Dale Wright and Jeraldine Estin started Eau Vivre Winery in 2009 in one of Canada's hottest emerging wine regions: the Similkameen Valley. The Similkameen is much less developed and populated than the Okanagan Valley—with less than a tenth of the vineyard area and still less than twenty wineries, it very much feels like the farm and orchard country that it is. The Similkameen is also one of the most sustainable and organic farming capitals of Canada with an estimated 42% of all crops grown organically. The climate's dry heat, long hours of sunlight and steady wind naturally keep air circulating and the crops clear of pests and rot. The soils here are complex and varied, with alluvial, glacial deposits, and granite. It is also a stunning valley with a backdrop of the Cascade Mountains.
Eau Vivre grows a portion of the grapes they use on their one-hectare estate vineyard, including Gewürztraminer, and they source the rest from select growers throughout the valley. One example is the Riesling they get from the great Ladyhawke Vineyard. Winemaker Anthony Buchanan's portfolio is rooted in fresh and aromatic whites like Gewürztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling, as well as the Lieutenant Governor's Award-winning Pinot Noir. He also makes a Cabernet Franc, Malbec and a Bordeaux blend called Buddhafull. Eau Vivre is a smaller winery; in 2014 they produced 3000 cases of wine.
On a recent tasting through the Eau Vivre portfolio, I appreciated the vibrancy and springtime freshness of the 2013 Gewürztraminer and 2013 Riesling. Both wines are off-dry, but with so much balancing acidity, you would hardly notice. The Gewürztraminer has plenty of floral notes with poached pear, orange rind and rosewater. The Riesling, which is easily my favourite from the line-up, is intense and zippy with characters of green apple, lime, and an undertone of crushed-rock minerality. These whites are also a great value at under $20.
The 2012 Cabernet Franc and 2010 Buddhafull are both between medium and full-bodied reds, but again, a great fresh acidity keeps them light-on-their-feet and tasting less weighty than they actually are (13% and 14.1% alcohol). The Cabernet Franc does a great job of striking a balance between the dark, smoky and meaty characters that Cab Franc is known for, and vibrant berry fruit notes. The Buddhafull blends Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Syrah with complexity, structure, and purity of fruit that should give it the ability to age.
Check out more from Eau Vivre on My Wine Canada, or stop by the winery on your next drive through the Similkameen Valley.
With a relatively small case production, Eau Vivre wines can be difficult to find. Luckily, Eau Vivre is My Wine Canada's featured winery of the month! Register by April 15 to have Eau Vivre's delicious wines delivered straight to your door this month!
Jake Skakun is a writer and sommelier from Vancouver, currently living in Toronto. He can be found most days pulling corks and twisting caps at the Black Hoof. He Tweets and Instagrams @jakeskakun.