First and foremost, Moraine Winery is a family endeavor. Oleg Aristarkhov and his charming wife, Svetlana, are happy to have left behind their 15 years in Alberta to settle in Naramata. Drawn by a belief that wine offers one of life’s most simple, enjoyable and accessible pleasures, they leapt into the wine business with enthusiasm that has only grown with their time in the winery and vineyards.
The vineyards are christened for their daughters, Sophia, 13, and Anastasia, a newly graduated medical doctor in Alberta.
Oleg chose to name the winery Moraine because it honours the geography so important to wine. A moraine is a glacially formed accumulation of soil and rocks, whose minerals contribute to a grape’s complexity. The geographical theme extends to his naming of wines like Cliffhanger (also an allusion to the couple’s foray into a new career), Red Mountain (a tribute to the mountain where Nancy Greene learned to ski) and Pink Mountain (a Peace River area formation).
It was a busy summer in the wine shop, with guests raving about the 2012 Cliffhanger Red, which earned a Gold medal at this year’s All Canadian Wine Championship. The 2012 Pinot Gris won a Bronze in the same event. Red Mountain, a Bordeaux blend, has received excellent responses in the wine shop.
New releases this fall will include Pinot Noir, Malbec and Syrah. Among Fall Okanagan Wine Festival activities will be the Pinot Noir release, barrel tastings of which are revealing lively cranberry and fruit flavours.
Oleg is a classic example of a man who takes his business seriously and himself lightly.
“Wine should be fun,” he insists. “We want to make wines that will make people happy.
To that end, his hiring of young New Zealand winemaker Jacq Kemp has been an excellent choice. Her wines are doing just what Oleg wants, making people happy.
~ Lorne Eckersley