Road 13 Vineyards: winery information
Winemaker: Michael Bartier
Michael joined Road 13 Vineyards in December 2004 after honing his craft at a few prestigious Okanagan Valley wineries. Born in Kelowna and raised in Summerland, Michael is one of the Okanagan Valley’s few homegrown and trained winemakers. Quite by accident, he found that wine was his passion. After earning a degree in recreation administration at the University of Victoria, Michael took a job as a wine sales representative for Academy Brands International, not knowing that he had begun an entirely new career path. It was here that he got his initial exposure to wine and was hooked. Michael realized how passionate he was about the Okanagan while living away on Vancouver Island for ten years. In 1994, he and his wife felt the Okanagan calling them home and they left Vancouver Island for Penticton. In 1995, Michael took a job as assistant winemaker at Hawthorne Mountain Vineyards (now See Ya Later Ranch) with industry veteran and mentor, Harry McWatters, whom he credits with providing him the opportunity to learn winemaking. He pursued on-the-job training, university courses at Berkley’s UC Davis and Washington State University, and an apprenticeship with Australia’s celebrated winemaker, Tom Newton. The four months that the young winemaker spent working alongside the Hardy’s expert was invaluable and made him realize what kind of winemaker he aspired to be. Michael came away from his time in Australia with new skills, ideas, and a fresh perspective. The experience had everything to do with the attitude of the acclaimed winemaker he was working with. “Newton was very understated and modest but had such a command for what he was doing, paired with intense respect and a feeling of privilege. It became totally infectious.” It was during this apprenticeship that Michael felt the confirmation that he was on the right path in life. Not a “papered” winemaker, Michael learned almost immediately he had an aptitude for making wine and credits his palate as his greatest strength. “The truth is, the mechanics of winemaking are straightforward. My skill lies in my palate. I can taste something and know exactly where that wine has been and where it needs to go. The mechanics are easy to learn, but it’s the palate that sets any good winemaker apart and leads them.” Michael met Mick and Pam Luckhurst while he was working as a consulting winemaker for Township 7. They were looking for a new winemaker and all three felt instinctually that he would be a good fit. His passion is crafting great wines. Michael believes in small lots and has a love of blending. “Whether you think you’re blending or not, you’re blending. Even the same varietals in the same lots come from different clones and end up in different barrels,” he explains. “Blending is a sure fire way to build up complexity.” Michael is proud of the practices that Road 13 believes in. For example, bunch thinning is integral to the quality of their grapes. With a single cluster for every shoot on the vine, they have adopted a simple, straightforward
Annual Production: 15,000 cases
Home Vineyards Details: Location: Elevated bench up against the mountain on the west side of the valley in the area’s “Golden Mile.” There is all-day and late-day sun exposure. Vines: First planted in 1968 to Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay, then in 1980 with Riesling and Chardonnay, in 1992 with Merlot, and in 2006 with Riesling and Syrah. Soil: A small smattering of humus on top, hiding hard ground and rock – lots more rock. The nutrient-holding capacity is high. Castle Vineyard Details: Location: Elevated bench up against the mountain on the west side of the valley in the area’s “Golden Mile.” All-day and late-day sun exposure. Adjacent to the Home Vineyard. Vines: First planted in 1986 to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Viognier; then in 2005 with Syrah; and in 2008 with Pinot Noir. Soil: It’s not! It is the usual stuff vines really love: hard and rocky with fine clay interspersed. This clay results in a high moisture-holding capacity, giving the vines a natural and constant reservoir of nourishing moisture and nutrients. Rockpile Vineyard Details: Location: On the east side of the valley on Black Sage Road with the valley’s longest sun exposure. Vines: Originally an orchard, plantings are dedicated to Mediterranean varieties such as Syrah (with three clones), Viognier, Grenache, Mourvèdre and a smaller lot of Roussanne. Mick upon urging from Mike, also planted 400 vines of the Spanish grape variety, Tempranillo, to see how they would fare. Soil: Take a guess. Yup, it’s rock, under a 12-inch layer of rough humus.
Grape Varieties Planted