Kyla Richey and Rudy Verhoeff are enjoying this shoulder season.
“It was a mad rush for us to open up for the Labor Day long weekend, so we’re now taking advantage of that slightly slower pace to taste wine with people and introduce them to the Valley Commons brand,” said Richey, who owns and operates Valley Commons Winery with her husband Verhoeff at the District Wine Village in Oliver.
The village is a new concept for the Okanagan – 13 small wineries, a brasserie and a restaurant, each with its own tasting room, forming a circle facing a huge courtyard with individual patio spaces and an amphitheater that seats 610 people.
The couple are also the new owners of Stoneboat Winery in Oliver, which has its own vineyards, cellar and tasting room on the Black Sage Bench.
“Stoneboat is a long established brand that has its own style,” said Verhoeff.
“So we wanted Valley Commons to be different and to appeal to a younger generation of wine drinkers with accessible, bright and vibrant wines.”
This philosophy translates into the tasting room where there is a non-intimidating vibe just like you are, so you can just taste and enjoy.
“Our name, Valley Commons, is about where we come together and the recognition that wine is a catalyst in bringing people together, whether it’s a romantic date or a big family dinner,” said Richey.
Valley Commons currently offers five wines: Garden Society Red Blend ($ 40), Harvest Table White Blend ($ 25), Rose ($ 30), Cabernet Franc ($ 35), and Pinot Gris ($ 28).
They were made by Mark Simpson of BC Wine Studio in Okanagan Falls.
Going forward, Valley Commons wines will be crafted by Stoneboat winemaker Bill Adams, supported by consultant Pascal Madevon.
Valley Commons at District Wine Village is open daily, except Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Tastings are $ 10 at the standing bar and $ 15.
Richey and Verhoeff are former professional volleyball players who were members of Canada’s national team and played in Europe and South America.
Verhoeff’s father Paul made money with Advance Flooring in the Fraser Valley and branched out into the food, beer and wine business.
Verhoeff’s brother, Lance, owns Trading Post Brewing, which owns a brewery and restaurant in the Wine Village District, and started with breweries and restaurants in Langley, Fort Langley and Abbotsford.
Try some IMBZZL
Morph soak and twist and you’ve got IMBZZL, the cheeky new label from Laughing Stock Vineyards on the Naramata Bench.
The winery was founded by stock brokers, hence the irreverent name of Laughing Stock, and IMBZZL takes it one step further by making fun of the crimes of embezzlement that can sometimes be perpetrated in the financial industry.
The individual names of IMBZZL wines are also a nod to the sleight of hand that can be done with money.
2018 Fast One ($ 24) is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.
2020 Double Cross ($ 22) is a Pinot Gris.
And 2020 Ruse ($ 20) is a Syrah-dominant rose.
Stefanie Dylla, Laughing Stock’s wine assistant, has taken over the head of the IMBZZL portfolio.
Steve MacNaull is an Okanagan wine lover and Canadian wine researcher. Email: [email protected]