As our time wound down in British Columbia during our recent trip to the Wine Bloggers Conference in Penticton, we decided we needed to squeeze in just one more winery visit. Upon the recommendation of a new friend, we visited Volcanic Hills.
The small winery, located in West Kelowna, isn’t a scenic showcase – but it sure produces great wines. According to owner and president Bobby Gidda, the winery is “still a baby,” opening in May 2010. In 2011 it was named the best new winery in British Columbia.
Volcanic Hills has 65 acres of vines and sits upon a dormant volcano. The volcanic soil adds minerality to the grapes, which come from vines mostly more than 30 years old. Apples and cherries are also grown on the estate.
Cabinator, tasting team member who joined me on the British Columbia trip, and I began our tasting with a new release, the 2011 Magma Red, which is 64% Zweigelt, 12.5% Marechal Foch, 8% Michurinetz, plus a sprinkling of Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cab Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Michurinetz is a Russian grape which was a new discovery for me. It is a nice light red with a smooth texture and nice berry notes.
A simply superb wine was the 2009 Eruption. This is a beautiful blend of 40% Merlot, 32% Syrah and 28% Cabernet Sauvignon. It is aged in oak for 12 months and had rich flavors of vanilla and coffee. To me this expressed the essence of the unique BC and Volcanic Hills terroir in a glass. I bought a bottle of this at $23.90, which I considered a great value.
The 2008 Syrah was another standout red with blackberry and caramel flavors and medium tannins.
Working in a contrarian fashion, we finished up with the 2012 Gewürztraminer, an off-dry estate grown white that has a touch of sugar that is nicely offset by the natural acidity. It features a floral bouquet and refreshing tropical fruit.
The tasting room is open and airy, with knowledgeable staff. Expansion plans include adding an Indian restaurant.
The spicy food should make a tremendous match for the Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer.
Volcanic Hills is erupting with wines that flow with the great terroir of British Columbia. This is a small production winery with tremendously good prices.