The Black Sage Gravelbar
A tiny area of unique, extremely rocky subsoils. On the northern tip of the Black Sage Bench, whose sun-baked sands are well known, there is a tiny pocket of land-probably no more than 3 or 4 square kilometers- of a dramatically different nature. We refer to this area as the Gravelbar; it is where our vineyards are located.
The defining characteristic of our soils is the rocks that lie underneath them. Two to three feet of sandy, gravelly loam give way to hundreds of feet of rounded, similarly sized stones that were deposited by glacial meltwater. These stones are frosted by a coating of calcium and other minerals, which integrate with the soil as the rocks work their way up to the surface. Farming what is essentially a heap of rocks has its difficulties, however we have adapted our farming practices over the years, building substantial organics into the soils for thriving vineyards. Pinot varietals like it especially, and have flourished here. The unique character of our stony soils is expressed in our fruit as a distinct, mineral tone that is especially apparent in our whites and our Pinot Noir- a fine example of the influence terroir can have on a wine.
Because of their southwestern exposure our vineyards enjoy intense heat during the day and develop rich, earthy fruit flavours. Because of their slightly lower elevation, our nights are very cool during the summer, which provides a resting period for the vines and encourages crisp acidity. The diurnal shift between the late afternoon and early morning can be as high as 25¼ C. Cooler mornings bring mist from the old Okanagan river that in itself has a distinct effect on our vineyards. This phenomenon is vital to the balance of our fruit- it ensures ripe, richly flavoured fruit without the loss of acidity that can occur when nighttime temperatures remain high.