Winery President Glenn Fawcett could hardly contain his enthusiasm as he showed me the renderings for Black Hills Estate’s new state of the art Wine Experience Centre. Costing around $1 million to build, the spectacular 3000 sq ft tasting area and wine shop is located on Black Sage Road, just a few hundred yards south from its original location. The new site has sweeping views of the valley and is surrounded by vineyards. It is due to open on Friday June 8, 2012. Both access and location will provide visitors with a greatly enhanced experience and, thankfully, no more carrying cases of wine up that steep hill to the parking area!

The new centre will offer exciting tasting opportunities in a relaxed, outdoor poolside environment surrounded by vines. What could be better? Tastings will be hosted by knowledgeable and passionate “Wine Evangelists” who’ll discuss the terroir of the vineyards, the grape varietals being grown and Black Hills commitment to sustainable, environmentally-friendly farming and winemaking practices. The aim is to give guests a true appreciation for what goes on behind scenes in the making of these unique and much sought after wines.

There will be two types of tutored tastings offered, each using varietal specific Riedel glassware to maximize the sensory experience. The first, known as the Portfolio Tasting Experience, features five current releases: two whites, the Viognier and Alibi (a Sauvignon Blanc/ Semillon blend) and three reds, Carmenere, Syrah and their famed Note Bene. The price is $20.00 per person. Available for the first time, the second offering is the Library Tasting Experience, which is a 4-year vertical flight (2007-2010) of their flagship red wine, Nota Bene, served from their unique enomatic wine system. The Evangelist will discuss each of the respective growing seasons, viticulture practises, wine making techniques and the barrel regime used to mature it. This allows guests the fantastic opportunity to see how each vintage of this elegant Bordeaux style blend is subtly different and how ageing affects the aromas, flavours and character of each vintage. This makes for an unforgettable wine tasting experience. Reservations are strongly encouraged, especially in the busy summer season.

For those that just want to purchase wine, the shop is open daily from 10am to 6pm. Check out the website for upcoming events, which include the “Vinos” Wine Film Festival and the Note Bene Release Party, both held in early June.

~ Mike Lee