Wine Club Feature: 50th Parallel Estate

A sense of place is crucial to any successful wine/winery, and it’s clear 50th Parallel Estate has embraced this notion in spades.

Proprietors Curtis Krouzel and Sheri-Lee Turner-Krouzel have been in the Okanagan Valley for over a decade, first planting 10 acres of vines by hand in 2009 on what would become their Lake Country-region winery. Their now-61-acre property is located north of Kelowna near Lake Okanagan, where winemakers Grant Stanley and Matt Fortuna make wines from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewürztraminer — all grapes that thrive in Lake Country’s relatively cooler climate.

The winery’s rise has been impressive; their inaugural 2011 vintage saw them produce just 700 cases of wine, while last year they pumped out an impressive 14,000 cases. This month, 50th Parallel Estate is proud to be the featured winery for our lucky wine club members.  Check out which wines you'll receive this month and subscribe by Wednesday, Mar. 15!

Pinot Noir is the lone red grape made by the winery, making up over one third of the winery’s production, going into both red and rosé wines. It’s a grape on which the winery has staked its reputation — with glowing results.

The winery is set to transform over the next couple of years, including the addition of a restaurant, wine cave system, events space and more. Also in the works is a traditional method sparkling wine program; based on the still wines they’re currently making, expect very good things.

Among the wines they’re currently making are a handful of whites that are garnering plenty of attention. The 50th Parallel 2015 Gewürztraminer brings intense spice, orange rind, peach, lemon curd and mango aromas. On the palate it’s on the lighter side and a shade off dry, with a great viscous texture that works well with intense tropical fruit, ripe citrus and spice flavours.

50th Parallel’s 2015 Pinot Gris, meanwhile, has won plenty of hardware at wine competitions, and it’s easy to see (and taste) why. Aromatically the red apple, honeysuckle, peach and pear notes are enticing; on the medium-bodied palate those fruit flavours pick up hints of vanilla and spice thanks to some malolactic fermentation and aging in older oak.

The bread and butter at 50th Parallel Estate is their 2014 Pinot Noir, and the 2014 vintage shows beautifully. Made from six different clones of the grape that were individually fermented, aromas of ripe cherry, raspberry, espresso and more complex forest floor and spice are textbook cooler-climate Pinot. On the light-plus bodied palate those red fruit notes show well, fleshed out by earth and blueberry notes as well as white pepper and black tea components that come with the lean but firm tannins. It’s unfined and unfiltered, and is drinking well now but would also benefit from a couple of years in the cellar.

50th Parallel Estates is the featured winery in this month’s wine club selections — act now and get these wines delivered to your door!

Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson is the wine columnist and literary editor for the Winnipeg Free Press. He’s on Twitter and Instagram at @bensigurdson.