Our style is our own and true to our terroir. We want our wines not just to rival the best the world can produce, but to be the best in the world and in a style unique to Naramata, Canada. It’s a crazy, Quixotic goal- and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
We are a small winery producing limited quantities of fine wine. All our wines are made from grapes grown exclusively on the Naramata Bench.
Our wines are created first in the vineyard. We then employ the highest-quality winemaking equipment and modern winemaking techniques to bring out the best in what nature provides. Modern destemming, pressing and pumping equipment facilitate simple, clean winemaking in 100% stainless steel fermenters. Our Syrah ages in varying combinations of French and American oak, usually for periods ranging from 18 months to two 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 11am to 5pm, seven days a week from May 1st to October 31st, holidays included. Outside those hours, and at other times of the year, visitors are encouraged to call for an appointment.
You may also order Marichel wines by the glass while enjoying the view and tasting room conversation.
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. Organic peat, organic fowl manure, organic foliar and soil fertilizers, organic sprays and organic micro-nutrients are used throughout the vineyard.
Usually half or more of our crop is cut from the vines 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, eight distinct mini-terroirs are exploited in order to field-blend. 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.