Monday, August 7, 2017

SpierHead builds new winery

 Photo: SpierHead's Bill Knutson

The construction activity this summer at SpierHead Wine in East Kelowna is for a new production facility.

“We are currently bottling about 4,000 cases per year,” says Bill Knutson, one of the owners. “We’d like the nudge that figure up a bit but our existing building has reached capacity.”

The winery has now planted 14 acres of its 20-acre property, which was an apple orchard before Bill and his partners began planting grapes in 2008 on the ironically named Gentleman Farmer Vineyard. The last of the apple trees were removed last year, making room for more grapes and for the new building.

Only two or three acres remain to be planted. With Pinot Noir now occupying more than three-quarter of the property, Bill is debating whether to plant more Riesling or perhaps Chardonnay, or a white yet to be determined.

“We are going to try and focus more” Bill says. “I think there is an opportunity to up our game on the Riesling and the Chardonnay. Pinot Gris is going to be Pinot Gris. But fundamentally, what we hope to be is a Pinot Noir house.”

The additional plantings this spring – mostly Pinot Noir, with a small block of Riesling – will support future increases in production for this winery. The large Pinot Noir planting done in 2014 will produce its first crop this year and the winery will need to accommodate 300 or 400 more cases.

SpierHead has managed its growth carefully since opening in 2010, even if Bill jokes that the new production facility will “ensure that there is no risk of the bank balance turning positive.”

Here are notes on current releases.

SpierHead Pinot Gris 2016 ($19). The wine begins with fresh aromas of apples, pears and peaches, echoed in the juicy flavours. The wine has a crisp finish. 90.

SpierHead Chardonnay 2016 ($23 for 460 cases). This Chablis-style Chardonnay begins with citrus aromas that lead to crisp, fresh flavours of green apple and citrus. A portion was aged in neutral oak, with the result that the oak is hardly perceptible on the tangy palate. 90.

SpierHead Riesling 2016 ($21 for 222 cases). The wine begins with lovely aromas of lemon and lime along with notes of herbs. The wine is savoury, with flavours of herbs and spice mingling with citrus and lemon zest. The finish is dry and crisp. 91.

SpierHead Pinot Noir 2015 Okanagan ($25). This wine has aromas and flavours of strawberry and raspberry, with a touch of spice on the finish. The bright fruit flavours and the silky texture make this an appealing wine for early drinking. 90.

SpierHead Pinot Noir 2015 Golden Retreat Vineyard ($30). This vineyard is in Summerland (and also produces Pinot Gris for SpierHead). There is a Pommard clone and three Dijon clones (115, 667 and 778) in this dark and full-bodied wine with cherry flavours and a rich velvet texture. 91.

SpierHead Pinot Noir 2015 Saddle Block Vineyard ($30). There are three Dijon clones in this dark, spicy wine with aromas and flavours of cherry and strawberry. The texture is silky. 91.

SpierHead Pinot Noir Cuvée 2015 ($38). This wine is a blend of multiple clones (Pommard and Dijon 115, 667, 777 and 828), selected from the best barrels. It is a rich and complex wine, generous in texture, with cherry aromas. The flavours of plum and cherry lead to a lingering finish with a touch of cloves. 94.


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