Hillside Winery may be new as a My Wine Canada partner winery, but they’re certainly no spring chicken when it comes to producing great-quality whites and reds in the Okanagan Valley.
Winemaker Kathy Malone and her team have been producing top-shelf wines on the Naramata bench for years, taking advantage of the southwest-facing vineyards and the area’s glacial soils to make compelling wines. And with all their wines made using grapes sourced from the bench since 2014, Hillside wines offer a great opportunity to taste what the region brings in the bottle.
The winery was instrumental in helping move B.C. wines forward — they and a couple of other small wineries lobbied the provincial government for the right to sell their wines directly from their winery, and were one of the first to do so after the laws were changed. They’ve since fleshed out their portfolio, which is good news for those ordering through MWC.
The winery’s focus is on white grapes such as Pinot Gris, Viognier and Gewürztraminer, while primary red grapes include Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah. Their 2013 Merlot Malbec is driven by the former grape, and brings big dark fruit notes as well as subtle notes from French oak.
Want to visit the winery? Wind your way up Naramata Road and look for the 70+-foot tower. But if you can’t make it there, get their wine to come to you via My Wine Canada and park it on your own patio with their 2015 Rosé. This Merlot-based pink wine is deep in colour and is alive with juicy red berry and cherry notes. It’s one of those wines that’s remarkably food-friendly — try it with salads, hors d’oeuvres, milder cheeses, salmon, grilled seafood, milder pork dishes, sushi… you get the idea.
Hillside’s also the only winery in B.C. producing Muscat Ottonel, and has been making wine from the aromatic grape for three decades. The 2014 Muscat Ottonel is a dry, light-bodied and highly aromatic white wine with dominant stone fruit and spice notes that are hard to match from the Okanagan Valley.
Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson is the wine columnist and literary editor for the Winnipeg Free Press. He’s on Twitter and Instagram at @bensigurdson.