May 23, 2017
One of British Columbia's best-loved wineries is growing.
Established in 1989 by the Stewart family, Quails' Gate has become synonymous with exceptional wines; especially Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and the ever-polarizing Marachel Foch varieties.
However, the Stewart family have been grape growers for more than 50 years—the first vinifera vines (Chasselas) were planted in the region by Quails' Gate, in 1961.
The winery and tasting room is located lakeside in West Kelowna at the base of Mount Boucherie.
Up until recently they farmed roughly 200-acres on the main home site, supported by smaller vineyards elsewhere in the Okanagan (see notes below). That has changed recently as Quails' Gate has acquired a large site above Kelowna on the east side of the lake. Named the Stewart Family Estates Vineyard (formerly Stewart Family Nurseries) it is approximately 160-acres in size, they will commence planting 44-acres this spring of 2017, and will continue to plant roughly 50 more per year over the next couple. The goal is to double their entire production in the next 5-10 years.
The high latitude (and altitude) eastern site is cool, very-cool. Some parts could be considered extreme, but we've heard that before and well, there are vines in Denmark. The point is, this is a site for cool-climate varieties; Pinot Noir and Gamret (a Gamay cross from Switzerland) and whites (including more Chasselas).
I'm increasingly thankful to hear that. While so many producers are trying to slide in under the wire of longer-hanging red varietals, its refreshing to hear of a large producer staying true to what we do so well, varieties suited to our climate.
Winemaker Nikki Callaway (right), who's not afraid to call BS on what is obviously a pile of steaming dung, is equally excited and anxious (for lack of a better word) about the next few years.
She is emphatic that controlling all her own vineyards (not buying grapes—even with her management) is the only way to go, to ensure she gets the quality she wants, "to be 100% self-sufficient."
However, the winery is pretty much at capacity, so there will have to be some additional resources focused toward expansion of Quails' Gate's bricks and mortar.
That's a lot of balls to juggle, but I have no doubt Callaway and Quails' Gate's new Kiwi viticulturist/geologist, Chad Douglas (who has studied the climactic limits of viticulture in New Zealand for his Master's Degree) will get the job done.
As things progress, the western sites will be re-jigged and decisions made, what needs to stay and what needs to go.
I'll keep you updated.
Quails Gate Vineyards
Home site West Kelowna
Lower Bench: Chasselas, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.
Upper Bench: Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Marachel Foch.
Sunnyside (at the winery/on the lake): Chasselas, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Ehrenfelser, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir.
Blue Fox: (1.5 kilometers from winery and inland more from lake): Chardonnay, Chasselas.
West Point Vineyard, South East Kelowna, 23-acres: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris.
Stewart Family Vineyard, East Kelowna, 160-acres: Planting to commence with cool-climate varieties in spring 2017.
Old Vines Vineyard, Osoyoos: Chenin Blanc, Marachel Foch, Syrah.
Patricia Vineyard: Both Patricia and Martyna are located quite close to each other and directly across the lake from the winery: Gewurztraminer, Riesling.
Martyna Vineyard: Gewurztraminer, Riesling.
Quails' Gate Wine Reviews
~Daenna Van Mulligen