There’s a lot of talk about legacy these days at Poplar Grove Winery.
In part, it’s because of The Legacy, the refined but powerful Bordeaux blend that won the fourth annual “Judgement of BC,” conquering an impressive field of international wines in October 2018.
But mostly, it’s because Poplar Grove is a very rare winery that is truly a family operation. “A family member is involved in every aspect of the business from the vineyards to the production facility and the tasting room,” says Tony Holler, the winery’s President and Owner.
Founded in 1993, Poplar Grove was one of the first five wineries on the Naramata Bench, known from its earliest days for producing wines of character and elegance. In 2007, the Hollers—who have deep family roots in the Okanagan—bought Poplar Grove from its original owner.
From the beginning, they made an important decision. “I’m a big believer that you should grow the varietal on the land it was meant to grow on and plant your own vineyards,” Holler says. The Hollers bought land in distinct locations that supported growing specific varietals. About half the vineyards are in Osoyoos, the hottest location in the valley, and the other half are on the Naramata Bench, a much milder site to grow grapes.
While Tony oversaw the building of the beautifully contemporary new tasting room and production facility on a bluff above Penticton, his wife Barb took on the vineyards. Barb owns and manages over 100 acres of vineyards, suitably named Holler Estate Vineyards. “When we started planting grapes, Barb took an interest ‘I like this,’ she said,” Tony Holler recalls.
All four of the Hollers’ sons eventually answered the call of the vineyards. “Chris, Andrew, Matthew and Eric have all joined the business. Eric, my youngest son, went to New Zealand and received a bachelor’s degree in oenology and viticulture,” says Holler. Today, Eric works in the production facility, while Andrew oversees the Naramata Bench vineyards, Matthew is responsible for the Osoyoos vineyards, and Chris, the eldest, works in the winery.
In each case, they learned the business from the ground up, toiling in the fields with the seasonal workers. They also continue to learn from the international wine consultant Alain Sutre, who mentors them through the myriad aspects of the business.
That hard work and smart collaboration has produced a crateful of award-winning wines, including The Legacy, a “next-world Okanagan wine” that combines the elegance and structure of the Old World with the fresh fruit and juicy drinkability of the New.
Poplar Grove also produces several whites, a rosé and four single-variety reds, including the Cabernet Franc that continues to win international awards. Next, the Hollers are adding a Pinot Noir to the lineup, now that they’ve found the perfect location on the Naramata Bench.
“The thing that I’m most proud of, and I can’t take any credit for this, is the consistent quality of the wines,” Holler says. “We’re making wine that people love and that’s exactly what I want to do; it’s a tribute to Stefan Arnason and the winemaking team that we can do it year after year.”
Now that’s a legacy to be proud of.
Poplar Grove Winery
425 Middle Bench Rd N, Penticton
For more information, visit poplargrove.ca
@ Vitis Magazine