Sunday, January 20, 2019

Class of 2018 Red Bird Estate Winery





Photo: Remi and Shannon Cardinal (courtesy Mark Simpson)

Red Bird Estate Winery
1046 Lamont Road, Creston BC, V0B 1G1
T 250.254.8885


This is the fifth winery in Creston and environs, fully establishing this as an emerging wine region since Skimmerhorn Estate Winery opened in 2006.

The other wineries now operating here are Baillie-Grohman Estate Winery, William Tell Family Estate and, in nearby Wynndel, Wynnwood Cellars.


Remi and Shannon Cardinal, the owners of Red Bird, spent six years looking at properties from Nova Scotia to British Columbia. They concluded that Creston is an “up and coming” wine community with land considerably more affordable than in the Okanagan. The Creston lifestyle, with access to skiing and hiking, also appealed to them. They converted a neglected orchard near Baillie-Grohman (Creston’s largest winery) to vineyard.

On the winery website, they describe Creston as their “goldilocks zone … right in the middle, not too big, not too small, just perfect for us. With its relaxed way of life, its gentler climate, and with all the outdoors activity at arms’ reach, we settled here.  It was the perfect blend to start our winery, and also raise our family.

Not having a background in wine growing, Remi and Shannon canvassed the other Creston wineries before deciding, in 2015, what to plant. The two largest blocks in their 1.2-hectare (three-acre) vineyard are Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer; and there are small blocks of Schönburger and Kerner. All had already proven themselves in other vineyards.

Remi and Shannon also have taken a flyer on six rows of a red called Gamaret (pronounced gamma-ray), from which they made 20 cases of rosé from their first harvest in 2018. The early-ripening and hardy varietal is red developed from a 1970 cross in a Swiss research station of Gamay Noir and Reichensteiner. Released commercially in 1990, there are at least 400 hectares (1,000 acres) of Gameret in Swiss vineyards. There also are smaller plantings in northern Italy, Beaujolais, Belgium – and now six rows in British Columbia. And more if the wine succeeds, which seems likely.

The couple began their journey to wine growing in 2009 when Shannon took the viticulture course at Okanagan College. “When I took the course, we were semi-serious,” she says. Born at Red Deer in 1981, Shannon is an environmental consultant specializing in oil well remediation. Remi, who was born in 1980 near Montreal, is a forester. He and Shannon met in 2003 while working on a forest inventory in Northern Saskatchewan. International travel fired their decision to become wine growers.

Red Bird’s first vintage was 2017, with a production of 340 cases, some with Okanagan grapes. Remi and Shannon’s eventual goal is to produce 2,000 cases a year, all of it with Creston area grapes. The 2017 wines were made at BC Wine Studio in Okanagan Falls, whose owner, Mark Simpson, also acts as Red Bird’s consultant. Remi and Shannon converted a building at their property for winemaking in 2018. They intend to build a new winery there and open a tasting room by 2021, replacing the informal tasting arrangements than have greeted visitors so far.

Here are notes on two recent releases. A Meritage was also released this summer but is now sold out.

Red Bird Pinot Gris 2017 ($20). A full-flavoured wine, this crisp and refreshing Pinot Gris has aromas and flavours of apple, pear and citrus. A delicate hint of minerals gives the wine good structure. 90.


Red Bird Gewurztraminer 2017 ($20). This is a blend of 83% Gewürztraminer, 10% Schönburger and 7% Kerner, fermented in stainless steel. The wine is light (11.6% alcohol) and fresh with floral and spicy aromas and flavours of pear and apple. The finish is dry. 88.








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