Even though it is home to some of the Okanagan Valley’s most interesting wines, the stretch known as Okanagan Falls between Penticton and Oliver is often overlooked by oenophiles travelling to the region.
Granted, the compact and easily traversed Naramata Bench holds credible appeal to wine trippers who are using adjacent Penticton as a base camp, and the Black Sage and Golden Mile benches near Oliver are more established. Still, the stunning Okanagan Falls is a worthy stop, and within this area, Liquidity should be near the top of the list.
In 2009, 15 hectares next to Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars were purchased by Ian MacDonald (former vice-president of Sunice sportswear, and current owner of the non-athletic Olympic uniform design company Moving Products Inc.). Vines were planted and the winery erected in time for the 2012 harvest.
MacDonald, a devotee of artistry and design, perched his contemporary winery, with its attached bistro (which opened in 2014) and tasting room, high on the property overlooking the vineyard. Rotating art exhibits are an integral part of Liquidity’s activity, with sculptures in the vineyard and more delicate pieces around the interiors. The bistro’s polished white walls are perfect gallery canvases, and act as suitable frames for the spectacular vistas of the estate and beyond.
This year, an especially critical exhibit, the “National Geographic Photo Ark,” runs from June 23 to September 3, 2018. It is a compelling and visually powerful display of conservation by photographer Joel Sartore, who is attempting to document every species (some 12,000) from sanctuaries and zoos around the globe before they disappear. It is considered to be the largest photographic archive of biodiversity of its kind in the world.
Being the first in Canada to secure this exhibit only reinforces MacDonald’s visionary spirit—he loves the challenge of marketing his wine as much as he does searching for imaginative new projects. However, he’s not a winemaker; for that role, he chose wisely with Ontario native Alison Moyes.
Moyes came to wine in a roundabout way, working in the restaurant business in Halifax while simultaneously studying microbiology at Dalhousie University. Her affection for hospitality led her to become a sommelier, and then a student of winemaking and viticulture at Brock University in St. Catharines.
A gig with Osoyoos-Larose brought her west; she later joined Stoneboat Vineyards, and in 2015 took over the winemaking for Liquidity. One of her goals was to streamline the wines into two distinct tiers: estate bottles, and a higher reserve level (Liquidity’s 2016 Chardonnay Reserve recently won top honours at the 2018 Chardonnay du Monde Awards). She is also working on a sparkling program, boasting traditionally-made versions with chardonnay and pinot noir, which will have a minimum of three years’ aging. “It’s an exercise in patience,” she acknowledges during a recent visit to Vancouver.
Moyes and MacDonald have a symbiotic relationship; she’s given plenty of freedom with the wines, while he focuses on merchandising them.
One of the most significant initiatives MacDonald has rolled out is the concept of try-before-you-buy. While wine clubs are common, he’s taken it a step further with a prestige offering called Equity. Members get to sample upcoming release vintages (shipped in 200-millilitre bottles) before committing to buy any; participants also get free shipping on purchases, and access to special library releases. “You get two shipments per year—each kit holds three bottles. We want to keep it somewhat exclusive,” Moyes shares. “There’s a limit of 300 members.” (For those so inclined, Liquidity also does have a more traditional wine club.)
Perhaps the best introduction, though, would be to visit firsthand, and help give Okanagan Falls the love it rightfully deserves.
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