Friday, June 19, 2015

Tightrope Winery now has its own wine shop

Photo: Tightrope's Graham and Lyndsay O'Rourke

The new wine shop which Tightrope Winery opened last month constitutes one more must-see winery on the Naramata Bench.

The tasting room, generous in size and elegant in design, offers a superb view over vineyards and Okanagan Lake beyond the vineyards.

The winery, operated by Lyndsay and Graham O’Rourke, began selling its wines in 2013 under the license of nearby Ruby Blues Winery. At the time, Lyndsay also was the winemaker at Ruby Blues. It is a position she has turned over to Blair Gillingham now that Tightrope has its own license and rising production.

The winery’s website gives a more extensive account of this couple than I have published in my books. I take the liberty of quoting that:

Graham and Lyndsay O’Rourke have had a passion for the fine art of winemaking for years. From the snowy slopes of the coastal mountains, into the semi-arid desert of B.C., the couple has brought their outdoor enthusiasm to the Okanagan valley, expressing their expertise in the realm of vine growing and winemaking with the culmination of their new wine label, Tightrope.

After growing up in Southern Ontario, Graham trekked across the country and spent a few years enjoying the outdoor life that Whistler, B.C. has to offer by skiing, mountain biking, playing rugby, and meeting his future wife carving the snowy slopes and sipping fine wines.

Having grown up in British Columbia Lyndsay has been aware of the fine grape growing conditions the Okanagan Valley has to offer since the onset of her own wine passion. Once the couple had their first child they decided that the environment of the Okanagan would be ideal for cultivating a family as well as their dreamed-of winery.

Initiating a formal education on the subject of how to best cultivate the vines that produce the wines they love, they discovered that the vineyard life and winemaking were passions that they shared and wished to further pursue in their life together. The growing family relocated to New Zealand for a more advanced and thorough education on this subject that has proven to be their life-focus.

Having attained honours degrees in both oenology and viticulture while studying in New Zealand at Lincoln University, Lyndsay and Graham made a welcome return to the Okanagan Valley, settling on the Naramata Bench in 2007.

Since that time both have been hard at work honing their skills and practicing their trade, enabling that they can excel in their chosen profession. Lyndsay has traded in her snowboarding boots for a pair of Wellies, and was been an outstanding, award-winning winemaker for the Ruby Blues Winery along the Naramata Bench from 2009 to 2014.

In 2012 and 2014 Ruby Blues won the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for their 2011 and 2013 Viognier. Lyndsay has now turned her focus to Tightrope Winery full time and continues to craft award winning wines in the new Tightrope facility!

After their return to Canada, Graham went to work for Mission Hill Winery as one of their lead viticulturists. Managing numerous acres of different varietals successfully through many seasons allowed Graham to put into practice those hours of study, and he has stowed the mountain bike in the garage in favour of overalls and a tractor. 2012 saw Graham leave Mission Hill to focus on the O’Rourke’s own 10 acre property along the Naramata Bench at Fleet Road, from which all of the Tightrope grapes derive.

Walking the tightrope of a life-in-balance, in her free time Lyndsay enjoys training for the triathlons that are hosted in the region, while Graham still sports his rugby cap once in a while. The Fleet Road Vineyard, in addition to its’ vines, is now growing not one, but two fantastic little boys! A variety of family pets can also be found on the farm and are sure to be seen on the next Vineyard Dogs of the Okanagan Calendar!

Lyndsay and Graham look forward to sharing with you their enthusiasm and life-long dedication to wines that are worth walking a tightrope for.

Here are notes on current releases.

Tightrope Riesling 2012 ($20). This is now sold out. It has developed into a classic dry Riesling with “petrol” on the nose and a bit on the palate. Perhaps a better descriptor is marmalade, especially on the palate. The acidity is balanced with a bit of residual sugar and the wine finish dry. 91.

Tightrope Riesling 2013 ($20). The wine begins with floral and citrus aromas. The wine has more weight on the palate, with juicy flavours of grapefruit and with 13.3% alcohol, the result of a warmer year. 90.

Tightrope Viognier 2013 ($27). The wine begins with aromas of citrus and  cumin spice, leading to flavours of apricot, tangerine, ginger and vanilla. The wine was partially barrel-fermented. 90.

Tightrope Viognier 2014 ($27). Perhaps because there is Similkameen fruit blended in this wine, it is bold and ripe, with flavours of peach and apricot. 90.

Tightrope Tip-Toe 2014 ($21). This is a blend of Gewürztraminer (46%) with Riesling and Chardonnay. It begins with aromas of rose petal and lychee and has flavours of citrus, pear and mandarin. The fresh acidity gives this wine a refreshing finish. 91.

Tightrope Pinot Gris 2014 ($20). This is an appealingly refreshing wine made in the fruit-forward Pinot Grigio style (alcohol of 12.8%). It has flavours of apples, peaches and pears, with a hint of sweetness on the finish. 90.

Tightrope Rosé 2014 ($20). This is a blend of 95% Pinot Noir and 5% Barbera. The wine is dark in hue, with aromas and flavours of raspberry, cherry and strawberry. The texture is juicy and the delicious finish lingers. 91.

Tightrope Vertigo 2013 ($28). This is an approachable red blend – 50% Merlot and 25% each of Cabernet Franc and Barbera. It has flavours of plum, black currant and chocolate with a touch of pepper and a hint of oak. 90.

Tightrope Pinot Noir 2013 ($32). Dark ruby in colour, this wine begins with aromas of spice, cherry, strawberry and mocha. It is rich on the palate with flavours cherry, raspberry, plum and mocha, all subtly framed with oak. The texture is seductively silky and the finish is persistent. This is an outstanding wine. 93.

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