The Islands evolve – Sea Star Vineyards acquires Saturna Island vineyard #BCWine2017Top10
#BCWine2017Top10: Number 8
We continue our “Top 10” BC wine stories of 2017 with this report from the Gulf Islands regions of British Columbia.
Of all the five currently recognized appellations in British Columbia, the Gulf Islands “geographic indication” (wine speak for the legally recognized boundaries of an appellation) is the one that has, until recently, underperformed. Some have argued, with good justification, that the Gulf Islands should be merged into a larger coastal appellation to include Vancouver Island, and break out the smaller islands into their own sub-geographic indications (i.e. Saltspring Island) and allow for the emergence of Cowichan Valley or Saanich Peninsula as distinctive wine regions.
One winery that is changing the face of Gulf Island wines is Sea Star Vineyards on Pender Island. When I first met Sea Star proprietor David Goudge during our Wine Appellation Task Group consultations on Vancouver Island, I sensed that he was committed to making wines that expressed where they came from. Soon after I became a fan of his flagship “Salish Sea” white, a bright and fruit-forward blend of Ortega and Siegerrebe, two varietals that grow well in the temperate coastal climate. Sea Star’s Blanc de Noir has become one of my favourite Rosé wines. It is made from Pinot Noir grapes harvested from North Pender Island.
We first became familiar with the Sea Star vineyard property when it was formerly owned by its builders Keith Watt and Barbara Reid when it was known as Morning Bay Vineyards. Morning Bay hosted several fine summer live music events down in the vineyard — they were known as “Winestock“. We camped out there with another family and our kids, and listened to live music like this recording — a photo album of our trip to Pender Island is here.
Given this progress (and the growing demand for Sea Star wines) it is exciting to hear that Goudge bought Saturna Island Vineyards, which is located across a narrow strait next to his Pender Island base. Kudos to Sea Star for making this important investment in BC’s coastal wine and food scene (and for rescuing those Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vines!). For a more in-depth view on the acquisition, see reports by John Schreiner and Tim Pawsey.