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Column: The proud legacy of Stoneboat Vineyards continue with new owners

Okanagan winery specializing in Pinot Noi, Pinot Gris and Pinotage

Today I review a wine that invokes fond memories, the Stoneboat Vineyards 2019 Pinot Noir ($27.99; 91 points). I first encountered Stoneboat Vineyards when I attended a BC Wine Festival and came across their Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. I was amazed at the minerality is these wines. It was like the stones were an integral part of the wines’ character! I was impressed.

And then at the Vancouver International Wine Festival, there was a luncheon where I was randomly seated next to Lanny and Julie, the owners of Stoneboat Vineyards.

I was pleased that I was able to talk to the people who founded this small Oliver winery whose wines I really enjoyed. What also drew me to this winery was the fact that my wife’s maiden name was Martyniuk! My connection to this winery became even stronger.

And then it came to time to visit Stoneboat, a small-scale artisan family-owned winery that treats their customers as if they were family. Repeated visits would result in the same warm, friendly, hospitable experience! It was always a must-go destination in the southern Okanagan and it never disappointed.

The name Stoneboat refers to the flat sled that the original owners used to haul heavy river rocks from the vineyards before cultivating them. It represents the qualities the Martiniuk family valued: hard work, tradition, and perseverance.

Stones are important to the Stoneboat grapes and wines. Pinots thrive in the rocky calcareous soils of the three vineyards. These soils are found in Stoneboat’s location in the Black Sage Bench but also in Burgundy, France’s Pinot Noir home. The stones keep the heat of the day and radiate it towards the vines at night. This is crucial during the fall in the desert, which has warm days but cool nights. On the Stoneboat label appears the name, “Pinot House” because they specialize in Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Pinotage, which is a cross of Pinot Noir and Cinsault.

Handpicked from their estate Home and Orchard Grove Vineyards, the Stoneboat Pinot Noir is a blend of multiple clones and a true expression of their soils on the Black Sage Gravelbar. After fermentation of the whole berries, it was aged in French oak (20 percent new, 80 percent aged) for 14 months.

This red displays a medium garnet colour indicating an elegant lighter style wine. But one sniff of the aroma proved that this red had plenty of character, thanks in part to its 13.6 percent alcohol! A wonderful bouquet of cranberry, strawberry, and cola as well as toasty oak and earth leapt out of the glass.

These characteristics were also present on the palate, which because of the limited use of new French oak remained balanced with the fruit, minerality, and refreshing acidity. I was impressed as I fully expected I would be.

The Stoneboat Pinot Noir is versatile with lots of dishes, such as with or tuna, roast chicken or duck, or rack of lamb.

Last June, a new chapter in the history of Stoneboat was revealed. The Verhoeff Group of Companies purchased Stoneboat Vineyards from Julie and Lanny Martiniuk. The business continues to be family owned and the Stoneboat Vineyards name is kept. Furthermore, winery employees stay on with new ownership including winemaker William (Bill) Adams and general manager Levi Gogolinski. Veteran Industry consultant Pascal Madevon will join the team.

Rudy Verhoeff, new owner of Stoneboat Vineyards announced, “Our intention is to continue [the Martiniuks’] outstanding work and expand the brand’s presence in the Okanagan and beyond.”

The Verhoeff family are based in Fort Langley and has experience with businesses in the event and hospitality sectors, including the new District Wine Village with Trading Post and a new winery, Valley Commons.”

Stoneboat wines are available at VQA stores from the winery.