Photo: New tasting room at 8th Generation Vineyard
Bernd and Stefanie Schales, the owners of 8th
Generation Vineyard, had drafted the plans in 20o7 for a winery at their
vineyard near Okanagan Falls when a major setback occurred: they could not find
a contractor to build it in time for that fall’s vintage.
“Then in July 2007, this one came on the market,” Stefanie
told me in 2008. She was referring to a cavernous building set in a vineyard
beside the highway south of Summerland. It had opened in 2003 as Adora Estate
When Adora’s two founding partners had fallen out, one moved
the winemaking equipment to a packing house on Black Sage Road and the other
put the empty plain Jane building on the market.
“We thought, okay, it
is a winery facility,” Stefanie recalled. “We don’t have to put in drainage,
and so on. When we first showed up here, we thought this is too huge. But then,
when we thought everything over, it was not too bad a solution.”
They scrambled to put in their own winemaking equipment and
to modify the building with, among other changes, a utilitarian wine shop. One
of strengths of the facility was a location visible to drive-by traffic. Most
Generation’s annual production of 5,500 cases can be sold
directly to passing consumers.
This spring 8th
Generation increased its appeal
to those consumers by replacing the wine shop with a tasting room in the
character house (circa 1942) on the property. The house was part of the package
that Bernd and Stefanie (below) bought in 2007. For a number of years, it was rented to
With the application of Stefanie’s drafting skills, the old
house has been turned into an elegantly rustic wine shop beside a garden with a
picnic license. The windows behind the tasting bar look out towards the garden.
The interior has been stripped to expose the original wood. Some interior walls
were removed (steel beams now hold up the roof) to create a large, airy tasting
room. The old fireplace has been refreshed to become part of the décor.
The difference between this and the former airless wine shop
is dramatic. The former had all the romance of a hardware store. The new wine
shop has the feel of a charming country inn.
In an added touch, the white-tiled steps leading into the
shop bear the names of ancestors of the owners, underlining the winegrowing
heritage in Germany of Bernd (eight generations) and Stefanie (10 generations).
Before coming to Canada, Bernd, who was born in 1972 at Grünstadt in the Pfalz and trained at
Weinsberg, had spent nine or 10 years managing a vineyard for his family’s
Weingut Schales in Flörsheim-Dalsheim. When he and Stefanie had decided to
strike out on their own, they considered opportunities in South Africa, New
York State and Ontario before being seduced, during a vacation, by the
In 2003, they bought an established 10-acre Okanagan Falls
vineyard with a breathtaking view of Vaseux Lake. Subsequent purchases enabled
them to increase their vineyards to 25 acres, including the Summerland vineyard
and one on Naramata Bench.
Their picturesque original vineyard, where terraced vines
wrap around the base of the slope, was planted in 1985. It includes a four-acre
block of Riesling. The variety is obviously familiar to Berndt and Stefanie. It
is also the signature variety for 8th
Generation’s wines and is
produced in three or four different styles, depending on the vintages.
“The Riesling vines were already 18 years old when we took
over, but we had no idea how special the site is,” Stefanie has said. “We are
lucky. We knew the exposure was good but we had no idea how the wines would
taste. The previous owner was selling the grapes.”
Generation wines are made primarily with
estate-grown fruit. Here are notes on the wines currently available in the 8th
Generation wine shop.
Generation Pinot Gris 2014
($17.39). This is the last vintage of Pinot Gris
from this winery, for two reasons. Stefanie thinks the market for that variety
is overcrowded. More to the point, the grapes are needed for the winery’s two sparking
wines. This Pinot Gris, 20% of which was
fermented in barrel to enrich the texture, has flavours of citrus and pear. 88.
Generation Chardonnay 2014
($19.15). This is a barrel-fermented Chardonnay
with very subtle oak framing the bright flavours of apples and citrus. 90.
Generation Riesling Selection 2015
($24.78). This is the winery’s premium
Riesling made only in the best vintages with
grapes from a carefully selected block at the Okanagan Falls vineyard. The wine
is fermented with wild yeast. The complex aromas have just begun developing
(the winery recommends decanting Selection for about four hours to let it open
up). On the palate, lime flavours wrap around the mineral notes. The texture is
rich but the finish is dry. 92-94.
Generation Riesling Classic 2015
($18.26). This is another dry Riesling,
beginning with aromas of lemon and flavours of green apples. The finish is
tangy and refreshing. 91.
Generation Riesling 2015
($18.26). This a Riesling where a touch of
residual sweetness propels the lemon/lime aromas. On the palate, there are
flavours of peach mingled with a hint of grapefruit. 91.
Generation Integrity 2015
($20). This frizzanté-style wine is 52%
Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Gris and 18% Kerner. Balanced almost dry, this refreshing
wine delivers flavours of citrus, apples and peaches with a good display of
Generation Confidence 2015
($20). This frizzanté-style pink wine is a
fruity blend of 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Pinot Gris. It has aromas and flavours
of cherry and strawberry with a hint of sweetness on the refreshing finish. 90.
Generation Pinot Noir 2014
($21.30). This has aromas of strawberry and
cherry that are echoed in the flavours, along with class forest floor/earthy
complexity. The wine has begun to develop a silky texture. 90.
Generation Cabernet Merlot 2014
($20.86). Still youthfully grippy, this wine – which is
80% Merlot) begins with appealing aromas of cassis and blueberry. On the
palate, there are flavours of black currant, black cherry and blueberry. 91.
Generation Syrah 2014
($21.74). This wine has notes of pepper in the aroma
and on the palate, along with flavours of plum and cherry. 90.
Generation The Red One 2015
($19.15). This juicy summertime red is an
unoaked blend of Merlot and Syrah. Just brimming with cherry flavours, it is a
soft, chewy red best chilled before serving. 88.
Generation Late Harvest 2013
($14.35 for 200 ml). Made with
botrytis-affected Chardonnay, this has honeyed tropical fruit aromas and
flavours, including apricots. Very well-balanced, this desert wine dances on
the palate. 91.
Generation Syrah Icewine 2010
($52.10 for 375 ml). This wine was aged for
three months in French oak, adding complexity to the rich tropical flavours of
quince and plum and marmalade. The wine manages to be sweet and savoury at the
same time. 94.