Maverick Estate Winery (3974 Highway 97)
Winemaker and viticulturist Bertus Albertyn says he practises a “back to the future” approach at his family-owned winery in the South Okanagan.
“I’m not very fond of using fertilizers and chemicals,” the South African expat told the Straight by phone. “We’re really making wine in a very traditional, Old World style.”
After obtaining a degree in viticulture and oenology from Stellenbosch University, he went to work for South Africa’s giant Wellington Co-op Wine Cellar. Then he was employed by a small, family-owned winery.
His wife, Elzaan, graduated from the same university with a medical degree, and she was eager to rejoin her family in Canada.
In 2005, her parents, Schalk de Witt and Lynn Safroniuk, bought a 20-hectare grape-growing site north of Osoyoos. Four years later, Albertyn and Elzaan joined them to create Maverick Estate Winery.
“This is an old organic-fruit farm,” Albertyn said. “We had the ability to start it from scratch.”
After arriving in Canada, Albertyn made wine for Burrowing Owl. The first vintage at Maverick was created in 2011; nowadays, the winery produces about 5,000 cases a year. Albertyn said the family focused on growing grapes that were best suited for the desert soil near Osoyoos.
“So we’re growing mainly Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, and Syrah,” he noted. “Those are our four main varietals.”
In addition to single-varietal wines, there’s a sparkling wine, Ella, that blends 20 percent Chardonnay with 80 percent Pinot Noir. Its spring release will be celebrated at the winery on May 14 and 15.
“We have a fully operational tasting room,” Albertyn said. “Starting in May, we’ll be open seven days a week from about 11 in the morning until 5:30 in the afternoon. We also have a small patio outside, which is licensed. You can bring your own food and sit outside and have a glass of wine.”
When asked if he had anything else to say, he replied: “We want to hit home that it’s a family-oriented business. We want to create really good-quality wine.”
Signature wine: “Each variety is unique and gives you their own challenges,” Albertyn said. “By the time you go through the process of learning all these grape varieties and how to make them, you have to love all of them. I wouldn’t be able to pick one.”