We make limited quantities of artisan wines from grapes grown exclusively in our own vineyards on the Naramata Bench.
Our wines are created first in the vineyard. Then we use the highest-quality winemaking equipment and modern winemaking techniques to bring out the best in what nature provides. Fermentations take place in stainless steel, small double-walled fermenters, or in French oak puncheons. Our Syrah ages in French oak barrels and puncheons for periods ranging from 18 months to 2 years.
Visitors are welcomed in our comfortable, relaxed tasting room, where they enjoy a spectacular view over Okanagan Lake. All current Marichel wines can be tasted for a single nominal charge, which is refunded with any purchase.
Tasting room hours are from 12am to 5pm, seven days a week from May 1st to October 15th, holidays included. Outside those hours, and at other times of the year, visitors are encouraged to call for an appointment.
The Naramata Bench in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley is a unique grape-growing area, unlike any other on wine region on earth. Rich, ripe, full-bodied red and white wines grown at 50 degrees latitude? It happens nowhere else on the planet. The Okanagan Valley contains Canada’s only desert, with hot summers and long, long daylight hours. And as if Nature intended to make a good thing even better, Okanagan Lake provides a vast thermal sink to moderate the excessively hot and cold temperatures common to arid regions. It’s a “Goldilocks” appellation: not too hot, and not too cold.
From both a geographic and winemaking perspective, the heart of the Okanagan Valley is the Naramata Bench. Ideally situated to capture the maximum amount of sunlight, and nurtured by the moderating influence of Okanagan Lake, “The Bench” epitomizes the often claimed- but rarely realized- perfect terroir.
The Bench areas closest to the lake, where Marichel Vineyard is located, are comprised of glacial soils laid down over millennia. Our vineyard is planted in sandy and silty loams of low natural vigour. This moderates vegetative growth in the vines while encouraging the vines to bring the fruit to the peak of flavour and aroma.
An Integrated Whole
At Marichel Vineyard the vineyard and winery are operated as integrated parts of a whole. There is no separation between growing the grapes and making the wine: they’re viewed as different stages of a single process. We designed, built and planted the vineyard ourselves. We raised every vine to maturity and the winemaker personally tends each vine in all seasons. The winery itself is located literally where the vine rows end, facilitating rapid harvest and processing.
We create our wines in the vineyard and bring them to fruition in the winery. Contrary to modern trends, the winemaker spends the majority of his time tending the vines. We don’t think there’s a better way to make great wine.
Low impact, sustainable farming is always the goal. Drip irrigation delivers precise amounts of water to the vines while minimizing consumption of this precious resource. A small, low emission tractor reduces soil compaction. High-density spacing of rows and vines maximizes the land’s potential. No-till cover-cropping reduces carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere. A network of soil-moisture sensing stations allows us to fine-tune the vines’ water needs.
The grapes themselves are often thinned during the ripening process, and then recycled into the soil. We do this both to concentrate flavours and to expand the flavour and aroma palette in the remaining fruit. It’s possible to make good wine at higher crop yields; but it’s not possible to make interesting wines with noble character at high yields. Quality means sacrificing quantity. Life is ever this way.
As much as the vineyard and winery are one, our vineyard is likewise one with the unique natural environment of the Naramata Bench. We didn’t compromise nature to create the vineyard. Instead, we created the vineyard within the existing natural terroir. Extensive wild areas intermingle with the vineyard blocks. Wild native grasses, sage, rabbit bush, mullein, arrowleaf, wild rose, pine, Oregon grape and many more varieties are encouraged. Wild life such as coyotes, deer, marmots, reptiles and scores of species of permanent and migratory birds are fostered- not harassed.
We don’t create interest and complexity in our wines through winemaking artifice. Within the whole vineyard there are eight distinct mini-terroirs. Complexity and character in our wines arise due to the varied slopes, soils and exposures our vines experience. We intentionally avoided uniformity in our vineyard; instead, we preserved and embraced its natural variety.
Marichel Vineyard was conceived as part of nature, and continues to live within and respect its surroundings. It’s this unique natural environment that provides the singular character of our wines.
We grow only two grapes, both Rhone varietals. Our Syrah is made up of a variety of scions and rootstocks, with Clone 7 on 3309 predominating.
Our Viognier is a UC Davis clone from French stock, on a Riparis rootstock.
All our vines are “deficit irrigated”. We fertilize the vines on an individual basis, at the minimum rate consistent with plant health at low vigour. We recycle all vineyard prunings, leaves and discarded fruit back into the soil.