Red Rooster

Elaine Vickers made the Red Rooster wines that are starting to appear with a new style and new labels.

The rooster, with his jaunty head-topping comb and barnyard strut, is gone.

We’re talking about the male of the chicken species who for decades graced the labels of wines from Red Rooster Winery on the Naramata Bench.

The winery is still called Red Rooster, but the bird imagery on the label is gone in favour of contemporary, layered graphics capturing the winemaking process from land and soil to vines, grapes and barrels.

“The reimagined labels cleans up the look of the bottles and showcases the quality wine and our intriguing personality of refinement and innovation,” said winemaker Elaine Vickers.

The re-brand coincides with Vickers joining the winery from Black Hills Winery in Oliver.

She started at Red Rooster for the harvest in 2019 and made the 2020 vintage wines being released now with the new labels.

The first two 2020s out of the gate are the coopery-pink Rose ($29) made of Malbec, which has aromas and flavours of cranberry, rhubarb and grapefruit, and the Sauvignon Blanc ($21), a refreshing sipper that straddles New Zealand and French styles with a lime-gooseberry-and-guava profile.

Other new-label wines to be released through the summer and fall include Semillon, Pinot-3 (a white blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc), Cabernet-Merlot, Petit Verdot and Dry Riesling.

“The 2020 vintage is one of the best yet with its fruit characteristics and natural acidity,” said Vickers.

Red Rooster was purchased by wine giant Peller in 2005, but the winery maintains its own flair under the conglomerate, according to Vickers.

Peller also owns Okanagan wineries Sandhill, Tinhorn Creek, Wayne Gretzky, Black Hills, Gray Monk and Peller Estates.

New from Hillside

Speaking of new labels, Hillside Winery on the Naramata Bench has put its flagship red, the 2015 Mosaic ($54), in a bottle with an embossed, cream-coloured label featuring small flecks of colour coming together to form an abstract piece of art.

After all, that’s what a mosaic is, smaller pieces assembled to make a larger piece of art, much like

the Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot blending to create the Mosaic sippable art.

The rest of Hillside’s new releases feature labels with a cutout so you see the colour of the wine in the shape of the winery building (on a hillside, of course).

In the case of the apple-and-nectarine 2020 Unoaked Pinot Gris ($23) that means light pink, resembling the palest of Rose wines.

For the grapefruit-and-ginger 2020 Gewurztraminer ($21) it’s a glimpse of pale straw liquid.

And for the juicy, red-and-black-fruit 2016 Merlot ($22), 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon ($28) and 2018 Syrah ($32) it’s the deep garnet of these red wines.

Winemaker Kathy Malone admits it’s a rather eclectic mix of new releases.

But what all six of the wines have in common is they are hand-crafted exclusively from Naramata-grown grapes.

“At Hillside, our focus is to showcase the unique and compelling characteristics inherent in the terroir of the Naramata Bench,” said Malone. “(It’s an) enchanting region.”

More of everything

The latest BC Wine Grape Acreage Report shows there are more acres of vineyard, more wineries, more wine being made and more economic impact.

The report pegs the number of acres in wine grapes in 2019 at 11,086, up 8% from the 10,260 in 2014.

The number of wineries jumped 11% to 282 and the BC wine industry is worth $2.8 billion annually.

The top three planted grapes are Merlot at 1,619 acres, Pinot Noir at 1,332 and Pinot Gris at 1,167.

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