Modern-day approach to old-world winemaking in Summerland

It is a modern-day approach to an old-world practice all the way from Italy that’s now being applied in Summerland.

Okanagan Crush Pad welcomes concrete fermenters to their facility that travelled over 8

Okanagan Crush Pad welcomes concrete fermenters to their facility that travelled over 8

It is a modern-day approach to an old-world practice all the way from Italy that’s now being applied in Summerland.

The journey of bringing concrete wine fermenters started at the Nico Velo factory in Vicenza, Italy, before arriving at their ultimate resting point at the Okanagan Crush Pad.

Nico Velo, established in 1943, makes all types of concrete prefabricated structures, from bridge columns to wine tanks, and offers first-class workmanship. The decision to purchase the concrete tanks from Nico Velo came at the urging of Okanagan Crush Pad’s consulting winemaker, Alberto Antonini, who uses the same tanks at his Poggiotondo winery in Tuscany, and is very impressed with the results. Okanagan Crush Pad winemakers Michael Bartier and Matt Dumayne concur with the idea of using concrete fermenters.

“Okanagan Crush Pad is my first experience using concrete tanks, and I am very impressed with the results. We now have just over 38,000 litres in concrete tank capacity,” said Dumayne. “They have excellent fermentation kinetics such as temperature retention. The conical shape of the tank moves the fermenting juice around in a vortex, which produces wines with enhanced depth, complexity and roundness of tannins. We have found that the resulting wines have a complexity and an enhanced creamy mineral character.”

Concrete had been used for centuries in winemaking, but was more or less abandoned with the arrival of stainless steel. These modern day concrete tanks take a forward-thinking approach to the ancient practice.

To date, Okanagan Crush Pad has made and released several wines that were fermented and aged in concrete, including the 2011 and 2012 vintages of the Haywire Switchback Vineyard pinot gris and the recently-released and much anticipated 2011 Haywire Canyonview Vineyard pinot noir. These wines were made in Canada’s first temperature-controlled, egg-shaped concrete fermenters. Each wine that was created in concrete carries the “raised in concrete” trademark on the front label.

Okanagan Crush Pad Winery, located on Fosbery Road in Summerland, also makes wines for other B.C. vintners who are seeking to establish their own wineries. Haywire wines are directed by winery owners Christine Coletta and Steve Lornie, while Bartier Scholefield is a collaboration between Okanagan Crush Pad’s chief winemaker Michael Bartier and Scholefield family member David Scholefield. The winery team focuses on crafting natural wines that are pure expressions of the vineyards they were grown on.  The winery is open seasonally June 1 to Sept. 15 and by appointment during the off-season. For more information visit www.okanagancrushpad.com.