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Column: Another Canadian First at Okanagan Crush Pad (OCP)

Three sustainable wines to try out this weekend.

Summerland’s OCP Winery recently announced it is the first Canadian winery to join the International Wineries for Climate Action (IWCA). OCP has been accepted as an applicant member having committed to an ISO-14064 audited baseline greenhouse gas inventory. The winery has one year to meet IWCA membership requirements and become permanent member. OCP CEO, Darryl Brooker says, “We will commit to annual reductions in greenhouse gas emissions achieving a 33% reduction by 2030 and net zero by 2050.”

“OCP founder Christine Coletta explains, “I am proud that the winery team is devoted to this process and to making a full effort to take our land stewardship to the next level. We started our sustainability push in 2011 by converting our vineyards to organic farming and then in 2014 obtaining organic certification for our winemaking facility.”

Here are three new OCP Haywire brand releases that reflect their ongoing commitment to the environment and natural winemaking that reflects the terroir of the Okanagan Valley.

Haywire 2020 Pinot Gris ($27.99; 89 points, Very Good.)

Pinot Gris is the number one white grape in terms of acreage in BC and Haywire makes two versions. This one is bold and juicy!

Made from vineyards in Oliver and Summerland, it was fermented in concrete, stainless steel, and large oak casks (foudre) and then aged on the lees for six months. The Pinot displays tropical aromas of tropical and stone fruits with flavours of pear, mango, guava, and nectarine with a creamy texture and fresh crisp acidity. This medium-bodied white ends on a long dry fruity note.

Haywire 2019 Switchback Pinot Gris ($28.99; 91 Points, Outstanding). This single vineyard organic white from Summerland was harvested in two batches and whole bunch pressed to concrete. Native fermentation and malolactic fermentation occurred which transformed the more tart malic acid into creamier and softer lactic acid. Then it rested on its lees for 10 months and bottled unfiltered. Expect more complexity from the extra measures to produce the most authentic wine from the grapes that nature produced.

The generous nose reveals citrus and herbs with an Okanagan garrique of sagebrush and lemon verbena, saline and chalk on the palate. There’s plenty of freshness in this medium-bodied Gris, which ends with a lengthy tangy grapefruit, lemon, and herbal finish. One of my favourite BC Pinot Gris!

Both wines are wonderful to sip on their own and are extremely versatile with food. Consider pairing with Caesar salad, prawn and vegetable tempura, grilled halibut, grilled octopus, crab cakes, chicken dishes… the possibilities are endless.

Our third lively wine is Haywire 2020 Pinot Noir ($27.90; 90 points, Outstanding). Grapes were harvested from four sites in Kelowna, Naramata, Summerland and Oliver and placed in concrete tanks and large neutral oak casks. Fermentation was natural as was malolactic. Grapes grown in different regions of the Okanagan and fermented in different vessels delivered different wine characteristics and gave Winemaker Matt Dumayne plenty of options to compose the final blend. The Pinot Noir was aged on lees for 10 months before being bottled unfiltered and unfined.

The red sports a medium burgundy colour and has a multi-layered aroma of black cherries, kirsch, forest floor, cranberries, and beetroot earthiness.

Those berry and terroir scents are translated into rich flavours with smooth tannins, crisp acidity to go with food, and a long savour dry finish. I recommend decanting for several hours and even overnight for the Pinot to reveal all it’s delicious charm.

I enjoyed it with a baked Mexican Haddock recipe with a delicious spicy chimichurri sauce made from garlic, shallots, parsley, lime, sherry vinegar, oil, and Serrano chili. Surprisingly, the wine went really well with the Mexican dish as it cooled some of the heat from the Serrano chilies.

Pinot Noir also pairs well with barbecued steak, lamb, salmon, tuna, chicken, charcuterie, Gruyere cheese, as well as roasted beets and asparagus.

All three Haywire wines are available online and at Ironwood Save-On and select private wine stores.