Wine Column: Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars

Anthony Gismondi | BCBusiness
Anthony Gismondi, BCBusiness’s new wine columnist.

Anthony Gismondi on why Blue Mountain Vineyard keeps coming out on top

Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars has always done things a little bit differently. From the beginning, they were pitched as the original B.C. cult winery. While I detest that nomenclature, if it means a high-quality producer that manages its production and retail markets and keeps its fans happy year after year, then Blue Mountain is it.

I still remember my first Blue Mountain tasting, back in the very early 1990s. I can’t say I was blown away by the first public release, but we both learned a valuable lesson that day. They learned not to show their wines too early after bottling; I learned not to judge a wine’s future based on its first few days in bottle.

More than two decades down the road, Blue Mountain has maintained its lofty position among a handful of the Okanagan’s best producers. The property is still owned and operated by the Mavety family—Jane and Ian and son Matt (winemaker) and daughter Christie (marketing and sales).

2385 Allendale Road, Okanagan Falls, B.C.; 250-497-8244
TASTINGS AND SALES Monday-Sunday, 11-5pm (May through early October); otherwise by appointment.
OWNERS The Mavety family
ANNUAL PRODUCTION 180,000 bottles

Blue Mountain overlooks Vaseux Lake on a drop-dead gorgeous piece of rolling benchland just north of the McIntyre Bluff—the unofficial dividing line between the north and south Okanagan Valley. All of its wines boast 100 per cent estate fruit farmed continually from the same site for 40 years. Today, the 31-hectare estate is home to five grape varietals: Pinot Noir, Gamay Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay. Farming practices favour low crop yields, and lately new replantings are going high density as the family strives to add further complexity to its wine flavours.

Inspired by the terroir and climate of Champagne and Burgundy, Blue Mountain specializes in sparkling wine, a category it has ruled in B.C. since it launched. Many would argue that its sparkling wine program is among the best in North America. Lately, the winery has dabbled in reserve bottles, playing with recently disgorged methods, and early this spring released some very special blanc de blancs and a sparkling rosé.

Rifting off the grapes used in the sparkling wine, Blue Mountain has long been the standard for restrained Chardonnay in B.C. Bright, juicy and complex are words that illustrate the gift of acidity that is so much a part of what makes this winery such a consistent producer.

Ian Mavety explains that when he was looking for red grapes to plant in 1991, he heard that Gamay Noir, a star in Beaujolais’s granitic soils, would do equally well in Okanagan Falls—and it has. From the start, Blue Mountain Gamay has always over-delivered, and is often better than contemporary Pinot Noirs in the valley. Blue Mountain Pinot Noirs excel—especially when aged.

As a business model, Blue Mountain has few peers. The original Blue Mountain wines—once thought to be pricey—are cheaper than most of the valley’s so-called elite labels today. Slow but steady is the mantra at this mid-valley winery whose wines, we know, are always best laid away in the wine cellar for two or three years.

Choice Bottles

When shopping at an award-winning winery, how do you pick from the best of the best? Anthony Gismondi shares his favourites

Underrated: Blue Mountain Pinot Blanc $18

Undervalued: Blue Mountain Pinot Noir $25

Adventurous: Blue Mountain Blanc de Blancs $40

Top of the Heap: Blue Mountain Pinot Noir Reserve (Stripe Label) $36