Look up at the sky on a clear night and you’re likely to spot the constellation Perseus.
Look down at the south end of the Naramata Bench in BC’s Okanagan Valley and you’re likely to spot the winery of the same name. The tasting bar is located in a gorgeously re-purposed house from the 1950s, and looks west out and over Lake Okanagan.
Launched in 2009, the winery has been operated by Terrabella Wineries Ltd. since 2011. Initially under the stewardship of the Keremeos-based Herder Winery winemaker Lawrence Herder, winemaker Jason Parkes is now at the helm.
While many consider Penticton - and the south Naramata Bench, more specifically - to be Perseus’ home, the winery has been working extensively with vineyards and their growers throughout the valley and beyond — including the burgeoning Similkameen Valley.
Parkes and his team do a fantastic job at examining each of the 17 vineyard sites throughout the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys to determine what grows best where from year to year.
In their relatively short existence, Perseus has become known for producing great-quality whites and reds for very reasonable prices. White wines such as the 2011 Select Lots Chardonnay offer remarkable purity of fruit with just a touch of oak aging, while the 2012 Pinot Gris, sourced primarily from the home vineyard at Lower Bench Road, offers crisp, clean stone fruit and floral notes and modest underlying minerality.
Perseus’ 2013 Viognier, at the $15 price point, may just be one of the best values on the My Wine Canada website. Sourced from the Similkameen Valley, the combination of ripe stone fruit with complex spice notes and great viscosity make this a can’t-miss white that pairs with so many foods.
On the red wine side of things, one of the best-value BC reds I’ve tasted in some time is the 2012 Cabernet Shiraz. A gold-medal winner at WineAlign’s National Wine Awards of Canada, this $20 wine was able to hold its own against wines clocking in at twice the price.
The 2012 Merlot is no slouch either. A gold-medal winner at the 2014 All-Canadian Wine Championship, this red, whose fruit is sourced from the Similkameen Valley, possesses complexity to go along with the up-front black fruit flavours well beyond its price point.
Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson is the wine columnist and literary editor for the Winnipeg Free Press. He’s on Twitter and Instagram at @bensigurdson.