Barclay Robinson was destined to be a doctor when wine got in the way.

“I wanted to be a doctor because I’m a science guy,” said Robinson, who is the new winemaker at Road 13 Winery in Oliver.

“But, I’m also an artistic guy and a people person. So, I scrapped the pre-med to take winemaking at Brock (University in St. Catharines, Ont.) and now I can combine being scientific and artistic and a people person as a winemaker.”

Robinson spent the last seven years making big Italian-style reds at Foreign Affair Winery in the Niagara region.

In April this year, while the COVID-19 crisis raged, he made the move to Road 13.

“I was attracted to the Okanagan because it has both mountains and grapes,” said Robinson.

“And I knew the quality of the wine in the Valley is outstanding.”

Road 13, which was founded by the Luckhurst family in 2003, was purchased by Mark Anthony Brands in 2018.

The Vancouver-based conglomerate also owns Mission Hill Family Estate in West Kelowna, CedarCreek Winery in Kelowna and Liquidity in Okanagan Falls, imports and distributes wines, beers and spirits from around the world and makes Mike’s Hard Lemonade and White Claw hard seltzer.

“At Road 13 we’re not about corporate wine at all,” said Robinson.

“We’ve kept the identity of the Road 13 that consumers and wine club members know and love.”

However, Robinson is expected to put his own stamp on Road 13 wines to continually improve quality and focus on Rhone varieties such as Syrah and Viognier, the Rhone blend of GSM (Grenache, Syrah and Mouverde) and Chenin Blanc, which originated in France’s Loire Valley.

Robinson praises Road 13’s six newest releases crafted by former winemaker Jeff Del Nin.

“I like his style,” said Robinson.

“Going forward I really only have to make tweaks.”

Robinson led my wife, Kerry, and I through a tasting of the new releases to familiarlize us, and himself, with the wines.

The Chip Of The Old Block 2019 Chenin Blanc ($23) has aromas and flavours of grilled pineapple and lemon; the 2018 Viognier ($26) offers up nectarine, vanilla and honey; the 2018 Riesling ($21) is lush with honey and jasmine; the 2019 Rose ($24) is all strawberry, pomegranate and dried herbs; the 2017 Syrah has a profile of black currant, vanilla and dark chocolate; and the 2017 5th Element is a big red blend with plum, blackberry and black pepper aromas and flavours.

Wine in a can

You can call it wine in a can, but not canned wine.

In the past, canned wine got a bad rap as cheap plonk in a tin.

But, times have changed and quality wine is now available in quick-chill, lightweight cans to offer the flexibility to take red, white and rose to a picnic, on the boat, on a hike or even just a few steps onto the patio.

Castoro de Oro in Oliver is the first South Okanagan winery to release a lineup of wines-in-a-can.

The Heart of Gold white blend, Pinot Duetto Rose and Merlot all come in stylish, silver, 250-millilitre cans and are priced at $8.99 each.

The cans are available at the winery and liquor stores throughout B.C. and Alberta.

“We love to be innovative,” said Castoro de Oro co-owner and assistant winemaker Stella Schmidt.

“Our philosophy is to make handcrafted, 100% B.C. wines at the best value possible and our wine-in-a-can takes that dream one step further.”

Wine spritz also in a can

Lulu Spritz is a refreshing blend of Italian Pinot Grigio Frizzante, tonic water and bitter orange natural flavours in 355-millilitre

cans.

It’s just been introduced in B.C. by importer and distributor Univins and is available at most liquor stores in four-packs costing $11.

However, from tomorrow through Aug. 2, the four-packs are on sale for $9.50.

Univins touts sparkling, light-alcoholic drinks in a can as one of summer’s hottest drink trends.

It recommends serving Lulu Spritz in a big wine glass with lots of ice or drinking it directly out of the well-chilled can.

Fourth of July wine

It’s July 4, America’s 244th birthday.

If you want to help celebrate the national holiday of our southern neighbour, why not do it with California Chardonnay or Pinot Gris from Oregon.

The 2018 La Creme Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ($32) is elegantly oaked so the aromas and flavours of apple, lemon and honeydew melon shine through.

A deft use of oak similarly allows the 2018 Kendall-Jackson vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay ($24.50) to be buttery, but also fruity.

The 2017 WillaKenzie Pinot Gris ($30) is a big Gris with a lime, cream and mineral profile.

The two Chards are available at B.C. government liquor stores and the Gris has to be ordered online from Everything Wine.

Steve MacNaull is an Okanagan wine lover. Email: steve.macnaull@ok.bc.ca