Road 13 Vineyards Rockpile 2008

Golden Mile and Black Sage Bench, Okanagan Valley, BC


I first met winemaker Michael Bartier back in 2007, when we were both judging at the Northwest Wine Summit.  I think we were the 2 sole BC judges in the bunch, and I was fortunate enough to be grouped with Bartier for a number of flights.  I remember being impressed by his incredible varietal and vinification knowledge and confidence in his convictions.  He certainly knew his stuff – not in a braggart, look-at-me way – but in the way that made you want to listen, and learn what he had to share.  So I was very interested to hear this spring that Road 13 Vineyards have made the bold move away from single grape wines towards blends.

Bye bye Merlot and buds.  Hello Rockpile.

In the press release Bartier explains “It is a bold and risky move to stop the production of some of our most popular wines but we are sacrificing them for a higher cause – even better wines. … Don’t get me wrong, I love Chardonnay and I love Sauvignon Blanc. I just happen to love them more when they are put together.”

Blending is as old as winemaking itself.  Back before grapes were identified and analyzed, numerous varietals would grow together in one vineyard, and were picked, crushed and vinified at once.  Even today, with Old World wines it’s all location, location, location.   Site and terroir takes precedent over grape varietal.  Think Chateauneuf du Pape.  So to, for Road 13.

Rockpile takes its name from the rock-rich soils where these grapes are grown.  This blend certainly is a pile: 60% Syrah, 19% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, 2% Zinfandel, 1% Viognier, 1% Grenache and 1% Mourvedre.  If there was any shadow of a doubt about Bartier’s blending prowess before, it’s proven now!   There is a lot going on in this bottle – complex and well integrated flavours of spice, black cherries, pepper, juicy ripe plum, savoury meat, dusty cocoa and sweet vanilla.  The more I tasted this wine, the more flavours I got out of it.  Seamless smooth and full bodied, with layers of flavours that keep revealing themselves the more you tuck in.

The winery has released 4,500 cases of this inaugural blend – almost 25% of Road 13’s entire production.  The high stakes have paid off.

Rating:  (click here to see what our wine ratings mean)

Sunday May 2, 2010 is Wiener Dog Day at Road 13 Vineyards

Becoming a “must-do” event at the Okanagan Wine Festival, Road 13 Vineyards will host their 2nd annual Wiener Dog Day barbeque May 2 at 11:30 am. Hosted by resident daschunds Fil and Meg, $3.50 buys a gourmet hot dog created by Road 13 proprietor and vineyard guy Mick Luckhurst. Meg and Fil have their own gourmet offerings. Full-figured wiener dog Meg is addicted to good food, so her “Meg Dog” includes fried onions and cheese. Super fit Fil always eats his vegetables, so the “Fil Dog” features fresh bell peppers and fried onions.

Wine and non-alcoholic drinks are available for purchase, and proceeds benefit the Osoyoos Desert Centre and its programs to conserve the biologically rich and diverse habitats of British Columbia’s southern interior.

CBC radio announcer and author Troy Townsin will also attend the barbeque from 12pm on selling signed copies of his latest cookbook, WineFeast, which features world-class food with local chefs and products.

Pets are welcome of course – especially wiener dogs! For more information, please visit

Written By:

Treve Ring is a wine writer, editor, judge, consultant and certified sommelier, and has been with EAT Magazine for over a decade.\r\n\r\nIn addition to her work with EAT, she is a Wine Critic and National Judge for ...

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