Another exciting milestone will be achieved in the B.C. wine industry this year, and this time it’s CedarCreek Estate Winery that will be celebrating. It’s no small feat—the winery will be marking a quarter-century in the wine business. Even though 25 years is an impressive achievement, CedarCreek is by no means resting on its laurels. After a portfolio makeover that began in 2009, last year saw the introduction of a new winemaker and some exciting tweaking going on with the wines.
Darryl Brooker, an Australian who has spent the last few years plying his trade in Ontario, New Zealand and Australia, joined CedarCreek last summer. Brooker is following the impressive reign of Tom Di Bello, who steered the CedarCreek ship to many successes over the last 10 vintages. Di Bello put the wines on the map for richness, intensity and concentration. Now coming up to the winery’s 25th vintage this year, constant evolution is continuing. Brooker is looking to take the winery on its next journey by combining that richness and structure with some finesse and some elegance, and by showcasing the terroir of the impressive vineyard holdings CedarCreek has throughout the Okanagan Valley.
One of the most exciting developments is a retweaking in the range of aromatic whites. These wines have always been successful, but as consumers look for something more distinctive from grape varieties such as riesling, gewürztraminer, and pinot gris, the challenge has been laid for Brooker to make something individual and unique, showcasing the vineyards in each of these varieties.
The 2010 harvest has seen these proposed changes come to reality. The concept: a riesling that is more delicate mineral-flavoured, and that balances crisp acidity with just a touch of sweetness; a gewürztraminer that is full, oily and aromatic in the Alsatian mould; and a pinot gris with some richness and weight. As for the ever-popular ehrenfelser, it will stay true to the tutti-frutti style that has earned it many fans over the years.
Brooker is also inspired by the 150 acres of vineyards that CedarCreek has amassed. With vineyards now in Kelowna, Peachland, and Osoyoos, there are a number of different climates and terroirs that can provide diverse wines. “The pinot noir is what I’m most excited about,” Brooker says. CedarCreek has always had a solid reputation for pinot noir, but Brooker thinks it can get better. “I want to keep the ripeness and structure but show off more of the pinot noir elegance,” he says.
From the 2010 vintage, the Platinum series wines—the top of the CedarCreek tree—will be single-vineyard focused. It is yet another example of the increased emphasis on terroir. Combined with the use of wild ferments, gentle fruit handling and a generally hands-off approach, customers should get a thrilling taste of what the CedarCreek vineyards can produce. It is exciting to see a winery reach 25 years and still work on improvements, still strive to make better wine and still not take any of those successes for granted.