Haywire and Okanagan Crushpad
Part 3 of a series on the Okanagan Valley, a remarkable wine region in British Columbia, Canada

In my time in the Valley, I made a couple of visits to the super-cool Okanagan Crush Pad winery in Summerland. This is owned by Christine Coletta and Steve Lornie, and David Scholefield, who was driving me around, has a role here, too. It’s home to Haywire, which is their wine brand, and also the wines of several clients, who get to use the superb winemaking facilities here, as well as the expertise of winemakers Michael Bartier and Matt Dumayne, and the marketing skills of Christine. The winery, built by Steve, is just a few years old (2011) and is really well kitted out, including some stylish concrete fermenters and Nomblot-style eggs made by Sonoma Cast Stone.

Alberto Antonini consults here, as does terroir expert Pedro Parra. The home vineyard is the 10 acre Switchback Vineyard (above), which is planted to a single clone of Pinot Gris. Pedro Parra did an electro conductivity survey of the vineyard, producing a map, and on the basis of this decided to dig 32 different pits to look more closely at the subsoil. He then split the vineyard into five more-or-less homogeneous blocks, which are harvested separately and kept separate in the winery. On the basis of the soil properties Parra was able to predict what each of the wines would be like, and even the final blends, before the wine was made.

We also visited a new vineyard site, Garnet Valley Ranch (above). It’s a pristine 312 acre ranch at altitude, and previously the only agricultural activity here was a small patch of alfalfa. They have already planted the first 10 acres, to Pinot Noir. The vineyard will be run biodynamically, and as well as vines there will be cows and other crops such as hops (five varieties have been planted as a trial).

The next plantings will be two clones of Chardonnay and some Riesling. It will top out at around 40 acres when everything is completed. Pedro Parra was involved from the start, and when they were considering this property he was very excited by what was under the ground. As with the rest of the Okanagan, there’s insufficient rainfall here for vines to be grown without irrigation (around 250 mm rain per year), but if you irrigate the right way the roots do go deep enough to interrogate the subsoil.

Pedro’s Parra’s stance is that if a wine is going to show where it comes from, it has to be from the subsoil. The top soils have lots of commonality. Where the real fingerprint comes from is down deep.

‘In the Okanagan Valley we have a suite of soils that are unique,’ says Michael Bartier. ‘Okanagan subsoils are young: they aren’t eroded from parent rock, but they were revealed in the last ice age, moving from northern BC by glaciation. 10 000 years ago this was under a kilometre of ice, and it has left us with silt benches. There’s a high degree of mineralization in glacial till, with lots of potassium. It makes for challenges with pH.’

THE WINES 

Haywire Baby Bub NV Okanagan Valley, Canada
Bright pink in colour, this is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot with a Syrah dosage. ?It’s lively, fresh and vivid with a hint of cherry and some spice and citrus, as well as appley notes. 88/100

Haywire Bub 2011 Okanagan Valley, Canada
Traditional method Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Fresh citrus and toast notes with some spice. Good purity allied with richness. 90/100

Haywire Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Okanagan valley, Canada
This is a wild ferment from a contracted vineyard that in time will be a vineyard designate. Winemaker Mike Bartier says that it has a character he picks up as celery salt, that he thinks is part of the terroir. It’s quite mineral on the nose with lovely precision: smoky, mineral and herby. The palate has a mineral edge with textured pear and citrus fruit. Textured and detailed. 91/100

Haywire Canyonview Chardonnay 2012 Okanagan valley, Canada
Herbal, slightly plastic edge to the nose, with citrus fruits to the fore. The palate is textured and slightly herbal with some richness and notes of grapefruit pith. Taut and textural. 89/100

Haywire Canyonview Chardonnay 2013 Okanagan valley, Canada (sample from concrete)
Very lively, spicy nose, with lovely texture and some spicy, mineral notes. Rich with a hint of sweetness. 90–92/100

Haywire Switchback Vineyard Pinot Gris 2011 Okanagan valley, Canada
Mineral, smoky, spicy nose leads to a palate of grapefruit, lemons and herbs, with some tangerine, too. Very attractive fresh style that’s beginning to open up. A bit pithy. 89/100

Haywire Switchback Vineyard Pinot Gris 2012 Okanagan valley, Canada
Mineral, herby, citrus nose. Textured palate is precise and nicely complex with some grapes and fresh apple notes. 91/100

Haywire Switchback Vineyard Pinot Gris 2013 Okanagan valley, Canada (sample from concrete)
Textured and fresh with some grapey richness and savoury smoky notes, as well as some spiciness. Lovely balance between the freshness and richness. 91–93/100

Haywire Switchback Vineyard ‘Wild Ferment’ Pinot Gris 2012 Okanagan valley, Canada
So lovely: open and textured but still fresh, with mineral, smoky complexity and hints of grape, truffle and tangerine. Nice mouthfeel and texture, but it doesn’t sacrifice any freshness. This wine has an extra layer to it. 93/100

Haywire Canyonview Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011 Okanagan valley, Canada
Sweet, pretty and juicy with a bright cherry nose and hints of sour cherry. Bright palate is vibrant and berryish showing herbs, spice and some warmth. Juicy sweet and sour character. 90/100

Haywire Canyonview Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012 Okanagan valley, Canada (sample from concrete)
Supple, fresh and elegant with light berry fruit. Fine herbs and a touch of spice. Well balanced cherry and berry fruits with a savoury edge. 90–92/100

Haywire Canyonview Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 Okanagan valley, Canada (sample from concrete)
Sweet liqueur-like cherry fruit with a hint of wildness, and some plum, spice and meat characters. Savoury with a hint of gaminess, and a bit of aromatic lift. 88–90/100

OKANAGAN VALLEY
Introduction
Mission Hill
Haywire
Tantalus
TH Wines
Cedar Creek
Blue Mountain
Bartier Bros
Painted Rock

See also:

Visiting Ontario's wine regions, Canada (series)


Wines tasted 06/14  
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