50th Parallel Estate Winery has become a leading winery in the North Okanagan. With a focus on quality through every intricate detail from vineyard row orientation to the décor of the wine bar, clearly no detail is too small. The founding management team of Sheri-Lee Turner-Krouzel and Curtis Krouzel were meticulous in the design elements of the winery from the start, seeking to create a masterpiece of wine production and sales.

The person tasked with actually creating the wines of such a detailed venture would have to be equally fastidious and equally enthralled with Pinot Noir as Sheri-Lee and Curtis. Grant Stanley answered the call in 2013 and became winemaker and partner. With 15 years of winemaking experience in Pinot-centric wine regions as New Zealand and Oregon’s Willamette Valley plus another full decade at the helm of Quails’ Gate, Stanley’s long-term focus on Pinot Noir was exactly what 50th Parallel needed to create spectacular Pinot Noir.

“The concept of single vineyard, terroir specific wines is where we want to be at 50th Parallel,” explains Stanley. With 61 acres of vineyards and 8 different clones of Pinot Noir to work with, there are lots of options at harvest time. Sometimes the different clones are blended in the fermentation tank at harvest time and sometimes they are blended post-fermentation. As the winemaker, Stanley tries not to get too overwhelmed with thinking too far ahead. The wines spend a full nine months in barrel before any decisions about blending are made. There is a possibility that in the future, a separate batch of individual standout clones may be bottled separately. “We may break out some of the clones in the future,” says Stanley. “A lot of people in the Pinot Noir world are looking for small lots like that.”

The 2014 vintage, Stanley’s second vintage at the helm, provided a unique opportunity to raise the bar to a new level. “You get to a point where the vineyards get a bit of age and you start seeing some terroir,” explains Stanley. The vintage was a beautiful one with lots of sunshine and dry conditions through to the harvest. There was excitement in the air as everyone seemed to know that something special was going to come out of this vintage. This was confirmed a full year later when the wines were evaluated for blending. A small amount (well under 10%) of the total 150 barrels of Pinot Noir was kept out by unanimous decision. This small batch came from three of the estate’s vineyard blocks and represented four different clones of Pinot Noir. The results of this spectacular vintage will be released later this spring as the Unparalleled Pinot Noir 2014. “I like to let it go for at least six months in bottle,” says Stanley.

Currently available by pre-order in half-cases, the 2014 Unparalleled Pinot Noir will also include a custom set of Riedel Oregon Pinot wine glasses. More information about ordering is available on the website at 50thparallel.com.

~ Luke Whittall