At the Wise Hall in Vancouver on Sunday, April 17th, 2016, The Wine Party ladies, Jennifer Schell and Terry Meyer Stone, hosted the “small guys wine festival” highlighting small production wineries in British Columbia. A sold-out event, this party was one that I was grateful to attend. With 20 “small guys” attending and pouring at least 3 wines, I walked away from the party with more enthusiasm for #bcwine, and of course, a smile on my face.
ABOUT THE VINEYARD AND WINERY
The Skaha Vineyard table was tucked away by the stage of the old entertainment hall. Gerry & Sue Thygesen proudly stood by their wines, awaiting the trade and media folks to pile in.
The vineyard itself is located above Skaha Lake in the Okanagan Valley in Kaleden, BC. Skaha Vineyard is an “estate, single vineyard series” which is made by the folks at Kraze Legz winery. With their ‘Skaha vines’ growing on fossilized sandstone, and with influences from the cool lake, the Thygesen’s believe their wines are uniquely influenced not only location, but by their passion for wine making.
‘Skaha’ comes from the native Okanagan dialect and means horse or pony. The vineyard’s name comes from Sue’s adoration of horses.
“We make under 2000 cases,” Gerry stated, “and there are no plans to expand production.”
Undoubtedly, every vineyard has its own personality, and Skaha Vineyard is no different. So, where does the inspiration for Skaha come from? It is based on the “uniqueness of our vineyard’s substrate (fossilized sandstone),” Gerry stated, “[which] has built a solid foundation [and] which inspires us to foster that uniqueness”.
ABOUT THE WINES
Post-wine party, I contacted Gerry to find out a bit more about Skaha and what this series of wine is all about.
Gerry described Skaha Vineyard as “clean, brilliant, terroir-based”.
The Skaha Vineyard 2015 Pinot Blanc was crisp and clean with notes of crunchy apple and sweet tangerine. I really enjoyed the mouthfeel and acidity of this wine; these two characteristics were well-balanced. The finish was lovely with hints of a mineral backbone.
Moving on to the 2015 Unoaked Chardonnay, I thought about how many people love to hate on Chard. Knowing that Chardonnay is one of the most versatile grapes around, I was eager to taste it. This particular vintage was boasting with fresh, fuzzy peach, and good acidity. Lemon-lime, tangerine, and minerality all came to play as well. A perfect summer sipper.
Of the 2015 Mystique (a blend of Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay), Gerry said, “It’s almost too easy to consume…almost too dangerous.” I agreed. It was one of those lightly-intense, quaffable wines that quench thirst on hot summer days. Patio umbrellas and the buzz of bees came to my mind. “The 70-30 range is where it needs to be.” Gerry said. This delicate wine was well-balanced with crisp apple and floral notes. Hints of green pear came through on the palate as well.
The 2012 Merlot was a joy to taste. Plum, cherry, dark chocolate, and raspberry were all present. Although this was a bit of a thinner-bodied Merlot than others I’ve tasted in BC, it was sexy. My note says “very nice”. Yes, I remember enjoying it quite a bit.
Finally, I had to try the 2013 Cabernet Franc. True to its roots, I thought this Cab Franc was very clean. Aged 20 months in French oak barrels, this vintage confidently stated its red berry, peppery, licorice notes with a side of vanilla toast. Wow. I had to tell my winelover friend Eric Urquhart (@EricLovesWine) to try it. I had an inkling he would enjoy it. He did.
I love the fact that Gerry calls his “wines” his “children”. I asked him which of his wines is his “go-to” wine and why? His repsponse: “Which of my children do I like the best? We are now through our 6th vintage, and we have yet to release a wine that has not won a major industry award, so for us, every one of our wines is considered our go to wine.” Fair enough, Gerry.
If you happen to be in the area, make sure you stop in and say hello. You’ll likely enjoy their 1920s Speakeasy themed tasting room.
A big thanks to The Wine Party ladies for organizing and hosting such an inspirational event.
The Demystified Vine
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