Labels at Culmina Winery are like title pages in the Triggs family’s story, and their newest vintage of Dilemma, which is to be released in their tasting room this fall is no different. This Chardonnay, which recently earned 94 points from John Schreiner, offers insight into how carefully the family made decisions when they embarked on re-establishing themselves in an industry they spent decades shaping and then left behind.
Sara Triggs, who in 2012 joined the winery her father Don and mother Elaine initiated in 2007, explained one of the many things the family was looking for when they started scouting spots for a new winery was virgin land.
Finding property that has the right number of growing degree days, the right soil and nothing already planted on it is no easy feat, especially in the South Okanagan where wineries and farms dominate the landscape.
With some perseverance, however, the family found a beautiful, but difficult, corner of Oliver. It had stayed unplanted through the viniculture boom in large part because of the herculean effort required to remove the 1.5 x Olympic pool-sized loads of rock from its soil.
The only sign of the industry that defines that corner of the valley was small stretch of old, red vines as well as an old block of Chardonnay grapes, creating the dilemma.
“We were hesitant to pull them out, even through our consultant said that we should,” said Sara. “They were planted with wide spacing in a location on our property where all of our study suggested that Bordeaux reds would be best suited.”
So, when they finally had the new plantings to compare with the old ones, they realized they had to say goodbye to the old vines and replant their Chardonnay in another, cooler location. One that has resulted in a wine that has been winning over the critics and sommeliers.
This wine is not alone, however. The winery has 43 micro blocks planted over three distinct benches— each of which averages only 1.25 acres in size—and as wines have been created from those spaces, a story rooted in science, art and the appreciation of quality has come together.
They’re stories that are shared in intimately sized pre-booked tastings that, while reminiscent of what happens in well-established wine regions, show how the local wine industry is maturing.
All tours and tastings at Culmina involve an in-depth seated tasting. Drop-ins are welcome at their regularly scheduled Reserve Tastings falling on the :15 of every hour, pending seating availability.
To book ahead avail of one of the following options:
By phone: 250.498.0789 x202
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
On Facebook: /culminawinery
~ Kathy Michaels