As Goldilocks might say, Okanagan Falls is neither too hot, nor too cold, but just right.
Just right to be a cool-climate wine region extraordinaire smack dab in the middle of the Okanagan Valley.
At Okanagan Falls, the Valley is at its narrowest, some of the highest-elevation vineyards on slopes face every which way and cooling breezes waft over growing grapes from Skaha and Vaseux lakes and surrounding mountains.
All create perfect conditions to grow cool-climate varietals such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling and Gewurztraminer.
And increasingly, Gamay Noir.
Like Pinot Noir, Gamay is a thin-skinned purple grape that makes a lovely light-bodied red wine with lively acidity.
Blue Mountain Vineyards and Cellars, which has a winery located on 31 hectares just off Allendale Road in Okanagan Falls, is making Gamay a star with its just-released 2019 Gamay Noir ($30).
It’s classic Gamay, light, but flavourful.
Gamay is native to France, where the wine is named after the region where it grows — Beaujolais.
It makes sense for Blue Mountain to embrace Gamay because it’s also an expert grower and producer of other cool climate-loving grapes and wines such as those in the Pinot family (Noir, Blanc and Gris), Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Blue Mountain makes four different Pinot Noirs and a Chardonnay and also uses those varietals to craft four different sparkling wines.
Ian and Jane Mavety started growing grapes at Blue Mountain in 1971.
After years of supplying grapes to other wineries, they started their own in 1991.
Since then, their kids have joined the company, Matt as winemaker and Christie as sales and marketing manager.
Six more reds
If last week’s polar vortex reminded us of anything, it’s that the Okanagan can occasionally get a real winter.
During the cold snap, my wife, Kerry, and I gravitated even more to red wine.
Reds are served at room temperature and pair nicely the comfort foods we crave when the weather is chilly.
As such, we matched six new-release bottles with a weeklong series of hearty dinners.
— Fort Berens 2018 Estate Cabernet Franc ($29) from Lillooet with vegetarian lasagna on Meatless Monday.
— McWatters Collection 2017 Meritage ($35) from Penticton with pulled pork tacos on Taco Tuesday.
— Fort Berens 2018 Reserve Meritage ($37) with shepherd’s pie on Wednesday.
— Intrigue 2018 Reserve Red ($45) with barbecue chicken pizza on Thursday.
— Time 2016 Syrah ($40) with slow-cooker lamb ragu atop pappardelle pasta on Friday.
— Fort Berens 2018 Reserve Cabernet Franc ($37) with filet mignon steak on Saturday.
Steve MacNaull is an Okanagan wine lover. Reach him at email@example.com