On the top of a gravel hill in the middle of the Okanagan Valley, River Stone Estate Winery is situated just like a 1ére Cru Classé chateaux on Bordeaux’s left bank. Their vineyards slope down in three directions from the distinctive red house and winery perched at the top of the property, giving the vines maximum exposure throughout the day and the season. “Mother Nature runs the show,” says owner and winemaker Ted Kane, who designed the layout of the 9.5-acre property after purchasing it in 2001.
Of course, Ted has done what he can to help Mother Nature out by planting the vines that need the longer, hotter growing conditions at the top of the vineyard and putting the vines that require a shorter season on the lower areas. Generally, that means that the white varieties (Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer) were planted lower down because they are harvested first, before any potentially damaging frost can set in. The added elevation and gentle slopes protect the red grapes at the top by letting the colder air drain down the hill where it will ultimately flow gently off the land and into the draw of the Okanagan River.
“Each vintage tells a story,” says Ted. “It’s the soil, the climate, and the weather.” The new 2013 Merlot is a prime example of that as it shows beautifully ripe fruit from a warm vintage. There are three acres of Merlot in their vineyard and it also forms the base of the flagship blend Corner Stone. Blending wine is one of the things Ted enjoys most about winemaking. “I like to build character wines,” says Ted. Because of this, Corner Stone’s complex aromas and diverse flavours are the most concise expression of the vintage that can be savoured enjoyed for many years. Start your vintage collection soon at River Stone. www.riverstoneestatewinery.com
~ Luke Whittall