Road 13 Vineyards gained a reputation with Chenin Blanc, but looks to the future with Syrah

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      Road 13 Vineyards (799 Ponderosa Road, Oliver)

      Even though Road 13 Vineyards has emerged as one of the more successful wineries in the Oliver-Osoyoos area, no one can accuse general manager Joe Luckhurst of developing any airs.

      “Our motto is that it’s all about the dirt,” Luckhurst told the Straight by phone.

      According to him, the best wines are created from vineyards, which is why his family-owned company puts a “ton of man-hours” into this work.

      “We farm very, very hard,” he said. “And we say 'dirt' rather than 'terroir' because it just feels a bit more genuine for us.”

      Luckhurst grew up in Lantzville on Vancouver Island, where his parents, Mick and Pam, were in the logging and lumber business. After operating a construction business in Alberta for a couple of years, they bought a summer home beside Osoyoos Lake.

      His father noticed there were wineries in the area, and one day he decided that he wanted to get into the business. In 2003, Mick bought a small operation that was creating about 700 cases a year.

      “He’s always been a hard worker and the kind of guy who likes to work with his hands,” Luckhurst said. “The idea of the vineyard and farming really appealed to him.”

      In 2008, the business was rebranded as Road 13 Vineyards, and according to Luckhurst, it’s producing about 40,000 cases per year.

      “We host dinners every month in our executive lounge, which is a fancy new building we built in 2011,” he noted. “Those are really nice, fun, big five-course meals with a different wine pairing with each [serving].”

      There are also two tasting rooms, including one that features high-end, small-lot wines.

      Luckhurst pointed out there are no bad views in his part of the province, before noting that Road 13 Vineyards has one of the best.

      One of the winery’s series is named Honest John’s after former B.C. premier John Oliver, who ruled from 1918 to 1927. Luckhurst said he was known for his integrity as well as for extending irrigation in the area. The town of Oliver was named after him.

      “If we’re going to give our wines a proprietary name, it has to be based on the land or the history of the land around us,” he stated. “Of course, Honest John’s fits right in there.”

      Signature wine: Luckhurst said the Chenin Blanc from vines planted in 1968 has really established the winery’s identity and reputation. “As we move forward, we are focusing more and more on our own varietals,” he stated. “In particular, I’m very, very proud of our Syrahs. I think that’s really going to be the future for our vineyard.”