White Wine, Wine

Going Natural in the Okanagan

Something interesting is happening in BC. Specifically in Summerland, a small town in the Okanagan Valley.

While winemaking in the Okanagan actually has roots in the 1850’s, the winemaking situation we know now started in the mid 1970’s. The geography of the valley is really cool. It’s buried in the BC interior, nestled between a bunch of mountains and right next to Lake Okanagan, which is incredibly deep. All these things protect the vines as they grow the grapes, and you know what that means – good wine.

Like many cool climate regions the Okanagan makes excellent pinot noir and chardonnay, but there’s also a bunch of great merlot, cab sauv, cab franc coming out of the region. Not to mention one of my faves, pinot gris.

Getting to know the Okanagan Crush Pad

Summerland BC is home to Okanagan Crush Pad, which is itself home to two wine brands, Haywire and Narrative. Okanagan Crush Pad is BC’s first custom-crush pad, focusing on natural wines using organic grapes. This totally fits with the hippie-ish, environmentally-minded idea I have of BC and the people who live there, so I am totally on board.

Okanagan Crush Pad also exclusively uses concrete egg-shaped tanks to ferment their wines, which means the wine’s terroir is preserved without, say, all the extra flavours and aromas that oak would impart.

What interests me most about this place is their commitment to the natural environment around them. They often use ambient yeast (the yeast found naturally around them) to make their wines and their winemaking processes are all aimed at allowing the grapes and wine to be as purely Okanagan as they can get it. Just try and tell me you’re not interested in trying a wine like that.

Most wines are definitely be more see-through…

But what about the wine?

To really get to know Okanagan Crush Pad I’m trying out the Free Form 2015 sauvignon blanc. It’s unfiltered, and can we just take a sec to marvel at how murky the wine looks in the bottle? All the unfiltered bits got jostled around as I was taking the first photo. Whoa! Am I super nerdy for thinking that’s cool? If so I am totally ok with that.

Tasting Notes

  • The colour is great, and I’m still marvelling over the cloudiness! I know that cloudiness is a common look for unfiltered wines but I haven’t had much first-hand experience with them. This is so cool.
  • I get some nice citrus on the nose: lemon, grapefruit and a bit of lime. This wine definitely has a lot of acidity, my mouth is watering just smelling it.
  • I also get some gooseberry (classic sauv blanc giveaway) and a slight biscuity-ness.
  • Now, the palate! The citrus definitely follows through, I get the same lemon and a bit of lime going on.
  • There’s also a slight creaminess going on, which I’m really enjoying.
  • The more I drink it the more I get a slight bitterness on the finish, which is really working for me. It helps the wine finish cleanly.
  • Fruit is the featured element here, which isn’t surprising given that we know this wine was fermented in concrete egg vessels.
  • The creaminess and biscuit on the palate are unique elements for a sauvignon blanc, and I wonder if these are gifts from the wild yeast that Haywire uses.

Bottom Line

This wine is so fun! Bright and fruity, but has lots of other things going on to keep me on my toes


What’s your experience with wine from the Okanagan?


The product featured in this post was sent to me for consideration.


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