by Andrew Morrison | As far as picturesque estate vineyard locations go, the Skinner family struck gold with Painted Rock. They bought the 60 acre Skaha Bluff (just outside Penticton) property back in 2004 and started planting the following year, gearing up towards their critically-acclaimed Bordeaux-style Red Icon blend and of course their Syrah, Merlot, and delicious Chardonnay. I’ve been a fan from the get go, both of the wines and the property, even when the tasting room was just a shack.
It wasn’t that long ago – maybe two summers – that proprietor John Skinner walked me up the hill at the back of the winery, pointed at the tiny, rather humdrum building and told me about his plans to replace it. His enthusiasm for “the big idea” – a modern tasting room facility that could host all manner of events, even weddings – was infectious, but it seemed a far way off.
I checked in again earlier this summer when I was up buying wine. John had just had a very gnarly high speed bicycle accident and was lucky to be alive, but there was no way that he wasn’t going to show me around the shell of the new facility. Though he wasn’t 100% (and probably shouldn’t have been out of bed), he was nonetheless giddy as hell about the progress that had been made, and quite rightly. One could easily tell from the framing of the construction site that the finished product – by architect Robert Mackenzie with detail work by Keith Panel Systems – would be something special, even spectacular. The materials are state of the art, the design sleek and tucked nicely into the landscape, and its orientation within the vineyards overlooking Skaha Lake is just perfect.
All of that is to say that what I saw earlier today was a great vision made finally real. It was very satisfying to see. In the photos above, the big tent on the sprawling lawn (rain had been forecasted) detracts from the design, so the pictures really don’t do the new tasting room justice. Rain or shine, the place is in a class of its own.
The GOODS from Fraîche
West Vancouver, BC |Fraîche Restaurant is pleased to present a very special Painted Rock Wine Dinner on May 9, hosted by the proprietor of Painted Rock Winery, John Skinner. Guests will enjoy a five-course regional meal created by Fraîche’s new executive chef, Carol Chow, and expertly paired with the Okanagan estate winery’s finest wines. The evening begins at 6:30pm. Tickets are $135 per person (plus taxes and gratuity) and reservations may be made by calling 604.925.7595. Read more
The GOODS from Painted Rock Estate Winery
Victoria, BC | John Skinner, owner and impassioned Proprietor of Painted Rock Estate Winery, his family and vineyard team are thrilled to announce that for the second time in three vintages they have earned two esteemed BC Lieutenant Governor’s Awards for Excellence in BC Wines. Alongside a number of other wine producing talent from throughout BC (please review competition details and full list of winners below), these highly coveted awards will be presented to Painted Rock by His Honour Stephen Point on July 26th at our Penticton-based winery. When Painted Rock won two awards for its first vintage, it confirmed that the wine-making team was on the right track and validated the potential of our estate property, our vision and our mandate. Now with its third vintage completed, John Skinner expects to solidify Painted Rock Estate Winery’s reputation as reliable and consistent producers of excellent wines. A very simple goal is to get better and not bigger and to realize the full potential of the Skaha Bench estate vineyard. “We have enjoyed wonderful support and acceptance of our wines since they were first released for which we are very grateful. This has enabled us to continue to adhere to the strictest protocol and mandate in our quest to produce the finest wines.” says John Skinner. Read more
Painted Rock Estate Winery Ltd.
400 Smythe Drive, Penticton, BC V2A 8W6
Telephone: Winery 250-493-6809 | Sales 604-765-4538
Web: www.paintedrock.ca | Facebook | Winery Twitter | Proprietor John Skinner Twitter
John and Patricia Skinner, Proprietors
The son of a Canadian Forces fighter pilot, John was born in 1958 on a Manitoba military base. “I moved 20 times by the time I was 20,” he says. He was working his way through college with a job in a lumber mill when he noted that a friend who had become a stock broker was much more prosperous. So he left university and embarked on a career in the brokerage industry.
John was a stockbroker in Vancouver for more than 25 years, during which time he became an avid wine enthusiast. John and his wife Trish dreamed of having their own vineyard after spending time exploring wineries in the South of France with their family.
In 2004, recognizing that the quality of wines in this region was improving dramatically and driven by both his passion for wine and his desire to create a legacy business for his family, he purchased the land in south Penticton known locally as “The Blackhawk.”
Perched high on a bench on the east side of Skaha Lake south of Penticton, backing up against the famed climbing bluffs. Once an apricot farm, it had been fallow for 17 years. He planted in 2005 and 2006 and now has roughly 25 acres under vine, all of it Bordeaux reds or Syrah except for a block of Chardonnay. On the advice of consultants, he has planted multiple clones of every variety, giving his winemaker good blending options.
John was confident that this terroir and its site influences presented “a unique opportunity to create exceptional wines” and that he had “both the opportunity and the obligation to do this property justice.”
John and Trish’s vision was and remains to grow exceptional grapes in their estate vineyard to produce ultra-premium wines that reflect the perfect marriage of new world fruit and old world processes, employing the best modern technologies and expertise, while respecting old world traditions.
Most satisfying of all is that the whole family is involved. Trish handles the entire back office of this fast growing enterprise; daughter Lauren just received her MBA in Bordeaux with a focus on luxury brand management, food, and wine; and son Riley just spent the summer working for the winery in Vancouver while finishing his degree at UVIC.
ABOUT PAINTED ROCK
Painted Rock offers exceptional wines for a world audience. Envisioned as a family-run estate winery, Painted Rock draws its inspiration from proprietor’s John and Trish Skinner. The Skinner’s philosophy is rooted in the simple idea that wine should be made for friends and family to enjoy. With a dedication to quality and a respect for the terroir, Painted Rock ensures that each grape is of superior quality, proving that the best wines are made in the vineyard.
Painted Rock embraces the traditions of the old world and the imagination of the new world. Set in the Okanagan Wine Country of British Columbia, Canada, Painted Rock has arrived at an opportune moment in time. The Skinner’s knew that the Okanagan was starting to gain international interest, and they recognized it’s potential to produce serious wines. The Okanagan’s combination of hot, dry summers, cool mountain air, and unique microclimates makes this a spectacular place to produce wine.
“There is something magical happening on our site. Everything comes together in that perfect way.” Proprietor John Skinner.
Painted Rock sits on a spectacular bench overlooking the eastern shore of Skaha Lake in Penticton, B.C. This 60-acre property has a unique microclimate that is particularly suited to the production of premium wines. Since the early 1900’s, this orchard harvested apricots until the orchard was felled due to a gypsy moth infestation in the late 1980’s. The property, known locally as “The Blackhawk”, laid fallow while under the ownership of another winery until John Skinner and his family acquired and contoured it in 2004, and then began planting in 2005. This family-owned estate winery aspires toward a single vision of excellence that maintains the integrity of the wine and never homogenizes the brand.
When the Skinner’s and their team first began assessing the property, they noticed the unique air movement on the site. Because the land lay fallow for 17 years before being acquired by Painted Rock, they were able to contour the entire property, promoting the air movement and ensuring that there were no undulations in the landscape or inconsistencies in the soil. To fully exploit the site’s potential, the Skinner’s brought in renowned viticulturalists and wine consultants from California and France who helped devise the 2004 planting strategy. Recognizing the success of Bordeaux varietals, they prepared the soil for the finest vinifera from Bordeaux. Along with the primary red components of the classic Bordeaux blends, they included a small planting of Malbec and Petite Verdot to provide spice for their blend and to broaden their blending options. They also planted a single block of Chardonnay.
The primary influence on the Painted Rock grapes is the cool air that flows down from the mountains. This wind ensures that nothing sits still, creating an active site that reduces rot and infestation in the vineyard. The cool mountain air then collides with the lake, making for warm days and cool nights, a perfect recipe for ripening grapes and retaining bright acidity. The amphitheatre of rock cushions the land, creating another formidable site influence that encourages heat retention. With the sun bouncing off the lake, Painted Rock reaps the benefits of being on a sloped hill so close to the lake. When the sun goes down in the West, the reflection and glare from the lake impacts the fruit, especially the Malbec and Petite Verdot varietals that gain complexity and colour from the magnified light. This reinforces the saying that great wines are produced near great waters. With more sunlight hours than neighbouring wineries, Painted Rock is literally drenched in light.
“What distinguishes Painted Rock from other wineries is as simple as the dirt. The estate property where the wines are grown is unparalleled. We have the right combination of the lake, the elevation and the rock bluffs, as well as the quality of the soil.” Lauren Skinner.
Young wineries, like Painted Rock, are also challenging the industry to change their environmental practices without compromising the quality of the wines. With a strong message of sustainability and a primary focus on quality, Painted Rock is set to become a leader in the industry. Their initiatives include crafting their bottles from a light eco glass that has reduced their shipping weight by more than 20%. They are also looking to biodynamic agriculture to understand new ways that they can minimize their carbon footprint when harvesting grapes and producing wines. Painted Rock is also exploring initiatives like geothermal energy, wind power, and solar heating as they plan on building a sustainable resort development.
“Painted Rock is a stunning vineyard with major potential.” Anthony Gismondi
Great wines reflect the quality of the land, the climate and the people that bring everything to fruition. Working with some of the world’s top winemakers, Painted Rock is quickly achieving a cult status within B.C.’s wine community. It is through collaboration that Painted Rock is stepping out from the crowds. Working with a diverse and skilled team, Painted Rock encourages each individual involved to add their own experience to the collective. The Okanagan has been producing good wines, and now there is an opportunity to produce great wines. Painted Rock is extremely optimistic about the potential for the Okanagan and particularly optimistic about their role in this exciting winemaking community. John and Trish Skinner are not only making wines for their family and friends to enjoy, they are intent on making iconic wines that will be savoured for generations to come.
by Andrew Morrison | The thing about pieces of junk old English cars is that you can’t keep them garaged. You need to drive them fast over long distances from time to time or they get offended. If they get angry, which isn’t out of the ordinary, they can demand $4000 to pass on to a wily mechanic named Felix who finds it no end of amusing that you don’t know the first thing about automobiles (like stubborn horses, they just won’t go unless you feed them). It was with that in mind that I politely declined to join a gaggle of journalists with my wife on a flight up to the South Okanagan. I’d much prefer to drive the 792km round trip, and nevermind that it was going to be so hot that reptiles would burn and Pirelli rubber would turn to Bovril. Some carefully considered music and an unreliable sunroof would help me ignore such things, and in case the brittle engine decided to suddenly get cruelly interesting, there was a bottle of 2009 Blended Coolant from Chateau Canadian Tire in the trunk. Read more