LittleFarm’s Rhys Pender and Alishan Driediger

Planting your own vineyard requires healthy doses of optimism, a ton of knowledge, unbridled passion and not a little cash, regardless of how big—or small—the project. Making your own wine, even more.

This week we got to taste the first release from Similkameen’s aptly named Little Farm Winery, the labour of love undertaken by wine guru Rhys Pender (Master of Wine) and Alishan Driediger.

Full disclosure: We’re good friends. In fact, a couple of years ago, Rhys and I were forced to endure four days in Jerez together, researching tapas, nightclubs, little fried fish, and Iberian soccer culture (Spain vs. Portugal). Oh, and Sherry!

Neil, looking very scripted

Rhys and Alishan thought it might be a good idea to throw a small release party, which they did with the help of owner Neil Ingram at Boneta—arguably one of the smartest—and most literate—sommeliers you’ll ever meet.

It was a happily casual affair. But the wines are nothing short of serious.

Similkameen Valley, looking south

In 2009, Rhys and Alishan planted Riesling and Chardonnay at their four acre vineyard in Cawston not far from the banks of the Similkameen River. This is tough country, one of the region’s few east-to-west valleys, framed by towering peaks, with rugged calcium carbonate packed soils and usually a pretty stiff wind. (When I drove through New Zealand’s Gibbston Valley, on the way to Central Otago a couple of years ago, I was struck by the similarity…) However, as far as we know, so far at least, there’s no bungy jumping in Similkameen …

Little Farm vineyard looking north (supplied)

When Rhys and Alishan talk about the wines they talk about “an old French barrel”, that’ll be “one’” barrel, in each case. Quantities are very small.

However, if you’re a fervent follower of all things BC, you’ll not want to wait to get your hands on the steely, crisp, lime, calcium and mineral packed high acid Little Farm 2011 Riesling, which, if any indication, shows tremendous promise. $29.99. 90 pts.

Alishan is pretty happy!

An even smaller amount of Little Farm 2011 Chardonnay (equally mineral with complex layers of lemon, grapefruit, apple and almond hints, also $29.99, 90 pts) was made.

If you move really fast you still might be able to order some in a mixed case on line at www.littlefarmwinery.caBy the case sales only.

There are lots of good things happening in the Similkameen. However, these stellar drops not only merit attention in their own right but are also milestone testaments to the ever-growing potential of the Similkameen Valley.

Stay tuned, as they say, for a whole lot more from these two.