Seeing the forest for the wine

Seeing the forest for the wine

By Monique Tamminga

Bottleneck Drive’s newest winery Solvero has vines planted on the hills of a ponderosa pine forest and is producing exceptional pinot noirs and chardonnay from it.

On National Wine Day (May 25), Solvero – a small batch winery with a unique story celebrated its grand opening among fellow winemakers, farming neighbours and friends at their new tasting patio.

Matt Sartor president and founder of Solvero Winery.

The vision of Matt Sartor, president and founder, was to find acreage in Summerland that would make really magical pinot noir and chardonnay.

Nearly a decade ago, Sartor found this sloped property at 25585 Wildhorse Road. This winery is a commitment to get to, but worth the drive, found in the backcountry of Summerland, deep in Garnet Valley.

To find them, it’s an exit off Highway 97 for a 15 minute drive on the Gold Rush route which is now dotted with farms and ranches.

“Unlike most vineyards, this land had never been an orchard or farmed at all. It has been a pine forest for eons,” said Sartor.

He convinced his parents Bob and Andrea to buy the land and the whole family went to work, even removing rocks by hand and using a walk-behind tractor to work the land.

In 2016, they planted the first 10 acres of pinot noir, said Andrea Sartor.

“What I really want people to experience is what an untouched forest can produce,” he said.

“We can translate place and time in a glass of wine,” said Sartor.

Then well-known winemaker Alison Moyes came on board. Sartor and Moyes had been friends for years so when his vision for the winery came together, Moyes felt it matched what she wanted to create.

“What’s really nice about this property is– not just the incredible fruit it produces– it is dropped in with tree lines and gullies. It was really important to Matt to keep the natural soil structure and I think that has made a difference to the quality of fruit we are getting,” said Moyes, whose recent resume includes Liquidity Winery and Stoneboat.

“The forest is producing exceptional flavours with wines that have lower alcohol levels,” she added.

Moyes said the pinot noir has a good balance of red cherry fruit and depth of earthy spice, “like old world meets new,” she said.

There are challenges that come with planting a vineyard around a forest, but the wine it has produced was well worth the wait, said Moyes and Sartor.

“In my mind, the chardonnay in Garnet Valley is capable of amazing things. It gives us the confidence for our future of producing top wines,” said Sartor.

They aren’t alone in thinking that Garnet Valley can produce amazing wines.

The owners of Haywire Winery (formally Okanagan Crush Pad) in Summerland, have opened Garnet Valley Ranch nearby, a certified organic vineyard and farm with offerings of chardonnay, pinot noirs as well as a sparkling wine.

While the area produces great pinots and chardonnay, Solvero has also bottled other wines including a rose, pinot gris and they hope to have gamay in the future.

Solvero is now open seven days a week, from 11 to 4 p.m. offering outdoor or indoor tasting with tours of the barrel room and crush pad.


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