Jesse Harnden walks into the Perseus Winery tasting room on a hot July day. It seems like everyone else in the province is talking about forest fires, evidenced by the smoky haze that permeates the air. Jesse, though, can hardly wait to talk about the vineyards to the south that he and winemaker Jason Parkes have just visited. Well-managed and committed to quality, the owners have responded positively to generous, lengthy contract agreements with Terrabella.

Leasing vineyards in a variety of prime locations is part of the plan to make small lot wines from high quality grapes. Many will be available in an under-construction, innovative “enoteca” in Kelowna called The Hatch.  Rather than try and produce a variety of wines from a single estate, the Terrabella concept is more that of a négociant – sourcing fruit from a diverse array of locations and working closely with the growers who farm them.

With the Perseus label now solidly established—and with many awards to confirm CEO Rob Ingram’s vision—new labels are now in the works. Black Swift, the most premium part of the Terrabella portfolio, will first be made for sale through The Hatch while a larger winery is conceived.  There are already single vineyard wines ready to bottle from the 2012 and 2013 vintages. One is a Pinot Noir made from grapes grown in East Kelowna and the other a Chardonnay from Summerland fruit. Look forward to Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Bordeaux blends in the future.

“It all begins in earnest with this fall’s harvest,” Jesse says of plans to introduce new labels and concepts. “The Hatch will be a place to be creative with wines, packaging, marketing, and hospitality.  Some brands will be our own, and others partnerships with some of our long standing relationships in various parts of the industry.”  

As an example of premium small lot wines, Jesse pours a sample of Bird’s Eye View, a silky 2012 Pinot Noir produced for sale in The Hatch. Only 100 cases were made from a small vineyard in Naramata. Meanwhile, 2012 Screaming Frenzy (the second wine label for Black Swift) Meritage blends Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes from the South Okanagan and Similkameen areas.

Expect to learn a lot about growers as the wines are marketed. “We want to celebrate the growers,” he says. “To pay them top dollar for their best fruit, and talk about who they are and why their land is special.”

~ Lorne Eckersley