It was 10 years ago, on the campus of Okanagan College, when I first knew that Foxtrot Vineyards was going to be something special. I had just finished teaching a wine class and a young student, Gustav Allander, had his arms full of about 20 small plastic water bottles filled with wine that would eventually be part of the inaugural Foxtrot Pinot Noir. The attention to detail was impressive and the bottles, each containing a wine made from a different type of oak and yeast combination, showed exciting promise. That promise was fulfilled when that first 2004 vintage was released in 2007, and the Allander family has since built quite an enviable wine reputation.
The concept for Foxtrot was always to make high-quality pinot noir. The Foxtrot Vineyard estate, in a picturesque setting on the Naramata Bench, had been planted in 1994 by a retired UBC forestry professor who did extensive research on the soils and climate before deciding that pinot noir, and specifically clone 115, was perfectly suited for the site. The Allander family purchased the vineyard in 2002 and went about creating Foxtrot Vineyards. The first wine, the aforementioned 2004, was only 390 cases in volume and initially made at Lake Breeze Vineyards. After the first few promising vintages, the Allanders knew they had a quality site and made the decision to build their own winery.
Torsten and Kicki Allander started the family business with their children Gustav and Anna-Marie both involved. Gustav makes the wine, while Anna-Marie is involved in the business side of things. Gustav spends a lot of time in the vineyard and credits a lot of the Foxtrot quality to 10 years of getting to know every distinct soil type of the vineyard. “In our three-and-a-half-acre home vineyard we have four distinct soil types,” he says. “We use different viticultural practices in each zone and then vinify the zones separately. Each wine is quite different in flavour and structure.”
With an estate of that size, there was not much wine to go around—so in 2013, the Allanders planted another 2,700 pinot noir vines, increasing the acreage by about 50 per cent. Some fruit is also purchased to make pinot noir from Henricsson, which was previously known as the Erickson Vineyard until an ownership change renamed it starting from the 2011 vintage. Despite being only 500 metres from each other, the wines are worlds apart. “The Henricsson vineyard is cooler and makes lighter, red fruit-flavoured wines, while the Foxtrot vineyard has more dark fruit and tannin,” says Gustav. A chardonnay was added to the portfolio from 2008; in 2010, Gustav and his wife Nadine—also a winemaker—created a spin-off label called Wapiti Cellars, with the current release being a pinot noir rosé.
Even with this modest growth, the entire Foxtrot operation is small, hands-on, and quality-focused. This attention to detail has made Foxtrot one of the true cult wines of B.C.
Foxtrot Vineyards 2013 Four Shadows Chardonnay
A vibrant and complex wine. The nose shows aromas of lemon, nectarine, nut, and slight vanilla from the oak. The palate is lively and fresh with crisp acidity, subtle, integrated oak, mineral notes, and lots of lemon, peach, and nectarine with a long finish.
Foxtrot Vineyards 2012 Foxtrot Vineyard Pinot Noir
A ripe, intriguing nose with violets, raspberry, strawberry, vanilla, and spice with some tobacco and earthy notes lurking below. The palate is silky-textured and bright in both fruit and spice, firm in tannin, youthful, and with complex baking spices, leather, caramel, and slight charred meat notes with a long finish. Plenty of potential to age.
Foxtrot Vineyards 2012 Henricsson Vineyard Pinot Noir
A pretty nose of raspberry, vanilla, strawberry, dried herbs, and orange zest. The palate is elegant and fresh, intense and juicy in its bright red fruits, light body, and delicate tannin. There is lots of complex clove spice, orange zest, licorice, some pepper, dried herbs, and a mineral note that lingers on a long finish.
Foxtrot Vineyards, 1201 Gawne Road, Naramata, British Columbia, Canada, V0H 1N0, 250-496-5082.