Photo: Winery manager Gaurav Maan
Three wineries have been destroyed by
fire – but two bounced back to remain in business.
St. Hubertus Estate Winery in East
Kelowna was destroyed during the 2003 forest fires but, since most of the wines
were already bottled and stored in a nearby warehouse, sales resumed within a
week while a new winery was built.
Granite Creek Estate Winery in Tappen
was destroyed early in 2013. While the winery continued to sell wines for a
time – a stock was in the nearby tasting room – the winery has since become
In July 2014, Maan Farms Estate Winery
at Abbotsford was the victim of arson (still not resolved) that broke out about
we locked up for the day after a busy Sunday we never, in our wildest dreams,
expected to have to rush back to see our beloved facility engulfed in fire,”
the winery said on its website. “In that moment, it’s difficult to think straight
and not just fall to the ground as you watch all your hard work go up in smoke.”
But within two days, Maan Farms was selling blueberries and
managing a U-pick operation from a tent. Since then, a new building has been
erected, housing not only a winery and a tasting room but also a fruit market
and a country kitchen.
“All you can do is move on,” says winery
manager Gaurav Maan. “A business like ours, it is hard to close us down. That
is one of the biggest lessons I have taken from this. If we went through that,
you can’t stop us. It has added to our determination. We are definitely opening
new revenue streams that we did not have before.”
His grandfather, who emigrated to Canada
from India in the early 1970s, began farming in the Fraser Valley in 1977. The
family now farms about 80 acres close to Abbotsford, growing a significant
variety of fruits and vegetables. The fruit wines in the Maan tasting room all
are made with berries grown by the family.
Planning for the winery began about 2008
by Gaurav’s parents, Kris and Devinder. He is an engineer in a food processing
plant. Devinder, who got a teaching certificate in Indian before coming to
Canada in 1985, was running the farm market. “We want to do something different
from what other farmers are doing,” she told me in an interview in 2008. “Our
intention is to provide something they don’t have in the community, their own
local fruit wines. It is not available yet.”
The winery also was developed to add
value to the berries produced by the farm.
about three pounds of berries in our blackberry wine and we sell it for $23
retail, whereas three pounds of blackberries would probably sell for $10,”
Gaurav explains. “So we have increased our margin by making wine. The big
reason we started making wine was for value-added products.”
was established in 2012 but did little marketing beyond its wine shop until
after the fire. In the past year, however, Maan has began placings its fruit
wines in private wine stores in the Fraser Valley. The winery also has begun
selling at farmers’ markets. The winery made just 400 cases last year but, in
response to the good reception for the wines, will double that this year.
has relied on consultant winemakers so far. The current winemaker is Laurent Lafuente,
a French-trained winemaker and distiller who has worked in the Okanagan and on
“I have done
most of the footwork and the labour,” says Gaurav (who is finishing a degree in
finance at the University of the Fraser Valley. “He walks me through the steps and
explains what needs to be done and why.”
wines from fruit are full-bodied (no water is added) and dry, made to accompany
food. Demand from customers also had led Maan Farms to add red tables wines
from grapes to its portfolio. Made in small volumes with 2013 grapes from the
south Okanagan, these wines have only recently become available in the Maan
wine shop. The positive reception to these wines has the winery considering the
production of both red and white grape wines in 2016.
“Our bread and
butter is our blueberry wine,” Gaurav says. “It is our top seller. The main
reason people are fond of our blueberry wine is that we don’t add any water.
Just as the best grapes make amazing wine, the best berries also make amazing
notes on currently available wines. Raspberry and strawberry-raspberry table
wines are sold out will soon return to the portfolio.
Maan Farms Blackberry NV ($22). The wine has a deep hue with
fruity berry aromas and flavours. With good weight, an elegant texture and a
dry finish, it recalls a Beaujolais. 88.
Maan Farms Blueberry NV ($22). In keep with the grape
analogy, think Merlot with this rich and full-bodied wine. The blueberry aromas
jump from the glass. The texture is smooth with a hint of tannin and with a dry
Maan Farms Maan Trois 2013 ($29.95). This is a Bordeaux blend
with 33% each of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. It begins with
aromas of cassis and oak. On the palate black cherry and blackberry flavours
mingle with hints of oak. The wine has long, silky tannins. 90.
Maan Farms Merlot 2013 ($20). A juicy unoaked Merlot, the
wine begins with aromas of blueberry jam, leading to flavours of blueberry and
cherry. Again the tannins are silky. 88.
Maan Farms Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($20). This has aromas of cassis and
flavours of black currant and cherry. The tannins give this a firm texture,
suggesting the wine should age a few more years. 87.
Maan Farms Cabernet Franc 2013 ($20). Dark in colour, this is a rich and juicy wine with lively
brambleberry aromas and flavours, along with flavours of black raspberry and
Maan Farms Raspberry Dessert Wine ($26.45 for 375 ml). Fortified to
17%, this wine’s berry aromas and flavours explode from the glass. Full-bodied
and palate-coating, the wine is well-balanced and not overly sweet. 90.
Maan Farms Blueberry Dessert Wine ($26.45 for 375 ml). Generous and
full-bodied, this fortified wine has spicy berry flavours and a deep colour.
Maan Farms Blackberry Dessert Wine ($26.45 for 375 ml). Also fortified
to 17%, this is a soft and jammy berry wine with a Port-like richness. 88.
Maan Farms Strawberry Dessert Wine ($26.45 for 375 ml). Bronze in
colour, this is unmistakably strawberry in its dramatic aromas and rich, unctuous
flavours that last and last. 90.