SpierHead Winery uses Pinot Noir to win British Columbia Wine Awards

By on October 1, 2016
SpierHead Winery's estate vineyard overlooks Okanagan Lake and Kelowna. The SpierHead 2014 Pinot Noir Cuvee received the Premier's Award as the top wine from the British Columbia Wine Awards.

SpierHead Winery’s estate vineyard overlooks Okanagan Lake and Kelowna. The SpierHead 2014 Pinot Noir Cuveé received the Premier’s Award as the top wine from the British Columbia Wine Awards. (Photo courtesy of SpierHead Winery)

PENTICTON, British Columbia – SpierHead Winery, a young winery in Kelowna headed by Montreal native Bill Pierson, took the top honor at the 2016 British Columbia Wine Awards with its 2014 Pinot Noir Cuveé.

Pierson, a product of the Okanagan University College’s wine program, has been the winemaker at SpierHead since 2012. His 286-case blend of five clones – Dijon 115, 667, 777, 828 and Pommard – earned the Premier’s Award as best of show. The wine retails for $32, and it is among the five releases of Pinot Noir from the 2014 vintage by the Spiers Road member of the Kelowna Fab Five Wine Trail.

The Okanagan Wine Festivals Society conducts B.C. Wine Awards, and Thursday night’s award ceremonies marked the official launch of the 36th annual Fall Okanagan Wine Festival. The competition recived a record 624 entries from more than 90 wineries throughout B.C., and it ranks as the oldest and largest wine competition in the province.

Thursday’s reception leads into two nights of the Fall WestJet Wine Tastings. They are among the more than 100 events surrounding the festival created by industry leader Harry McWatters, and the 10-day celebration concludes Thanksgiving weekend (Oct. 8-10) in Penticton with Cropped – a farmers market-type celebration that serves as Canada’s largest public tasting of B.C. wines.

Summerhill creator Cipes receives Founders Award

Stephen Cipes, who created the iconic Summerhill Pyramid Winery in Kelowna, British Columbia, received the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society's 2016 Founder's Award.

Stephen Cipes, who created the iconic Summerhill Pyramid Winery in Kelowna, British Columbia, received the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society’s 2016 Founder’s Award. (Photo by Matt Ferguson/Okanagan Wine Festivals Society)

Thursday’s ceremonies included the presentation to Kelowna vintner Stephen Cipes with the Founders Award, an honor that dates back to the early days of the Okanagan Fall Wine Festival.

The owner of iconic Summerhill Pyramid Winery received the award for contributions made to the Okanagan Valley grape and wine industry. He became the 31st recipient of the plaque created by McWatters. Cipes joins a list of luminaries that includes the Heiss family of Gray Monk (1993), grower Richard Cleave (1996), winemaker Howard Soon (1998), journalist John Schreiner (2002), Wild Goose founder Adolf Kruger (2006), Mission Hill owner Anthony von Mandl (2008) and the Gehringer family (2009).

Seattle merchant judges B.C. Wine Awards

Paul Zitarelli is the owner of Full Pull Wines in Seattle.

Paul Zitarelli, owner of Full Pull Wines in Seattle, was a judge at the third annual Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition in Hood River, Ore. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

This year’s judging was staged Sept. 15-18 at the Sensory Lab at Okanagan College in Penticton, and the 10-person panel of judges spotlighted award-winning merchant Paul Zitarelli, owner of Full Pull Wines in Seattle, and Barbara Phillip, a Master of Wine, journalist and presenter from Vancouver.

Zitarelli, a graduate of Harvard and the lone judge from the United States, also is wine columnist for Seattle magazine.

They were joined on the panel by Gurvinder Bhatia, wine judge, columnist and wine editor for Quench magazine, Edmonton, Alberta; Sid Cross, wine educator and columnist, President, The International Wine & Food Society, Vancouver; DJ Kearney, wine educator, wine judge, instructor, presenter, Vancouver; Sebastien Le Goff, sommelier/service director, Cactus Club Canada, Vancouver; Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson, wine columnist/ literary editor, Winnipeg (Manitoba) Free Press; Brent Muller, manager, Vessel Liquor, Victoria; Tim Pawsey, food/wine critic and writer, HiredBelly.com, Vancouver Courier; and Rick Van Sickle, Publisher, Wines in Niagara (Ontario).

Top wines from the 2016 B.C. Wine Awards

The Okanagan Wine Festivals Society uses the British Columbia Wine Awards as the kickoff for the Okanagan Fall Wine Festival.

The Okanagan Wine Festivals Society uses the British Columbia Wine Awards as the kickoff for the Okanagan Fall Wine Festival. (Photo by Matt Ferguson/Okanagan Wine Festivals Society)

Premier’s Award/Best of show

SpierHead Winery 2014 Pinot Noir Cuveé

Platinum medals

CedarCreek Estate Winery 2013 The Last Word Red Wine
Deep Roots Winery 2014 Syrah
Mission Hill Family Estate 2014 Reserve Chardonnay
Red Rooster Winery 2013 Riesling
Road 13 Vineyards 2012 Sparkling Chenin Blanc
Summerhill Pyramid Winery 2010 Cipes Blanc De Blanc Sparkling Chardonnay
Time Estate Winery 2013 Syrah

Gold medals

Arrowleaf Cellars 2015 Pinot Gris
Arrowleaf Cellars 2014 First Crush White Wine
Arrowleaf Cellars 2015 Rosé
Bench 1775 2013 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot
Black Sage Vineyard 2014 Merlot
Blasted Church Vineyards 2014 Syrah
Blasted Church Vineyards 2014 Nothing Sacred
Blasted Church Vineyards 2014 Holy Moly
CedarCreek Estate Winery 2013 Meritage
CedarCreek Estate Winery 2013 Senator’s Red Wine
CedarCreek Estate Winery 2015 Senator’s White Wine
Church and State Wines 2014 Pinot Noir
Conviction Wines & Calona Vineyards 2015 The Financier Pinot Grigio
Evolve Cellars 2015 Pinot Blanc
Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery 2014 Signature Riesling Icewine
Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery 2015 Optimum Pinot Gris
Harper’s Trail 2014 Riesling
Inniskillin Okanagan 2014 Discovery Series Chenin Blanc
Kismet Estate Winery 2014 Mantra
Lake Breeze Vineyards 2014 Estate Syrah
Monte Creek Ranch Winery 2014 Riesling Icewine
Moraine Estate Winery 2014 Pinot Noir
Perseus Winery 2013 Select Lots Cabernet Franc
Quails’ Gate Estate Winery 2014 Chardonnay
Quails’ Gate Estate Winery 2014 Stewart Family Reserve Chardonnay
Robin Ridge Winery 2014 Gamay
Road 13 Vineyards 2014 Roussanne
The Hatch 2014 Black Swift Long Road Syrah
Vinamité Cellars 2014 Compass
Wayne Gretzky Okanagan 2015 Signature Series Riesling
Wayne Gretzky Okanagan 2015 Signature Series Shiraz
Wild Goose Vineyards 2015 Gewürztraminer
Wild Goose Vineyards 2015 Stoney Slope Riesling

Editor’s note: Click here for a complete list of the awards.

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About Eric Degerman

Eric Degerman is the president and CEO of Great Northwest Wine. He is a journalist with more than 30 years of daily newspaper experience and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest with Andy Perdue and served as its managing editor for 15 years. He is a frequent wine judge along the West Coast and contributor to Pacific Northwest Golfer magazine, the region's longest-running golf publication.

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