Tuesday, October 8, 2019

TIME and Evolve wineries change guard

Photo: Christa-Lee McWatters (credit Chris Stenberg)

Wine industry giant Harry McWatters, who died suddenly in July, left a seamless succession plan for Encore Vineyards, the holding company for TIME Winery and Evolve Cellars.

Christa-Lee McWatters, Harry’s daughter, took over as president and chief executive of Encore “as per the family's succession plan” – in the words of an Encore press release last month.
“Harry had been in the wine business for 51 years and mentored Christa-Lee in the business from the time she was a child,” the release continued. “Evolve Cellars is a project led by Christa-Lee, noting that the brand values of celebrating the Okanagan and living as the best version of herself is something she aspires to.” 

One of Christa-Lee’s first decisions was to move Evolve from Summerland into the TIME Winery in downtown Penticton. Evolve was set up by the McWatters family in 2015. It was based in a leased building that formerly had housed the unsuccessful Bonitas Winery. When the lease expired this summer, Christa-Lee decided to consolidate it with the TIME facility.

She plans to have an Evolution Lounge built over winter adjacent to the TIME tasting room. Like the wines in the TIME portfolio, the Evolve wines are made by the team headed by chief winemaker Graham Pierce.

The Evolve wines, however, are aimed at a different palate, as Harry told me during an interview a year ago. “Our target consumer is different,” he said. “We are marketing a lot more to females between 25 and 45 years old. Of all the white wines we produce, none of them see any oak. They are all varietally correct. They are not blended. They are all fruit forward. Even the red wines are all very fruit forward.”

The side-by-side tasting rooms should provide a chance to graduate some of those consumers to arguably more sophisticated TIME portfolio.

TIME opened in 2018 in a renovated former four-screen cinema in downtown Penticton. The facility now includes a year-round restaurant, a large tasting bar and a fully-equipped winery and barrel cellar.

Here are notes on four recent releases from TIME.

TIME Brut 2018 ($34.99). This is 55% Pinot Noir, 45% Chardonnay. The base wines were fermented variously in French oak, stainless steel barrels and stainless steel tanks. The wine is crisp, dry and refreshing, with citrus aromas and flavours of citrus, apple and brioche. 90.

TIME White Meritage 2018 ($25). The blend is 51% Sauvignon Blanc and 49% Sémillon. Forty per cent of the wine was fermented in French oak; the remainder was cool fermented in a stainless steel tank. The wine begins with aromas of grapefruit, honeydew melon and pear with a hint of coconut. On the palate, it delivers flavours of lemon, lime and gooseberry. The finish is crisp. 91.

TIME Riesling 2018 ($22.99). This wine was fermented cool in stainless steel, with fermentation stopped so that the wine retains almost 21% residual sugar and just 10.5% alcohol. The wine has aromas of lemon and lime and flavours of lime and nectarine.  The off-dry style is perfectly suited as an aperitif wine. 90.

TIME Rosé 2018 ($24.99). This a rare example of a Syrah rosé, with enough colour to present well on the table. The ripe strawberry aromas are echoed in the flavours, along with hints of cherry and pepper on the dry finish. 91.

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