Photo: Adega on 45th Estate Winery
Adega on 45th Estate Winery in Osoyoos has had
too low a profile since opening in 2011. Perhaps that reflects the most
personalities of the owners who are farmers first and promoters of their winery
Since quality wines begin in the vineyard, that is an
appropriate priority. However, I expect the profile to rise because the winery
last year became part of the portfolio represented by Vancouver
wine agent Tim Wispinski, president
of The Wine List. Other wineries that he also represents include Chaberton
Estate, Harper’s Trail, Hillside
, Time and
McWatters, Wild Goose – and the producer of the Okanagan’s most expensive red
wine, One Faith Vineyards.
To help raise the profile, here is the text of my profile of
Adega on 45th
from the fifth edition of John Schreiner’s Okanagan Wine Tour Guide.
Ringing the church
bells to communicate important village events was an art that Alex Nunes
learned one summer in his native Portugal. He was 13 and home from a
stint in the seminary. While he emigrated to Canada two years later, the memory
of the two big bells in that village church inspired the addition of a bell
tower to the winery’s façade when it was built in 2011. Alex intends to add a
bell. “It is either buy one, or go back to my hometown and steal one at
midnight,” he jokes.
The winery, whose warm
butterscotch tones blend with the desert landscape of Osoyoos, was designed by
Alex and his brother-in-law, Fred Farinha, who own the winery with their wives,
Maria and Pamela. The winery sits high on the vineyard’s west-facing slope. The
tasting room windows offer a grand view over the town and the lake. The 557
square meter (6,000 square foot) winery has thick concrete walls and a
naturally-cooled cellar for 400 barrels buried against the hillside. The
interior’s public areas acquired the instant patina of age by having walls
finished with Italian clay and tiles on the floor.
The winery’s European
ambiance reflects their Portuguese heritage (Adega is Portuguese for cellar). Alex
was born in Portugal in 1950
while Fred was born in Penticton
in 1966. Their families were among the many Portuguese immigrants who came to
Osoyoos at that time as tree fruit growers. Both Alex and Fred operated
orchards until about 2005 when vanishing returns from tree fruits left them
with a stark choice: sell the land or plant grapes. “We decided to keep the
land and build a winery,” Alex says.
They planted three
vineyards totalling 15.4 hectares (38 acres), supporting 5,000 cases a year,
with extra grapes for sale to other wineries. “Create our own future, you could
call it,” Alex says. Wine is in their blood. “We had wine on our tables and in
our homes, always, since we were born,” Alex remembers. “Your mom would ask to
you go to the tavern in the village to get a litre of wine. It did not matter
if you were five years old or ten years old. You would just go and get
it.” While they use a consulting
winemaker, Alex and Fred, with years of experience as home winemakers, do
almost everything themselves. “We are hands on,” Fred says. “We are in the
field and we are also in here.”
They grow no
Portuguese grape varieties because they doubt the vines could survive Okanagan
winters. But that has not stopped them from making Portuguese-inspired
wines. Merlot stands in for Touriga
Nacional to make a port-style wine.
Here are notes wines currently available from Adega on 45th.
Adega on 45th Felicidade 2014 ($17). The label
does not specify the grapes in this white blend. The spicy and herbal aromas
and the gooseberry flavours suggest some Sauvignon Blanc while the anise on the
finish suggests Pinot Gris. This is an austere and powerful white which
responds well to being decanted. 88.
Adega on 45th Chardonnay 2014 ($21). This is a
full-bodied Chardonnay with honeyed aromas and flavours of apple, tangerine and
melon. The soft acidity gives the wine a rich, fleshy texture while the 14.8%
alcohol adds to the swaggering personality. 88.
Adega on 45th Viognier 2013 ($20). Here is
another bold, ripe white (alcohol of 14.9%) with aromas of apricots and
flavours of apricots and almonds. The tannin that comes from the skins of the
Viognier gives backbone to the structure. In the glass, it presents with a
golden hue. 89.
Adega on 45th Cabernet Franc 2011
begins with aromas of raspberry, cherry and vanilla. On the palate, the
brambleberry flavours are bright and the wine is lively. 89
Adega on 45th Merlot
2011 ($20). A typical wine of the vintage, this is lean and bright with
aromas and flavours of cherry, raspberry and blueberry. 89.
Adega on 45th Manuel NV
($20). The winery does
not specify the blend in this red but does say the objective was to make a
fruit-forward wine while including a portion aged in French oak to “up the
sophistication.” The wine has ripe aromas of black cherry. The flavours are
generous, with notes of black cherry, cassis, vanilla, chocolate and liquorice.
Adega on 45th Malbec 2012 ($24). This is a big,
generous red with spicy aromas of plum, cherry, black currant and vanilla which
are echoed in the flavours. There is an intriguing touch of pepper on the
Adega on 45th
Syrah 2011 ($24). This wine begins with aromas of vanilla and black cherry
with a touch of pepper. On the palate, there is a medley of black fruit and
earthy, gamy notes. The wine benefits from decanting which allows it to show a
chewy texture. 88.
Adega on 45th Quarteto Tinto 2012 ($28). The
blend is 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 2 ½ % each of Cabernet Franc
and Malbec. This is a bold wine that begins with aromas of spice, black currant
and black cherry, followed by flavours of black currant and chocolate. The
texture is concentrated and rich. 92.