“It’s a small place to make interesting, small-batch wines,” says winemaker and co-owner James Schlosser.

“We have fun and there’s no stress because we’re not pounding out 40,000 litres of Chardonnay a year.”

In fact, Niche made only 16 cases of 2020 Chardonnay ($28) as a micro-batch experiment from grapes grown in five small rows of vineyard.

The result is a kiss-of-oak Chard in the style of France’s light Chablis.

Pinot Noir is another French varietal that Niche has made interesting by crafting a 2020 Pinot Noir Blanc ($24), which effectively is a white wine from a red grape.

The wine has an ever-so-slight golden pink hue because the red skin of the grape did make brief contact with the juice during gentle pressing before fermentation in big stainless-steel tanks.

The result is a fresh patio sipper with a strawberry-rhubarb-watermelon profile.

The other 2020 white releases are Sauvignon Blanc ($26), a New Zealand-style burst of guava, lime and herbs, and Gewurztraminer ($26), an off-dry expression of mango, lemon and honey.

While all of Niche’s wines are limited production, the winery does have big-time distribution at the wine sections of Save-On Foods.

“We don’t have our own wine shop or tasting room, so the bold, mixed graphics of the labels are meant to be fun and cheerful and jump off the shelf at you as you pass by,” said Schlosser.

“As a result, our typical customer is someone adventurous who wants to drink something new and novel and interesting from a winery that’s off the beaten track.”

You can also buy the wines online at NicheWineCompany.com.

Next year, Niche hopes to be able to invite people to its property at 1901 Bartley Rd. where a small wine shop and tasting room with patio is being built.

It’s the same seven acres where his parents, Jerry and Kathleen, started growing grapes as a hobby 20 years ago and discovered the land at a little higher elevation was ideal for vineyards.

“In effect, we’ve created our own Niche all round with this location and these wines,” said Schlosser.

Terravista’s open

The re-opening this weekend of Terravista Vineyards’ tasting room and shop on the Naramata Bench has been much anticipated by those in the know.

The small-lot winery sold out of most of its wines months ago

leaving fans of its unique whites wanting more.

Well, the wait is over, the tasting room is opening this weekend by appointment (or drop in, if there’s space) and the 2020 Viognier ($23), 2020 Fandango ($25) and 2020 Figaro ($26) are out.

Tastings will actually be held outdoors on the crush pad and are only offered Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Terravista is one of only two wineries in the Okanagan to grow Albarino (the other is Stag’s Hollow in Okanagan Falls) and the only winery in the Valley to grow Verdejo.

Both the grapes, which are native to northwest Spain, are in Fandango, a textured sipper with a baked pear, nectarine and lime profile.

Figaro is also a blend, but of the classic Rhone varietals from France — Roussanne, Viognier and Marsanne — for a wine with aromas and flavours of apricot and almond.

The stand-alone Viognier has an intriguing peach, lychee and honeysuckle profile.

Terravista was started by Okanagan wine pioneers Bob and Senka Tennant after they sold their first winery, Black Hills in Oliver, and wanted to experiment with Verdejo and Albarino.

The Tennants have since retired and Terravista was purchased by Eric and Dallas Thor in 2019.

They hired Nadine Allander, formerly of Time Winery in Penticton, as winemaker.

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