The weather in 2016 was a little challenging. We had unusual rainfall patterns with rain in June and July, which led to disease pressures and extended spray programs. August and early September were very dry, leading to some water stress in the A Block Pinot Noir. There was a silver lining however, the Pinot Noir from the A Block was of unexpectedly high quality and we can look forward to a 2016 Somenos Series Pinot Noir from this fruit.
Looking Back, Highlights from 2016:
Averill Brut Release: Averill Creek finally saw the release of our 1st and so far only Method Traditional sparkling wine; Averill Brut. This is a classic, vintage Champagne-style wine, aged “sur lie” for 3 ½ years with a rich, toasty, butterscotch nose, complex creamy middle palate and long stimulating, acidic finish. Averill Brut is only available through the winery or the Averill Creek online store.
Introducing the Somenos Series: Our vineyard has matured enough to release a new premium collection of wines, which we have named “The Somenos Series”. These are clone select and barrel select wines from good vintages. The series will include, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Foch Cab and Tawny.
Medals: Our 2012 Pinot Noir was awarded a Bronze medal at “The Drinks Business” 2016 Global Pinot Noir Masters in London. In 2017 our Somenos Series 2014 Pinot Noir won a silver medal at the same competition. We were surprised and proud to see this new wine awarded such accolades in its 1st year of release. Just 300 cases of 2014 Somenos Pinot Noir were produced.
New Sales Channels: In 2016 we achieved new milestones in capacity and sales. We are now reaching an annual production capacity of 6500 cases. Our summer wines, Pinot Grigio, Rosé and Foch Eh continue to sell out within the season. Our barrel aged wines are also in high demand. Last year we sold out of both our 2012 and 2013 Pinot Noir and our 2014 Pinot Gris.
Many of our wines are now registered with the BC VQA which allows us to sell through a new sales channel; grocery stores. Look for our wines on the shelves of select Save on Foods locations and other grocery stores as their new wine shops begin to open.
We have dramatically increased our presence in Vancouver and Whistler with many local chefs discovering how well the exciting flavours of high acid Vancouver Island wines pair with their menus. The Charme de L’ile, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir are now being poured by the glass in many Vancouver area restaurants.
Looking Forward, New developments for the year ahead:
Introducing Kutatás Wines:
Our winemaking team of Daniel Dragert and Mira Tusz continue to produce great wines for Averill Creek. This year we will be supporting their new venture, a winemaker’s label called Kutatás. Both Daniel and Mira have Hungarian roots and Kutatás is a Hungarian term for research or quest. The name is representative of their quest to produce cellar worthy, textural and unique wines, using small scale “minimal interventionist” winemaking. Currently Daniel and Mira manage a small vineyard on the Saanich Peninsula, growing Pinot Noir and Ortega. Their long term focus is the production of world class, method traditional sparkling wines and their 2015 method traditional should be released sometime late 2019. By then it will have spent a year in barrel and many months in bottle sur lie; it will certainly be well worth the wait. This summer watch for Kutatás Ortega, Rosé and Pinot Gris offered at farmer’s markets alongside the Averill Creek brand.
Averill Creek continues to receive high praise for our Pinot Noir & Pinot Gris. Both were selected this year by Gismondi on Wine as the Top 10 in BC while the Somenos Noir was also chosen as one of the Top 10 in the Next World. We have also been invited to attend the BC Pinot Noir Celebration in August and hope to host a Cowichan Valley Pinot Noir tasting event in late June.
The world seems to be telling us that our future is in the Pinots and we have decided to start moving our vineyard further in this direction. In the spring of 2017 we are beginning this transition by pulling out a couple of acres of Marechal Foch and replanting it with Pinot Gris, Pinot Meunier and Clone 76 Pinot Chardonnay. This is a clone of Chardonnay that will be very suitable for sparkling wines. We hope to expand our sparkling wine program in the future with more Charmat Process and Method Traditional wines.
In May, Wendy & I will be travelling to London to attend the 2017 Canada Tasting hosted by the Canadian High Commission to the UK. We are among just 35 producers from across Canada that are invited to participate and we are proud to be chosen to represent the industry. This is an excellent opportunity for us to introduce our premium Somenos Series wines to the UK wine media, as high profile wine writers Jancis Robinson, Oz Clarke and Hugh Johnson are expected to be in attendance.