Vintners share their stories during winefest

The 19th annual Spring Okanagan Wine Festival starts Thursday and wineries around the valley are gearing up to welcome visitors.

Intrigue Wines partners (left to right) Ross Davis and his wife Geri

For grape growers, harvest may be the culmination of the year’s work, but for vintners, it’s actually bottling the wine that those grapes are crushed to create.

It’s when all the events of the previous year, from extreme weather to delightful surprises, are remembered as the wine is poured into bottles, capped, boxed and bundled for shipping, comments Jillian Wong as she and her partners watch bottles of their Intrigue wines clatter by on the bottling line.

“It’s very rewarding,” she adds with a smile.

Intrigue Wines is one of the newest wineries to open in the Central Okanagan and it makes a group of four in Lake Country, with veteran Gray Monk Estate Winery, Arrowleaf Cellars and Ex Nihilo.

Partners Roger Wong, the winemaker, who is also one of the winemakers at Gray Monk, his wife Jillian, who is in business, internet entrepreneur Ross Davis and his wife Geri Davis, who began in the wine industry working for Cascadia Brands and Calona Wines in 1998 and is currently controller at Gray Monk, started Intrigue Wines in 2008 with a small vintage of 500 cases.

They increased that by 400 cases every year and last year Ross completed a small wineshop on the corner of Goldie Road and Okanagan Centre Road E. in Lake Country, furnished with heritage wood and bricks from a heritage building they had to dismantle on the property.

“This way, people can see the grapes and we can tell the story of our wines, from beginning to end,” explains Roger Wong.

Although Roger is from Coquitlam and Jillian from New Brunswick; Ross and Geri grew up in the Rutland area, just two blocks away from each other—but they never met until later when they were in their 20s.

Their passion for wine is something the two couples have in common, so they enjoy doing the ‘research’ together.

Both operate small Lake Country vineyards that supply their winery, and they source some grape varietals from other parts of the valley.

The name for the new winery came out of a conversation Jillian and Roger had about their outlook on wine: how they enjoyed the story behind the wine; but also how it goes with food; and they agreed there’s something about wine and the recollections it often brings—and the word intriguing came out.

“Wine is intriguing in the bottle. Everyone looks for something different,” commented Roger.

It’s part of the allure of winemaking, they say.

“There’s a year’s work in each bottle,” he notes as he watches the mobile bottling company’s efficient operation, pouring tanks of finished fine wine into clean bottles, quickly capping each, then boxing and shrink-wrapping them in bundles, ready to ship.

With the help of family and friends, it’s a very quick finish to what has been a lengthy process, from tilling the ground and putting in supports, to planting vines, praying for good weather, tending them every year until they came into production, pruning, testing, tasting grapes until the right time to harvest, then picking, crushing, performing the winemaker magic in the cellar, sometimes blending, tasting, aging and finally bottling.

There are no paper labels on their bottles. Instead a friend of Ross’s, Margaret Kyle of Vernon, designed the label to be painted onto the bottles, with a swirl that represents a tendril from a grape vine, and the name of the winery and the wine.

This way there’s no fuss with labels when bottling and there’s a side benefit: the pretty bottles make great vases once the wine’s been drunk. And, that’s exactly what Routes in Lake Country does with them, comments Roger, with a grin.

This year, Intrigue Wines will open a picnic area adjacent to the winery where customers can sit in the sun in the vineyard and sip a glass of wine with breads and baked goods supplied by a neighbour, along with sausages, pate and cheeses.

The wineshop is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week at this time of year, and the website’s always open: www.intriguewines.ca

 

jsteeves@kelownacapnews.com

 

 

Just Posted

Meningococcal disease outbreak declared in Okanagan

Five cases in last six months among 15-to-19 year-olds, including one in Coldstream

Mail bandit puts damper on Christmas in Central Okanagan

Mail Box thefts have been reported throughout the Okanagan

West Kelowna RCMP seeks to reunite stolen items to owners

Numerous personal belongings were found during a seizure

Budget 2018: Kelowna to look at monitoring downtown security cameras 24 hours per day

Potential $30,000 budget item will be discussed further over objections of the mayor

Stalled work on Kelowna’s Rutland Centennial Park to get another look

During budget deliberations, mayor calls for further improvements to park to be discussed by council

VIDEO: Average Canadian food bill to rise by $348 in 2018

Atlantic Canada and B.C. will see the most increases for consumers

B.C. Mountie told to resign after texting teenage sex assault victim

RCMP documents say Const. Brian Eden sent sexually inappropriate photos to 17-year-old girl

Family doctors should learn to treat addiction, not shun patients: scientist

B.C. Centre on Substance Use’s Dr. Evan Wood said efforts underway to change addiction medicine image

Four dog deaths investigated in Cranbrook

One vet suggests a parallel to these deaths and similar ones in 2016

Province rejects Ajax mine in Kamloops

KGHM Ajax had proposed a 1,700-hectare open-pit copper and gold mine, just southwest of Kamloops

Border officers rally at B.C.’s Peace Arch

CBSA employees tire of ‘lack of respect’

FCC votes along party lines to end ‘net neutrality’

Move rolls back restrictions that keep big providers from blocking services they don’t like

Performance embodies true meaning of Christmas

Caravan Farm Theatre presents O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi by Maristella Roca until Dec. 31

Family of Vancouver Island RCMP officer killed by drunk driver sues

Lawsuit seeks financial compensation from Kenneth Jacob Fenton

Most Read