Coletta goes haywire. Not!

BC’s newest wine, for this week at least, is Haywire—which just also happens to be the latest brainchild of Christine Coletta, the long-time (and arguably most savvy) Canadian wine marketer. It was her efforts, way back in the early ‘90s, that contributed greatly to putting BC wines on the world map, when very few people believed in them.

As executive director of the BC Wine Institute (1992-2001), Coletta also introduced BC wines to the London International Wine Fair when the Brits were still asking themselves how a Canadian Chardonnay (Mission Hill, 1992) could have walked off with the celebrated Avery Trophy.

Coletta says they chose the name ‘Haywire’ not only because it refers to the tangle of baling wires but also ‘because it aptly describes our transition from city slickers to farmers to winery owners.”

(It’s also entirely fitting that Haywire’s launch should take place right around the 20th anniversary of the BC VQA program, which Coletta was very instrumental in getting off the ground.)

Estate-grown Haywire VQA 2009 Switchback Pinot Gris (for now that’s all they produce) was made with input from wine guru—and extended family member—David Scholefield. It’s classic BC Pinot Gris (if there is such an animal) that balances lively, gently fruit forward, mainly apple and peach notes with a touch of juicy acidity and just a hint of residual sugar. It’s more subtle than some, with delicate citrus and stone fruit on the nose and a little zest in the close. $22. 90. Limited availability, BC private wine stores—and better restaurants.

We enjoyed it with freshly caught barbecued Sockeye salmon, lazily but suitably adorned with Victorian Epicure’s excellent citrus and pepper herbed Tyee seasoning, and fresh picked garden peas.

Haywire’s Switchback Vineyard is on a bench overlooking scenic Okanagan Lake (image supplied)

The grapes came from vines grown on a former orchard, purchased by Coletta and husband Steve Lornie in 2005, on a 10-acre bench on the western slopes above Summerland. The site, overlooking Okanagan Lake, was planted to Pinot Gris in 2007. Needless to say, to back their launch, Coletta and Lornie have no shortage of clever marketing quips, such as ‘BC wine guru goes Haywire’ …

Our favourite part:  Coletta’s story as to the pitfalls of starting up your own vineyard will ring true to many ‘city slickers’ who’ve exchanged concrete for rural jungle.

We especially like her: Ten Essential Steps to Ensure Success in the Wine Business.

With Coletta’s wine industry experience and Lornie’s construction background, things will move quickly from here, with plans to construct a winery in time for the 2011 vintage.

Reading between the lines, you can be sure that this innovative crew, while happy to learn from a legion of winery friends, will also be doing a few things quite differently.

Future plans call for a Pinot Noir (from Fritz Hollenbach’s vineyard above Skaha Lake), a rosé and, perhaps most interesting of all, a sparkling wine. (Although, that’s no surprise, considering Coletta’s long association with Sumac Ridge founder (and now neighbour) Harry McWatters.

One thing we know for sure.  Christine Coletta never does anything by half measure. For example, while others are merely content to come up with a cute name that might just sell—and have somebody else do the work—Coletta and Lornie have bought the land, grown the grapes and will open their winery—likely on schedule.

Stay tuned.

And don’t be fooled.

Haywire will be anything but.

Time for more?

Pour yourself a glass of wine and read Coletta’s delightfully candid and witty diary of the past five years—with trials and tribulations, touching stories, and more than a few laughs.  It’s well worth checking out and—as she says—should be mandatory reading for any ‘city slickers having sugar coated visions of owning a winery or vineyard…’