Crushing on the Okanagan

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Those of us in California, or other parts of the United States, probably know about Crushpad;  Crushpad is was a custom crush facility that was once upon a time located in urban San Francisco, and not only offered custom crush facilities for budding commerical wineries, but also for the consumer who had some extra money to spend under the guise of being a budding (pun intented) winemaker. Alas, recent news has indicuated that Crushpad will cease operations before the end of June, citing lack of sufficient funding.  But that is for another post!  I have all sorts of thoughts, good, bad and ugly, about that – but here in Okanagan, there is a new kid on the block. The Okanagan Crush Pad operates on a simple model:  small wineires share equipment and resources in a small facility that has invested heavily in capital equipment costs.  The importance of such an operation in an expanding wine region is critical; the largest hurdle to get over as a new winery is the major investmetn you must make in winemaking equipment.  By sharing these facilities, effectively renting the press, crusher, barrels, and in this case concrete eggs, as well as a mobile bottling line, you are paying a fraction oi the price; you are only only paying for the equipment when you use it, stead of all year round. OCP offers a variety of services, from vineyard management, winemaking expertise, as well all full service branding & markeing efforts.  Their philospiphy is “from field to market”, allowing the client to select how much or how few services they require in thier journey from grape to glass.  With three brands currently, they strive to produce distinct, Okanagan terroir focused wine. As we sat down to taste some of the wines that OCP produces, I was reminded of how wonderful it is to experience new wines.  OCP products Bartier Brothers, Bartier Scholefield, and Haywire, as well as the Crush Pad series of wine on tap. I was particular impressed by the 2011 Bartier Brothers Semillon, which had wonderful lemon and mineral notes.  Oh how I love a semillon!  I also really enjoyed the 2011 Canyon View Pinot Noir, which was still in tank but was a great preview of what will come.  The pinot had fabulous fruit, black cherry, rhubarb, and bold pepper notes on top of cola flavors.  Love!  Another fave was the 2011 Switchback Pinot Gris.  I adore Pinot Gris, and this was no exception with the crisp acid and medium body.  This was aged sur lie and with a heavy battonage schedule, the grapefruit notes gave way to creamy lemon curd and green herbs. I can’t wait to go back and visit again in 2013, if not sooner!

Airing that Dirty Laundry

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Our first stop on the tour of the Okanagan was Dirty Laundry Vineyard, in Summerland.  Our hostess, Judi Skinner, is a viticulturist and vineyard designer by trade, and the chief Sales & Marketing Manager for Dirty Laundry.  I’d call Judy half Las Vegas, half Miss USA and a whole bundle of energy and fun!  Buried under the quirky and electric personality, Judi has a long history here in the Okanagan and is very well versed in the local climate. The vineyards are on the Summerland Plateau, which rises gently above the lake.  The microclimate is mild, and provides for wonderful degree days.  Dirty Laundry is a force of nature, much like Judi herself.  Playfully named after the gold rush era to be the town laundry, which may or may not also have been the town brothel, Dirty Laundry is a growing winery.  They craft playful wines from most of the major varietals, with names like Woo Woo and Bordello. Dirty Laundry is an eclectic, irreverent look at the wine industry producing some entertaining whites and reds.  We sat on the soon to be vine trellised deck, overlooking the loping vineyards, to enjoy a picnic lunch with a bottle of Thread Bare Gewürztraminer, which is a lovely semi-dry style that is “bare” of oak treatment. The location on the bluff is simply stunning, and the varied wines are a treat.  The Thread Bare was a lovely departure from the sweeter Gewürztraminers also available, and the Bordello is a play on a classic Bordeaux blend.  Two of my favoirtes!  If you’re in the area, make sure you say hi to Judi, who is sure to make you smile. Stay tuned for a report from the Okanagan Crush Pad, the regions biggest custom crush facility!