In this Okanagan Crush Pad interview, David Scholefield explains why their new vineyard is perhaps the most ambitious plantation yet in an already extreme region. OCP’s David Scholefield has been in the wine industry since the 80s and seen how wine consumption and wine production has evolved over the decades. In this candid interview, he talks about the history of Canadian wine production and how it has changed for the better including a growing commitment to organic viticulture, which is one of the pillars of winemaking at Okanagan Crush Pad.
Amanda Barnes also interviews him on what makes Okanagan Valley terroir unique in the world, its wine character and the new frontiers for winemaking in an already extreme wine region. Find out why Okanagan might be the envy of the wine world in this full-length Okanagan Crush Pad interview:
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Okanagan Crush Pad interview clip excerpt for the hearing impaired:
Amanda Barnes: What is distinctive about Okanagan wine? What is the character that contributes…
David Scholefield: We used to have a terrible inferiority complex about being so far north. California is the land of milk and honey and it is south and they have palm trees and we don’t… but now we realise actually, with or without climate change (and of course it is very much with climate change) that there is something special about growing here, from the point of view of the grapes. Plants crave light, and the farther north you go the longer the days are. So, something that is unique about this place is that we have very, very long hours of daylight, three and a half hours more than in California in the peak of the growing season. That is very, very interesting. So, what we get is we get wines with very precise, very clear flavours, but wines that are very light, and fresh and juicy. Our wines are built on fresh, natural acid, and really that is the envy of a lot of regions in the world. It is easy to get sugars and alcohol, but we get this natural juicy freshness which we think is kind of special.
Amanda Barnes: Excellent. And it is 6.30pm, when you talked about light, it is 6.30pm now and we still have a couple hours of light left here!
David Scholefield: Oh, for sure.
Amanda Barnes: This vineyard that we are in is a very special one for the project. Because this is not only the highest altitude vineyard in Canada, and possibly North America, but it is also pushing Okanagan Valley to further extremes… Can you explain a bit about the limits that we have here?
David Scholefield: Well, first of all. We’re… In the Okanagan we are far north to begin with, we are 50 degrees north in latitude. The pioneers here always said that grape growing is absolutely impossible where the vines couldn’t see the lake, and here there is no bloody lake! So the immediate assumption is that everything will freeze solid in the winter. But, not quite! And that’s a really interesting thing. Even as we are standing here you can feel this slight breeze. And all day, every day, there’s air moving here. And that happens very importantly in the winter. When warm air from the lake comes up over the mountain here and then washes down over the vineyard, and so far nothing has frozen. And that’s this very subtle, very delicate thing of this, it is the movement of air from one end of the valley to the other. And it’s what Alan York always used to say: “Wine is about shit you can’t see!”