Psst.  Listen carefully, I am going to let you in on a secret that few others know about.  Many people know that the Okanagan Valley, stretching from Osoyoos to Vernon, is home to BC’s largest wine region.  And some might have heard of Summerland’s Bottleneck Drive, home to a mix of 18 breweries, cideries, distilleries, and wineries which makes it an ideal area to explore when touring wine country.  But far fewer know of the Garnet Valley or have ventured down that bucolic winding country road just north of downtown Summerland.  But for those in the know, there is something special on Wildhorse Road, just off Garnet Valley Road.

Jon Adrian. Architectural, winery and lifestyle photographer. Solvero Wines

Solvero Winery is nestled into the hillside of the scenic Garnet Valley. Ten years in the making, Solvero Winery opened last year and now has a tasting room open to the public.  I was fortunate to be recently invited to a VIP and Media Happy Hour event for its launch.

Matt Sartor

The Solvero story began when Matt Sartor convinced his parents to buy a 25-acre parcel of land he believed would be ideal for growing top quality cool climate grapes such as chardonnay and pinot noir.  Untamed wild land to the average eye, Matt felt that the elevation, 650 metres at its highest, the steep slopes and the southwestern aspect were all excellent features for growing the style of grapes he was seeking.   This site, virgin forested land on slopes of glacial soils, proved to be difficult to farm, but with two years of hard work, they finally finished planting a 16-acre vineyard.  Then construction began on a winery to make their wines.

Bob Sartor

They spent their initial energies on making a winery that functioned the way a winemaker would want.  Likewise, they took their time to create a tasting room that was memorable in itself.   As owner, Bob Sartor told me, they envisioned the tasting room to be like a living room where people could relax and feel comfortable.

Matt is the president and vineyard manager of this family-owned winery.  His parents, Andrea and Bob Sartor, who live nearby on a five-acre vineyard planted with Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Riesling, are the proprietors.  Alison Moyes is the winemaker and General Manager.

The ten acres of Pinot Noir were planted with clones 115, 667, 777, 828, 943, the Pommard clone, as well as the Swan clone.  This clonal diversity gives winemaker Alison Moyes great latitude to create just the right blend that shows the complexity and nuances that this site offers.

Alison Moyes

Alison is a highly respected winemaker with a background in microbiology and is also a sommelier.  She embodies a true blend of art and science.  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 while Solvero specializes in creating fine chardonnay and pinot noir wines, their current lineup also includes Pinot Gris and a Pinot Noir-based Rosé.  As for Chardonnay, Matt’s preference is for lean, lower alcohol, mineral-driven, Chablis-styled wines with good acidity which makes them very food-friendly.

Solvero, July 2023

Things have changed a lot since I first visited the winery when it opened a year ago.  At the time, a media meet-and-greet was hosted on their crush pad.  Now the tasting room is finished and open to the public.

Sierra Simpson, Town Hall Brands

When we arrived, we were greeted by the lovely Sierra Simpson of Town Hall Brands.  Leeann Froese also from Town Hall was on hand to coordinate the whole event and make sure it ran smoothly.

Solvero has a lot of supporters as the opening of their new tasting room attracted a lot of attention.  As I moved around the spacious outside tasting patio, I noticed a lot of friends, neighbours and various media in attendance.  Those included Christine Coletta and Steve Lornie from Okanagan Crush Pad and the neighbouring Garnet Valley Ranch, fellow Bottleneck Drive members Mike and Gillian Stohler from Summer Gate Winery and Jonah Cadieux-Johnson from Detonate Brewing.  Julian and Judy Parks from BC Wine Trends, freelance writer Allison M. Markin of All She Wrote.  Monique Tamminga was there on behalf of Castanet and Taya Fast from Global News Okanagan was also present.  Kyle Lyons of Tall Tale Wines (and winemaker at various other facilities), Melmet Kueuk of Container World, and Sally Pierce Executive Director of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce were also among those who turned out for this event.

Here is a list of their current offerings.

2022 Pinot Gris
3.5 tons per acre
13.3% ABV
250 cases produced
50% stainless steel and 50% in neutral oak barrels
Winemaking – Expressive minerality creates a beautiful aromatic framework reflecting the vineyard and exceptional vintage. Nectarine, white peach and notes of honey and white blossom add further layers of complexity. The finish is textural and dry with balanced acidity.

“Elegant and balanced, with a focus on bright and refreshing fruit flavours. Soft mineral notes add complexity and depth. The finish is textural and dry with balanced acidity.  Precision winemaking techniques have preserved the grape’s natural acidity, resulting in a wine of exceptional balance.  Harvested from our 2001 planting of Pinot Gris in mid-October, the small clusters were gently whole cluster pressed to release a lower volume of juice with a high degree of clarity. The fermentation was cool and extended over a 3-week period until dryness. The wine was aged in a mixture of stainless steel and neutral French oak barrels for 4 months prior to bottling.”

2022 Chardonnay
2 tons per acre
13.5% ABV
300 cases produced
Winemaking – Clones 76 and 95.  Whole cluster press, barrel fermented in 20% New French Oak, Daily lees stirring throughout fermentation and partial malolactic fermentation. Barrel aged for 12 months.

“Yellow apple, Asian pear and a touch of lemon zest, this fruit-forward Chardonnay is underscored with notes of hazelnut, vanilla and toast. Mineral flavours come through on a round, full-bodied palate.”

2022 Rosé (Pinot Noir)
1 ton per acre
12.3% ABV
150 cases produced
Winemaking – Made with 100% Pinot Noir this dry Rose has a delicate pale pink hue, subtle yet enticing bouquet of fresh strawberries and raspberries. Refreshing acidity, balanced with lively red fruit flavours, prominently strawberry and raspberry notes. Smooth and rounded mouthfeel, with a light body that glides effortlessly across the palate. Subtle minerality adds depth and complexity to the wine.

“Hand harvested in mid-September and gently destemmed. The must was carefully assessed for flavour, colour and tannin during this phase of skin contact and after 3 hours the juice was pressed off the skins. The wine was then cool-fermented to dryness in stainless steel.”


2019 Pinot Noir
1 ton per acre
12.2% ABV
450 cases produced
Winemaking – Made from seven Pinot Noir clones – 115, 667, 777, 828, 943, Swan, and Pommard.  Each clone was fermented separately.  Aged in 25% new French Oak for 12 months.  Dark cherry and floral aromas with notes of earth and gravel. A touch of cola comes through on the palate with silky tannins framing the finish.

“Expansive red berry fruit aromas evolve in the glass to reveal layers of earthy spice and saline minerality. Polished tannins frame the palate, which lingers with subtle floral notes on the finish. Charcuterie, crispy pan-seared halibut and duck confit are excellent companions with this enigmatic wine.”

All these prices are very reasonable, given the quality of their wines.  The yields here are low, anywhere from 1 to 3.5 tons per acre which explains the concentration of fruit in their wines.

At the recent International Wine and Spirit Competition, Solvero brought home three medals including silver for their chardonnay.

A block of Gamay has just been planted and a sparkling wine is also in the works.  I am eagerly looking forward to trying both of these wines.

Solvero wines are primarily sold through their tasting room, wine club, higher-end restaurants and select private stores.

The tasting room is now open to the public so be one of the first to discover this hidden gem.  Alison Moyes, the winemaker and Matt the viticulturalist will be there to greet you in the tasting room so you know you are going to have a first-class tasting and have every question answered.  Be sure to call ahead for reservations as things will get busy once the word spreads.

Solvero is located at 25205 Wildhorse Road, in Summerland.  Their telephone number is 250-487-9891.

(All photos, except as noted – Sam Hauck)

Feature image Solvero Wines vineyard | Photo credit: Jon Adrian


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