In the last decade, development of and growth in the Similkameen Valley has been evident with each trip along Highway 3. One such marker was the planting of what is now known as Vanessa Vineyard, just east of Cawston and situated on the north slope of the valley. Purchased in 2006 by co-proprietors Suki Sekhon and John Welson and expanding plantings with each succeeding year, the now 75 acre vineyard sits within 220 acres of rocky, mineral-rich agricultural land.
The winery’s inaugural vintage was crafted in 2012 from still youthful vines; winemaking was in consultation with the Andrew Peller Ltd team, and the on-site tasting room opened in summer 2017. There’s promise here, of wines reflecting place. Enjoyable now with an eye to the future as this vineyard matures.
Who: Vanessa Vineyard
What: vineyard and winery, product samples
Where: Similkameen Valley, British Columbia
When: tasted September 2017
Portfolio standout: 2013 Meritage
2013 Meritage (sample)
for: those seeking craftsmanship and elegance in a lesser explored wine region
44% cabernet sauvignon, 32% cabernet franc, 24% merlot | alcohol 14.0 | RS 1.55 g/L | TA 6.2 g/L | pH 3.71 | Cases 625
Dark and inky with total light absorption. Inhale, deeply, and find earth with dark cherry, vanilla, leather, stone, hay. Sipping brings more of the same with high and chalky tannins, a rich and full body, beautiful mid-palate, and complexity. Lengthy finish with a quiet persistence to remind you it’s still there. Solid integration of flavours from each component. Ripeness with a touch of acid and brush of green herbaceousness.
2016 Rosé (sample)
for: people seeking a rosé with weight and substance
68% syrah, 32% merlot | alcohol 13.8 | RS 0.8 g/L | TA 7.0 g/L | pH 3.2 | Cases 90
A slightly darker rosé, with an old english garden rose hue in the glass. It greets you with aromas of dark cherry, dried fruit, field flowers, and earth. Sipping brings a sharp acid with some tannin, spices, and a creaminess mid-palate. Weightier than one might expect of a rosé, which is absolutely fine because we shouldn’t hold any expectations of rosé. A touch hot (alcohol). Carries enough heft to sway those who stoutly pronounce their love of red wines and would dismiss others.
2014 Merlot (sample)
for: people seeking a bolder if youthful red wine without extraction and concentration
85% merlot, 15% cabernet franc | alcohol 14.9 | RS 1.0 g/L | TA 7.0 g/L | pH 3.5 | Cases 570
Deep garnet in colour, clear and filtered. Aromas of black cherry, black current, ripe blackberry, and some sweeter barrel notes (tobacco, woodsmoke, vanilla, saddle leather, nutmeg, cinnamon). Sipping brings more of the same, with a medium-plus weight and feel, longer finish, if higher alcohol detected. Memories of an orchard in the spring, when the sweet new wood of pruning is burning. A bold and lush wine that avoids the extraction pitfalls while delivering a robust experience. The exuberance of young vines is evident in this bright fruit. It will be interesting to see how this wine evolves – both this vintage and future ones – as maturity sets in.
2013 Syrah (sample)
for: those who enjoy wines of Rhone and the frankness of new world
91% syrah, 9 % viognier (some co-fermented) | alcohol 14.0 | RS 1.3 g/L | TA 6.022 g/L | pH 3.74 | Cases 270
Brilliant deep purple in colour, clear and filtered. Whispering aromas of cured fatty meats, some violet, sweet earth, vanilla bean, more eucalyptus and less mint, barn floor. Sipping brings dark and rich fruits (blackberry, dark cherry) with more of the same aforementioned – vanilla bean, layers of sweet earth and spices. Higher tannins and alcohol can interrupt, but decanting helps. Reminiscent of old and weathered barn boards. Country elegant.
photography by Lionel Trudel