Wine: Lake Breeze Wine Farm

Lake Breeze | BCBusiness

New Alberta money and an empowered winemaker make Lake Breeze a top performer ready to take the next step in the Okanagan 

Stability is a prized attribute in the wine business and Lake Breeze is nothing if not stable. Winemaker Garron Elmes has worked all 18 seasons under four different sets of owners, including the founders of Lake Breeze, Swiss natives Paul and Vereena Moser, who opened their Naramata property tucked behind the poplar trees in 1995.

The affable Elmes arrived fresh out of Elsenburg College in Stellenbosch. In one of those inexplicable twists of fate, the aspiring winemaker’s stepfather was in the tool business in South Africa as was Paul Moser, and well, one thing led to another and the young South African found himself on the Naramata Bench long before most British Columbians could find it on a map.

930 Sammet Rd. Naramata, B.C.
Tel: 250-496-5659
Tasting Room: 250-496-5659 Ext. 202
TASTINGS AND SALES May to mid-October, daily 11 to 5:30 p.m.; Oct 15-31 daily, noon to 4 p.m. November: Fridays & Saturdays only, noon to 4 p.m.,
OWNERS The McIntyre Family First crush 1995
HECTARES FARMED 0.2 hectares
WINEMAKER Garron Elmes

“The original plan was to stay for three or four years but if you look around the world there are worse places to live,” Elmes says. Four owners later, he and general manager Launa Maundrell—who started in the tasting room in 2004—run the winery like a Swiss clock. Both have been given greater responsibility under new owners Barbara and Drew MacIntyre. The Calgary power couple appear to have the right amount of involvement in the winery without interfering in the matters of wine. When I asked Elmes if he was happy he said, “The biggest thing the new guys brought to the table is a bit of money so that we could actually invest; it takes a little bit of money to make good wine.”

Pinot Blanc is the unofficial winery flagship wine. According to Elmes, “It is what they make the most of and sell the most of.” Elmes says that while it is grown globally, generally it is used as a neutral blending wine. In the Okanagan Valley, “with our cooler climate, we get higher natural acidities and some great fruit flavours out of it,” he says. “It is kind of an underrated grape, but we love it. We hung our hat on it from the start in 1995. I describe it as a fruit salad with all sorts of fruit: a bit of tropical, a bit of citrus, good crisp acidity and so versatile. It goes with so many foods.”

Pinot Noir is the new pursuit at Lake Breeze. In the past the Pinot Noir was a blend of property fruit and some purchased grapes from a site in Summerland. The 2010 XV Pinot Noir (the 15th vintage) is a very limited release from a single vineyard on the property made from vines planted more than 20 years ago by Naramata winegrowing legends Barry and Sue Irvine. The wine is made to be a true expression of Lake Breeze or Naramata. It is an Okanagan Pinot.

If Lake Breeze has a weakness, it’s that they make too many wines—14 in all, says Elmes, but you sense each is loved. From bone-dry to highly aromatic, the only wine they don’t make is surprisingly a dessert wine. “Our fan base is so strong, everything sells and everything has a following,” says Elmes.

Anthony Gismondi is a West Vancouver-based globetrotting wine critic fascinated by the business of wine.

The Picks

UNDERRATED: Lake Breeze Seven Poplars Sauvignon Blanc, $22

UNDERVALUED: Lake Breeze Pinot Blanc, $19

ADVENTUROUS: Lake Breeze Semillon, $19

TOP OF THE HEAP: Lake Breeze XV Pinot Noir, $50