Tightrope Winery is a family run winery located in the heart of Canadian wine country, in the Naramata Bench, along the east side of Okanagan Lake. This location captures maximum sunshine and gentle airflow, creating the optimum environment for grape growing.
The quality of the wines, sustainable practices, and genuine hospitality all invite you to book a tour and visit. When Sagebrush Clients visit theTightrope Winery, they can expect a warm welcome, a tasting selection of their best wines, and to learn about the winery, sustainability, and the Naramata Bench. All ages are welcome at the winery, and they always make sure to have juice available for kids. Plus, everyone always enjoys playing with the winery dogs!
We spoke with Colin Ross, the Tightrope Winery Sales Manager, about the winery and our history of collaboration to create the ultimate experience for guests.
Who is Tightrope Winery?
The rolling hills, orchards, and rural feel initially attracted Colin and the Tightrope Winery team to the Naramata Bench. When the land was first purchased in 2007 by Graham and Lyndsay O’Rourke, Naramata was an up and coming area for great wine production in Canada, “so it was a natural fit,” says Colin. Originally an apple orchard, the couple’s team spent two years contouring the land and converting 7 acres into a vineyard. Now, with their expertise in both vine growing and winemaking, the couple continue to nurture their own label and outstanding, award-winning wines.
Their two signature wines are the Riesling and Pinot Noir. Both are very well suited for the vineyards and they do not need much work, which makes them the ideal representation and expression of the Naramata Bench. Both wines have also won numerous accolades, including the Top 20 Rieslings in Canada and Silver Medals at the Decanter World Wine Awards, and Colin believes that they best showcase their characteristic winemaking philosophy of, “minimal intervention to allow the variety and vintage to express itself.”
What are their winery varietals and terroir?
For those who are not sommeliers,
- ‘varietals’ refers to wine made from one variety of grape,
- ‘terroir’ refers to the natural environment that produces a wine.
Between the two vineyards, Tightrope grows varietals of Riesling, Pinot Gris, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, and Barbera. These varietals are chosen because the team believes they grow best in the Naramata Bench, and each varietal is planted in an ideal microclimate that suits it and the style of wine they plan to make.
Colin explains that their Fleet Road Vineyard has many different microclimates that allows for several plant varieties in a small area to thrive.
“Our Pinot Gris is planted on an east facing slope that is the first block to lose sun in the afternoon. This allows the grapes to fully ripen without sugars getting too high, so the resulting wine has a great concentration of ripe flavours without the alcohol getting too high. Pinot Noir, which does better on cooler sites in Okanagan, is planted on a North facing slope, so it gets less of the intense summer sun.”
The terroir of the vineyard includes every aspect of the soil, climate, and topography of the land. In all Tightrope wines, there is a distinct minerality that reflects the heavy silt soils in the ground where the vines are planted. Colin explains that you will also notice “bright fruit flavours and a great acid backbone” to the wines.
How do we collaborate?
The winery aims to build personal relationships with the tour companies in the Okanagan Valley to create wonderful experiences for their guests and who hopefully become fans of Tightrope.
“We love working and collaborating with Frank from Sagebrush Tours!” – Colin Ross
They personalize each tour to the client by learning what they know and like and then design the tasting and conversation in a way that the client will most appreciate. Sagebrush Tour’s clients can learn more about the terroir of the Naramata Bench, about sustainability, and what that means in the Tightrope vineyard and winery.
Plus, Colin shares that they have more tours to offer Sagebrush clients! Tightrope Winery has a Barrel Room tasting that includes tasting the wines in the barrel room itself, along with a winery and vineyard tour with one of their two sommeliers.
The COVID pandemic has changed the experience at the Tightrope Winery by becoming 100% reservation based. This has enriched the experience at the winery because they have now created 3-4 different tasting sites where they can personalize the experience and spend 30-45 minutes with each group. This allows the winery staff to connect on a deeper level with visitors and answer more specific questions.
In the next five years, Tightrope Winery looks forward to continuing to refine their wines and improve their sustainability. The Okanagan Wine Region is developing quickly, and Colin and everyone at Tightrope are excited to be a part of it, saying “Five years ago, things were so different it is hard to imagine what the next five years will bring.”
Join us on a tour, because “this tightrope is a delight to walk.”
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