There’s a delightful twist to the former Oliver Twist Winery on the Black Sage Bench in Oliver. Gina Fernandes Harfman, the owner and winemaker and Sheila Whittaker, the General Manager decided to mark the winery’s fifteenth anniversary with a rebranding.
Wanting to celebrate with something big, they renamed the winery, Nostalgia Wines. At first this moving forward with a new name doesn’t seem like a fond remembrance of the past. But when you consider that Fernandes Harfman is a fourth generation Okanagan farmer on her father’s side, it all makes sense.
Although she went to art college, Fernandes Harfman soon switched to winemaking which reflected her agricultural roots. Her father had a vineyard and made wine, and now grows grapes in Osoyoos for Nostalgia Wines. By 2009 she was the assistant winemaker at Cassini Cellars and soon held the same winemaking position at Oliver Twist. In the process, Fernandes Harfman learned about making fruit-forward wines, bold reds, and barrel aging.
In 2012 she purchased Oliver Twist winery where today she has 14 ½ acres with ten varieties planted. At a recent Zoom tasting, I sampled the Nostalgia 2020 Pinot Gris ($21.99; “A” rating). Whittaker proudly admitted, “The best thing to come out of 2020 was our grapes. We’re loving our 2020 vintage. It was a nice ripening year.” Most of the grapes came from their home vineyard, but some came from Cassini’s vineyard south of there, and some from an Osoyoos vineyard further south. As a result, there was a nice ripe quality.
Whittaker revealed, “The Pinot Gris is so fitting with our Nostalgia name because for me, Pinot Gris is the bottled memory of the Okanagan. It’s the orchard, the peaches, the pears, and the apples, even the blossoms on those orchard trees. And it’s just refreshing; it’s what you want when it’s hot in the Okanagan!”
Fernandes Harfman added, “The wine is completely dry. On the nose, it’s so fruity and welcoming you can almost believe you’re having something sweet, like a ripe piece of fruit, but then you have this nice dry finish which is really crisp and refreshing as well.”
Wonderful as a sipping wine, the Nostalgia Pinot Gris’ label suggests serving it with prosciutto wrapped cantelope slices, spiced shrimp with peach salsa, or a pork chop with sautéed pears and red onions. Sounds like a memory in the making!
The Nostalgia Rosé ($23.99; “A” rating) is a fruit forward complex wine. “It’s a new product for us,” announced Whittaker. “We decided to make a dry style rosé and we make if from all of our top grapes.“ She added, ”It’s a blend, mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc. We loved the complexity and the balance when we brought this blend together. The Cab Franc really brought out the vegetable and potpourri notes.”
“Without it, the blend was really fruity but simple. But when we brought in the Cab Franc and the Malbec that has that pretty floral to it, and when they came in with our delicious Cab and Merlot, it was ahh, oh! We were really excited! Gina and I really love this wine. It has that really nice beautiful deep colour. The cherry on top is the Town Hall Brands label and the contrast with the beautiful rosé,” said Whittaker.
Fernandes Harfman concluded, I know the going rosé colour is quite pale but I went to fine art school; I like art, I like colour, so I try to make mine pretty, vibrant, and flavourful.”
Speaking of flavours, I loved the cranberry, watermelon, raspberry, and pink grapefruit that oozed out of this delicious-looking and tasty Nostalgia Rosé.
Next week we review the Nostalgia Merlot and other’s from this family winery with deep roots in the southern Okanagan. Visit the Nostalgia Wnery’s website, for tasting information and online sales. Nostalgia wines are available at Save-on-Foods Ironwood, Richmond, South Point, Surrey, Tsawwassen, White Rock, and Everything Wine River District, Vancouver.