Bartier Bros. (4821 Ryegrass Road, Oliver)
Winemaker Michael Bartier is a stickler for growing the right types of grapes to match the terroir, which he defines as all natural influences on a site, including soil, climate, and even the types of yeast that are present.
In a phone interview with the Georgia Straight, he acknowledged that his Cerqueira Vineyard in Oliver is “lousy” for Cabernet Sauvignon. So he didn’t plant any of those vines there.
“Our site is outstanding for Cabernet Franc, Sémillon, and other varieties as well,” Bartier said. “We’ve done a very good job, I think, of matching up the terroir to the grape varieties.”
In 2009, he and his brother, Don, an accountant, formed Bartier Bros. to operate two vineyards. (The second is in Summerland.) Last year, they built their own winery, which produces 3,000 cases annually. This came after Bartier had created several award-winning wines for other companies.
“There’s a lot of science and there’s a lot of intuition and instinct, as well,” Bartier said of his work. “But I’ll tell you, it’s a pile of hard work. I finished our pruning this morning. That’s a two-month job. I’m thrilled.”
Bartier said that he doesn’t “make” wine, he grows it. This philosophy reflects the importance of farming in the overall process.
He pointed out that there’s an “incredibly collaborative network” in the Oliver-Osoyoos area. And he insisted that other wineries are not his competitors, they’re his colleagues.
“Really, if the region doesn’t have credibility, no winery will have credibility,” Bartier said. “You need more than just a cluster of wineries. You need a cluster of really good wineries.”
Visitors to his tasting room are presented with “outstanding educational materials”.
“Once in a while, we’ll have a jazz trio out on the deck,” he said. “But we want people to get value, primarily through understanding wine and understanding the Okanagan. Typically, what we do revolves around those themes.”
Signature wine: Bartier Bros.’ Sémillon is created from grapes grown in the Cerqueira Vineyard.