The Wine Party ladies, Jennifer Schell and Terry Meyer Stone, hosted the “small guys wine festival” highlighting small production wineries in British Columbia at the sold-out event at the Wise Hall on Sunday, April 17th, 2016. Of the 20 garagiste producers in attendance who make less than 2000 cases each per year, Nighthawk Vineyards really captured my attention. When I say “really”, I mean really. The word “really” is an adverb meaning “in a real way”. Really, it does.
What can I say about Nighthawk Vineyards wines? Let me take a breath. For a festival that only lasted a mere few hours, let me just say that I spent about an hour just going through these wines. There was something so unique (this word doesn’t even describe it) and fascinating about them.
ABOUT THE VINEYARD AND WINERY
Nighthawk Vine motto: “A celebration of family and friendship inspired by the natural beauty of this magical valley.”
Located between Penticton and Oliver, BC in Okanagan Falls, this recently-turned winery has been harvesting grapes for 14 years. According to their website, Nighthawk “evolved from vineyard to boutique farm gate winery”. The vineyard and winery are named after the Nighthawk which returns each spring season to nest. Okanagan Falls provides a distinct “rare habitat perfectly suited to these majestic birds”.
The table at the festival was always packed, so I asked Christy Bibby a few questions post-garagiste party about the winery.
It is clear that Christy has a lot of pride in Nighthawk Vineyards. Her words echo many of my sentiments and strengthen my first impressions of this special BC winery.
Christy said that if she could describe Nighthawk Vineyards’s wines in three words, they would be, “elegant, well-balanced, and distinctive”.
There was absolutely no question in my mind while I was tasting these wines that they were all three of those characteristics. Garagiste producers are focused on the love of growing grapes and making wine that honestly reflects what their land offers them.
According to the garagistenorth website, the term ‘Garagiste’ “started out in France (of course) where it was a derogatory phrase for those avante garde and crazy mavericks making wine in their garage and outside the highly regulated system”.
Christy communicated that they, at Nighthawk, believe that “90% of making a great wine is achieved in the vineyard”. They “focus on cropping the vines to a low yield with minimal watering [which helps to] achieve highly concentrated flavour profiles”.
“Our whites are crafted to be fruit forward and crisp,” she continued, “with a smooth finish that highlights layers of complexity.”
Nighthawk’s red wines are aged for a minimum of 18 months which helps them to not only work with the fruit quality, but also achieve the kind of rich, red wines that are well-balanced and offer a distinct complexity.
A fun fact about Nighthawk? The surrounding area of the vineyard and winery is as natural as it comes. “Our vineyard terroir is quite distinctive due in part to the beautiful lake at the end of our property called ‘Green Lake’, which is alkaline based. In addition to being the home of a colony of painted turtles, the lake contributes significant minerality to our soil which in turn imparts unique flavor profiles in our wines.”
ABOUT THE WINES
2014 Viognier $21.90
I wish I could describe to you how positively intense this Viognier is. It officially took the “Best Viognier in BC” as awarded by my brain. It has distinctive crystallized ginger, tangerine, and floral notes (mostly rose but with a side of white flowers in the back of the bouquet). It is well-balanced and offered a delightfully long finish of which to sit and dream.
2014 Gewürztraminer $19.90
Offering a graceful dance of prominent white pepper & cloves, nectarine, and hints of tropical lychee, I was in heaven. Leaning toward being drier than most Gews, I cannot describe the absolutely delightful experience this Gew gave me. Fruity, poised, and mineral-driven to boot, this is a Gew for non-Gew fans. Believe me. I’ve tasted a few Gews.
2015 Rose $21.90
Charmingly simple and yet so complex. It offered the essence of a rose wine, but with the depth of fruit that it’s 100% Pinot Noir grapes can provide. Kissed with strawberry, cherry, cranberry and rhubarb, this rose was delectable.
2011 Merlot $24.90
Rich. Layered. Intricate. Multifarious. This Merlot was driven to be the definition of diverse; it showed a unique take on what Merlot can be. Plum, black fruits, and ripe raspberry all came into play alongside the secondary notes of mocha, fine dark chocolate, and vanilla swirl. Sounds like Merlot, right? Yes, but refined. Well done.
I asked Christy what her “go-to” wine was and why. Her reply:
Viognier would be my go to wine, as it reflects ripe apricot notes that remind me of why I love the Okanagan…fresh and natural.
Christy, I loved it too.
For more information on Nighthawk Vineyards, visit their website at http://www.nighthawkvineyards.com or better yet, visit them if you get the chance.
I PROMISE IT WILL BE WORTH IT.
The Demystified Vine
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