by Treve Ring | Boutique is almost too big to describe Little Farm, a family owned and operated winery in the striking Similkameen Valley. Unmarked by road signage, down a quiet road off the Crowsnest Highway in Cawston, you’ll come across four acres of organic vineyards, abutted by steep, rocky slopes and marked by the sole mulberry tree in the middle of the riesling block. A child’s chalkboard sign signals when their hand-built winery/tasting room/storage facility is open, a structure recently constructed next to their century-old farmhouse.
Rhys Pender MW works the estate vineyard while his wife Alishan Driediger makes the wines. They do everything themselves — sustainably, small-scale, without compromise but with minimal manipulation and intervention. Their first vintage in 2011 was more than some large wineries spill in a harvest – just 56 cases. The quantity has fluctuated with each vintage since, but the quality remains paramount. They produce only three wines: Riesling, Rosé, and this characterful, singular Chardonnay.
The wine opens with an intriguing wild herb and stone, earthy lees and floral thistles. A textured mid-palate hints to the low yields, whole cluster press and partial wild ferment that Alishan utilized, while the slicing, savoury minerality communicates the chalky, mineral-rich soils. Pressed apple, lees, hazelnuts and citrus unite through the lingering finish. Only 68 cases of the 2013 Chardonnay were produced, so scoop it if you spy it so you can glean a sense of their Similkameen. I asked Driediger to share its Message In A Bottle…
Little Farm Winery Chardonnay 2013 | Similkameen Valley, BC | $30 +841783
Straight up – why did you make this wine? I love Chardonnay! In all its incarnations. And we’ve been really interested in Chards that come from soils that are chalky and calcium carbonate-rich because we also have a high amount of calcium carbonate in our soils. I think it’s really interesting to taste the minerality in Chards from places like Chablis and Limarí, Chile. We wanted to make a Chard that shows the mineral influence of our soil and the unique terroir of the Similkameen Valley, so our winemaking is very minimal and light-handed.
Where are the grapes from? The grapes are from our 5 acre property in Cawston. We have 2 acres of Chardonnay and 2 acres of Riesling. We’re growing organically and trying to encourage lots of biodiversity in it. It’s a happy, healthy, sunny place – full of birds, insects, indigenous plants and windflowers.
Your ideal pairing with this wine would be…? Freshly shucked oysters! Or a delicious rotisserie chicken from our friend’s farm, stuffed with lemons, and really crispy skin…
Favourite BC wine, other than yours? We share a lot of meals and good wine with John and Virginia from Orofino and we love their wines. In particular, I really enjoy their Chardonnay and Home Vineyard Riesling. I think you can really taste the Similkameen in them. It’s really interesting to taste some distinct flavour similarities from our shared terroir!
What do you drink when you’re not drinking BC wine? I kind of default to Chardonnay, Riesling and Rosé when I go wine shopping. I love them and it’s interesting to see what’s going on with these wines internationally and where we fit in the scheme of things. And I also love fizzy water. We got a Soda Stream a couple of years ago and I’m always drinking fizzy water with lots of lemon in it.