Climate and soil are two natural components in growing quality Pinot Noir but producing a top-notch bottle requires a passionate human hand and careful judgment.
Vancouver Island has providence on its side when it comes to growing this varietal. With latitude on par with the most famous Pinot-producing region in the world – Burgundy, France – it has the ideal moderate-to-cool climate for growing the finicky grape.
First, you have to let nature be ruthless. Averill Creek in the Cowichan Valley knows how to do that. With a rocky terroir similar to that of Burgundy, the slopes of Mount Prevost can produce a perfect Pinot if you let nature play its role. Andy Johnston uses the Burgundian method of non-irrigation, forcing the thirsty vines to dig deep into the soil to reach pockets of moisture during hot, dry summers. The hard work to access water coaxes the grapes into their optimum ripeness. Andy and his crew then meticulously choose the best quality fruit to make the red Pinot Noir.
The method and length of fermentation are also crucial is producing a smooth, low-to-medium tannin Pinot. At Averill Creek, the grapes are put in a French oak cuvee to begin the fermentation process with very gentle methods of extracting the juice. The juice is transferred to barrel, fermented and aged for at least 12 months in a combination of new and old oak.
Averill Creek has established a clear identity for the Pinot Noir – dark purple in colour with black fruit flavours, delicate violets and rose petals on the nose. Complemented by earth tones, the palate has a soft fruit entry and gentle seductive tannins. The finish is complex with clean acidity.
Nothing says it more aptly than the label on each Averill Creek vintage where you’ll see the words “raison d’etre” – Pinot Noir is the vineyard’s “reason for being.”
Averill Creek has won several international awards: A gold medal for its 2009 Reserve Pinot Noir at the 2012 Canadian Wine Awards, the same bottle was selected for the 2012 International Pinot Noir Celebration in Oregon.
The 2012 Pinot Noir, which sold out in just a few months last summer, earned a bronze at the 2016 Global Pinot Noir Masters held in England.
Part of the vineyard’s premium wine series, the 2014 Somenos Pinot Noir got a silver medal at the 2017 Global Pinot Noir Masters.
To celebrate their successes and the future of Pinot Noir as an iconic Vancouver Island wine, Averill Creek will host an appreciation night on June 24th at the Mount Prevost vineyard. Open to all Cowichan wineries, the evening includes a tasting event, a seminar and an al fresco dinner featuring Averill Creek wines made from Pinot Noir.