British Columbia’s Gehringer Brothers Estate produces great wines, especially its world-class rieslings, but you can’t buy them here.
SOME OF THE MOST remarkable and affordable wines in the Pacific Northwest are from a winery that most have never heard of.
Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery is just 20 minutes north of the Washington-Canada border, and Walter and Gordon Gehringer have burnished a reputation for crafting dynamic and delicious wines — primarily whites — since their family launched the winery in 1985.
In the 1970s, the brothers’ father and uncle dreamed of starting a winery in British Columbia’s nascent wine industry, so they sent the brothers to study winemaking and viticulture in West Germany. Today, Gordon manages the vineyards while Walter runs the cellar. The collaboration has resulted in three decades of success.
Three from Gehringer
Here are three superb examples of Gehringer Brothers’ wines. These wines are available only in Canada. All prices are in Canadian dollars.
Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery 2014 old vines auxerrois, Okanagan Valley, $14: This obscure French white grape is spectacular in the hands of Walter Gehringer, revealing refreshing yet delicate aromas and flavors of citrus and orchard fruit.
Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery 2014 Minus 9 ehrenfelser ice wine, Okanagan Valley, $42: Ehrenfelser is a rare German variety that seems perfectly suited for great ice wines. This ultra-sweet white wine reveals aromas and flavors of apple pie, apricot and cardamom.
Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery 2014 Private Reserve riesling, Okanagan Valley, $14: Here is one of the best rieslings in the Northwest. It’s a dry and dramatic white with notes of lime, Granny Smith apple and clove. A perfect wine with crab.
Wine lovers will find much to enjoy at Gehringer Brothers, from merlot and pinot noir to sauvignon blanc and dessert wines. The winery is best known for its world-class rieslings, made in no fewer than five styles — from bone dry to succulently sweet.
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Of great enjoyment for the adventurous, however, are wines that are far out of the mainstream, including such rare varieties as ehrenfelser, auxerrois and schönburger. Auxerrois, a grape from France’s Loire Valley, is well-suited for the southern Okanagan Valley’s warm climate, and Gehringer’s version should be considered among the finest white wines in the Northwest.
British Columbia winemakers are best known for their stunning ice wines, which are produced by waiting for the grapes to naturally freeze on the vine. Temperatures must reach about 17 degrees Fahrenheit (-8 Celsius) before growers are allowed to harvest the grapes — usually in the middle of the night. The Gehringers typically make three ice wines each year using riesling, ehrenfelser and cabernet franc.
So why are you just now hearing about Gehringer? Because its wines are never exported below the 49th parallel. If you want to try these gems, you’ll need to travel to the Okanagan Valley (a five-hour drive from Seattle) or at least to a Vancouver wine shop.
It is worth the effort.