Skip & Judy Stothert, Owners & Vineyard Managers
Matt Dumayne, Winemaker, Okanagan Crush Pad
Steve Latchford, Winemaker, Okanagan Crush Pad
Pedro Parra, Terroir Specialist & Consultant
Coolshanagh – A Celebration of Terroir
A small vineyard on the north Naramata Bench creating buzz in the wine world, Coolshanagh Vineyard is being noted for its exceptional terroir. Planted in 2004 and 2009 to select clones of Chardonnay and in 2009 and 2011 to specific clones of Pinot Noir, this site is a shining example of what this terroir can produce.
The Coolshanagh Vineyard is located on a plot of land that had never before been cultivated. It offers a south westerly exposure on the east side of Okanagan Lake. This location allows for the reflective benefits of the lake during the hot growing season and a moderating effect during the winters. The location on the eastern side of the lake allows for increased sunlight on the vineyard until late evening, followed by cool night air drafting down from the 3000-ft. Okanagan Mountain, which rises sharply behind the vineyard. The vineyard is perfectly sloped for water and air drainage, as well as great sun exposure, which is especially important in the fall ripening season.
Coolshanagh Vineyard is planted on one of the most distinct soil structures in the Okanagan Valley. It is this unique soil that is arguably the greatest singular factor that contributes to the wine’s style and flavour. This diversity includes a more common silt and clay-type soil, which transcends into rocky boulder-laden glacial soil. That stone is filled with limestone and calcium carbonate, which feeds the vines, granting steely mineral flavours in the finished wine. Not only do these rocks feed the vines but they also offer additional heat and light reflectivity to the vines. Elements of decomposed mother rock and seams of alluvial calcareous gravel combine to allow for good drainage, critically important to allow the roots to grow deep underground in search of water.
Coolshanagh Vineyard is committed to sustainable farming and is in transition to total organic viticulture. The winery uses organic chicken manure as fertilizer which enriches the soil with nitrogen. In 2014, a nitrogen-rich red clover was introduced as a cover crop in the vineyard that will help control weed growth while providing nutrients to the soil. Metal posts are used exclusively in the vineyard and all sprays are organic. After crush, the leftover grapes are turned into compost.
In 2014 renowned terroir specialist Dr. Pedro Parra visited the vineyard and in his consultation he observed that Coolshanagh offers some of the best exposure and soil structures for grape growing he had seen in the Okanagan so far. He noted that the soil is much like the Burgundian soils of Meursault, co-incidentally being on the same latitude of Coolshanagh, and claimed that the Coolshanagh Vineyard is among the top 15% in the world. Based on the observations of soil structure and clones planted, he has prescribed an irrigation regime and a precision viticulture approach to coincide with the transition to organic farming. Upon subsequent visits, Dr. Parra further recommended a disking and tilling regime to expose the rocky limestone, forcing the roots down further in search of nutrients, lessening the need for added inputs.
The grapes were initially sold to neighbouring wineries including Foxtrot, and the first vintage under the Coolshanagh label was the 2012 Chardonnay, made at Okanagan Crush Pad. It’s at this custom-crush winemaking facility that chief winemaker Matt Dumayne and winemaker Steve Latchford’s skilled hands interpret this special place and bring forth what has now become one of British Columbia’s most coveted wines.
While each vintage offers variation that reflect the growing year, the winemaking sees grapes fermented in whole clusters in French oak to impart elegant structure, with the balance fermented in concrete egg-shaped vessels and left on lees “until it is ready” says winemaker Matt Dumayne. This can mean the wine is in concrete for 11 months or more.
The finished wine style is a distinctive combination of bright, nimble acidity and solid weightiness. The vineyard is unmistakably present in this wine, with its stony complexity and bright fruit evoking the rocky sub soils of the site.
From 2014 vintage Coolshanagh has also started production of Pinot Noir, but at less than 100 cases the volume is so small that these wines are sold out before they ever make it to market.
93 POINTS “This is the most elegant Coolshanagh yet, offering electric acidity, creamy lees textures and rich layered apple/pear with some of the best French oak framing I have experienced in the Okanagan. Wow.” — ANTHONY GISMONDI, OCTOBER 13, 2018
93 POINTS “Such lovely texture and purity of fruit on the palate with creamy, bready pear/apple notes, citrus, minerals and well-integrated spice that’s all lifted by firm acidity on the finish. Just a gorgeous, personable Chardonnay.” — RICK VANSICKLE, OCTOBER 21, 2018
93 POINTS “This elegant wine has aromas and flavours of citrus and apple with very subtle oak, bright acidity and a spine of minerality. The flavours are fresh and focused, supported with good texture.” — JOHN SCHREINER, OCTOBER 4, 2018