Life’s a Circus… DRINK WINE!
Where – Naramata Bench, BC. Elephant Island is one of the original six wineries on the Naramata Bench.
The People –
- Owners Miranda and Del Halladay founded the Winery in 1999. Miranda and Del have since had four kids, added a couple of farms, and spent 21 years experimenting with fermentation.
- Winemaker – Del Halladay.
- Ring Leader – Bea Suremann. Assistant Winemaker and Vineyard Magician – Lauren Bunckle.
The Goal – to craft wines of character, wines that sing with the unconventional voice of vanguard fruit, and wines that are balanced by a reverence for traditional winemaking practices. Wines that are rooted and inspired by family history. Tradition with a twist, wine with a spine.
The Grapes –
- Cabernet Franc
- Sauvignon Blanc
The Vineyards –
7 acres planted between 2 Naramata Bench Vineyards: Sideshow Hill and the Peanut Farm.
The Naramata Bench is quite unique. Lying on the east side of Okanagan Lake and on the downslope of the Eastern ridge of mountains, the late afternoon is a time of cooling breezes off the lake. Lest you think it is too cool for the development of great wines, the region benefits from what we like to call “two suns”. There is the normal sun of course, which provides lights until sunset. In addition there is the second sun, which consists of the reflection of the sun off the waters of the lake. This effect is most pronounced between about three pm and sunset, when it is extremely easy to feel the reflected sunlight off the water. This “two suns” effect allows the plants to continue to carry on photosynthesis at a much higher rate than would otherwise be available only from the incident sun and offsets the cooling breezes to produce an almost perfect growing condition during the three months of June, July and August. Before and after that time, the sun is too far in the south to have a significant effect.
Sideshow Hill Vineyard is on the upper side of the ancient lakefront from prehistoric times (Naramata Road is generally used as noting this divide) and is horseshoed into a granite rock outcrop that acts as a beautiful heat sink. The vineyard has a west facing aspect looking across the lake to Giant’s Head Mountain in Summerland. The lakebed soils tend to be more varied, with more rockiness and variation present than in the below the road soils … The eastern most or upper band is deep Okanagan loam, next is a band of very hard gravel and stone followed by a band of basically sand. In the early years this made water management a very difficult chore but now the vines have sunk their roots to a level where the overall growth is fairly uniform. Planted in 1999, it is one of the Naramata’s oldest vineyards. Chardonnay and Merlot.
The Peanut Farm is on the lower side of Naramata Road and generally presents with finer loam soils. Planted in 2006 with Viognier, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.
Wines are 100% Estate Grown Grapes.
Vineyards are farmed sustainably.
Cool stuff they do – FRUIT WINE. The science of good winemaking is the same so rather than making wine from one fruit, grapes, they are making wine with 8 fruits. Take all the varietal expressions, winemaking possibilities of grape wine, now multiply by 8 different fruits, that is a lot of work. As with good grape wines – exceptional fruit and using wine making techniques that suit the fruit are the key to deliciousness in a glass.
Fruit Wine Portfolio –
- Ben Alder Blackcurrants
- Stella Cherries
- Loch Ness Blackberries
- Organic Bartlett Pears
- Heritage Raspberries
- Dolgau Crab Apples
- Goldrich Apricots
Sparkling Wine – Pink Elephant, Granny Smith apple cuvée with cassis dosage, and The Little King Granny Smith apple cuvée with framboise dosage.
Not your typical wine.
Really Cool Tasting Room – Nestled in the family’s 5 acre Cherry orchard, the tasting barn leads to a tree shaded courtyard. Welcoming, relaxing, kid friendly, a very civilized way to enjoy learning about and tasting the wines.
* please note – there are some new protocols due to Covid-19, book your tasting time online – https://www.elephantislandwine.com/Visit-Elephant-Island
Really Cool Stuff they do – Make Cider. Naramata Cider Company, the ciders are crafted from 100% local fruit, in celebration of the magic and heritage of their home community of Naramata.
Meet Lauren Bunckle – the Tightrope Walker Extraordinaire … Assistant Winemaker and Wine Club Ringmaster at Elephant Island.A mom of 4, a hunter and classic car restorer in her spare time (we are pretty sure she doesn’t sleep much) Lauren has been an instrumental part of the Circus for the better part of 8 years. Her meticulous attention to detail is the perfect complement to Del’s “Mr. Huge-picture” style. Her tenacious observation and work ethic in the vineyards and cellar has been key in the development of our Magic/Reserve Series and her passion for the wine she produces has made her a one-of-a-kind leader of our Club Program.Not to mention her super smeller … Lauren’s palate and olfactory prowess is a huge asset for barrel/blending and tasting days, but not so great for her when the team indulges in Greek food the night before
Virtual Tasting with Sasha McCauley & Get Cooking – Elephant Island Winery: Chardonnay. A Tasting & Behind the Scenes Visit. Wednesday August 12th at 6 pm.
To Purchase the Wines