Photo: Rust winery with deliberate corrosion
The current releases from Rust Wine Company illustrate how this Oliver winery is operating under its new owners.
The releases included three Syrahs, all from 2017 but each from a different vineyard.
“The main focus for our winery will be single vineyard, single varietal wines,” tasting room manager Kane Morgan told me last summer. “The idea is to make them identically and to use the same viticultural techniques, so that what jumps out of the glass is strictly terroir.”
Previously, the winery was known as Rustico Farm & Cellars. It had opened in 2009. The onsite manager was Bruce Fuller and his backers were the Gidda brothers, who then owned Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery.
However, a bitter falling out between the brothers ended with Mt. Boucherie being auctioned by a receiver in 2015. Vancouver businessman Sonny Huang took over the winery. He has since expanded Mt. Boucherie.
Rustico was closed for a renovation both of the winery and of the 10-acre Golden Mile Vineyard and for a rebranding. The winery was clad in a steel made deliberately to acquire a patina of rust. The labels are created from photos – often supplied by customers – of rusty objects. It is a lot more effective than it sounds.
“When we opened up, we had no money for label designs,” Kane told me last summer. “So all of our labels are photographs we took of rusty things. We started telling people at the tasting bar to take an image if they ever see anything rusty and we will throw it on a label and give them a free case of wine and a photo credit. One gentleman sent us about 20 images, which are all fantastic. We told him we have to spread the love around. So he comes to us with all these pieces of his artwork to sell in the winery. He happens to be a local gentleman who specializes in rusty vehicles and old worn out doors. For our purposes it works really well.”
While Rustico’s wines had been made at Mt. Boucherie, Rust hired a winemaker of its own last year: Ryan DeWitte, who had spent four vintages at Leaning Post Winery in Niagara.
He has the resources to make terroir-driven wines because Mt. Boucherie owns 200 acres of vineyards spread throughout West Kelowna, Okanagan Falls and the Similkameen Valley.
There has been an effort to minimize the duplication of the portfolios of the two wineries. Rust makes Gamay and Gewürztraminer; Mt. Boucherie does not. The decision was driven in part by the fact that those are two varieties grown at Rust. The Gewürztraminer vines are some of the oldest in the Okanagan. Rust also has Zinfandel in its vineyard.
None of those three were in the spring release. But it did include three single vineyard Syrahs. Here are notes on the wines.
Rust Pinot Grigio 2019 ($18). This wine was fermented on the skins in stainless steel and with natural yeast. The skin contact has imparted a faint blush and perhaps more body than one would expect with a Pinot Grigio (but not if the label were Pinot Gris). The aroma recalled, at least for me, chocolate covered cherries. On the palate, there are flavours of cantaloupe. 88.
Rust Chardonnay 2019 ($22). The grapes, which are from Okanagan Falls, were fermented in stainless steel with natural yeast. The resulting wine is reminiscent of Chablis: crisp, fruit forward, with citrus and green apple on the palate. 90.
Rust Rosé 2019 ($22). The wine is made with grapes from the first harvest of Cabernet Sauvignon planted in the estate’s South Rock Vineyard in 2016. (This variety replaced a block of Chancellor). The grapes were whole cluster pressed and fermented in stainless steel. The hue is vibrant and dark. The aromas and flavours display intense notes of cherry. The wine is so fruity as to seem sweet – but it is a bold, dry rosé. 89.
Rust Syrah 2017 Similkameen Valley ($37). The grapes are from the winery’s Lazy River Vineyard in the Similkameen Valley. During fermentation, the must was punched down twice daily and the wine was aged 16 months in French and American oak (40% new). There are aromas and flavours of cherry, plum and cola mingled with vanilla. 90.
Rust Syrah 2017 Ferreira Vineyard Black Sage Bench ($40). The grapes were punched down twice daily in small totes during fermentation and then aged 16 months in French and American oak (50% new). This is a bold Syrah, with aromas and flavours of dark fruit mingled with pepper. The finish lingers. 93
Rust Syrah 2017 South Rock Vineyard Golden Mile Bench ($37). The grapes were punched down twice daily in small totes and then aged 16 months in French and American oak (38% new). A wine with a concentrated texture, it begins with aromas of figs and spice. On the palate, there are flavours of figs, plums and other dark fruits accented by spice. 92.