Our first wine last week was a Sandhill 2006 Gamay Noir. With four unique vineyards in the Southern Okanagan Valley to choose from Sandhill makes only single vineyard wines and puts the specific vineyard name on the label of each. Interestingly, the land that Sandhill Estate rests on along Black Sage road in Oliver was originally leased from the Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, until 174 acres were purchased in 2002. Although there are not that many options and Gamay’s are sometimes hard to find we usually like the lighter, fruity nature of the wines, and this one did not disappoint. The wine was medium red in color with the aroma of cherries and other berries. The fruity taste was also a bit spicy with a slightly dry finish. The wine was aged 11 months in oak giving it a hint of oak flavor that was just enough, but not too much, for our preference. At just under $20 this one is a definite repeat.

The Arrowleaf 2007 Pinot Noir is a blend of Pinto Noir grapes grown in three areas in the Okanagan Valley, north, central and south. According to the winery, although the variety grown is exactly the same the grapes from each region taste distinctively different contributing to the unique quality of the wine. The wine was medium in color and had a fruity aroma. The flavor was fruity as well with a bit of a spicy or smoky taste to it, and very smooth. A good value we thought, at just over $20. When we moved to BC in 1997 Arrowleaf was one of the first wineries that we started to visit on a regular basis and the family was very friendly and helpful to us wine beginners. Located in Winfield, about a half hour north of Kelowna, it was an easy drive from Salmon Arm for us to stock up. Another winery that we used to visit regularly was Larch Hills just south of Salmon Arm, but we haven’t seen any in local wine stores for a while. Stay tuned, we will be on the look out.

Last and well, actually least, we had a bottle of Sumac Ridge 2005 Private Reserve Merlot Cabernet. The winery is part of the Vincor Canada family of wineries, is located on Highway 97 just north of Summerland and has been dedicated to producing 100% British Columbia grown wines since its inception. The wine is a blend of 60% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Cabernet Franc. According to the winery’s website 2005 was a good vintage with great ripeness. The grapes for this wine were harvested under 4 tons per acre and as a result of a low yield this vintage shows great fruit intensity. The wine was indeed very fruity in both aroma and taste but we did not enjoy the oaky and less than smooth finish, but was in need of more time on the shelf. We have enjoyed Sumac Ridge wines from their Black Sage vineyard in the past so plan to stick with this tier in the future.