By John Schreiner
reprinted with permission
50th Parallel Estate Winery
While the showpiece winery is a few years in the future, 50 th Parallel Estate Winery has begun to establish its brand with two white wines and with the planned release (next year) of a Pinot Noir, the wine destined to be the flagship here.
The winery, located north of Carr's Landing and on the east side of Okanagan Lake, made its first small vintage (700 cases) last fall from young vines, in circumstances recalling the early years at Black Hills Estate Winery. Perhaps that is an omen for the future success of 50 th Parallel.
“I made those wines in a section of this uninsulated traditional Quonset hut,” says winemaker Adrian Baker. “I came from the company that Terry Peabody founded in New Zealand , Craggy Range Vineyards. I always tell people that in the job I left, we had two wineries. One of them cost $13 million to build and the other cost $18 million to build. My winery in 2011 cost me $800.”
This fall, with almost 30 acres of vineyard in production, Adrian plans to make about 3,500 cases. He is working in a new building. It is still functional in design because it is the temporary winery and the future tractor shed. But it is large enough for his needs and large enough to accommodate the tasting room that 50 th Parallel will open next spring.
The design for a gravity-flow winery has been completed, with construction expected to start next year for a 2014 completion. Future plans call for a separate hospitality centre on a site with an especially fine view over the lake.
There also are more vineyards to plant. “We'll end up with just over 50 acres planted,” Adrian says. “My great belief is, when you are developing vineyards, every time you do a block, you learn something about your site. Every year that you phase it, you improve your process and you improve the planting.”
50 th Parallel Gewürztraminer 2011 ($18.90 for 200 cases). This wine is made entirely with estate-grown grapes. Adrian says his objective was to make a white that “promises sweet but finishes dry.” The wine does have sweet notes of grapefruit in the aroma and on the palate, with a crisp kiss of spice on the finish. 90.
50 th Parallel Pinot Gris 2011 ($24.90 for 400 cases). This is made with 70% estate-grown grapes and 30% from another north Okanagan vineyard. It has aromas and flavours of pear with a touch of spiciness and with good weight on the palate. The finish is dry. 88.
50 th Parallel Pinot Noir 2011 (barrel sample). Made from the estate's first Pinot Noir harvest, this wine has great promise. It has lovely aromas of cherry and strawberry, with layers of flavour– strawberry, cherry, mocha, spice, and subtle oak. It also has a rich and silky texture that one expects in fine Pinot Noir. Only 100 cases were made, with a proposed price at release of $30 a bottle. 91.
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