Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Class of 2017: Origin Wines

Photo: Winemaker Daiya Anderson in the Origin wine shop

Origin Wines
1278 Riddle Road, Penticton, V2A 8X2
T 250-328-2158

For years, winemaker Daiya Anderson and her husband, Blake, entered possible winery names in their smart phones without finding one that clicked – until “Origin” occurred to them.

It was obvious: their roots are in the Okanagan. Daiya, born in 1982, had grown up on Black Sage Road and then Penticton, while Blake grew up on Naramata Road. “It took us a long time to land on Origin, but I think it is fitting because of our history,” Daiya says.

This tiny winery, which debuted with four wines, opened in July, 2017. It is perched on a plateau high above Naramata Road. The million-dollar view from the tasting room more than makes up for the careful drive there along a narrow gravel road. The winery fulfils a 10-year-long journey by the couple.

They met when Daiya was 21 at a party to inaugurate a 10-acre vineyard that Blake’s father, Aaron Anderson, had planted on Naramata Road, at the site of what today is Moraine Vineyard. (The elder Anderson sold it more than a decade ago to pursue a career as master gardener.) When Daiya was offered a drink at the party, she asked for a glass of wine. She had acquired a taste for wine during what turned out to be a 14-year management career at Earls Restaurants, a chain noted for its wine program.

“I actually started university in Kelowna,” Daiya says. “I was studying political science and psychology, two interests of mine in daily life. Then I ended up working in a restaurant to pay for college. I got into management quickly.”

“When we met, wine was an immediate interest,” she says about Blake. “He was interested in the vineyard side because he had helped his parents plan and plant the vineyard.” When the couple moved to Vancouver, they enrolled in sommelier courses. “That’s where we started to think maybe we would like to go back to the Okanagan. Maybe we will be able to do a vineyard or a winery one day, when we retired, or something along those lines.”

However, about 10 years ago, they drew up a plan to return to the Okanagan and open a winery sooner than that. While continuing to work fulltime in Vancouver, they began developing a seven-acre vineyard in Kaleden, confident that a cluster of other wineries would also spring up in that picturesque community. When that did not happen, they resumed a search for a location where the wine touring traffic promised a more successful launch of a new winery.

“We found this property as a private sale,” Daiya recounts. “Another couple who knew Blake’s parents said there is a lady here on Riddle Road that might be looking to sell. We came up and met her. She had been living here for 42 years. She wanted to make sure it got passed on to someone who wanted to be here a long time.  We said our goal is to find a place where we are going to live forever.  Our goal is just to keep doing this.”

The couple moved back to the Okanagan from Vancouver in 2016. Blake, who now runs a visual arts studio in Kelowna, has planted three acres of vines on the Naramata Bench property. Daiya, who has a taken the University of Washington winemaking course, makes the wines and manages the tasting room.

“Winemaking is my big career shift,” Daiya says. “I absolutely love it. The other people I know in the industry are so helpful.  If I have a question, I can call someone up. I think it helps that I am from here and that Blake is from here. People already know that we are super passionate about it. It helps for them to know us and know what our goals are.”

She has an adequate selection of grapes available from their two vineyards. The Kaleden vineyard grows Merlot, Pinot Noir and Gewürztraminer.  The Naramata Bench vineyard, which comes into production next year, grows Syrah, Malbec and Cabernet Franc.

The winery opened with 500 cases of wine. Production rose to about 800 cases in the 2017 vintage. Eventually, estate-grown grapes will support 1,500 cases.

“We really will be small,” Daiya says. “If we bought grapes, too, we will be around the 2,000-case mark. If we do any more than that, we have to add another building to this at some point. We are already saving for the next project.”

The wine shop is in a tastefully renovated building that formerly was a barn. “The fact that this building was already here was a nice bonus,” Daiya says. It also fits with the rustic landscaping, including a cactus garden, done with the help of her father-in-law. “We like to have a really natural setting,” she says.

Here are notes on the wines.

Origin Gü 2016 ($19; sold out). This is the winery’s Gewürztraminer with the name abbreviated for ease of pronunciation. The wine begins with floral, rose petal and spice aromas, leading to flavours of spice and pear. The finish is dry. 90.

Origin Eden 2016 ($21). This is a Chardonnay, a portion of which was aged in oak for 12 months; the rest was aged in stainless steel. The aromas are restrained but the flavours are rich, with notes of marmalade, butter and vanilla. 89.

Origin Mistral 2016 ($23). This is the winery’s Pinot Noir. It has aromas and flavours of cherry and raspberry. Still youthfully firm, it delivers bright fruit to the palate. 90.

Origin Farm House 2016 ($24). This is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. The wine begins with aromas of black currant and black cherry, leading to dark fruit flavours with a touch of chocolate. Firm, ripe tannins will allow this wine to age gracefully for five to seven years. 90.


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