Skip to main content

For B.C. grape growers, it’s the summer of Noir

For B.C. grape growers, it’s the summer of Noir

For B.C. grape growers, it’s the summer of Noir

Okanagan vintners make Pinot Noir among top three most planted grapes in B.C

By Gordon Hamilton, June 26th, 2015

“It’s called the heartbreak grape, because it’s so difficult to make it well, but for a growing number of Okanagan winemakers, Pinot Noir is worth falling in love with.

It’s now the third most planted grape in B.C., overtaking Chardonnay for the No. 3 spot in 2014. And later this summer, at a day-long celebration of the grape in the Okanagan, 26 wineries will have a chance to convince one of the world’s most celebrated wine writers that Pinot thrives in this province.

Steven Spurrier, who organized the first competition between French and California wines back in 1976 – a tasting that forever changed the world of wine – will be attending the third annual B.C. Pinot Noir Celebration August 22 at Kaleden, where he will deliver the keynote address. London-based Spurrier said his limited tastings of B.C. Pinot show it has pure fruit and a sense of place, but he has not tasted enough to make a judgment yet. He has followed only the wines made by Pinot specialist Meyer Family Vineyards.

At Meyer Family’s Okanagan Falls vineyard, the last of the ubiquitous Merlot, still the valley’s most widely planted grape, was ripped out several years ago and replaced with Pinot. It was done at the urging of winemaker Chris Carson, who believes Pinot is the most promising red grape for the Okanagan.

Carson is one of the valley’s more celebrated winemakers, but the mud-encrusted boots you almost trip over at the winery entrance tell the true story.

He’s a farm boy – a wine grower, not a winemaker, he said. Carson prefers being out in the vineyard, tending to rows of Pinot Noir grapes, to spending time inside the winery. He learned the science behind winemaking at university in New Zealand, but he takes his inspiration from the humble grape growers of Burgundy, where he worked. There, the land, not the winemaker, is celebrated.

Carson’s passion for Pinot is the inspiration behind the B.C. Pinot Noir Celebration. Three years ago, over beer with winery owner JAK (John Arthur Kenneth) Meyer, Howling Bluff Estate Wines owner Luke Smith and Tantalus Vineyards winemaker David Paterson, he raised the idea of celebrating the varietal as a way of focusing more attention on the region’s potential for Pinot.

“I just planted the seed,” he said of his role …”

Read the full article at

*Photo Credit: Gordon Hamilton