Hester Creek Estate Winery in the South Okanagan has been slowly changing, putting several different pieces together, in the vineyards, the winery and around the winery, to put together a unique experience for their customers. I enjoyed a few hours with General Manager Mark Sheridan and winemaker Robert Summers talking about the winery and some of their wines. We met at Central Bistro in the west-end of downtown Vancouver. Central Bistro is cozy, they source local ingredients as best as they can, and try to showcase BC VQA wines. Hester Creek’s wines are on their list.
One of the things that you will notice with their wines is the changing of their bottle labels. The new labels will be officially unveiled during the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Fair in April. The new label still keeps the logo of Hester swimming after a fish in the creek, but it is now smaller, and bringing forward the name of the winery and varietal(s). It is very classy looking. Another related labelling item is that their back label will have a ScanLife code which you can scan with your smart phone / iphone and it will provide you with a flavour profile and food pairings. If you have not heard of a ScanLife code, it is a square shaped grid that can encode a significant amount of information.
What is in the bottle is also very important. Winemaker Rob Summers described how they have improved their vineyards, installing drip irrigation, and now are using 100% Ganimede fermenters, which pump over the cap with their own CO2 produced during the fermentation process. These fermenters according to Rob makes brighter fruit flavours and softer tannins.
Speaking about their wines, I was able to try two wines with Rob and Mark. The first wine was their Pinot Blanc 2009 ($15.99). It had aromas of flowers, peach and melon on the nose for me. Very vibrant fruit with medium acidity and a bit of roundness on the palate. A long minerally finish. I’d enjoy this wine this summer with some shellfish. The other wine was their Reserve Cabernet Franc 2008 ($25.99). Cabernet Franc grapes typically have an aroma profile that contains a cedar note. For some reason the Cabernet Franc grapes do not have this cedar component, and instead have raspberry and strawberry aromas and flavours. Something unique with their terroir, and that is what is so interesting about wines, and where they are produced. Their Reserve Cabernet Franc had a very fruity nose with raspberry, strawberry and some oak. Lots of bright raspberry fruit flavour. Medium acidity with a vanilla undertone and nutmeg spice. Medium length with a cherry / spice finish. In both cases, there was bright, vibrant fruit, and that is a character theme they want to have across their wines.
The Next Chapter for Rob Summers is his “The Judge” ultra-premium wine. With this wine he wants to show that he has something special at Hester Creek, when the weather, terroir, and vineyard practices all mesh together. This wine is a blend of his best lots in the cellar of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot, to produce a wine that will age for several years. The wine from each grape is matured for up to two years separately, then are blended together and the blend is then further aged. Only 200 cases of The Judge will be produced.
On top of the wines, there are 6 villas where you can stay, a stylish curved bar, an executive barrel room, a dining room, and a gift shop. And if you are a foodie, Hester Creek is offering a teaching kitchen that seats up to 14 people. Past chefs have included Chef Neil Taylor of Vancouver’s Cibo Trattoria, Chef Heinz Schmid of Kaleden’s Catering Done right, and famed restauranteur Umberto Menghi.
That is Part 1 of my article on Hester Creek. Part 2 will be in summer this year when I visit Hester Creek Winery’s winery. I am looking forward to it. Enjoy!