall, moved his
family to Vancouver
when Ray was 10.
“We always drank wine,” Ray remembers. “When I was a kid, it
was always homemade stuff – a white and a red. The white was dandelion wine and
the red was made with saskatoons. But there was always wine at the table.” The
wines improved in Vancouver
because the family had moved to a house with both fruit trees and grape vines
in the back yard.
Ray’s ability as a writer and artist earned him a scholarship
to an arts college in California.
When he approached an advertising agency in Vancouver,
he was advised to go to Toronto,
with its greater opportunities. There he joined Maclaren Advertising in 1968;
he was soon transferred to Montreal
- much to his delight.
“I couldn’t believe what I saw in Montreal,” he recalls. “Compared to Toronto, Montreal
was full of colour. There were people on the streets at every hour. There were
sidewalk cafes and people talking. Always next to them was a bottle of wine.”
He spent the rest of his business career there, first as
creative director at Maclaren (Wendy joined as art director) and then with his
own agency. That business was closed in 2001. Now drawn back to the West, Ray
and his wife looked for a community in which to retire and found a house with a
five-acre vineyard just south of Oliver in 2009.
The vineyard needed a lot of work before it could produce
quality fruit. “We were the perfect victims to take this on because my wife and
I were looking for a hobby,” Ray laughs. “We persevered and eventually we got
grapes that were producing nice flavours.”
The next step soon suggested itself. “We were in that house,
looking onto that vineyard below, and I thought there should be a winery at the
highway,” Ray says. “If my grapes taste good, that’s what we will do.”
He arranged to have wine made from his grapes in 2013. The
winery was built in 2014. The area occupied by the winery and tasting room
replaced a struggling Merlot block that had been planted in a frost pocket.
The vineyard now has Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Cabernet
Sauvignon and Gamay Noir. The style of the debut wines is deliberately
fruit-forward with supple and easy-drinking tannins. The winery’s Gamay is a
“I couldn’t wait to start this winery for the reason of the
Gamay alone,” Ray says. “I saw it very much to be in the Beaujolais
style – not a heavy red, not sitting in the barrel forever. Since we are
talking fruit forward, this would be lightly touched in oak. It is all fruit
and should be chilled a bit for summer drinking. Instead of having a white wine on the back
porch, you can have nice ‘Beaujolais
’ from the
valley here that isn’t heavy.”
Ray and Wendy’s two daughters (and their partners) also have
become involved in vinPerdu. Catherine, who formerly had a catering business in
manages vinPerdu’s wine lounge and is mentoring with a winemaking consultant.
Nathalie, who has become a vineyardist, is an artist and displays her excellent
work in the tasting room. One of the strong appeals of this winery is the
warmth of the Coulombe family, one or other of which usually is on hand to
Here are notes on the wines.
vinPerdu Pinot Gris
2014 ($20.90). This is a crisp and refreshing white with aromas and
flavours of citrus, honeydew melon and apples. 90.
2013 ($27.90 for 89 cases). This is the peaches and cream style. The 12
months on lees in French oak have given the wine an appealing texture. The wine
has citrus aromas and tropical flavours with a hint of butterscotch and very
subtle oak. 90.
vinPerdu Gamay Noir
2014 ($27.90 for 101 cases). This is a juicy, refreshing wine with aromas
and flavours of strawberries and cherries. The silky texture adds to the charm.
Franc 2013 ($28.90 for 108 cases). Light ruby in hue, this wine again has
silky tannins that underline the drinkability style of all the wines. There are
aromas and flavours of raspberry and blackberry with a touch of oak from the 12
months the wine spent in barrel. 89.
vinPerdu Compass 2013
($29.90 for 67 cases). This is a blend of 66% Cabernet Sauvignon and 33%
Merlot. It has aromas and flavours of black currant, cherry and blueberry. The
juicy texture and the savoury fruit flavours underline the house style: wines
that are accessible. 90.