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Privato meets public and a dream is fulfilled
For more than two decades, Kamloopsians have headed to the Woodward Farm on Westsyde Road in December to pick out a blue spruce or Douglas fir to decorate for the holidays.
These days, there’s a reason to visit in the summer as well — one years in the making.
When John and Debbie Woodward first bought their farm 25 years ago, they dreamed of turning it into a vineyard.
“But, at the time, it was just not doable,” Debbie said.
“Financially, it was not in the cards for us at that particular point. And then, once the kids start leaving home, it’s kind of like an empty-nest syndrome.
“You think, what now?”
While mulling over their future on a vacation in Italy, the pair started visiting wineries and their decades-old dream came roaring back. Three years ago, the first grapes went in.
Recently, the Woodwards’ Privato Vineyard and Winery released its second-ever offering, a pinot noir grown, fermented and aged on site.
Their first wine, a chardonnay, was released last October.
“We’ve been kind of quietly going about our businesses, primarily in the Vancouver area,” said Debbie, who handles the business side of the vineyard.
“We haven’t had our red ready and we’re doing a real quality type of a winemaking process that just takes a long time. It’s taken almost three years now for the pinot noir to be ready. So, we couldn’t really offer that up to the folks in Kamloops until we were are a point where we had a red.”
Both Privato wines are relatively small runs, about 7,000 bottles each, Debbie said. Over time, the couple hopes to produce up to 12,000 bottles per harvest, but anything much beyond that would be overkill.
“We don’t really ever want to be a very big winery,” she said.
Nor do they want to expand Privato’s lineup beyond its two burgundy wines at this point.
While a riesling might be in the cards later on, John said the winery is at least a couple of years away from seriously considering it.
The burgundies offered the Woodwards a chance to make wines a little differently from most of their B.C. contemporaries — less than two per cent of the world’s wine is aged in the traditional burgundy style, John said.
It’s also a challenge.
“Everyone has said pinot noir is the tough grape to make wine from, so why not start with the toughest grape first?” John said.
While it’s more amenable to the Kamloops climate, the pinot noir grape is a lower-yield crop than many other varieties. If it’s not carefully tended on the vine, the results can be difficult to swallow later.
“Eighty per cent of the wine is made out here in the vineyard,” John said.
“You’re always trying to look for a balance in the sugar and acid before you pick. You don’t want to pick too early, but you don’t want to pick too late, either. There is a balanced time to when you pick pinot noir.”
Once picked and crushed, the grapes spend 18 months in oak barrels (less for chardonnay).
Using wood instead of stainless steel means about a litre of vino evaporates through the wood per month, John said, but the flavour trade-off is worth it.
“It makes a wine that’s well-rounded out. It doesn’t bite you when you drink it,” he said. “It’s quite smooth.”
Both of Privato’s wines are available at the vineyard tasting room, open Thursdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. until October 15, or by private appointment.
It’s also available at the Brownstone Restaurant on Victoria Street, at the Stag’s Head Liquor Store and at Sundance Fine Wine, Beer and Liquor Store in Sun Peaks.
For more information on the vineyard, go online.