Okanagan Valley makes serious, spicy wine
By CHRISTOPHER WATERS, QMI Agency
Winemaker Darryl Brooker confesses he jumped ship to British Columbia's CedarCreek Estate Winery from the Niagara region in part because of its appealing mix of vineyards and grape varieties. The company owns four vineyards in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley, each carefully tended by its own site manager.
Aromatic varieties, such as Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris are planted in more northernly sites, alongside Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Big red varieties, including Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, are planted down south in desert conditions of Osoyoos, near the U.S. border.
The Australian native is looking to apply the vineyard-first philosophy that made him so successful during recent stints at Flat Rock Cellars and Hillebrand Estate Winery in the Niagara Peninsula. Going into his first Okanagan Valley harvest this fall, he says he’ll be looking to produce single vineyard wines whenever possible.
“My plan this year is to keep everything as separate as possible,” Brooker says. “Luckily it isn’t going to be a huge harvest for us, so I will have the space to keep everything completely separate. Then I’ll be able to wait and see what comes out of that.”
Since landing at the Kelowna-based winery, Brooker has diligently sampled the wines in CedarCreek’s cellar and exhaustively toured the vineyards looking for clues about where he’s likely to find his best grapes.
“I’ve tasted through the batches that were kept separate last year to get a feel for the different blocks and have looked back historically to see what cropping levels were like,” Brooker explains.
“I’m also trying to hit the reset button. You can get caught up in trying to treat blocks in a certain way. We’ll be looking to farm them this year without too many variables.”
Brooker and his family live on the 51-acre CedarCreek estate in Kelowna, his house overlooks what he deems a promising block of Chardonnay, with some Pinot Noir located further down the slope. He has made weekly visits to the company’s Greata Ranch vineyard in Peachland as well as the Desert Ridge and Haynes Creek estates located on both sides of Lake Okanagan in Osoyoos.
He’s happy with what he sees.
“So far, so good,” he comments. “I can’t really get a feel for things until I’ll be able to taste the grapes.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the different character that comes from the different vineyards. That’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Wine of the Week
CedarCreek Estate Winery 2007 Estate Cabernet/Merlot
Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
BC $18.90 ( | ON $23.95 (175604)
Brooker’s predecessor at CedarCreek, Tom DiBello, produced this serious and spicy red wine. Grapes from all of CedarCreek’s vineyards were used in this Cabernet-Merlot blend, which also includes Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and tiny additions of Malbec, Syrah and Petit Verdot. cedarcreek.bc.ca
Christopher Waters is the editor of Sun Media's Vines Magazine. He can be reached at email@example.com.