At first, CedarCreek winemaker Taylor Whelan was concerned that after 2020’s cool and wet start the vines might not be ready. “Summer wasn’t super warm and July didn’t break any records. But towards the end of August we went from below average to above,” he says. The result was “not a huge amount of fruit but… pretty awesome wines in the end.” Even better news, “We got all the Pinot in before the October rains—and the Bordeaux reds are looking pretty sharp, with good ripeness and tannins.”
Whelan says that over the last few years the team has “spent a lot of time digging into what we should be doing and focusing on—especially in the context of our history and this location”, the home vineyard, which turns 30 this year.
CedarCreek’s varieties have spanned everything from Ehrenfelser to Cabernet and Malbec. In due course, he explains, “We came to the conclusion that the whole spectrum is not the best approach; and decided it was time to focus on Cool Climate, northern varieties—specifically, Pinot Noir (as our foundation variety) and Chardonnay, plus Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc.”
Whelan says while the winery will still have access to fruit from all over the valley, the emphasis will now be more on its own vineyards in the north, including Naramata, Kelowna lakeshore and (next year) from Lake Country. There’ll be fewer Bordeaux varieties, although sites have been secured ‘down south’ to maintain some smaller quantities.”
Adding to the excitement, the transition to organic certification will be complete by harvest 2021. “The shift in quality is apparent—especially the precision and intensity of the fruit, in terms of aroma and flavour. I’m also a fan of the earthier style and colour, which I didn’t expect,” he adds, “as well as riper tannins and more maturity in the fruit with lower sugars.”
Complementing the organic transition, CedarCreek’s ‘wine farm’ project this year saw the arrival of cows, in addition to chickens, honey bees and natural cover crops—all part of a plan to bring back the vineyards’ and surrounding lands’ natural balance.
At the winery, tastings are now curated and sit-down. Similarly, Home Block’s two, three or five course menus, with recommended wines for each course, “allows people to get the CedarCreek story, along with the wine and food,” explains Whelan.
As to what to watch for coming up? “Perhaps some really cool and complex single vineyard Pinot Noirs from Home Block, Naramata and Simes.”
@ Vitis Magazine