John Schreiner

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By John Schreiner
reprinted with permission

Canyonview and Giant Head wines


John Glavina - Giant Head Winery

John Glavina, the owner of Summerland’s Giant Head Estate Winery, finds himself juggling two brands: Giant Head and Canyonview. There is a story here.

Giant Head is the name of the winery that he and Jinny Lee, his partner, opened in 2015 on a vineyard that they had begun planting in 2005. The winery is named for the extinct volcano that is Summerland’s most prominent landmark. It is also a great name for a winery. Considering that there are at least five other wineries clustered around the volcano, it is a surprise that the name was available in 2015. Once they started making wine, John and Jinny also struck up a friendship with Krimo Souilah, an Algerian-born winemaker who then owned a Summerland vineyard that he called Canyonview. It produces very good Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and John began buying some of the grapes in 2016.

Krimo left France in 1978 and resumed his winemaking career in the Napa Valley with Clos du Val Winery. He changed careers 20 years later and began selling wine barrels as a representative of a French cooperage. He first came to the Okanagan in 2003 to sell barrels. When he concluded this was an important emerging wine region, he purchased a property near Summerland where he planted three clones of Pinot Noir, along with some Chardonnay. Krimo called the vineyard Canyonview because, from his trailer at the edge of the property, he had a view of the Kettle Valley trestle that spans the canyon. He did think of developing a winery but, with a business based in the United States, that proved impractical. For a number of years, Krimo sold his grapes to Okanagan producers. Okanagan Crush Pad Winery made several vintages of Canyonview wines until Krimo decided not to convert his vineyard to total organic production.

By then John Glavina and Krimo had become friends. “I love Krimo,” John says. “He taught me so much about winemaking.” The friendship extended to a handshake agreement that John would buy the Canyonview Vineyard over a period of years. Giant Head began buying the grapes to make wine (with Krimo helping make the wines). And John registered the Canyonview brand. Then, in 2018, Ron Kubek, one of the owners of Lightning Rock Winery (south of Summerland), purchased the vineyard. “Krimo got a really good offer from Lightning Rock and sold it,” John says. “We were surprised. We were expecting to get grapes from Krimo in 2018. But it was his property and he could do what he likes.”

The Canyonview Vineyard is about 10 acres in size. Since Giant Head has just two acres of Pinot Noir, John has scrambled to replace the lost Pinot Noir. Waters & Banks Vineyard, another Summerland grower, began to supply a small amount of Pinot Noir, along with some outstanding Sauvignon Blanc. The current offerings from Giant Head include several vintages of Pinot Noir from the Canyonview Vineyard as well as several vintages Waters & Banks Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc. Going forward, it seems that the Canyonview label will be reserved exclusively for premium wines. While these wines are available at the winery, the travel restrictions might require consumers to order from the winery’s website – until the world returns to normal. Here are notes on the wines.

Giant Head Wine

Giant Head Sauvignon Blanc 2020 ($19.91). This wine is made with fruit from the Waters & Banks Vineyard. It has assertive aromas and flavours of lime and gooseberry with an herbal note on the lingering finish. 90.

Canyonview Sauvignon Blanc 2019 ($N/A). This is an elegant and refined wine, beginning with aromas of lime and lemon. The palate delivers flavours of lime and meyer lemon mingled with herbal notes. 91.

Canyonview Pinot Noir 2019 ($N/A). This is youthfully bright, with aromas and flavours of cherry and raspberry. The wine will benefit from another few years of bottle age. 89.

Giant Head Pinot Noir 2018 ($39.04). This is a bright wine with aromas and flavours of cherry and black raspberry. With breathing, it develops a juicy, silky texture. 90.

Giant Head Pinot Noir Reserve 2018 ($47.74). This is a bold, dark Pinot Noir that benefitted from time in new oak barrels. It has aromas of plum and cherry. Full-bodied, it delivers a medley of flavours including cherry, plum, blackberry, mocha and even a hint of red licorice. 91.

Canyonview Pinot Noir 2017 ($47.74 for 540 cases). The deep colour signals a wine of rich intensity. Aged 18 months in French oak, the wine has aromas and flavours of cherry, strawberry and spice. The silky texture adds to the elegance of the wine. 93.

Canyonview Pinot Noir 2016 ($65.13 for 575 cases). This is perhaps the most Burgundian of the Pinots with the hint of “barnyard” on the nose and palate, likely reflecting lees contact. There are intense flavours of plum and cherry; and the texture is full. 91.

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