Orofino Winery begins early harvest

John and Virginia Weber began the 2013 grape harvest at Orofino Winery 10 days earlier than last year.

Virginia and John Weber of Orofino Winery in Cawston. The 2013 harvest is underway early this year.

Virginia and John Weber of Orofino Winery in Cawston. The 2013 harvest is underway early this year.

John and Virginia Weber began the 2013 grape harvest at Orofino Winery 10 days earlier than last year.

The Cawston based winemakers produce a number of high quality wines from their own six acre vineyard, in addition to drawing on 20 acres from various other properties in the valley.

Orofino produces Riesling, Pinot Noir, Cabernet, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Muscat, Syrah, Gamay and several Bordeaux varieties.

“It was the perfect growing season,” said Virginia Weber, “it actually wouldn’t hurt for the season to slow a bit,  to allow a little more hang time for the grapes. It is nice, though, not to have to be picking in November.”

The Webers are anticipating a great vintage this year.

“It’s the earliest season since 2009,” John said, “all varieties have done really well this year.”

Paying attention to their marketing opportunities has paid off for the Webers, who sell their products through their winery outlet as well as to private stores.

They also have a number of Vancouver restaurants who stock their offerings.

“We have representatives who market our wines on the island, the Lower Mainland and the interior,” added John.

Orofino’s first year of production was 2005, when the winery produced 550 cases.

“Last year, we crushed enough to fill 5,000 cases,” said Virginia.

The winery has built up a strong clientele, many of whom have been customers since the winery first began operations. The Webers began a wine club where customers from all over the country can order wine. Additionally,  more recently a collectors club was initiated, where customers commit to a specific number of cases each year.

John and Virginia credit some of their success to timing.

“I think we started the business at the right time,” John observed, noting that there were only a couple of wineries operating in the Similkameen when they began operations.

Orofino recently picked up seven medals at the recently held National Wine Awards.

Their award winning wines included Scout Vineyards Riesling, Home Vineyard Riesling, Scout Vineyard Syrah, Beleza Bordeaux, Home Vineyards Pinot Noir, a Gamay and a Petit Verdot.

Orofino Winery will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through the upcoming fall wine festival. The winery will also be represented at the Festival of the Grape in Oliver on October  6.

Two new releases are also planned for this fall.