Saturday, August 10, 2013

Get To Know... Dwight Sick

Dwight Sick
Vintner, Stag's Hollow Winery
Okanagan Falls, BC

Comparitively speaking, Dwight Sick is late to the world of winemaking having first spent parts of three decades in another vocation before entering the BC wine industry. But man, has he caught-up quickly. Stag's Hollow Winery may be hidden from the highway and out-of-sight from the casual Okanagan wine tourist too easily drawn to the Corporate-backed traps, but they are fast becoming a top Canadian boutique winery and helping to put Okanagan Falls on the map. Dwight's impressive consistency dealing with vintage variation and changing consumer palates has gone a long way to making Stag's Hollow a reliable selection in the wine shop, year-in, year-out.

Get to know Dwight a bit better and get to know Stag's Hollow Winery's wines...

Key wines to try:
Heritage Block 2007, 2008, 2010
Cabernet Franc 2009, 2010
Syrah Rosé 2009, 2011, 2012

1. What do you enjoy most about making wine?
The constant and ever changing challenges that each vintage presents. They keep me sharp and honest when it comes to winemaking. I think when I reach the point that I feel that I have seen it all, I will want to quite winemaking.
2. What inspired you to become a winemaker?
Truthfully? I was working in the airline industry prior to my starting in the wine industry and I hated it. I spent my last ten years working there searching for a way out and then one day I realized that the answer was right in front of me. I live in the heart of wine country, I have a strong interest in sciences, I have a strong palate and sensory skills, and I have numerous friends that work in the wine industry around the world. It was then that I spent the next 4 years repositioning my career and when a 'golden handshake' opportunity presented itself to leave the airline industry, I dove head into the wine industry.

3. What causes you the most stress during harvest?
Actually, very little stresses me during harvest. I love vintage. I have come to expect the unexpected during vintage and as such, I have learned to roll with it and not sweat the small stuff. Pet peeves during vintage? Running out of coffee beans first thing in the morning pre ferment punchdowns and when we run out of beer to drink during the end of the day crushpad clean up and nobody has told me that we need to get more of either.

4. What is your favourite and/or least favourite wine cliché?
Least fav line / Wines made with passion... They all are or at least they all should be. Fav line / ??? Wine, it is not just for drinking at breakfast...

5. Away from the cellar and vineyard, what’s your greatest passion in life?
My family. After 24 years of marriage, I am proud to say that my wife is still my best friend. We have 3 daughters, 1 son in law, and a grandson together. Sunday family dinners are a highlight of our week.

6. After a long day of work in the cellar, what do you turn to for refreshment?
There is nothing better for me than a few hours of riding on my mountain bike to rejuvenate my mind set, and pump up my energy levels. Post ride, you will often find me sipping a 'recovery' beer which will most likely be a Hefeweizen of some sort.

7. If you could take credit for one other BC wine on the market today, which would it be and why?
There are several that I wish I could say I had made. The world class bubbles from Blue Mountain, the intense dry Rieslings from Tantalus, the perfectly balanced rich Rhone white blends from Moon Curser....

8. Of the wines in your portfolio, do you have a favourite food pairing to go with one of the wines?
Although our Tempranillo based wines are relatively new in our portfolio, they have become my current favourite. Their tarry, smokey nose and palate, with medium firm tannins, and vibrant juicy fruit make food pairings with them endless. A shredded slow cooked BBQ shoulder of pork with lots of homemade BBQ sauce was our latest paring. I'm super excited about our 2010 Cachet No.3 and 2011 Tempranillo which will be released later this summer.

9. What do you think will be the next big trend in BC wine over the next few years?
We will see more of everything. Diversity in wines will be what the Okanagan will become known for. Can we make world class Syrah, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Viognier, Albariño, Merlot, and Gamay? Sure we can. You just have to find the right site, find the right micro climate, plant the right varieties in the right spots, and farm the site right.... easy right?

10. Screwcap or cork? What’s your preference?
Both and then some others as well. Every wine has a closure that will perform best for it. We are currently using both and I don't plan on that changing anytime soon.

 -  Liam Carrier ©copyright 2013

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