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Pinotage

A tasting at Cornucopia, in Whistler, showcased the wines of modern South Africa. Featured were two intriguing Pinotages, KWV Café Culture and The Grinder. A South African specialty, the red grape is also grown successfully by a small contingent in the Okanagan.

In 1925, Stellenbosch University viticulturist A. I. Perold gave birth to Pinotage when he crossed Pinot Noir with Cinsaut, a Rhône variety, then known as Hermitage in South Africa. Its fame skyrocketed in 1991 when Kanonkop’s 1989 Pinotage was judged the world’s Best Red Wine at London’s International Wine & Spirit Competition, and its winemaker, Beyers Truter, was named International Winemaker of the year. For many oenophiles, Pinotage is the South African equivalent of Zinfandel in California, Shiraz in Australia and Malbec in Argentina.

The grape got its start in the Okanagan in 1996 when Paul Moser, a South African immigrant, planted cuttings as he established Naramata’s Lake Breeze Vineyards. Although Moser has since sold, he left the indelible stamp of his homeland — Pinotage vines, white-washed, Cape-style buildings and winemaker Garron Elmes. The Cape Town native made the first Lake Breeze vintage and continues as winemaker 17 years later.

In another part of the Okanagan, Chris Turton started replacing apple trees with vines, including Pinotage. From a family of long-time fruit growers in South Kelowna, Turton eventually planted six hectares of Pinotage and hired South African Willem Semmelink as vineyard manager. Owned by Jennifer and Kent Molgat and Chris Turton (Jennifer’s dad), The View Winery & Vineyard opened in 2008. It is housed in a splendidly solid heritage packing house built by Jennifer’s grandfather, George Ward, in the 1930s.

At the south end of the Valley, Lanny Martiniuk planted a Pinotage block in 1998 in sandier soil “that warms easily, aiding ripening while gently restricting growth.” A major supplier of vines to other growers, Martiniuk owns three vineyards in the Lower Black Sage totaling 20 hectares under vine, eight in Pinotage. In 2007, he launched Stoneboat Vineyards with his wife Julie and sons Jay, Tim and Chris.

2 Responses to “Pinotage”

  1. Paul says:

    I learned a lot from this article. Thanks.

  2. admin says:

    thank-you

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