Wine idea ready to crush this fall

A new concept in wine making is setting precedent in the Okanagan.

A new concept in wine making is setting precedent in the Okanagan.

The group behind Okanagan Crush Pad is offering a shopping list of services to other winemakers ranging from vineyard management, winemaking, branding, marketing, media relations and sales distribution. The custom crush winery is set at the 10-acre Switchback Vineyard in Summerland and will not be open to the public, rather it will be a meeting place for the Okanagan’s wine industry.

“This is a vision I have had for the Okanagan Valley for many years,” said wine advisor David Scholefield. “Our wine industry can never be big, but we can be a lot better at being small. Obviously we don’t have enough vineyard land to compete with the mass producers on quantity or price. But if our potential for greater quantity is strictly limited, our potential for greater quality isn’t. The Okanagan Valley is a very special place for winegrowing, which is why someone like Alberto Antonini is committed to making wine here.”

Scholefield’s inspiration came from what he saw happening in the early days of the New Zealand wine industry, where wineries were sharing space and equipment and making wine in a facility run by consulting winemaker John Belsam in Marlborough. He said similar conditions exist in places like Walla Walla, Wash., and Lompoc ‘Wine Ghetto’ in California’s central coast, where there are examples of less-is-more wine making communities producing wines that have a distinctiveness that only truly handmade wines can have.

“Our services are flexible and we look forward to the opportunity to work with other winemakers in the Valley. Each client will set his or her own winemaking protocol and guide the process to ensure that the finished wine is reflective of his or her own style. This is an exciting new venture for me, and what is most appealing is the collaborative nature of the concept,” said winemaker Michael Bartier.

A winemaker workshop room and fully equipped laboratory will be constructed adjacent to the crush platform with an open view to the winemaking facility. Construction is underway on a new 7,750 square foot facility which will be ready for the 2011 harvest.

Winemaker Bartier will head cellar operations aided by internationally renowned consulting winemaker Antonini and wine advisor Scholefield. Ultimately, Okanagan Crush Pad Winery will have the capacity to produce 25,000 cases annually. The licensed winery has been designed to facilitate production of multiple small lots of wine from many different sources. In addition to being the home of Haywire Winery, Okanagan Crush Pad is home to a new wine, which is a partnership between Bartier and Scholefield and set to be released in June 2011.

“For those who know me and have heard my ‘Wine is Narrative’ mantra, you know that the focus for Okanagan Crush Pad will simply be to make wines that are the purest possible expression of where they come from,” adds Scholefield.

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