The sunlight streaming into the tasting room is framed by the panes of glass in the large windows. The ceiling is high, the rafters are open, and large chandeliers hover above—on all the walls, artwork, at the counter, wine.
Welcome to The Gallery Winery, the latest family-owned winery and event venue to open in West Kelowna. Its unique terroir is already bringing success with well-ripened grapes transforming into delicious wines. Sun-drenched silty slopes lead down to Gellatly Bay, offering stunning views from the expansive winery patio—and the exceptional micro-climate for grape growing. The southern site warms early during the long summer days but minimizes the high heat of west-facing sites at mid-summer. Their vines are thriving with the maximum sun exposure combined with excellent airflow from the lake.
Just a few city blocks from the busyness of the West Kelowna centre, the little farm of 25 acres offers a sanctuary of stillness.
This new spot on the Westside Wine Trail is truly a family affair.
“Back in 1980, our parents were driving past this parcel of land that had a for sale sign on it, 25 acres in the middle of nowhere,” says owner Kirstin Wakal. “My mom says to my dad, ‘we should buy the property.’ So fast-forward to 2015, and my sister (Natasha Campbell) and I are both living on the property. We decide to plant a vineyard to get some farm status, save money on some taxes, and try out farming.”
The enthusiastic sister duo of artists-turned-farmers are now proudly pouring their first vintage (custom-crushed under another license). The nicely balanced blend of Riesling, Ehrenfelser and Muscat Orange is aptly called 2018 Under the Chandelier ($18.)
Kirstin presents it as “a really, easy sipper. Nice patio wine: Not too dry, not too sweet.”
The chandelier features prominently in the artwork by Natasha, which hangs throughout the expansive space. Each wine also features an original painting of hers. As their slogan goes, the sisters are in it for “the love of art and wine.”
The space beckons, and as the labels promote, you will want to share stories in the space with a bit of Between Friends Riesling ($28). Visitors can enjoy a vertical tasting, samples of the same wine from different years, with the 2020 Rielsing expressing itselfas the drier wine with a lovely nose of peach notes. The 2021 Riesling fetched the sisters their first wine awards medal.
Kirstin and Natasha laugh when they recall their very first crush. The “sisterhood of travelling tanks” headed down to Oliver to work with Michael Bartier to make wine their first year at the Bariter Bros facility.
Caught up in the passion of winemaking, the sisters have also decided to sparkle it up. The 2019 Inspiration ($35) is a traditional method, sparkling wine. The wine label is an antique family heirloom and is worthy of a visit to the tasting room to hear the story.
The labels for the Malbec red features a series of portrait ladies. The original paintings hang on the Gallery’s walls. The vineyards boast one of the most northern plantings of Malbec in the world. This red grape definitely likes its new home. The dark cherry and blackberry flavours will not disappoint in the 2021 Alexandra Malbec ($38.) The beautiful magenta-purple wine finishes smooth with enough tannins to make a steak extra juicy. Attractive vegetative and pepper notes that complement the fruit-forward profile.
2021 marked the first vintage wines under The Gallery Winery license. The sisters send out a special acknowledgement to the mentors that have helped along the way, including Gary Strachan, Michael Bartier (Bartier Brothers Winery), Daniel Bontorin (Botegga Wine Studio) and Jason Parkes (Crown and Thieves Winery).
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