The latest addition to Summerland’s Bottleneck Drive is Solvero Wines, located off the main highway in the beautiful Garnet Valley. Solvero joins Okanagan Crush Pad who planted grapes at their Garnet Valley Ranch Winery in 2014. Solvero, is a rough Latin translation for ‘truth in soil’.
Though it has been known to those in the trade ever since word got out about where Alison Moyes had moved to, Solvero is now ready to open to the public. Alison, winemaker and general manager, has deep roots in the Okanagan with over a decade of experience at such noted wineries as Osoyoos Larose, Stoneboat, and Liquidity. The latter two are known for their focus on Pinot Noir.
Matt Sartor is the president and vineyard manager of this family-owned winery. His parents and proprietors, Andrea and Bob Sartor live nearby on a five-acre vineyard planted with Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Riesling.
Speaking with Matt and Alison, their passion for this site and the grapes is clearly evident and this passion is reflected in the quality of their wines. As Alison said, “The vision that Matt and his family have for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay is right up my alley.” Their approach is minimal intervention both in the vineyard and in the winery. And a new, state-of-the-art winery made this move hard to resist.
Matt has had a long love affair with Pinot Noir. He loves how it is so well suited to expressing the region it is grown in, the differences from vintage to vintage, and the deft hand of the winemaker. Add to that the many clonal variations and it is clear why it is so popular with wine geeks around the world.
As for Chardonnay, Matt’s preference is for lean, lower alcohol, mineral-driven, Chablis-styled wines with good acidity that makes them so food-friendly. He contrasts that to the typical California-styled wines that tend to be big in every sense – high alcohol, high extraction, buttery, oaky wines.
The Garnet Valley has its own small microclimate. The Solvero site has a southwest aspect which helps to generate heat. The steep 30-degree slopes create good air drainage and because of their location, they often get more snow than the rest of Summerland, which helps protect the vines in winter.
These vineyards, planted in mixed glacial soils, are among some of the highest in BC which means cooler growing conditions necessitating careful selection of vines appropriate for the location. They have focused on Pinot Noir (planted in 2016), Chardonnay (planted a year later), Pinot Gris, and a Pinot Noir-based Rosé. Gamay is the newest addition to the vineyard. The rugged terrain makes for challenges in the vineyard including specialized equipment. The highest part of the vineyard lies at 650 metres.
A lot of thought went into deciding which clones would be best suited to the conditions of the site. The ten acres of Pinot Noir were planted with clones 115, 667, 777, 828, 43, the Pommard clone, as well as the Swann clone. This clonal diversity gives Alison great latitude in the winery, to create just the right blend that shows the complexity and nuances that this site offers.
Matt says that Solvero has the potential to produce 5,000 cases in the future and that they have plans to add Riesling and a traditional method sparkling wine to their offerings.
While the focus at Solvero is on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, currently, Solvero offers four wines:
All these prices are very reasonable, given the quality of the wines. The yields here are low, anywhere from 1 to 3.5 tons per acre which explains the concentration of fruit in their wines.
Solvero joins 17 other members of Summerland’s Bottleneck – breweries, cideries, distilleries, and wineries making it an ideal area to explore when touring wine country.
Rather than heading south to Penticton and the Southern Okanagan or north to Kelowna and Lake Country, do yourself a favour and spend some time exploring the Bottleneck Drive and especially the little-known Garnet Valley.
You can find Solvero at 25585 Wildhorse Road. The telephone number is 250-487-9891.
Go explore the Garnet Valley.
(All photos – Sam Hauck)