Ortega, Vintner’s Reserve, Beaufort Vineyard & Estate Winery, Courtenay, Vancouver Island, BC, 12.3% abv., 2019

A winery in Vancouver Island’s Comox Valley just northeast of Courtenay you say?!  Really!?  Why, yes!

I was truly delighted to show up for a tasting with the exceptionally knowledgeable Katie Phelan and realize this boutique-sized winery works with its own estate grown grapes, West Coast hybrid varietals that love the cool climate, and has made some of the first moves toward serious sustainability on Vancouver Island.  Just as an example, they’re using bio-char in the vineyards to help with water retention and drainage. 

These organic and sustainable practices reflect the philosophies embraced by James Cameron – yes, that James Cameron, the Oscar-winning director of Avatar, Titanic, and The Terminator – who bought the winery with his wife Suzy Amis in 2014.

Beaufort and their winemaker Freya Timmermans, is also responsible for some delightful wines including a delicate bubble, and this one that’s been fermented and aged in French oak.

The Vintner’s Reserve is a pale gold with aromas of ripe mango, some pineapple, apricot and lemon verbena.  The dry palate’s got food-friendly acidity, and more tropical fruit notes alongside some peach, and lemon curd.  Aged on its lees over the winter, it’s got a lovely texture and mouthfeel.

This winery is in a stunning setting in the heart of the Comox Valley.  The artwork inside their main building is beautiful and they’ve chosen to put some of it on their creations (for example, the lovely 2018 Zephra bubbles pictured here, also made from Ortega).

Here’s a team running an incredible enterprise perched on the precipice of viable viticulture at the 49th parallel – which will only continue to improve with climate change.  Organic, and using the right varietals for West Coast weather, they’re operating with true panache and style.


About winellama

I love wine...and finally decided to do something about it.
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