New Winery: Visiting Lusitano Estate Winery

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20140617-083320.jpgIt was a small sign that I noticed on the Oliver Ranch Road which runs south out of Okanagan Falls. It’s a route that is fast becoming the ‘Main Street’ of the Okanagan Falls wine region. In traveling through wine country to visit friends, interview wineries for this blog or other publications for which I write, or just to get off of the main road once in a while, I tend to notice when new wineries put up their signs. It’s fun to discover new things and as I’ve been searching for winery signs for well over a decade now, it’s almost become second nature.

My first visit to Lusitano was short out of necessity. I was on my motorcycle and was quickly running out of time to be back home. Seeing their sign on Oliver Ranch Road, I turned east onto Rolling Hills Road until I saw their main sign. The steep, inclined, loose gravel driveway made getting my motorcycle up it a little tricky and like a cat that climbs trees but can’t get back down, I soon realized that the trip down would be even harder.

The wine shop is a small room off the house with a high tasting bar and shelves for the wines. Fernanda Ganhao welcomed me into the wine shop and told me a about their new winery that sits on the top of a little hill with vineyards cascading down on all sides.

I was finally able to taste the wines on my second trip when I made it easily up the hill in the comfort and stability of my van. The winery currently offers 4 wines – Chic Sauvignon Blanc, Rolling Hills Chardonnay, Luscious Rosé, and Marco’s Pinot Noir. The will be another wine – a Cabernet Sauvignon – that will be joining the lineup later this year. The Pinot Noir was the only wine to see oak in any way. The whites were both crisp and refreshing while the Rosé has just a touch of residual sugar to be nicely balanced. The Pinot Noir was the one that grabbed me the most so I returned the favour and grabbed a bottle of it. It’s an elegant style and I’m very interested in seeing revisiting this wine after it has had some time to settle in the bottle.

It was on this trip that I realized just how unique the landscape is in Okanagan Falls. There aren’t really any wine growing areas of the Okanagan that are built on such diversely oriented portions of land. Just driving through on the 97 and you’d think that the land is pretty straightforward and predictable. It’s a valley bottom just like all the others, right?

Well, no. If you’ve been to Blue Mountain Vineyards and been able to take your eyes off of the spectacular sights of MacIntyre Bluff and the Vasseaux Lake and instead looked west towards the valley bottom, you’d notice that the terrain is beautifully undulating. There are a lot of little hills, valleys, kettles, and geological bizarre-nesses that make this one of the most diverse and varied landscape in all of BC wine country, perhaps on par with Naramata and its motley collection of erosion-scabbed silt bluffs and outcroppings. Standing outside Lusitano gives a different impression of the valley than standing outside Noble Ridge, Liquidity, or Stag’s Hollow. The valley floor south of OK Falls is really BC wine’s fun-house hall of mirrors where everywhere you look, there is a completely different and altered view of the world.

It’s a fascinating world to explore and stopping in at Lusitano will only add to your enjoyment. Cheers from wine country!

~Luke

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