A bright and spacious tasting room greets visitors to Tightrope Winery, and the spectacular view of Okanagan provides the perfect backdrop to experience wines that are raising eyebrows throughout the industry. Winemaker Lyndsay O’Rourke and viticulturist Graham O’Rourke might be new kids on the Naramata Bench, but they slowly and deliberately built impressive resumes before acquiring the vineyard and building a new winery and tasting room.

“This is our career,” Lyndsay says. “We have done our schooling and apprenticeships. We have degrees, and we are prepared to take our place in this business.” Prepared? That’s hardly an exaggeration when after only three years of production, Tightrope Winery was named Small Winery of Distinction at the 2015 Northwest Wine Summit Awards. The honour came when all of Tightrope’s eight entries to the competition won medals—four Gold and four Silver.

The 2015 WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada served to confirm Tightrope’s reputation as a winery to watch closely. Two Gold Medals (2012 and 2014 Riesling) three Silvers (2013 Riesling, 2014 Tip-Toe and 2013 Vertigo) and a Bronze (2014 Rosé) were awarded in July. This impressive showing put Tightrope into the Top 10 BC wineries list and 7th best in small winery in Canada.

As a winemaker, Lyndsay has a nice variety of grapes on the property to work with—Riesling, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Barbera, Viognier, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir—and her early success bodes well for the future, as the vines mature and produce more complex fruit. 2014 vintages of Pinot Gris (“Preserving the aromatics is really important to me.”), Tip-Toe (a just slightly off-dry blend of Gewürztraminer, Riesling and Chardonnay) and beautifully balanced Rosé are great examples of what Tightrope Winery has to offer.

~ Lorne Eckersley