Thursday, September 28, 2017

Okanagan Wine Report, Part Nine, 50th Parallel Estate and the guy who started us on this whole damn journey......

I really haven't been enjoying wine for all that long, and the bottle that finally got me into wine was a Gewurztraminer from Quails' Gate, circa 2006 or thereabouts. At that time, the winemaker at Quails' Gate was Grant Stanley, who left there years ago to head up to Lake Country and help the owners start up the winery. That's where we are today, 50th Parallel Estate.

So, you all have Grant to thanks for this blog you are reading. Wow, did our lives ever change once we discovered how amazing wine was.

You are unlikely to see Grant up at the winery these days, as he spends most of his time playing tennis and enjoying semi-retirement. He has left the winery in excellent hands, however, as the staff here is universally terrific, and let me tell you about one guy in particular.

His name is Travis. I hate Travis quite a bit.

He is, if memory serves, 23 years old, and has already passed the WSET Level 3 exam. With honors. Travis didn't tell us the 'honors' part, that had to come from one of his co-workers. He plans to have his Master of Wine certificate before the age of 30.

I hate Travis quite a bit.

One of these days I'm going to have to tackle the WSET courses. I will skip Level 1, I think I'm past that, and I think I will be able to handle Level 2. As for Level 3? No way I could pass that at this point, but maybe one day. Something to aspire to.

50th Parallel focuses on cooler climate grapes that will thrive in Lake Country. Let's see how they fared!

50th Parallel Estate 2015 Gewurztraminer ($19.90)

Aromas of lychee and elderflower give way to citrus and melon, with just a touch of spice on the finish. 88.

50th Parallel Estate 2016 Gewurztraminer ($19.90)

Less floral than the above, with lychee and grapefruit notes on the nose. Slightly sweeter than the above, with lychee and citrus flavors. Spice on the finish here as well. 89.

50th Parallel Estate 2016 Pinot Gris ($19.90)

White grapefruit, meyer lemon and orchard fruit on the nose. The palate is slightly creamy, dominated by citrus, peach and pear flavors. 88.

50th Parallel Estate 2016 Riesling ($19.90)

Aromas of tropical fruit, green apple, lemon and lime. Lots of granny smith apple and minerality. Very tart and finishes long. 88.

50th Parallel Estate 2015 Chardonnay ($35.00)

S'mores in a glass, minus the chocolate. Incredibly complex nose of marshmallow, almonds, hazelnut, graham and smoke. The lush, decadent palate features hazelnut, caramel, macadamia nut and butterscotch. Delicious. 90.

50th Parallel Estate 2016 Pinot Noir Rosé ($19.90)

Done in the Provence-style, aromas of strawberry, raspberry and rhubarb. All manners of red fruit on the palate. 88.

50th Parallel Estate 2014 Pinot Noir ($29.00)

Arresting nose of red cherry, smoke and toffee. Black cherry, spice, truffle and chocolate on the palate. Lovely finish. Excellent already. 90.

50th Parallel Estate 2014 Unparalleled Pinot Noir ($50.00)

Hints of roses, red cherry, earth and toasted walnuts on the nose. Black cherry, red fruit, blueberry and black current on the palate. Tannins are strong, this is one that will improve much with careful cellaring. So much potential. 91-94.

So that's it for this tasting, we left with a few bottles of Chardonnay and a new level of respect (and jealousy) for Travis, who took excellent care of us during the tasting.

Travis, I hate you.

Up next, our tour of Lake Country continues at a brand new winery called The Chase!


  1. Strangely your story leaves out the real story of how this winery got started...

  2. I'm not sure what you are getting at, my story was specifically referring to Grant, who had been helping the owners since 2006 before becoming their winemaker and partner. I have never met the owners of the winery.

  3. Hi Dean, thanks for the write up and the great review! I agree with your sentiment on Travis...he is a wine Savant and somehow is getting smarter by the day!

    Thanks to the comments from the readers as well, I can help you with some details and fact check and maybe a few other interesting tidbits that the readers may enjoy., Here is the whole story (if anyone is interested)!

    My wife Sheri-Lee and I had been building the 50th Parallel business plan and looking for property for over 6 years when we met Grant at a fabulous wine makers dinner in 2006. As we became friends over time, Grant gave Sheri-Lee and I some advice on the site we had decided on (now 50th Parallel) along with a host of other great people in the valley. Sheri-Lee and I bought the property with a small group of investors and started planting the vineyard and winery from scratch in 2009. In 2011 we moved winemaker Adrian Baker (now at the Chase, and prior to 50th he was assistant winemaker at Craggy Range in NZ) on a two year term and brought his entire family to Canada and to the Okanagan to help us with the first few vintages. In 2013, when we were looking to add depth to the wine making program Grant put his hand up to become the Winemaker and Viticultural director and at the same time, made a small investment into our limited partnership (LP). At that time we also hired his assistant winemaker and protege Matthew Fortuna. This spring we were excited to announce that Matthew would take the the lead winemaker role as Grant focused more on other things as you noted. He is still involved in a winemaker consulting capacity and no longer has any financial interest.

    Hopefully this helps to clarify for everyone Dean! Have a great day everyone and look forward to meeting you at the 50th! Cheers to all, Curtis Krouzel, Proprietor

    1. If Travis gets any smarter, I'm REALLY going to hate him :)
      Thanks for the information, most of that lines up with what I knew from various sources, but I appreciate the further detail. All the best!

    2. BTW I made an edit to my blog entry, after I re-read it I realized it sounded like I was suggesting Grant owned the joint, which was never my intention. Thanks again.

  4. Thanks Dean nonwories and have a fabulous weekend!