Sunday, October 23, 2016

Wild Goose Vineyards still flying high





Photo: Wineshop at Wild Goose Vineyards

One of the most frequent questions I get is which is my favourite winery in B.C.

It is difficult to answer that. Virtually every winery has appealing strengths and I can recite them until your eyes glaze over.

However, family-owned Wild Goose Vineyards has always been in the top 10 of my favourites. The wines are reliable and affordingly priced. Even more important, the Kruger family which owns the winery, is among the most pleasant families in the B.C. wine industry. It would surprise me if anybody ever had in a bad experience during a visit here.

For a bit of background, let me quote the profile from John Schreiner’s Okanagan Wine Tour Guide.

The bell tower above the new wine shop that Wild Goose opened in 2012 telegraphs an unintentional whiff of “I told you so.”  When the winery first opened in 1990, a government official suggested that founder Adolf Kruger would be lucky to sell 2,000 bottles of wine a year. Adolf proved him very wrong. Now, Wild Goose is producing 11,000 cases of award-winning wine each year.

Adolf, an engineer born
in Germany in 1931, built a family legacy on this four-hectare (10-acre) Okanagan Falls property that he bought as raw land in 1983. With sons Hagen and Roland, he planted Riesling and Gewürztraminer, now the signature varieties for Wild Goose.  Hagen, (left) born in 1960, became the winemaker and viticulturist. In turn, one of his sons, Nikolas (born in 1985) also became a winemaker, studying at Okanagan College and gaining practical experience at Tinhorn Creek, Hester Creek and at Bremerton Wines, a family-owned Australian winery.  Hagen’s other son, Alexander, has taken up viticulture.

Roland Kruger, (right) who handles marketing at Wild Goose, lives on the winery’s two- hectare (five-acre) Mystic River Vineyard near Oliver. Purchased in 1999 to support the growing demand for Wild Goose wines, it grows Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and, of course, Gewürztraminer. In 2008, the Krugers planted more Riesling and Gewürztraminer but just small blocks of Merlot and Petit Verdot, on their newest property, the 3.8-hectare (9.5-acre) Secrest Vineyard just north of Oliver. “We decided to stick with what we do best,” Roland explained.

The winery has been highly acclaimed for white wines with, among many awards, seven Lieutenant Governor’s Awards for Excellence in Wine. In recent vintages, well-crafted red wines have joined the portfolio. “Hagen has been working the red program pretty hard the last couple of years here,” Roland says. “We have some good growers giving us good fruit. Hagen has been working with a couple of consultants and the results are beginning to show.” 

The spacious wine shop replacing notoriously cozy quarters gives visitors room to move about, or space to relax on a deck overlooking the vineyards. However, Wild Goose retains its warm family welcome because the tasting room is managed either by a Kruger or by staff imbued with the Kruger culture.

In 2015, after that book came out, the winery won its eighth Lieutenant Governor’s Award for a 2014 Gewürztraminer from the Mystic River vineyard.

Here are notes on some of the wines that may still be available at the winery or in the market.

Wild Goose Autumn Gold 2015 ($16.52 for 5,000 cases). In spite of the astounding volume, this very popular wine is sold out. The blend is 34% Riesling and 33% each of Gewürztraminer and Pinot Blanc. It begins with an herbal and spicy aroma, going on to flavours of herbs and grapefruit. Sweet reserve was added to the wine after fermentation, yielding residual sugar of 34 grams per litre. Yet the wine is so well balanced that it seems dry, with a lingering hint of ginger on the finish. 90.

Wild Goose Gewürztraminer 2015 ($17.05 for 850 cases). This is a wine with a clear varietal signature, beginning with spicy and floral notes on the nose. It has intense flavours of lychee, with a hint of ginger. It is balanced to finish dry with just a hint of residual sugar. 90.

Wild Goose Mystic River Vineyards Pinot Blanc 2015 ($16.62 for 550 cases; sold out). Twenty percent of this wine was fermented in new French oak. The wine has appealing aromas of apple, melon and vanilla. On the palate, it is a bowl of fruit – apple and pear with a hint of cantaloupe. A touch of residual sugar adds to the fleshy texture. The finish is refreshing. It also lingers. 91.

Wild Goose Riesling 2015 ($16.52 for 1,1oo cases). This begins with citrus aromas and a hint of petrol that will develop with age (as if this wine will be around long enough to be aged). It has flavours of lemon and grapefruit with a touch of residual sweetness to pop the taste. The mineral backbone – some of the fruit is from 32-year-old vines – and the brisk acidity give the wine a dry finish. 91.

Wild Goose God’s Mountain Riesling 2015 ($17.39 for 300 cases). This wine is made with grapes from a legendary low-yielding vineyard on a clay bluff on the east side of Skaha Lake. The racy acidity and the mineral backbone add to the crispness of the wine. It begins with citrus aromas, leading to a core of lemon flavours that have a lingering finish. 92.

Wild Goose Merlot 2013 ($17.39 f0r 600 cases).  The wine, which was aged 12 months in French and American oak, has aromas of black cherry, plum and vanilla. The flavours of plum and black current mingle with earth and smoky notes. The tannins are ripe but firm. 88.


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