Photo: The new tasting room at Lunessence Winery
Lunessence Winery & Vineyard
5716 Gartrell Road,
A few decades ago, it was widely proclaimed that listening
to Mozart would make you smarter.
One seldom hears about that theory today because the
underlying science is questionable. But listening to Mozart is one of life’s
great pleasures. People who listen to Mozart probably are smart to begin with.
And that would include Michal Mosny, the winemaker at
Lunessence Winery in Summerland. Not only does he have a refined taste in
classical music; he plays classical music in the vineyards and to his wines.
Lunessence emerged this summer on the site of a winery formerly known
as Sonoran Vineyards. The former operators, the Smits family, sold the winery
in 2014 to businessman Zhizhong Si, a
China-born environmental consultant who was educated in Canada
. He is now based in Vancouver
(Sonoran reopened at its original location beside Highway 97
and north of Summerland, where the Smits
family first started in the wine business in 2004. With Arjan Smits, the patron
of the family, at retirement age, this property also is for sale.)
The new owner hired Michal to manage the vineyard and make
the wine. With Michal came a dedication to classical music.
He was born in Slovakia in 1982. “I had a small
garage winery next to a village where Beethoven used to go,” he says.
“Beethoven wrote Für Elise there,” referring to a piece of piano music familiar
to most piano students.
He took up winemaking because his ancestors once had been
winegrowers in France.
“First, I started to manage vineyards because that is the
key,” he recounts his career. “Then I worked for the biggest winery in Slovakia, not
as an enologist but in quality control. My wife and I had to decide what to do.
Expanding our small winery was almost impossible because of the government.
Before, everything was owned by the government. After Communism, they gave it
back to the people. There were hundreds of owners and everybody wanted to
exercise rights. It was a never-ending story if you wanted to buy a vineyard.”
So he and his wife, Martina, decided to emigrate, briefly
considering Austria and Germany. “She
said if we are doing something like this, let’s do something completely
different,” Michal says. A reference on television about Canada alerted
them to the wineries in the Okanagan and, after some research, this is where
they ended up in 2011.
“I developed a vineyard management company, and got a little
into winemaking,” Michal says. “Then I got some clients and I ended up here.”
He took over management of the 6.5-acre vineyard at
Lunessence. In line with his employer’s environmental sensibilities, that has
included resuscitating two small wetlands on the property. As well, the tasting
room was renovated and enlarged.
The white varieties in the vineyard are Riesling, Pinot
Blanc and Oraniensteiner. The reds are Merlot and Syrah. With a significant
quantity of this fruit directed to making dessert wines and Icewine, Lunessence
buys many of the grapes it needs for table wines from the south Okanagan.
Music in vineyards and in wine cellars is not unusual. The
Ruby Blues Winery on Naramata Road
immerses its vines with popular music from the 1960s because Prudence Maher,
the winery owner, has a taste for such bands as The Rolling Stones and The
Michal and Martina Mosny, on the other hand, are
enthusiastic about classical music, especially opera. One is much more likely
to hear opera arias among the vines and wine barrels at Lunessence. Michal
thinks Mozart is “a bit light.”
“There are a lot of studies about how music impacts the
plants,” he maintains. “I did a lot of research about it. They could not prove
it has a positive impact but when they took scissors and wanted to cut a leaf,
the plant could sense it. They cannot prove that wine senses it but there is
good energy. They did not cut the leaf. They just wanted to and the plant
sensed it. I think there is something. I can see something in the wines, that
they have a different integrity. I think they are happier.
“When we ferment white wines, usually it is opera we are
listening to, to bring some stories into the wines. White wines are usually
fermented to Giuseppe Verdi. When the reds come into the cellar, we switch to
Puccini. It is fun when you are listening to Puccini and there is some tragedy
and you are doing punch downs …”
Whether or not science backs it up is irrelevant if the
winery is a happy place and if the wines are good. And they certainly are.
Here are notes:
Gewürztraminer 2014 ($26 for 98 cases). The blend here is 90%
Gewürztraminer with five percent each of Sémillon and Schönburger. Clearly, the
objective was to add a little complexity to a variety often made as a crowd
pleasure. This is an intense wine with spicy notes on the nose and the palate.
The finish is off-dry. The winemaker describes this as an “old world”
Blanc Muscat 2014 ($22 for 325 cases). This is a fresh, racy and tropical
white, with aromas and flavours of lime and grapefruit. 90.
2014 ($26 for 175 cases). Plump and full, this off-dry Riesling has aromas
of Muscatel raisins and flavours of ripe peaches. The finish lingers. 89.
Blanc 2014 ($36 for 58 cases). This wine shows great focus. There are
aromas and flavours of herbs and limes with a racy acidity that gives the wine
clean, fresh flavours with a long finish. Some of the wine was fermented with
native yeasts and 30% was aged for five months in Slovakian oak barrels. 91.
2014 ($36 for 117 cases). This wine was fermented in stainless steel, some
with wild yeast, and 30% was aged five months in Slovakian oak. “French oak
sometimes is a little too strong,” the winemaker says. This is a refreshing
fruit-forward Chardonnay, with flavours of pear and apple. 90.
Lunessence Rosé 2014 ($18
for 217 cases). This is 90% Pinot Noir, 10% Cabernet Franc. The latter may
account for the spicy fruit on the nose. On the palate, there are refreshing
flavours of strawberry and cherry. The finish is dry. 90.
Lunessence Pinot Noir
2013 ($38 for 150 cases). The wine has aromas and flavours of cherry,
strawberry and raspberry. This is a cheerful, light Pinot with a silky texture.
($32 for 333 cases). This is a big voluptuous Merlot, with aromas of
blueberry and black cherry. On the palate, there is black cherry, black
currant, plums and figures. 91.
Sauvignon 2013 ($36 for 225 cases). Made with grapes from Black Sage Bench,
this wine has aromas and flavours of black currant. It was aged 15 months in
French oak and the wine has spicy notes of oak on the finish. 90.