Perched on the Okanagan Valley’s Naramata Bench, the property that would become Lang Vineyards was purchased by Guenther and Kristina Lang, just as winds of change were blowing through British Columbian wine country. Up until that time, the majority of what was planted in the area were hybrid varieties, known for their hardiness in cooler climates and often gamey flavour profile. It was right around that time that the “Becker Project” was transpiring, when German wine scientist Dr. Helmut Becker was doing experiments and trials with vitis vinifera varieties, your Rieslings, Gewürztraminers, Pinot Noirs and the like. When these trials were deemed a success, and there was the recognition that we could indeed properly grow and ripen these popular global varieties, the federal government provided a financial incentive to vineyard owners to pull out their hybrid varieties and replace them with vinifera.
This tidal change to the B.C. wine industry is in large part what has made it into the success story it is today, and the same rings true for Lang Vineyards. In the late-eighties, another government move created the farm gate winery license, allowing smaller growers to produce their own wine and sell it from their property. Lang was the first winery in the province to receive this license.
In subsequent years, the winery grew in scope as sister wineries under the same ownership opened their doors along the Naramata Bench. In 2005, Guenther sold off all of the properties, but as things can go in this business where it’s often a passion project, one can only stay away for so long.
2010 saw Guenther return to Lang Vineyards as a consultant and his nephew Mike at the helm as general manager. Things have come full circle, as the winery is now back to being a small producer of well-crafted wines of place.
While all of their wines offer purity of fruit, courtesy of the sunny and hot west-facing proximity of the Naramata Bench, there is also bright acidity that comes from a big diurnal temperature swing that sees very cool nights after those very warm days. My favourite wines from Lang Vineyards, and the favourites of many, have always been their Rieslings. Their Farm Reserve label has wonderful stone fruit and honeyed richness, while the Legacy Series is a little crisper and dry, abundant with Granny Smith apple. Grab yourself a few bottles and enjoy each sip of B.C. wine heritage!
Kurtis Kolt is a Vancouver-based wine consultant, writer, competition judge and enthusiast. Track him down at KurtisKolt.com, or on Twitter and Instagram @KurtisKolt