12 December 2007

Stoneboat finds Pinotage has Great Potential in Okanagan

Stoneboat Vineyards in Canada's Okanagan Valley has five acres of Pinotage, some of which were planted several years ago along with some newer three year old vines and their first varietal Pinotage, from the 2005 vintage, is currently on sale.

Owner Lanny Martiniuk tells me that "the reception to the varietal has been overwhelmingly positive, despite the fact that most people are unfamiliar with it. Once they try it, we find that people quite like it; it was our best-seller in the wine shop this summer.

Our 2006 is close to being in bottle. We are in the midst of blending this vintage, and will likely release it in the new year. We're very pleased with how it is turning out. The 2007 vintage looks very promising, we're really happy with the fruit and how it is evolving in barrel. There was a somewhat smaller crop this year because of a long period of cold (-25) in the winter; flavours were nicely developed and concentrated in the berries as a result. We are determined to improve upon the wine each vintage, and we still have much to learn from it, especially since our climate and growing techniques differ so much from those in South Africa."

Lanny first encountered Pinotage when Lake Breeze Vineyards -- who were the first vineyard to plant Pinotage in Canada, asked him to propagate some vines for them from South African cuttings. Lanny says "The varietal sounded interesting, so I retained a plant for myself and watched it grow for a few years, during which time we sampled various South African Pinotages and liked their flavours.

The hardiness of the plant was appealing also and we were very happy with the fruit it produced, so we decided to plant more of it. I tissue cultured the one plant that we had and grew more from that."

Lanny says "We believe Pinotage has great potential in the Okanagan, and we really enjoy it both as a vine and as a wine."

The winery's unusual name refers to the flat sledge, pictured on their label, used for carrying stones. A stoneboat was originally used to clear their Home Vineyard of its abundant river rocks, and the name is a tribute to the original caretakers of the Home Vineyard, who had to clear the land of its rocks in order to cultivate it and represents the valued qualities of hard work and tradition.

Julie and Lanny Martiniuk started farming in 1979 with purchase of a 15-acre orchard which they have now expanded to nearly 50 acres in which they have three vineyards growing a number of varieties. They produce under their own label Pinots Noir, Blanc, and Gris varietals plus two blends, as well as Pinotage. Lanny sat sat on the British Columbia Grape Marketing Board for several years and was a founding member of the BC Wine Institute. Lanny also runs a grapevine propagation business, which has produced hundreds of thousands of vines for wineries and vineyards across BC.

Full details of Stoneboat's Pinotage and other wines can be found at http://www.stoneboatvineyards.com/


  1. Peter, since we last communicated, I have tasted another entry into the BC Pinotage line-up and it is very good indeed. This one is from Inniskillin, which is part of Vincor, which is now part of Constellation.I have a link here that takes you to Jurgen Gothe's wine review page.
    Somewhat surprising is Jurgen's believe that this may be Canada's first Pinotage. I guess we need more Pinotage fans here in BC

  2. It appears that not all of the link shows up in my previous comment.
    where it shows inniskillin-ok the following is to be added after the ok