There is no wine-growing region in the world quite like the Black Sage Bench.
Located at the northern tip of the Sonoran Desert, with scorching mid-summer temperatures, the rugged bench was thought to be good for little more than growing scrub and grazing cattle in the early 1900s. When partners Harry McWatters and Bob Wareham — then-owners of Sumac Ridge Estate Winery in Summerland — purchased a fallow vineyard site on the bench in 1992, intending to plant grafted vinifera vines imported from France, they raised more than a few eyebrows. Many thought it would be an expensive mistake.
The partners named the 115-acre site Black Sage Vineyard™, after the road it fronts, and planted it with the late-ripening premium grapes that thrive in hot, arid conditions. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc represented about seventy percent of the planting. White varieties included Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.
The reds were the first classic Bordeaux varieties to be planted in the region, and when the vines began to produce juicy, intensely flavoured fruit, other growers soon followed suit. Since 1993, the Black Sage Bench has become renowned for the quality of bold red wines it produces.
Crafted by the experienced hands of winemaker Jason James, the exceptional wines have a bold new label that matches their confident personality. This new family of wines will showcase what happens when the right vines are planted in the right location.
Ideal for late-ripening reds, the vineyard continues to host the 20-year-old Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc varieties. White varieties — not as suitable for one of the hottest vineyard locations in Canada — provide excellent grafting opportunities with their well-seasoned rootstalks; if the soils dictate, new varietals will be introduced.