June 27, 2003 Features & Images » Feature Story

A tour of Canada’s wine region 

After a decade of hard work, Okanagan wineries are going for it

Page 9 of 10

Although her vines are young – and the age of grapevines has a lot to do with the taste and character of the wines, Oldfield says they have managed to instil a lot of character into their wines in a very short time.

"Everybody has been here for five or six years, and we can all do each other’s jobs if we have to," Oldfield explains. "We don’t buy grapes from anyone else, we grow it all ourselves… so we have managed to create wines that are very consistent.

"We ferment clean and pay attention to the dryness. There’s no funky wood flavours, we just want the fruit flavours to come out."

The Oldfield’s are from California originally and recently obtained their Canadian citizenship. They rooted for the Canadian hockey team in the Olympic gold medal game, if you have any doubts.

Like other B.C. wineries, Tinhorn Creek has recognized the value of tourism to their operations, which allows them to market directly to customers while educating them about their wines.

They have taken it another step with the creation of the Tinhorn Creek WineLovers’ Club, a customer loyalty program that is already attracting repeat business. Foran hopes to bring more customers to the club through a mini-getaway package he has organized in conjunction with Tinhorn Creek.

A typical stay at the club condos – small but elegantly furnished rooms overlooking the valley – includes an introduction to wine making techniques, a tutored wine tasting seminar, a lesson in pairing with a house chef, and a workshop in Tinhorn Creek’s demonstration vineyard. They also take field trips to neighbouring vineyards.

The club is popular for couples and groups, providing a laid-back and educational foundation in wine. They also make good use of the recreational opportunities in the area, including golf and more golf, followed by a session with a massage therapist.

Another popular offering is an art package, where you can sit and paint with a prominent local artist.

"The wine club is a unique way to market ourselves to the world," says Sonya Konig, the WineLovers’ Club director.

"A little bit of education goes a long way, and it helps to create lifelong customers that can really appreciate good wines and all of the things we do here."

After the tour, we headed to the club to do some tasting. A 2001 Pinot Gris, a 2001 Chardonnay, a 2002 Gewürztraminer, a 2000 Pinot Noir, a 2000 Cabernet Franc and a 2000 Merlot.

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