As we are looking at the end of our second month of quarantine, more and more people are hankering for some normality. Any way to let lose and have fun, while still maintaining a substantial distance from everyone else; in the safety of their own home, of course.

So in comes OK Crush Pad with their virtual wine tastings. As a winery that did not start with a tasting room, it makes sense they be one of the first to take the plunge into cyber space. They are offering wine bundles off of their website with the ability to purchase them, and a tasting with one of their skilled sommeliers. Be aware, there is a minimum purchase of 4 bundles for a tasting for 4, which is also their ideal number of participants. However, they have gone as high as 8 in order to accommodate a wine club. (Side note, how do I join a wine club?).

The bundles feature wine from their three main labels: Free Form, Narrative, and most notably: Haywire. The bundle basically has you choosing between Narrative’s baby bottle of rosé bubbles or Haywire’s. I went with the latter for myself and my other three tasters; as naturally you all must choose the same set. The bundle in question then gets delivered to your front door, touch-less style.

After you decide on your bundle, you pick a day and time, and which platform you wish to teleconference on. Then your sommelier reaches out to confirm the details via email. From there you log on and enjoy a 30 minute session which involves background on OK Crush Pad, education on the wines, a question and answer portion, and light hearted batter as a bonus. Basically you dictate the flow of your session, like you would at a regular, in person tasting, in a physical tasting room. With our group, we logged on with Kelsey, who hosted us from OK Crush Pad‘s bottling room. There, she was able to reference the barrels and concrete jars behind her, as she went through our wine selection pouring bottle into glass.

Although this is the new method of congregating now, and there are many great platforms to consider when trying to convey what you need; I still find it cumbersome. Especially if everyone is on different internet speeds, and you end up talking over one another. Meaning conversations get lost in translation, as five try to discuss one topic, seconds apart.

We began with an overview of OK Crush Pad. A husband and wife run winery that started off as a retirement plan, turned into a romantic dream. With both co-owners coming from a marketing background, they lacked knowledge of the wine industry, so sought the guidance of other established vineyards. The result: a custom crush facility and an opportunity to help other small and establishing vineyards. OK Crush, offers up their equipment and facility to others, wanting their own startup wine dreams. Therefore, what might seem like a “personality disorder” (given their featuring of so many different labels under one banner), actually speaks well to their winery’s concept and theme of bringing people together.

Each aforementioned wine label has been established with a specific concept in mind. I will be highlighting a few facts as we go through the tasting notes.

Haywire’s 2018 Baby Bub is purse sized, and full of red fruits like strawberry, raspberry, and watermelon. It is a fruit driven sparkling that is youthful and fresh, making it ideal for a day on the beach.

Haywire winery is know for their use of concrete tanks. (The very tanks we got a good view of from behind our screens with Kelsey). The belief here is that wine is alive, living, and changing. So why do you want to put it in a dead vessel like stainless steel? On the other hand, they don’t want to add any flavour to the wine, like you would get by using an oak barrel. So for a pure expression of fruit stripped down the team at Haywire went with concrete, giving you more character than what you would get from stainless steel.

In a similar fashion, Narrative wants to accept the fruit as is, on its own. To showcase it by itself and to bottle it on its own. They do this by fermenting and aging it only in concrete and stainless, with the latter retaining the most aromatic and fruit notes. Thus giving it a more complex mouthfeel, as with our 2018 Viognier. In this taster we got oily and viscous stone fruit, pineapple, lemon, and even banana. I am not typically a fan of white wine, but was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this one.

And then there is Free Form, known as their “Nature wines”, which has minimal intervention. They practice a hands off approach with this label, having as little to do with it as possible. Basically it goes into a tank, and then the bottle it is sold in. They further speak to this natural approach by using a ground stone paper label that is made eco-friendly and made without the use of water and paper.

The grapes for the wine itself is grown in Keremoes. The town being better known for ripening red grapes, like the 2017 Cabernet Franc we were tasting today. This red was fermented in clay terracotta pots from Italy. They are a more porous vessel, meaning more oxygen gets into the wine, and it softens in a shorter amount of time. These pots too, don’t contribute to the flavour of the wine.

I am typically a red drinking, but this wasn’t my favourite. It was a smooth wine with lighter tannins. Most memorable for its savoury body, giving you herbs like sage and rosemary.

 

In short, barring the ability to travel to the Okanagan during these times and most definitely not having the ability to attend a tasting there, this virtual platform is a great alternative. It offered a different way to interact, enjoy wine with friends, and learn something new in the safety of your own home. I highly recommend signing up and having something to look forward to with this one, you are going to buy wine anyways. For how you too can have your very own at home wine tasting, visit the link below.

https://okanagancrushpad.com/