Is there a definitive meaning to sustainability?
Ray Anderson’s rule "leave the planet better than we found it!"
Read about Cedar Creek Winery and how they are doing just that.
The Metamorphosis at Cedar Creek Winery!
The unpredictable weather patterns of 2022 didn't bypass Cedar Creek Winery. In fact, -26C for a few December nights caused serious bud damage. This spring, to address bud damage, more canes were laid with more spurs to increase the chances of leaves, flowers and fruit. “It could have been worse had it not been for the influence of the lake," says Graham Nordin, GM of Iconic Wineries of British Columbia. Cedar Creek has been going through a metamorphosis since 2017.
Winery of the Year 2022
It’s been a wild ride for Cedar Creek Estate Winery in the last decade. The history of the original vitis vinifera plantings of Riesling and Pinot Noir dates back to 1987, with additional Pinot Noir plantings in 1991 (“Block 2”). At the time, there was laughter at the elevated idea of Canadian red burgundy. Luckily however, this has proven to be a smart move. Cedar Creek was purchased by the Mark Anthony Group in 2014 and by 2017 began its transition to organic viticulture. Not only are the vineyards now fully certified and leaning into regenerative, but also the Cedar Creek Winery is certified 100% organic, the first winery in Canada to do so. In 2022, Cedar Creek was awarded the 2022 Winery of the Year by WineAlign National Wine Awards. All eyes are on this winery and vineyard as it continues pressing the envelope to reduce its carbon footprint, increase its winery production and to make high quality Canadian wine - especially Pinot Noir.
Meet Graham Nordin
Meet, Graham Nordin, who started as the Director of Guest Services, is now the General Manager for all six wineries in the Mark Anthony/Mission Hill ‘iconic wineries’ portfolio. His leadership and savvy people skills shine. As General Manager for Iconic Wineries of British Columbia, much of his attention remains focused on delivering on the promise - to create and share distinctive, cool climate wines of B.C. In his words, "it's all about wine club members, customers and their memorable visitor experience." With this property's location, view and fantastic venue, it is indeed memorable.
Certified Organic Viticulture & Vinification
What’s noticeable as we tour the property, is Cedar Creek's commitment to organic farming with a forward leaning approach into regenerative farming. Sustainability is the new lightning rod for activities. Kurt Simcic is the organic viticulturist and he's been influential in this fascinating shift. Animals both domestic and wild, work together with Kurt and team to bring healthy soil to the forefront.
Sustainability through Regenerative Farming
In the hedgerows of the vineyard there is a worm farm (for fertilizer), a flock of chickens (to control the cutworms), a regimented composting program (for soil health), bee hives (for pollination), new vine plantings that suit the geology and geography (more gravel, less sand and higher elevation for cooler temperatures), and five Longhorn Scottish Highland Cattle that provide manure for the compost. Kestrels (a type of osprey) live in the treetops around the property and naturally hunt leafhoppers, which are a vineyard problem in the valley.
In terms of reducing carbon footprint, new measures include a shift to light weight glass bottles to save on transport costs, a wastewater treatment system, an on site glass crusher which then repurposes the resulting sand for use on winter roads - all in an effort to be better custodians of the land and environment here in the Okanagan Valley.
Scottish Longhorn Cattle and More
At the pinnacle of our off road adventure, we arrive at the newly planted vineyards where the Scottish Longhorn cattle live. A skinny, bushy tailed coyote runs away from us as we exit the Bronco. Here on this 100 acre site above the original “home block” that rises to 600 feet above sea level, are 35 acres of newly planted Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer, and Gruner Veltliner. It's a spectacular perspective, on this cloudless day with blue skies meeting the reflective waters of the lake. It’s also a few degrees cooler here and soils are noticeably crunchy under our feet as the terror has changed. This was once the lakeshore of the ancient lake that vanished thousands of years ago.
We offer some alfalfa to Fern, Tuey and cattle, who lumber over for a snack. Their big horns and wet noses keep me at a distance despite my childhood farm experience. We had more horses than cattle but none with horns this intimidating. We jump back in the Bronco and head back using an alternate, steep dirt road where we have more animal encounters including a Kestrel sighting (natural prey for leafhoppers) that fly overhead, colorful roosters and hens content in their pen and bees hives in the distance.
A new and fairly large compost sits to the left of our descent. Here scraps from the restaurant as well as animal manure create a potent mixture of fertilizer that will be applied to the vineyard blocks as well as the one acre organic veggie patch and the herb bed at the door of Home Block.
Pinot Noir 2020 - An Exceptional Vintage
Back at the elegant Cedar Creek Tasting Room it’s time to taste wine from the vineyards we just toured. Wines made at Cedar Creek are under close supervision of Taylor Whelan, who is also and appropriately, the Director of Sustainability. We taste Riesling, Cabernet Franc and end our tasting experience with Reserve Pinot Noir from the estate (block 2 and 4). Nordin says 2020 was an exceptional vintage. Block 2 is faintly lighter in color and body than Block 4 with a bit more cherry fruit. There is the signature cool climate acidity, along with a nice harmony of red fruit, red earth and oak spice. These wines offer tension and great balance of acidity and alcohol. Both finish fairly long on a drying somewhat tart note. Sadly, both of these are sold out. I realize it's time for happy hour so I'll head over to Home Block and wrap up my notes from this extraordinary experience.
Check your cellar BC wine lovers. It’s worth exploring aged Canadian pinot noir, an all too rare experience. Sadly Cedar Creek Reserve Pinot Block 2 and Reserve Block 4 are sold out but there is more "good wine" to come.
Home Block Doesn't Disappoint
It's a bit of drive from Kelowna to Cedar Creek Winery. Give yourself 20 minutes. Appointments are preferred although walk-ins in the tasting room are welcome. As for Home Block I recommend a reservation especially if you want to sit on the outdoor patio and enjoy the view.
No I did not drink the whole bottle of Cedar Creek Pinot Noir 2020 but it was a great sip with the burrata salad. Acidity was the key. The service at Home Block was wonderful and I recommend a seat at the bar every time. The bill, with tax and tip, was $48 which I thought was money well spent given the view, the dish and the social setting. If you go, tell them I sent you and mention your read it here. Thanks for sharing this post and for being a wine lover!
I'm Good Wine Gal.
I blog about "good wine" and how to find it!
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