Monday, September 15, 2014

Get To Know... Daniel Bontorin

Daniel Bontorin
Vintner and Consultant
Seven Directions Wine and Wine Country Consulting
West Kelowna, BC

Operating as a consultant winemaker since 2005 where he contributed to the early success of notable BC wineries such as Le Vieux Pin and Quinta Ferriera, Daniel has since added to his growing portfolio his own label, Seven Directions, which focusses 
solely on producing single-vineyard rosé wines - the first winery of its kind in the Okanagan. 

Get to know Daniel a bit better and get to know Seven Directions' wines...

Key Wines To Try:
Zweigelt Rosé 2013
Kalala Vineyard Pinot Noir Rosé 2012,  2013

1. What do you enjoy most about making wine?
I enjoy how each season brings on new challenges through growing conditions and mother nature. Every vintage invokes its own unique flavours into the wine. Like a chef, having the freedom to create a wine that I created and appreciate, knowing that this wine will be enjoyed by many others. I am Italian and grew up with food, wine and Sunday family gatherings. Winemaking to me is not only an art but a lifestyle to be shared.

2. What inspired you to become a winemaker?
Besides growing up with my father always making wine at home, I was introduced to winemaking by a family friend who lived below a winery here in the south Okanagan. The winemaker of that winery would help him out with his home winemaking from time to time. Over a short period of time getting to know this winemaker, he saw that I had a naturally good palate and nose. I took his advice and pursued winemaking. I have no formal wine schooling, instead hard work dedication and knowledge from working along side some of the best in the Okanagan.

I believe in a hands off minimalist approach to winemaking and have always made single vineyard wines as this is truly the only way to showcase terroir. The winemaker Frank, passed away in a tragic winemaking accident a few years after meeting him.

3. What causes you the most stress during harvest?
I am a father of three and a winemaking consultant for a few wineries in BC so the most stressful part of harvest is maintaining a level of sanity over the immense long hours and not having enough of them in a day. It pays to have an awesome crush crew. I love what I do and wouldn't change a thing. Year after year my perseverance and the passion for wine pays off in the end.

4. What is your favourite and/or least favourite wine cliché
Favourite - It takes a lot of beer to make good wine, in my case gin and tonic.

Least favourite - The use of 'terroir' when soil type is only used. There are many other factors that contribute to the terroir of a vineyard and wine.

5. Away from the cellar and vineyard, what’s your greatest passion in life?
Besides my kids and fiancé, I enjoy reading up and collecting wine books both technical and practical; I have 110 in my library currently. I enjoy doing an array of things such as camping, puttering and tasting wine both locally and in the USA. We lead a simple everyday life.

6. After a long day of work in the cellar, what do you turn to for refreshment?
Depending on the weather, if it is really hot out, I'll enjoy a nice cold beer. Other times gin and tonic is my go to drink now. I think its better for you than rum and coke! If that's even possible.

7. If you could take credit for one other BC wine on the market today, which would it be and why?
The 2006 Maestoso Merlot from La Stella Winery. A monumental wine that shows what this region can produce when the right variety is teamed up with amazing terroir, great minds and old school techniques. 

8. Of the wines in your portfolio, do you have a favourite food pairing to go with one of the wines?
Our focus is making dry Rose wines, which are very food friendly and versatile. I really don't have a favourite paring, but turkey dinner comes to mind this season; charcuterie, meaty salads and even foie gras. I could say the classic salmon but honestly, our French oak fermented Pinot Noir rose when young can stand up to steak nicely.

9. What do you think will be the next big trend in BC wine over the next few years?
You will see more appellations/ sub appellations being mentioned and enforced, and with that a better sense of place. I feel grape producers will focus on what will grow best on their vineyard site and less on what is trending. What will be trending will be what wines we can make best in the valley in that particular area. As is all around the world, each area specializes in a specific variety, and from then different styles within that area, that is how a region gets better, focus! 

10. Screwcap or cork? What’s your preference?
For me style and price point of the wine drives this decision. Certain wines have the feel and luxury that scream a nice long cork, while other wines that are quick to be consumed only need a screw cap. It is definitely a preference of the maker and buyer. However some very expensive Australian Shiraz are under screw cap.

- Liam Carrier ©copyright 2014

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