Sunday, February 28, 2016

New winemakers at Osoyoos Larose, See Ya Later Ranch

Photo: Osoyoos Larose winemaker Jean-March Enixon

New winemakers have been announced for both Osoyoos Larose Winery and See Ya Later Ranch.

Mathieu Mercier, the general manager and winemaker at Osoyoos Larose since 2013, has just announced that he and vineyard manager Julie Rapel are returning to Bordeaux at the end of March 2016. Groupe Taillan, which owns Osoyoos Larose, has asked him to manage several of the company’s estates in France and handle other projects.

His successor is Jean-Marc Enixon, another Bordeaux-trained winemaker who sold his small winery last year as part of a decision gain winemaking experience beyond France,
“I will still be involved in Osoyoos Larose project, tasting and making blending decisions from Bordeaux, with all the Groupe Taillan winemakers team,” Mathieu says. “It has been a wonderful ride for Julie and me, where we have spent all our time to continue elevating the quality of this exceptional estate, Osoyoos Larose.”    

Benoit Giroussens, a vineyard manager from Bordeaux, will be replacing Julie (who also returns to Groupe Taillan).

During their three vintages at Osoyoos Larose, Mathieu and Julie initiated trials in barrel-fermenting red varietals, with a view to taking the estate’s wines to the next level of quality.
They also initiated plans to build a tasting room at the vineyard. Currently, Osoyoos Larose still makes its wines in a separate area at the Jackson-Triggs winery near Oliver. There has never been an Osoyoos Larose tasting room there. Construction of the vineyard tasting room is expected to begin this summer.

Jean-Marc Enixon is a native of Bordeaux where, as he says in a biographical note, he was “born in the heart of the wine world,” spending time in the vineyards with his father. Passionate about winemaking and its alchemy, he has a Master’s in Viticulture and Enology from Bordeaux University. He has produced wines in several regions of France as well as in California. In 2004, he took on the responsibility of managing the family estate, Ch√Ęteau Puy Guilhem, in the Fronsac appellation.  

Mathieu and Jean-Marc began working together in the 2015 vintage.  “During a wine tasting organized by Groupe Taillan, Jean-Marc was impressed by the quality and the potential of Osoyoos Larose wines,” Mathieu said in his statement. “The richness and the complexity stimulated his curiosity.”

Photo: SYL winemaker Dave Saysomsack (courtesy Constellation Brands)

At SYL, Dave Saysomsack succeeds Dave Carson, now the senior winemaker at Jackson Triggs Okanagan.

Born in Laos and raised in the farming community of Abbotsford, B.C., Dave was a passionate hobby winemaker for more than a decade before he decided to turn professional. He went back to school to complete an honors degree at Brock University in Oenology and Viticulture. 

He has worked in Ontario, California, Washington State, Oregon, New Zealand and now the Okanagan. In British Columbia, his previous winemaking stints have been with Pacific Breeze and Burrowing Owl Estate Winery.

At See Ya Later, he takes over one of the most historic wineries in the Okanagan Falls region. It opened in 1986 as LeComte Estate Winery. It was renamed Hawthorne Mountain Vineyards after being acquired by Sumac Ridge founder Harry McWatters.

The winery is now owned by Constellation Brands who renamed it See Ya Later Ranch, inspired by a story, possibly apocryphal, about Major Hugh Fraser, who owned the property for about 45 years from the end of The Great War. It is said that the Major brought a British war bride with him. After a few months, she found Okanagan Falls so remote that she returned home, leaving a note for the major that read “See Ya Later.”

The more probable explanation is that the major was a prolific letter writer in the habit of signing See Ya Later on his letters.

What is not in doubt is that the major was a great dog fancier and buried a dozen of his pets on the property with headstones. These are now gather in one spot in from of the wine shop. The names of several of the major’s dogs are now on the labels of the wines here, including Ping, Nellie, Belle, Rover, Hunny and Jimmie My Pal.

No comments: