John Schreiner

John Schreiner
John Schreiner

We are honoured that Mr Schreiner, a fine gentleman and true supporter of Canada's wines, allows use to use his articles.

Hainle Winery

By John Schreiner
reprinted with permission


Hainle Vineyards is back!

There has been a significant turnaround at Hainle Vineyards Estate Winery since this historic property was acquired in 2017 by Bella Huang, a Chinese-born entrepreneur who is a hands-on winery operator. Since then, the Peachland winery has replanted its vineyard and fully renovated the winery, installing new tanks, barrels and winemaking technology. Consulting winemaker Anthony Buchanan was engaged to make the vintages relaunching the brand. Subsequently, he hired Scott Ingram as Hainle’s resident winemaker. All that work paid off last year when Hainle entered some wines in competition. The winery won a gold, a silver and bronze medal at the All-Canadian Wine Championships. That was followed by a platinum, two silvers and two bronze medals at the National Wine Awards of Canada.

The roots of this winery lie with Walter Hainle (the name rhymes with finely), a one-time textile salesman who moved to Canada in 1970. His doctor advised him to adopt a slower lifestyle in order to cure his ulcers. He bought raw land in 1972 on Trepanier Road above Peachland and began planting a vineyard the next year. He had also begun buying grapes to make wine for home consumption. He made Canada’s first icewine in 1973 when the grapes he had ordered for making wine were inadvertently frozen. He crushed them anyway. Hainle Vineyards has been identified with icewine every since.

Tilman Hainle, Walter’s son, was infected by his father’s passion for wine, training at the enology school at Weinsberg in Germany. On graduating in 1982, he worked at Uniacke Estate Winery (now CedarCreek) until he and his father got a license for Hainle Vineyards in 1988. He and his father had begun making icewine from their own grapes in 1978. When the winery opened, it was able to offer icewines from several vintages

The Hainle family got a lot of things right. This was the first winery to get organic certification for its vineyards. It was also the first winery to get a restaurant license (in 1995). As a winemaker, Tilman was perhaps ahead of the curve. Today, those wines would be celebrated by sommeliers as great natural wines. Thirty years ago, some consumers were baffled at the style.

The Hainle family sold the winery in 2002 to Walter Huber, a Munich-born businessman who had been sent by his family to run a fishing lodge in Dryden, Ontario. He was more interested in winegrowing. He tried to rebrand the winery as a Deep Creek Wine Estates. He also flailed around with strategy, at one time producing as much as 10,000 cases of wine and then shrinking production to 1,500 cases of well-aged premium-priced wine. In 2013, after the winery barely escaped being destroyed in a forest fire the previous autumn, Walter lamented that he had to release some wines early just for cash flow. “But I don’t really like doing that,” he told me at the time. “I like to release my whites when they are three for five years old and my reds when they are seven to ten years old. What I am doing is old style European wine aging.” He was also tying up money in inventory that had to be recovered with aggressive wine pricing.

Bella Huang seems to have a more effective strategy for the winery. The wines are released younger and are mainstream in style. The labels, once heavily Germanic, are quite contemporary. On some there is a stylized H, inspired by the 72 in the year, 1972, claimed, perhaps imaginatively, to be the year the winery was founded. Other wines feature colourful labels by Kelowna artist HongQi Lu, based on Chinese characters. The wines are now widely available in private wine stores across British Columbia.

Scott Ingram began training for the wine industry by taking the Okanagan College Viticulture Course in 2011. He followed that by taking the college’s wine science and assistant winemaker’s course. He set up his own vineyard management company while taking the enology extension from Washington State University, graduating in 2018. After a year with Earlco Vineyard Management and some time in the cellar at Three Sisters Winery, Scott became the lead winemaker at Hainle in 2020.

Hainle Reserve Pinot Gris 2021 ($28.99 for 98 cases). After fermentation, the wine was aged 10 months in barrel (50% new French oak). However, the oak influence is quite subtle. The wine begins with appealing aromas of nectarines which is echoed on the bright palate. The finish is rich, spicy and persistent. 91.

Hainle Cheers 2021 ($36.99 for 90 cases). This is an off-dry Riesling. The grapes had 48 hours of skin contact before being pressed. The wine fermented cool in barrel for 22 days. The wine has appealing aromas of citrus and peach, leading to lingering flavours of peach and nectarine. While the wine has 26.6 grams of residual sugar, that is nicely balance with bright acidity. 91.

Hainle Oaked Chardonnay 2021 ($34.99 for 250 cases). This is a full-on, barrel-fermented Chardonnay (60% new oak, 40% neutral oak) with partial malolactic fermentation and 10 months barrel aging. The wine begins with buttery aromas mingled with vanilla and marmalade. On the palate, there are rich flavours of marmalade along with hazelnut and oak. 91.

Hainle Merlot 2020 ($38.99 for 96 cases). This wine was aged 14 months in barrel (25% first fill French oak). The wine begins with aromas of cherry and spice, with a hint of cassis. It is juicy on the palate, with flavours of cherry, plum and spice. The tannins are long and ripe. 91.

Hainle Syrah 2020 ($38.99 for 99 cases). The wine was aged 12 months in barrel (50% new French oak). The wine begins with aromas of mint, fig and pepper. On the palate, it has the classic deli meats flavours mingled with dark fruits. 92.

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