Fresh off his tractor, owner, viticulturist and winemaker, Richard Roskell says it’s the farm that makes Marichel wines unique. “Naramata is a special place to grow things and I am very blessed that this farm is in a particularly nice place in Naramata.” Richard’s stewardship of that land, its vines and the resulting limited quantity of fine wine he produces are his way of honouring the intensely scenic land he and his wife Elisabeth bought in 2000.
“Buying the farm was due to the efforts and vision of Elisabeth, who passed away a year ago,” Richard says. “We found the property together and she was instrumental in acquiring it. For example, she spoke German with the former owners who were in Germany.”
Marichel produces about 1,500 cases a year of Syrah and Viognier wines. Tucked away at the end of Littlejohn Road, the winery is quietly attracting a following of wine lovers who appreciate the personal attention paid to the grape growing, winemaking and the wine sales experience.
A retired Air Canada pilot, Richard says he has never looked back. “I am doing the thing that is right for me to do. I love being outdoors and being physically active. Watching the vines grow and mature is highly rewarding. You literally see the fruits of your labour. There is nothing like seeing someone’s eyes lighting up at a tasting. It’s incredibly rewarding.”
Marichel’s wines are described as a quintessential expression of the farm as Richard doesn’t believe in manipulating his wines. “You are not tasting Richard’s whims from year-to-year, you are tasting the vineyard and the terroir. My job is to bring forward the characteristics of the grapes grown on this particular piece of land.”
When asked how he would describe Marichel wines, Richard closes his eyes to better put into words his thoughts and pauses a good while. “The offerings from this farm are an expression of love of Naramata. This is a special place for growing and making wine.”
The property has a spectacular view, with vines undulating on a bluff overlooking Lake Okanagan. The vineyard terrain and the deliberate set-asides of natural plants create eight mini-microclimates. Richard believes this contributes to complexity in the wines. The fruit is also carefully thinned to produce the intensely flavoured wines he is known for.
“A lot of people analyze the end product of what I’m doing here,” Richard says. “Chefs will know what I mean… Somebody is going to taste my wine at the end of day and hopefully they will like it.” Talk in the wine shop, word-of-mouth and sales of Marichel wine indicate that many, many do indeed like it and this tucked-away spot in Naramata isn’t a secret any longer.
~ Elaine Davidson