Shelby. Remember that name.
In late 2018, a lot of BC wine enthusiasts were shocked when it was announced that the Luckhurst family, owners of Road 13, had sold the winery to the Von Mandl group. It remains to be seen what that will mean for the quality of the wine going forward, but this is the same group that acquired Cedarcreek a few years ago and have not caused any dip in quality there; they have since opened up Checkmate and Martin’s Lane, two premium wine brands… so the future seems bright.
I was a little sad to hear that Joe Luckhurst, the son of founders Mick and Pam Luckhurst, had recently left the winery. He had stayed on in a consulting role after the sale, but has now moved on to other ventures. During our last visit here, it was Joe that took us through our tasting, and as we got to talking about wine and he realized that we were serious about it, he kept disappearing for a few minutes, only to return with another “special” bottle to taste, directly from his office or the cellar. It was a fantastic experience and I wish him the best with whatever new direction he takes.
We are greeted warmly and taken on a little tour of the vineyards and given a bit of a history of the winery (most of which we already knew, but they wouldn’t know that). After the tour, we are taken to the VIP area (we are not even club members) to taste their wines. We are outside, under a canopy to keep the temperatures cool. Our wines are brought to us in glass vials, so we can control who gets how much of each wine (as my wife is driving today, she tastes less than I do). It’s a COVID-related change, of course, but I kinda like it and hope it stays. There is not a single other group out here tasting today. We had pre-booked and pre-paid for this tasting ($25 each, IIRC).
This is where Shelby comes into our little drama. Bubbly, friendly and knowledgable, she has all the tools to make it in this business. IIRC she is 21 years old, maybe 22. Oh, and she has no prior wine training, and started here on July 1st.
JULY 1st. Today as we are tasting, it’s July 15th.
She has been in the business for all of 2 weeks, literally, and already knows more about her product than half of the employees you will find at your average tasting room. And it’s not just “she learned the script” knowledge, at all. I generally ask a ton of questions at these tastings, and no winery script covers the type of questions I am asking (and it’s VERY easy to tell when someone just knows the script). She answers all of them, as if she’s been doing this since birth. Very impressive.
During our tasting, their new winemaker, Barclay Robinson, ventures outside to say “hello” and see how we are enjoying our tasting. We mention to him the incredible amount of knowledge that Shelby has given her lack of experience or time in the industry. He smiles, nods, and says, “Yep. She’s a sponge”.
That girl is someone to watch. If she decides she wants to continue her career in the wine industry, wineries should be beating down her door to hire her. Road 13 is incredibly lucky to have her now.
Now, let’s talk about some wine!
First, I’m going to start with a couple wines that will soon disappear from the Road 13 portfolio, as they are still owned by the Luckhursts and were not part of the sale.
I am sure these wines will continue to be available somewhere, but I would imagine this will be the last time we will see them here.
A fantastic tasting, lovely venue, fabulous service. Highly recommended. If I needed to join more wine clubs (spoiler alert: I do not), this is one that would be at the top of the list.
SAFETY SCORE: 10
Absolutely nothing to be afraid of here. Our entire time was spent outside, and no employees even got close to us. I did go inside the castle to order wine and arrange shipping but the employee was a good 8 feet away at all times and the castle is huge. I used the washroom before we left, and it was pristine.
Up next: A trip up to Penticton for a tasting and picnic in the stunning grounds of Painted Rock!