With a decidedly limited canon of Chardonnay and Pinot, Meyer Family Vineyards is winning awards and aficionados
Specialization is not a word one often associates with B.C. wine producers, given that many of them produce as many as a dozen wines and almost as many styles. At Meyer Family Vineyards there is no such hedge. Owners Jak Meyer and Janice Stevens have bet the house on Chardonnay and, more recently, Pinot Noir. So far their focus and decisiveness are returning huge dividends.
It’s a little over seven years since MFV bought its first vineyard, the 1.62-hectare Old Main Road Vineyard (planted in 1994) on the Naramata Bench. By 2008 MFV was setting up camp on what is now its home vineyard: the 6.9-hectare McLean Creek Road Vineyard (planted in 1994) just east of Okanagan Falls.
A crucial decision to abandon a plan to build a swish winery in Naramata in favour of acquiring the Okanagan Falls site for about the same money, set the stage for early success at MFV. The site helped attract winemaker Chris Carson, who brings a wealth of experience to the winery and even more focus on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Carson does almost all of his work in the vineyard so he can employ his minimalist Burgundian philosophy—in essence doing as little as possible inside the winery. The laid-back Canadian spent nearly a decade working with Pinot producers, first in New Zealand’s famed Central Otago region, then with the legendary California Pinot producer Josh Jensen.
MFV has managed to produce the best Chardonnay in Canada twice in the past two years. The first win came at the 2012 Wine Access Canadian Wine Awards (and again in 2013 at the next iteration of the CWAs, now known as the WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada). Overall in 2013 the tiny producer finished fifth in B.C. and 10th in the country on the strength of a mere seven entries.
The Micro Cuvée labels (the Chardonnay is joined by a Pinot Noir in 2012) represent the best of the best at MFV: a tiny selection from a handful of barrels built to go the distance. The Chardonnay lineup includes two single vineyards from Old Main Road and McLean Road. The Okanagan Chardonnay is a blend of both sites, while the Tribute Series, named each year after an outstanding Western Canadian, is issued in small quantities off the Old Main Road site.
Carson’s love of Pinot is expanding the mix at MFV, with the successful entry-level Meyer Pinot Noir made with a mix of purchased fruit and proprietary grapes. Coming from the management side of the investment business, Meyer and Stevens seem more than equipped to join the New Okanagan where being all business is exactly what’s required to be the best in the country. By any measure the two are well on their way.
Anthony Gismondi is a West Vancouver-based globetrotting wine critic fascinated by the business of wine.
UNEXPECTED: 2011 Meyer Pinot Noir, Okanagan Valley $25
UNDERVALUED: 2011 Meyer Family Vineyards Reimer Vineyard Pinot Noir, East Kelowna $40
UNDERRATED: 2011 Meyer Family Vineyards McLean Creek Road Chardonnay, Okanagan Falls $30
TOP OF THE HEAP: 2011 Meyer Family Vineyards Micro Cuvée Chardonnay, Naramata $65