An important characteristic that fundamentally defines a wine is its terroir. Terroir is how a particular wine region’s climate, soil and topography affect the taste and profile of a wine.
As the global wine industry has become commercialized, so has winemaking. Crops must survive and create good yields in order to be viable financially. Herbicides and pesticides are sprayed on vineyards to prevent weeds and insects, and additives are often used during vinification to enhance or control the texture and flavour profile of a wine.
Commercialized winemaking extends beyond the use of grapes and sulphur. With all of these manipulations, is a wine then still expressive of its terroir?
Christine Coletta and her team at Summerland’s Okanagan Crush Pad Winery (OCP) had a reality check when they made a commitment to organic farming several years ago.
“A commercial desire for consistency and predictability has pushed us further away from terroir, not closer to it. If the goal is to create a wine that is truly representative of where it is grown, there needs to be less interference and we need to let nature take its course,” says Coletta.
Matt Dumayne, OCP winemaker, strongly believes in organic growing and non-intervention winemaking. His journey of natural winemaking at OCP started in 2013 under the Haywire label. These well-received wines are “alive” bringing the microbiological life of the vineyard into the cellar.
So in 2018, the winery introduced Free Form as its own brand, with Dumayne as winemaker. Free of additives, Free Form launched with five wines made using organic grapes and native yeasts that allow each wine to find its own course in concrete fermentation tanks or clay amphorae. Extended skin contact is used, followed by a gentle pressing and further rest before bottling the wines unfiltered.
Each vintage is one of a kind and never to be repeated. A true expression of its terroir, including its tree-free stone label that artistically captures the simple and raw beauty of the Okanagan.
@ Vitis Magazine