Saturday, May 30, 2020

Stag's Hollow at 25






Photo: Winemaker Keira LeFranc


Stag’s Hollow Winery celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

This Okanagan Falls winery was founded by Larry Gerelus and Linda Pruegger who remain involved even after the winery was purchased last year by Eric Liu (who also owns Bench 1775 Winery on Naramata Road).

The pandemic lockdown, which began in March and is now easing, should not put too much of a damper on the winery’s anniversary celebrations this summer. Stag’s Hollow, like most wineries, offered free shipping to its customers during the past two and a half months. Customers also have been able to arrange to pick up wines in the parking lot.

The customers will welcome the gradual opening of the wine shop. Some of the wines, notably the excellent and limited volume Sauvignon Blanc, are available only at the wine shop.

These releases, all from 2019, demonstrate the sure hand of Keira LeFranc, the full-time winemaker here since 2018. Here is a brief biographic note that was posted when she assumed that position.

“Keira LeFranc grew up in the Okanagan, and got her start in the wine industry in our tasting room as her summer job in 2012, Showing an interest in the cellar side of things, after completing a science degree in 2013, she jumped at the opportunity to join our vintage team on the crush pad in 2013.

“Now more passionate about wine and winemaking, Keira spent 2 years training and working as a sommelier in Australia. However she discovered she missed getting her hands dirty in the cellar. So again, she joined our vintage crew in 2015, and then left to complete a Postgraduate Diploma of Wine Science in New Zealand. We are happy to have her back permanently, working hard in the cellar to help create our wines.”

Here are notes on the wines.  

Stag’s Hollow Pinot Gris 2019 ($26 for 490 cases). This is the winery’s first Pinot Gris. To distinguish it from the ocean of Pinot Gris in the market, winemaker Keira LeFranc decided to make it in what the winery calls “a rich and textural, off-dry Alsatian style.” She succeeded brilliantly. The wine begins with appealing aromas of pear, white peach and citrus. The palate is indeed rich, with flavours of pear, apple and honeydew melon. The wine has a lingering finish with a hint of spice. 92.



Stag’s Hollow Sauvignon Blanc 2019 ($22 for 123 cases). This is a dry, zesty wine with aromas and flavours of lime and gooseberry mingled with savoury herbs. The wine is especially notable for the intensity of flavour and the persistent finish. 92.

Stag’s Hollow Muscat Frizzante 2019 ($22 for 305 cases). The blend is 49.7% Muscat Ottonel, 45.3% Orange Muscat and 5% Riesling. With 10% alcohol and delicate bubbles from being carbonated, this wine is light and refreshing. It begins with aromas of spice. On the palate, the flavours mingle spice with citrus and nectarine. This is such a delicious wine, and it goes down so easily, that you need to buy more than one bottle. 90.






Stag’s Hollow Rosé 2019 ($24 for 483 cases). This is 65% Syrah and 35% Zweigelt. The Zweigelt is new to this blend; the winery now has access to that varietal from a Similkameen vineyard. The wine presents in the glass with a delicate pink hue. It begins with aromas of raspberries and strawberries. Those berries are echoed on the intensely flavoured palate mingled with watermelon and a hint of pepper. The finish is dry. 90.












Stag’s Hollow Blanc de Noirs 2019 ($25 for 235 cases). Fashionably pale in the glass, this wine is 76.8% Pinot Noir, 18.2% Gamay Noir and 4.6% Zweigelt. It begins with aromas of cherry, strawberry and peach. The texture is surprising, and pleasingly. Full, with flavours of strawberry and apple. The finish is dry. 90.



Stag’s Hollow Simply Noir 2019 ($22 for 860 cases). The blend is 63% Gamay Noir, 28% Pinot Noir, 5% Zweigelt and 4% Dolcetto. Here is a very drinkable red wine with soft tannins that suggest the wine will benefit from a slight chill. It has aromas and flavours of bright red fruit including cherries. The finish is dry. 90. 





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