First Look: Anarchist Vineyard




The French have enriched our wine vocabulary immeasurably, including one word that is hard to explain, few one can pronounce, and no one can translate into other languages. The word is “terroir“.

To most wine consumers the word terroir simply relates to dirt. Wine descriptions will generally indicate that the dominant fruit flavours found in the wine are made more complex and structured by the trace minerals inherently present in the soil.

Whatever it is, grape growers, winemakers and wine consumers all seem to agree that it is a highly desirable characteristic in wine. To simplify the term, let’s call terroir an expression – of the type of grape grown in a specific location, of the soil, climate, weather, elevation, latitude and orientation of that place. It is the unique stamp of that particular site. If you apply that definition to everyday life, terroir is everywhere. Your backyard garden has its own terroir, as does your favorite hiking trail.

Anarchist Mountain Vineyard is also a true expression of the term terroir, located in the South Okanagan Valley. This quiet and unassuming vineyard is situated on the high slopes of Anarchist Mountain, just a few minutes north of the US border. Planted at a western aspect at an elevation of 1700ft, the grapes take full advantage of the abundant late afternoon sun. The soil is a slow draining mixture of silt and loam, crucial in an area where less than 300mm of rain fall in a year. Chardonnay and Merlot thrive happily in these conditions.

Owner and vineyard manager Andrew Stone, a Systems Analyst in his former life, turned to his passion of growing grapes when he and wife Terri found and purchased the vineyard property in 2010. “We wanted to buy a vineyard house and we wanted to live in the warmest place in Canada”, says Stone. “We and the rattlesnakes are pretty happy with it.”

The Anarchist Mountain Vineyard produces fruit that is consistently ripe and complex every year, in fact, the South Okanagan practically guarantees it. The grapes are able to reach high tannin and sugar levels, characteristics that are highly sought after in the North Okanagan. The site is planted to 2.5 acres of Chardonnay, 1 acre of Merlot and a half acre of Pinot Noir. The 30+ year old vines are cropped low to increase quality, producing less than 2.5 tonnes per acre. Stone believes the fruit from them is intense and can make wonderful wine. “I think it can make world class wines and competes with any other wine our there. We just released our first vintage 2011 Anarchist Vineyard Elevation Chardonnay” he notes, obviously proud of the result.

Historically the fruit from the site has been sold to producers in the North Okanagan. The ripe southern grapes can be used as a ‘hedge’ to ensure increased sugar and decreased acid levels in their wines, or bottled as special single vineyard designations. In 2011, four white wines and two reds were made with fruit from the Anarchist Vineyard, by talented winemakers like Mark Simpson of Artisan Food and Beverage, and Tom DiBello, local celebrity and creator of DiBello Wines. Andrew Stone vinified his debut Elevation Chardonnay with guidance from Chris Carlson, winemaker of award winning Chardonnay at Meyer Family Vineyards in Okanagan Falls.

Production of fruit from this vineyard is limited in quantity. The max production of Chardonnay is roughly 400 cases, 140 cases of Merlot, and 60 cases of Pinot Noir. Each vintage is exclusive by its limitation, not by design. Stone mentions that when consumers enjoy the wines from Anarchist Vineyard, it makes all the hard work in the vineyard worthwhile. This special vineyard is meant to serve a purpose of growing top tier fruit that proudly displays the natural magic of the South Okanagan. There is only so much to go around, so if you spot any of these wines on the shelves, pick one up and experience the terroir of the Anarchist Mountain Vineyard for yourself.

Anarchist Mountain Vineyard 

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