We visit the winemaker of Villa Maria NZ, Harry/Christa-Lee McWatters and their winemaker and two wine loving music friends Colin Linden and Royal Wood.
Music and Wine friends for your weekend.
Josh Hammond – Villa Maria
Villa Maria is one of New Zealand’s highest profile wineries and certainly the most awarded.
Their sustainable practices are exemplary and consistent.
So…how are the wines?
Given their commitment to the land and the vineyards it’s not surprising how good they are. What may surprise is that their wines – white, red and bubble – are consistent. From one year to the next which all wine fans want from their winery.
Production winemaker Josh Hammond passed through Vancouver and most of Canada, pouring his latest portfolio.
Josh was born and raised in Marlborough, becoming the 5th generation to grow up on the family sheep farm situated next door to where the Villa Maria Marlborough winery now stands. The land, which was considered too fertile for growing grapes by his grandfather, now produces Sauvignon Blanc for Villa Maria.
An early interest in law led Josh to the University of Otago to study a double degree in Law and Chemistry. During this time he also spent six months in Europe on a law exchange studying at Charles University in the Czech Republic.
Then to California and Burgundy where he gained valuable experience working with a range of grape varieties.
Returning back to his roots Josh joined the Villa Maria Marlborough team as Assistant Winemaker in 2013 and was promoted to Production Winemaker in December of that year.
With the Marlborough Sounds on his door step he enjoys spending time in the outdoors, diving, water skiing and sailing. He also enjoys recreating local dishes from the countries he has visited and matching these with New Zealand wines, for friends and family.
Yours truly had the pleasure of joining others at a tasting in Gastown that was a pleasure from beginning to end.
I had to wait until Josh got back to Marlborough before he had time to talk and give us the full background on the wines below.
Some you can find now..the others marked as “spec” hopefully in the new year. Just thought you might like to know what’s possible from this fine company down the road.
- Private Bin Lightly Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc, spec, $16.99 plus tax+dep
- Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc, listed, $16.99 plus tax+dep
- Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc, spec, $21.49 plus tax+dep
- Private Bin Pinot Gris, listed, $17.79 plus tax+dep
- Private Bin Pinot Noir, spec, $18.79 plus tax+dep
- Cellar Selection Pinot Noir, spec, $30.49 plus tax+dep
- Private Bin Merlot Cab Sauv Hawke’s Bay, spec, $13.99 plus tax+dep
Harry McWatters – Time/McWatters Wineries
Christa-Lee McWatters-Bond – Encore Vineyards and Local Lounge and Grill. Vintage Consulting Group
Lawrence Buhler, Director of Winemaking
Harry McWatters is a leader in the British Columbia wine industry, and has been involved in it for more than 40 years. In 1980, he founded BC’s first estate winery, Sumac Ridge Estate Winery, and later started See Ya Later Ranch Estate Winery in 1995. By spring of 2000, the Sumac Ridge Estate Wine Group was sold to Vincor Canada and Harry continued as the winery president as well as Vice-President of Vincor Canada. Harry “retired” in April 2008, and on May 1 established Vintage Consulting Group Inc. and the Okanagan Wine Academy.
Harry is the founding chair of the British Columbia Wine Institute. In addition, he is the founding chair of the British Columbia Wine Information Society. He is also a Director of the Canadian Vintners Association, founding Chairman of VQA Canada and is the founding Chairman of the British Columbia Hospitality Foundation.
Harry was also instrumental in founding VQA Canada, a trade association that spearheaded the development of national wine standards for Canadian vintners and served as the first Chairman.
In his role as director of winemaking for the ENCORE Vineyards wine brands, Lawrence Buhler is responsible for setting the winemaking direction of TIME Estate Winery as well as for McWatters Collection and Evolve Cellars. He brings with him more than 15 years experience in the wine industry, most recently from Ontario where he worked in wineries large and small.
Christa- Lee McWatters-Bond been in the BC wine industry ever since she was born.
After growing up in her family’s winery, Sumac Ridge Christa-Lee went on to open a restaurant with her husband Cameron Bond which is now one of the most popular restaurants in the Okanagan Valley, Local Lounge and Grill.
And if that isn’t enough, her hands are very full of these days as she is the marketing manager for Encore Vineyards, which is the parent company to TIME Estate Winery under construction in Oliver BC, her family’s legacy label the McWatters Collection, and the brand-new Evolve Cellars in Summerland BC.
We welcome on of the first families of Okanagan winemaking The McWatters and a guy named BUHLER!!!
He doesn’t own any wineries, or vineyards or cellars. He does own two 56 bottle capacity wine coolers that are always be filled with wines from his travels.
And because he IS Colin Linden, solo artist, record producer, guitar for hire, one of the driving forces behind Blackie and the Rodeo Kings and the music director of the Nashville Television series his travels take him everywhere.
Even The White House. Even as part of Bob Dylan’s road band.
Colin has just relwased his best solo LP (my opinion) It’s called Rich in Love.
Anyone who has listened to Mulligan Stew, my weekly music show on CKUA Radio in Alberta knows Colin and I always talk music and then switch at some point to wines and what he’s been drinking.
Here’s the latest chat session, which includes his answer to my question..what DID they pour for you at The White House?
Love his music. He’s not like everyone else..that’s one of the reasons I like him.
Royal’s latest release is
“Playing to a full house at the National Arts Centre was so special, so energizing. It was an honour.” Royal’s fan base continues to grow at home and abroad.
“I’m now performing around the world, in part because of the respect there is internationally for the NAC. If you’ve headlined there, you can stand tall.”
Growing up in Peterborough, Ontario, Royal Wood realized early on that music and art and literature weren’t his career choices—they were his calling. “It’s what I wake with every morning and what I think about when I go to bed.” Perhaps that’s the secret to his success.
Royal explains on today’s TRR that he mentioned during an interview that he loved his wines and was taking a sommelier course.
Listening in was Steve Latchford from Therapy wines on the Naramata bench.
It took several years for the project to come together but there are now atiny selection of large format bottles of
The Players are Therapy Winemaker Steve Latchford and the fine singer/songwriter Royal Wood.
Steve has always wanted to do a “special project”. He wanted to pair music and wine and when he heard Royal say on CBC radio that he was taking a sommelier course that he knew he had his musician.
It took two years to design and create that special project. Magnums of Marselan. A cross of Cab and Grenache.
They called the project Vanguard Wines 2013. Old Wounds New Scars. (title of a Royal Wood song)
Only 200 bottles made. Every bottle comes with a special CD of Royals Songs. Songs that relate to the wine and the artists involved, along with a number of photos on the label from Dave Moorman. Available only at the winery..on the Naramata Bench.
STORIES WE’RE WORKING ON
Randy Ullom – Kendall – Jackson
The battle of the Somms