Small-batch winery quietly opens in Summerland's Garnet Valley

Small-batch winery opens

Casey Richardson

New wineries keep launching in Summerland this spring and the newest one to open is small-batched and focused on only a few varietals that shine in the Garnet Valley area.

Solvero Wines quietly opened its doors on Friday with a soft opening, run by Matthew Sartor, the president, founder and vineyard manager, and Alison Moyes, the winemaker and general manager.

The pair met over a decade ago in the industry and have kept in contact as acquaintances throughout the years.

Sartor moved from working in wine shops in Calgary to the Okanagan Valley, trying to find the right growing site that would fit the needs of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

"It took a couple of years, but in the middle of 2014, we found this site which was essentially 99 per cent ponderosa pine forest at the time. And I managed to convince my family that this was something worth pursuing. So we purchased it at the end of 2014. We spent all of 2015 clearing land and prepping for planting in 2016 for our first 10 acres of Pinot Noir," he said.

The crush pad, barrel room and production building began construction in 2022 and were completed in May. The full tasting room is set to finish in spring 2024.

"We are offering a really unique experience with a grape-to-glass wine tour, which is offered from the production side. So it's really a behind-the-scenes tour with Matt, and myself personally, of the barrel room, the tank room, the crush setup, and then we'll finish with a seated tasting on the crash pad, as you can see of our portfolio of four wines, in varietal specific glassware," Moyes said.

"We're really excited to be able to finally share this place. I think you really have to visit to get a sense of it and what we're trying to do here."

Their name, Solvero, is a Latin translation of "Truth in soil."

Moyes, brings 14 years of winemaking experience, specifically in crafting Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Her background includes vintages with Osoyoos Larose, starting as assistant winemaker and then winemaker at Stoneboat Vineyards, followed by six years as head winemaker at Liquidity Wines.

"The genesis of this entire business was trying to find a place in the Okanagan, where Pinot Noir and Chardonnay would really sing," Sartor said.

"We've expanded to [Pinot] Gris and we're going to be producing some Gamay in the near future, which is planting this year. We were trying to find a place that would make a unique wine that was distinctly from the Okanagan, and also distinct from the rest of the Okanagan in terms of style and structure."

On the steep slopes where the winery has the vineyard planted, there's definitely a unique climate to the area.

"It's in a very, very narrow valley, as you can see around you. So we lose a fair bit of ripening daylights during the growing season, but it keeps most of the degree days," Sartor said.

"Our location, certainly is a little bit off the beaten path of the main Bottleneck Drive route, although Garnet Valley Ranch is just up the road and so we're excited to have a partner in promoting Garnet Valley," Moyes added.

The two said they're excited to see the area really grow as a winemaking region.

And while the team is only a handful of years into harvesting grapes from the site, they said they are really pleased with what's been produced so far.

"When I tasted the first vintage of Pinot Noir from Garnet Valley from Solvero, the 2019 Pinot Noir, which was produced from somewhat young vines, that are three years old at the time and the beautiful wine that was produced from it, I realized the potential that Garnet Valley has," Moyes added.

As the winery is a very small operation at this point, they're looking to take people on very personal tours to give people a deeper understanding of their winemaking process and all the hard work that goes into the finished wine in the glass.

"I hope that people walk away with a little bit more information than they came in with," Moyes said.

"We've spent a lot of years, a lot of our life building this into what it is today and the opportunity to spend some time explaining what that is to people is invaluable to us. We want them to really understand why this place is important," Sartor added.

The winery is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tastings are by appointment, and the team will accommodate walk-ins where possible.

For more information on the winery or to make a tasting reservation, head to their website here.

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