News from Poplar Grove
For centuries, wine drinkers have been accustomed to natural corks as the closure of choice when it comes to sealing and storing bottles. The ritual of opening and assessing corks was commonplace in restaurants, and the corkscrew was considered indispensable for anyone who enjoys wines at home. In 1972 however, a new option emerged – the Stelvin screwcap. First used by Hammel winery in Switzerland, the Stelvin has now seen the world over and is commonly used on wines that receive acclaim at international competitions. Does the screwcap deserve the occasional unsavoury reputation it has garnered? To the surprise of many traditionalists, the answer is a resounding no.
As the wine industry continues to evolve, new and exciting technologies are invented and rigorously tested to establish new international standards. This has led to a multitude of studies regarding the nature of corks and their new Stelvin counterparts. The AWRI (Australian Wine Research Institute) has been particularly interested in the efficacy of Stelvin, as both New Zealand and Australia utilize these closures more commonly than cork. Having conducted both a longitudinal study comparing different closures up to 20 months of aging, and a comparative study of wines rejected for being faulted by the International Wine Challenge (IWC), Stelvin screwcaps were shown to be highly effective closures. In direct comparison, Stelvin was reported with approximately a 1.5% fault rate compared to 4.5% for natural corks. For the 20-month longitudinal study, Stelvin showed higher retention of freshness and fruit character and less risk of oxidation than natural cork. These findings indicate that, even for long-term storage, Stelvin screwcaps perform equally or somewhat superior to natural cork.
The dreaded scourge of cork taint (TCA) is greatly reduced with Stelvin, but it is not eliminated as most consumers might imagine. It is still entirely possible to get a “corked” wine that is sealed with a screwcap, as the bacteria that cause cork taint can thrive in barrels, hoses, nozzles, and many other areas in a winery besides the corks themselves. While Stelvin screwcaps did show a slightly higher susceptibility to reductive aroma faults, natural corks showed an equally elevated susceptibility to oxidative faults. Neither is ideal, but current consumer trends show a higher tolerance for reductive characteristics than oxidation, potentially giving Stelvin an edge for the average consumer palate over natural cork.
All in all, the case seems closed – Stelvin is here to stay, and many wines will end up being the better for it. While sommeliers and collectors will never abandon the corkscrew or the precious ritual of opening a perfectly aged bottle, most of us will be happier at the convenience of screwcaps, with the confidence that it’s every bit as delicious.
In the next week, we will be harvesting Pinot Gris from our Haynes Creek, Skaha Bench and Naramata Bench vineyards. We are very excited as this is our largest crop of Pinot Gris to date due to the 22-acre expansion planted by the Holler family over the last 2.5 years. While walking the vineyards this morning, we noticed more genetic variation in the grapes than prior years. This variation is known as chimera mutation. Chimera mutation demonstrates the relationship between all Pinot varieties - Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir and because of the natural ebb and flow of the vineyard, we are becoming more aware of it.
From our experience, the chimera mutation is seen to mutate Pinot Gris to Pinot Blanc in a hotter, drier climate whereas in cooler temperate soils the Pinot Gris mutates to Pinot Noir. In the first photo, we have one bunch that is mostly Pinot Gris but has partially mutated back to Pinot Blanc. On the right side of the cluster, you can see one grape that is half of each. The reasoning for this is still being discovered, what we know from our vineyards is that these genetic mutations happen because of the interaction between soil, temperature (both hot and cold), aspect, and overall stress on the vine. The second photo shows each varietal starting from left to right – Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir.
Does this mean that the Poplar Grove Pinot Gris is not a single varietal wine?
Less than 2% of our plants are affected and the mutation does not compromise any overall flavour or quality. We do like to think that this makes our Pinot Gris just a little extra special as we believe in embracing the natural ebb and flow rather than fighting the natural happenings in our vineyards.
We have had a slow but great start to September in the vineyards. The daily temperatures of above 30° and cool night time temperatures these past few weeks has helped enable fruit development to thrive and make up for time lost from a cold spring. At this time, our vines have stopped growing and are now focused on ripening fruit for a harvest. During this time, water stressing the vineyards is crucial.
If watered too much, the vine will suck up every drop and the berry will grow bigger bearing low quality, diluted fruit. By being diligent in the vineyard, water stressing forces the vine to dig deeper into the soil to find the water it needs.This, combined with limited drip irrigation, allows for more concentrated flavours and overall better fruit quality.
Birds can eat an estimated 10% of the wine crop here in British Columbia. Our Crew is currently working hard to put out netting in our starling prone vineyards to avoid losing too much of our crops. In addition to birds, our bear friends enjoy our grapes as well. Where possible, our crew has installed bear fencing to ensure the berries are protected.
The team is busy preparing for harvest in three weeks. We are expecting our Pinot Gris to start at the end of September and from there, we will be picking nonstop until the first week of November. The last fruit to be harvested is always our Osoyoos Cabernet Sauvignon and Munson Mountain Cabernet Franc. We are looking forward to another great harvest.
For Immediate Release: September 9, 2022 (Penticton, B.C.) –
Poplar Grove was awarded multiple accolades at the 2022 New York World Wine & Spirits Competition (NYWSC). In the competition’s eight-year history, the NYWSC has established itself as one of the most respected judging events in the eastern U.S.A. The NYWSC is a member of the Tasting Alliance, the parent organization of the world-renowned San Francisco World Spirits Competition, San Francisco International Wine Competition, and the Singapore World Spirits Competition.
Awarded Accolades: 2019 The Legacy – Double Gold Medal – To be released Fall of 2023 as Poplar Grove ages its signature red for a minimum of 4 years prior to release. 2019 Cabernet Franc – Gold Medal – Will be released November 2022 at the winery and available in fine restaurants and retail stores throughout BC. 2019 Syrah – Silver Medal – Currently available to Poplar Grove Wine Club Members and will be released November 2022 at the winery and available in fine restaurants and retail stores throughout BC.
About Poplar Grove Winery: Founded in 1993, Poplar Grove Winery is one of the original five wineries on the Naramata Bench. Tony and Barb Holler purchased the winery in 2007.Their sons, Chris, Andrew, Matthew, and Eric farm more than 140 acres of estate vineyards with care. The family is widely recognized for crafting their outstanding signature red blend The Legacy, as well as delicious Cabernet Franc and Merlot focused wines and an exceptional Pinot Gris. Together they share a commitment to distinctive, genuine wines that reflect the character and richness of the Okanagan Valley.
Poplar Grove has released their 2021 Rosé Nouveau, a low alcohol, still wine, with a vibrant rose petal pink colour and a juicy finish on the palette. The Rosé Nouveau is the first low alcohol, low calorie wine in the Poplar Grove Portfolio.
The Rosé Nouveau is a blend of Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir from Poplar Grove’s estate vineyards. To ensure this new wine has texture and flavour similar to Poplar Grove’s traditional Rosé, Winemaker, Stefan Arnason, used a piece of equipment called a “Juclas Mastermind 50”. This specialized equipment was designed for the purpose of reducing alcohol percentage in wine through the direct passage of finished wine gently through the membrane. “This project has improved the level of analysis in our overall winemaking to hit alcohol and calorie levels. This has been exciting because this process will continue to help us be more accurate in all aspects of our future winemaking” says Arnason when asked what excites him about the new project.
A study done by NielsenIQ in 2021 shows a 27% increase in sales of low and non-alcohol wines. In another study done by Canadian Company Select Wines, 60% of regular wine drinkers are likely to consume low calorie/alcohol wine and 70% of regular wine drinkers will pick a lighter version of their favourite brand if it offers a similar style and flavour profile.
Poplar Grove is widely recognized for crafting exceptional wines and the Rosé Nouveau is no exception. When asked about the new portfolio addition, Tony Holler, Owner and President, had this to say: “I am surprised that there are so many people looking for low calorie wine. According to our findings, younger people are leading the interest in low calorie products, and I think our Rose Nouveau, which is just as high in quality as the rest of our portfolio, will be attractive to the younger demographic and introduce them to our brand. I hope they appreciate the quality of the wine and recognize that we are trying to produce a product for them so that they are not excluded from our portfolio of wines. We want people to love the Rosé Nouveau and in turn, get to know more about Poplar Grove.”
The Rosé Nouveau 2021 is available for purchase from the winery tasting room, online and at fine retail stores throughout British Columbia.
Poplar Grove was awarded BEST IN SHOW by varietal and a GOLD medal (93 points) for its signature red blend, The Legacy 2017, at the 4th edition of the London Wine Competition which took place in London, England, on March 17, 2021. Over the years, each vintage of The Legacy has spent time at the top of the podium, an achievement that recognizes the consistent quality of Poplar Grove’s signature red blend.
Historical awards for Poplar Grove’s The Legacy:
- 2013 The Legacy - Double GOLD medal 95 points – San Francisco International Wine Competition
- 2014 The Legacy - Winner of the 2018 Judgement of BC
- 2015 The Legacy - GOLD medal 91 points – London Wine Competition
- 2016 The Legacy - GOLD medal 96 points – Decanter World Wine Awards
- 2017 The Legacy - GOLD medal 93 points, BEST IN SHOW by varietal - London Wine Competition
The Legacy begins in the vineyard. The Holler family, owners of Poplar Grove since 2007, focus on farming. Barbara and Tony, and their four sons Chris, Andrew, Matthew, and Eric share the labor of growing grapes on their 140 acres of estate vineyards to ensure the quality of Poplar Grove’s wines.
“We decided to get into the wine industry in the Okanagan Valley because of the belief that the valley could produce wines of distinction that rivalled the best wines produced anywhere in the world. The Legacy's success and the success of other Okanagan wines in the premiere international wine competitions provides proof of our original belief. This has taken time, patience and diligence both in the vineyards and in the winery. I personally spend most of my time in our vineyards because this is where the wine is made. We are farmers first and every family member not only understands this but is a wine grower”, says Tony Holler, Owner and President.
The Legacy 2015 and The Legacy 2016 are available for purchase from the winery, online, and at fine restaurants and retail stores throughout Canada. The Legacy 2017 will release Fall of 2021. The Legacy 2014 will re-release as part of the Library program at Poplar Grove in 2022. Our wines are distributed in the USA by Kascadia Wine Merchants.
About the Competitions
The London Wine Competition
Widely considered to be one of the leading wine competitions of its kind, The London Wine Competition rates wines by quality, value and packaging. The organizer of the event is the Beverage Trade Network, which organizes wine industry events around the world.
The San Francisco International Wine Competition
The San Francisco International Wine Competition (SFIWC) is a member of The Tasting Alliance, the parent organization of the world-renowned San Francisco World Spirits Competition, New York World Wine & Spirits Competition, and Singapore World Spirits Competition.
The Decanter World Wine Awards
Launched in 2004, the Decanter World Wine Awards is considered to be the world’s largest and most influential wine competition.
Judgement of BC
The Judgement of BC tasting is an annual tasting. The inaugural tasting was in 2015. In 2018, the Judgement of BC was hosted by the BC Wine Institute and curated by Vancouver based wine expert DJ Kearney.
About Poplar Grove Winery
Founded in 1993, Poplar Grove Winery is one of the original five wineries on the Naramata Bench. Tony and Barb Holler purchased the winery in 2007. Their sons, Chris, Andrew, Matthew, and Eric farm more than 140 acres of estate vineyards with care. The family is widely recognized for crafting their outstanding signature red blend The Legacy, as well as delicious Cabernet Franc and Merlot focused wines and an exceptional Pinot Gris. Together they share a commitment to distinctive, genuine wines that reflect the character and richness of the Okanagan Valley.
At the 17th annual Decanter World Wine Awards, Poplar Grove Winery was awarded a prestigious gold medal for its signature blend, The Legacy. The Decanter World Wine Awards is an esteemed wine competition known internationally for its rigorous judging process. The contending wines are judged as part of a blind tasting in London, England by renowned experts from all over the globe.
Poplar Grove is honoured to have received a gold medal and a staggering 96 points for its signature blend, The Legacy 2016. The winery’s awards didn’t stop there, with it also receiving two silver medals for its 2017 Cabernet Franc and 2017 Merlot, as well as three bronze medals for its 2017 Syrah, 2017 Reserve Chardonnay and 2018 Chardonnay.
Poplar Grove’s winning wines are:
- Gold medal 96 points – 2016 Legacy
- Silver medal 92 points – 2017 Cabernet Franc
- Silver medal 90 points – 2017 Merlot
- Bronze medal 89 points – 2017 Syrah
- Bronze medal 89 points – 2017 Reserve Chardonnay
- Bronze medal 88 points – 2018 Chardonnay
“We are extremely proud to have been awarded these medals from what is considered the premier wine competition in the world. I congratulate our farming team led by my sons Andrew and Matthew and our winemaking team led by Stefan Arnason and our consultant, Alain Sutre. I have always believed that the Okanagan Valley has the ability to produce wines that can compete with the best in the world and these awards confirm my belief. I would also like to congratulate my friends at Mission Hill, Nk’Mip, Clos du Soleil, and Sunrock Vineyards for the gold medals their red wines received” said Tony Holler, Owner and President of Poplar Grove Winery.
The 2020 Decanter World Wine Awards medals build on Poplar Grove’s success at the 2020 London Wine Competition where four of Poplar Grove’s red wines won gold medals.
“A golden 96 points for The Legacy 2016 show that as our vineyards mature the wines will continue to get better and better. To me, great wines start in the vineyards, so as a team we will continue to increase our understanding of the specific vineyard blocks and work toward making the best wines we can” said Executive Winemaker Stefan Arnason.
The 2017 Reserve Chardonnay and the 2018 Chardonnay are available for purchase from the winery, at poplargrove.ca and at fine restaurants and retail stores throughout Canada. Our wines are distributed in the USA by Kascadia Wine Merchants. The remaining winning wines, including The Legacy 2016, are set to be released before the end of 2020.
About Decanter World Wine Awards: Launched in 2004, the Decanter World Wine Awards is considered to be the world’s largest and most influential wine competition. Wines submitted are judged against others in their price point and from the same region to ensure a just competition. Each winning wine is then tasted two to three times to ensure they are thoroughly reviewed.
At the 4th annual London Wine Competition which took place in London, England, on March 15, 2020, Poplar Grove was awarded gold medals for all four of the red wines Poplar Grove submitted to the competition. The Poplar Grove Cabernet Franc (93pts), Poplar Grove Syrah (92pts), Poplar Grove Legacy (91pts) and the Poplar Grove Merlot (90pts) were all at the top of the podium, which is the ultimate seal of approval in the global wine industry.
“From the beginning we were convinced that the Okanagan Valley would be internationally recognized as a premium wine region. We have focused on sustainable farming, understanding what our vineyards are capable of and practicing winemaking that minimizes intervention to show the true quality of our vineyards. This has allowed us to make beautiful wines, honest to the vintage they were made in. I am so proud of our winemaking team, led by Stefan Arnason, our consultant Alain Sutre, and our farming team led by my sons, Andrew and Matthew.” said Tony Holler, Owner and President of Poplar Grove.
The competition judges wines in three key areas: quality, value for money and package and design. According to Sid Patel, CEO of The Beverage Trade Network, “Consumers want to enjoy an ‘experience’ from a bottle of wine, it is much more than an alcoholic commodity. That’s why the Masters of Wine, Master Sommeliers and experienced traders judging at the 2020 London Wine Competition look at wines the way wine drinkers do. Yes, they analyze quality professionally; they are then asked to judge and award marks based on value for money and appearance.”
- Gold medal 93 points – 2016 Cabernet Franc
- Gold medal 92 points – 2016 Syrah
- Gold medal 91 points – 2015 Legacy
- Gold medal 90 points – 2016 Merlot
- Silver medal 85 points – 2018 Pinot Gris
In today’s competitive market, it is not enough to just provide good wine. Wine lovers expect it to look good and be great value for money. That’s why we are extremely proud that our wines scored so highly at the 2020 London Wine Competition. Winning these awards is particularly important to us because it not only shows that we are making the types of wines that wine drinkers actually want to buy and enjoy, but also that we are making the types of wines that the trade wants to include on their lists.
All wines that won Gold Medals are the current release wines that are available for purchase from the winery, at poplargrove.ca and at fine restaurants and retail stores throughout Canada. Our wines are distributed in the USA by Kascadia Wine Merchants.
On July 16, 2020, Poplar Grove received notice that an employee in the restaurant had tested positive for Covid-19. Although this individual was not showing any symptoms, and wore a mask and gloves while at work, Poplar Grove immediately shut down the tasting room and the restaurant upon receiving the news.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we immediately shut down the winery tasting room and the restaurant so that we could consult with the Interior Health Authority to determine the next steps to ensure the safety of our valued guests and staff” said Tony Holler, Owner and President of Poplar Grove.
The Interior Health Authority have assured us that because of our diligent policies and safety and sanitation procedures there is no significant risk to the public or our staff and therefore, they are not recommending testing or self-isolation of contacts. We were advised to do a Terminal Sanitization and told that we can re-open as early as tomorrow; however, Poplar Grove will temporarily close for 3 days to conduct a thorough cleaning and sanitation to prepare for a safe reopening. The winery will reopen on Monday, July 20, 2020.
Though we are confident that the procedures we have in place have ensured the safety of our guests, anyone that visited the Restaurant at Poplar Grove on Saturday, July 11, 2020 and Sunday, July 12, 2020 from 5pm – close and are concerned can receive further direction from the BC Center for Disease Control Website.
We appreciate your understanding and your continued support. We are all in this together.
Mother Nature plays a big part in what we drink. Here’s what she’s been up to in our vineyards: Crush 2018 concluded on November 15th and will go down as one of the less tumultuous on record, with a nice steady stream of fruit coming into the winery at peak ripeness. Our picking crews started way back on September 18th and harvest in our estate vineyards stretched out over 58 days, with 40 actual picking days.
Here’s our report:
The weather in the Okanagan was favourable for most of the 2018 season, beginning with a mild spring. Budburst was 2-3 weeks later than normal, but the continuing mild weather trend allowed for uniform flowering, which paved the way for balanced cluster development. A typical Okanagan summer (hot and dry) tested our vineyard crews who had to pay careful attention to irrigation regimes and leaf-to-fruit-ratios. Once again, meticulous farming and careful yield management has delivered exceptional wine quality.
In September temperatures cooled to below normal, especially at night. But as the saying goes, “the sun always finds a hole in the clouds over the Okanagan” and, by the time harvest commenced we had recorded enough warm, sunny days to match long-term average heat summation levels. More favourable weather marked a rare “Golden October” and provided a long, unpressured harvest period which continued into the first couple of weeks of November.
According to winemaker, Stefan Arnason, “The steady pace of our 2018 growing season yielded balanced wines; the cool nights and warm days over an extended period preserved acidity and develped wonderful phenolic ripeness and flavour complexity.”