At Oliver's Winemaker's Cut, Michal Mosny is crafting wine because it's his passion, not to make money.

"Well, it would be nice to make money one day," said Mosny with a laugh.

"But right now we're small-scale wine, so I think we might be breaking even."

Luckily, Mosny has a day job at Lunessence Winery in Summerland to pay the bills.

(More on Lunessence in the next item.)

So, at Winemaker's Cut, Mosny does only what he wants, when he wants.

That means just two wines right now, a cherry-plum-fig-pepper-bacon-and-vanilla 2016 Syrah ($32) and a 2017 Sauvignon Blanc ($25) that smells and tastes like gooseberry-pineapple-lemon New Zealand and Chile Sauv Blanc via France.

Both of the wines have spent some time in Slovakian oak barrels, a nod to Mosny and his wife, Martina, hailing from Slovakia.

For the Sauv Blanc, only 20 per cent was aged in used, neutral barrels, so the wine gained some texture, but no oak aromas or flavours.

For the Syrah, the combination of Slovakian, American and French oak results in those subtle toasty and vanilla notes.

Mosny was working at Slovakia's largest sparkling wine house, Hubert J.E., and his wife was a school teacher, when they saw a documentary on the world's little-known wine regions.

The film mentioned Nk'Mip Winery in Osoyoos and the couple was intrigued, so much so they submitted immigration papers and moved to the Okanagan in 2011.

Mosny started up his own winemaking consulting firm GAGW, which stands aptly for good attitude, good wine.

One of his first clients was Lunessence Winery in Summerland, which became a full-time gig.

Winemaker's Cut may be a side project, but one he's very serious about.

Deadman Lake Vineyard in Oliver, where all of Winemaker's Cut grapes are grown, has a warm micro climate and rich soil and is farmed with zero pesticides, zero herbicides and zero artificial fertilizer.

The name Winemaker's Cut is a riff on moviemaking's director's cut, where a special edited version of the film represents the director's unique point of view.

Mosny's cut is making wine gently from sustainably farmed grapes with extended skin contact to balance fruit to tannin and only strategic use of barrels.

Mosny hopes to expand his portfolio next year with the release of a Gruner Veltliner and Rose.

*****

Back in 1985, the Geisenheim Research Institute in Germany crossed Riesling and Silvaner to birth Oraniensteiner.

Vines of this unique varietal found their way into the Summerland vineyards of Lunessence Winery where the grapes are now used in two tantalizing, aromatic blends.

Pinot Blanc-Oraniensteiner ($21) is a 60-40 blend that has shown up back-to-back on the annual list of the top 20 wines at Whistler's Cornucopia food and drink festival.

The 2017 vintage delivers pear aromas and flavours commonly associated with Pinot Blanc, but then opens up with exotic nectarine, grapefruit and spice thanks to the Oraniensteiner.

The 2017 Quartet ($20) is primarily Gewurztraminer and Riesling with just a splash of Pinot Blance and Oraniensteiner.

The blend works like a perfectly in-tune quartet delivering a profile of enchanting tropical fruit, citrus, apple and spice.

There may be only two varietals listed in the official name of the 2017 Sauvignon Blanc-Muscat ($22), but Viognier, Chardonnay and Semillon also make an appearance.

It's a blend that represents exactly how the varieties are grown in a Naramata vineyard Lunessence buys grapes from that results in a creamy, off-dry explosion of pineapple, peach, apple and spice.

Meantime, Syrah and Merlot are the only two varietals in the 2017 Duet ($20), an aromatic and earthy expression of blueberry, plum and pepper.

Lunessence gets its name from the Latin luna for moon.

As such, the grape are grown and the wines are made with a holistic, biodynamic approach in sync with lunar cycles.

*****

The Okanagan empire of Mark Anthony Brands is expanding.

The company has purchased Road 13 Winery in Oliver for an undisclosed amount to add to its already impressive line up of Mission Hill Family Estate in West Kelowna, Kelowna's CedarCreek Estate Winery, Oliver's CheckMate Artisanal Winery and Kelowna's Martin's Lane Winery.

Road 13, which was founded by Mick and Pam Luckhurst, is riding high right now as 2018 winery of the year at the National Wine Awards of Canada.

Mick and Pam's son, Joe, will remain at Road 13 at general manager as will winemaker Jeff del Nin and all other employees.

Road 13 makes a wide variety of wines, but is best known for its award-winning Rhone-style wines, including Syrah, Viognier, GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre blend), Roussanne and Marsanne.

*****

Who knew wine is made in Ethiopia?

My wife and I discovered this fun fact while flying from Toronto to the country's capital of Addis Ababa on Ethiopian Airlines.

Our final destination was not this country in the horn of Africa, but another flight onward to the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean for some sailing.

However, we made the most of our time on Ethiopian Airlines (13 hours from Toronto to Addis Ababa) by lounging, eating, drinking and sleeping in the lie-flat seats of business class.

There was real French Champagne, of course, as well as some other French and South African red and white wine choices.

But, what caught our eye, and then our palate, was the Chardonnay and Merlot from Ethiopia's Rift Valley Winery.

The Rift is a lush high-altitude valley where the eastern African cooler climate and sandy soil is perfect for growing grapes.

The predominant varieties grown are the classic French Chardonnay and Merlot because the winemakers are from the French conglomerate Castel.

The Chard, an unoaked version with hints of honey, peach and apricot went well with the Ethiopian chicken curry stew and injera bread.

The full-bodied, plummy Merlot was served with the cheese course.

*****

Steve MacNaull is The Okanagan Weekend's business and wine reporter and columnist. Reach him at steve.macnaull@ok.bc.ca.

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