The wine scene in B.C. has been quietly exploding in recent years. Across the province, winemakers are using innovative and sustainable practices to produce varietals from around the world, such as Tempranillo, Malbec and Pinot Noir.
Many of them are so well made that it’s hard to believe they came from our own backyard.
The Okanagan Valley is the epicenter of the action. It boasts 82% of all vineyard acreage in British Columbia. Peppered across its 250km of length, there are over 200 vineyards and 120 wineries, making it epic wine crawl territory.
The wine menu at Edible Bistro menu is deliberately comprised of exclusively B.C. labels, to showcase the best of what Canada’s West Coast has to offer.
One of my favourite players in the local scene from that roster is Synchromesh Winery.
They are renowned for their Rieslings, but I say do not miss their 2016 Cachola Farms Cabernet Franc.
Light in body and bursting with juicy, ripe raspberry and red cherry, it is unfiltered and unrefined, so it has a subtle cloudiness and silky texture that is rare to find.
Tucked into this Cab Franc you’ll find notes of tomato leaf, sarsaparilla, ground coffee and rhubarb pie.
The winery itself is family owned and operated just south of Penticton, which is right next door to Meyer Family Vineyards – another top-shelf B.C. outfit that is well worth visiting.
They use six vineyards throughout the valley to produce world class Riesling, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc.
I love Synchromesh not just because of the quality of the wine but how it’s produced. Anchored in a holistic philosophy, they choose not to use chemicals or additives in the farming and fermenting processes and only wild yeasts indigenous to the region.
One of the most impressive aspects of their approach is how intricately they leverage the natural variations in terroir across the valley to their advantage.
Terroir (“tear-wahre”) refers to the collective combination of environmental factors that shape the unique character of the grapes a vineyard produces. This mainly includes soil composition, mineral profile, climate and overall topography.
So rather than relying on manipulating the actual crops to achieve a certain result, the team at Synchromesh starts with an understanding of the natural context in which they grow.
For example, their Four Shadows vineyard, on the Southern end of the Naramata bench, intentionally leverages harsh growing conditions to yield complex and flavourful grapes.
The lower block is a simple, gentle west-facing slope with consistent clay loam soil. The upper block, however, is a very steep four acres, which had no irrigation, or trellis, until it was designed and installed by the resident farmers several years ago.
The poor soil structure and nutrient runoff (due to the aggressive angle of the landscape) puts stress on the vines. Although that means they struggle to yield only sparse clusters of grapes, the fruit they bear is distinct and intensely concentrated.
Others crops are rooted in soil with bands of granite and limestone, producing grapes with rich minerality.
Perched between Skaha Lake and mountains to the east, cooling breezes flow through the valley in the afternoon, which boosts crop acidity and freshness while offsetting the ripening warm rays from southern exposure in the daytime.
And as the sun continues to make it’s set to the west, it casts an eastward reflection on the lake, which adds bonus fuel to the plants’ process of photosynthesis.
Pretty cool, right?
Because the Cachola Farms Cab Franc is so light and juicy, feel free to break the rules and enjoy this red with anything you please, from seafood to steaks.
Crack A Bottle & Enjoy!
You can find it in select restaurants and retailers around the lower mainland.