Blue Terrace on Oliver's renown Black Sage Bench is, and isn't, a new vineyard for Naramata's Township 7.

You see, Township 7 has been buying Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris from Blue Terrace owner and grape grower Andy Marsel for close to 20 years.

So, when Marsel wanted to sell the 12 acres, Township 7 snapped it up for an undisclosed price.

"We purchased Blue Terrace for a number of reasons," said Township 7 general manager Mike Raffan.

"The primary one is to maintain and improve the quality and quantity of our fruit supply in the future as well as our desire to control our grape sources in a very competitive market. We have worked (with Marsel) ever more closely over the years in how the vineyard is managed. We thank him for his dedication and careful stewardship of the property."

In Blue Terrace's case, gravel-strewn and wind-swept are good things.

The stony, sandy earth retains some of the day's warmth on cool September and October nights, leading to consistent ripening and beautifully balanced grapes.

The wind keeps insects at bay and reduces the need to spray pesticides.

To celebrate the Blue Terrace acquisition, Township 7 is featuring four wines crafted by winemaker Mary McDermott from grapes off the French clone vines on the property.

"The grapes from Blue Terrace truly show their special sense of location (and distinct minerality)," she said.

Made exclusively from grapes grown on Blue Terrace, the 2017 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc ($27) is fermented mostly in neutral French oak barrels to maintain the passionfruit-citrus-and-gooseberry freshness while adding some texture for a pleasing mouthfeel.

The 2017 Pinot Gris ($19) is also a Blue Terrace exclusive done in the classic Italian Pinot Grigio-style to create a crisp pear-apricot-apple-lime sipper with a flinty, mineral finish.

The premium Bordeaux-style blend 2015 Reserve 7 ($34) sourced Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from Blue Terrace along with Cabernet Franc from next door's Rock Pocket Vineyard.

The resulting full-bodied red has it all, from blackberry, raspberry and blackcurrant to cherry, molasses, tobacco, leather and spice.

The 2016 Merlot ($25) also relies on two vineyards – Blue Terrace and Front Yard at Township 7's Naramata winery – for a complex cherry-plum-cocoa-and-vanilla profile.


My wife, Kerry, and I are slowly, but surely, sipping our way through the 11 Okanagan wines that won platinum medals at the WineAlign National Wine Championships of Canada.

In the past few weeks, we've been delighted by the Nk'Mip 2016 Qwam Qwmt Chardonnay, Thornhaven 2015 Syrah, Stag's Hollow 2017 Albarino, CedarCreek 2016 Platinum Block 5 Chardonnay and Le Vieux Pin 2016 Syrah Cuvee Violette.

So, this week it was high time to enjoy the 2016 Semillon ($19) from Bench 1775 in Naramata and the Old Main Road Micro Cuvee Chardonnay 2016 ($65) from Meyer Family Vineyards in Okanagan Falls.

Semillon is one of the grand grapes originating from France's Bordeaux.

But it usually plays second fiddle to Sauvignon Blanc in the archetype white Bordeaux blend.

Well, Semillon is starting to shine on its own and the Bench 1775 interpretation is a prime example.

It's all lime and herbs, tropical and mineral thanks to its inclusion of grapes from loamy silt vineyards in both Naramata and Oliver.

Bench 1775 goes as far as to call it voluptuous, and we're the first to agree.

The Micro Cuvee from Meyer is the creme brulee of Chardonnays with some hints of lemon, nut, flint and salt too.

Meyer only makes Micro Cuvees when winemaker Chris Carson deems the grapes worthy.

And in 2016 the fruit from the microclimate of Meyer's Old Main Road Vineyard in Naramata was spectacular.

The grapes ripened slowly in the silt loam over clay to produce the perfect balance of acidity and minerality.

The resulting Chard was made of juice from the early pressing of the grapes only.

The more astringent juice from the following hard press was not used.

Fermentation in stainless steel tanks followed by 11 months in new and one-year-old French oak barrels topped things off.

You have to be a member of Meyer's wine club to get your hands on the Micro Cuvee.


Sure, Argentina is best known for Malbec, the inky and concentrated red it does so well.

But the South American country is by no means a one-trick pony.

It also does another powerful red with panache, Cabernet Sauvignon, and the nation's signature white, Torrontes, is always crisp and refreshing.

B.C. government liquor stores have been celebrating Argentina's wine diversity this August with in-store promotions and tastings.

August may be wrapping up, but there's still time to taste and buy this month and all year long.

Today at the Orchard Park liquor store in Kelowna, tastes of the 1884 Malbec ($18), Don David Cabernet Sauvignon ($14) and Tinto Negro Mendoza Malbec ($15) will be poured.

Expect classic plum-cherry-toasted oak-and-pepper aromas and flavours from the Malbecs and blueberry, cherry and vanilla from the Cab.

While they won't be poured today, the affordable and approachable organic wines from high-elevation vineyards in the Andes Mountains by the CUMA label are worth picking up.

The CUMA Malbec ($12) reveals cherry and pomegranate, while the CUMA Torrontes ($12) starts lemony and finishes peachy.


You don’t have to leave Rover at home, or in the car, when you visit these local wineries.

Arrowleaf, Rollingdale, St. Hubertus, The View and 50th Parallel are five Central Okanagan wineries featured on Tourism Kelowna’s #exploreKelowna blog as dog-friendly.

Of course, pooches are most welcome when they are well-behaved and on a leash.

Some wineries allow dogs only in their picnic areas, others are fine with canines in the tasting room.

It’s always best to check first.


The Vagabond Kitchen Food Truck will be rolling up to Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars in Okanagan Falls today from noon to 3:30 p.m.

You can buy a glass or bottle at the winery and enjoy it in the picnic area with some of Vagabond's global street food with a side of bocce or bean-bag toss on the lawn.


Steve MacNaull is The Okanagan Weekend's business and wine reporter and columnist. Reach him at

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