This winery took root in 1998 in Europe where Jim and Leslie D'Andrea visited numerous wineries during a three-month family sabbatical. Jim was already a wine enthusiast with a growing library of viticulture books and cellar of fine wines. They looked at vineyard properties in France and Ontario before focusing on the Okanagan, a region they believed held the tremendous promise for producing great wines.
In 2001 they purchased a hilltop property on Oliver Ranch Road in Okanagan Falls, with a small vineyard and room for more vines. The original planting in 1986 included Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. The winery's name is inspired by the ridge at the top of the property and by the noble varieties that they intended to plant. The vineyard is an example of Gravel Hills Terroir, has favourable sun exposure, and heat units comparable to Bordeaux. This has proved to be a vineyard with immense possibilities.
Upon taking ownership, the D'Andreas planted for the first 5 years. The southern exposure has the heat to mature their Bordeaux reds while the northern exposure suits the Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer and Sparkling production. The wine shop is perched at the top of the ridge, with views both of Peach Cliff to the north and Vaseux Lake and McIntyre Bluff to the south.
A consulting winemaker assisted Jim and Leslie in the creation of Noble Ridge's first vintages. They expanded in 2006 by purchasing the neighbouring property on the east side of Oliver Ranch Road. "Being able to obtain land to obtain some land in our area is of great importance to us," Jim says. "We are strongly of the view that the Okanagan Falls 'appellation' is a premiere wine-growing region."
The new property included Merlot and Chardonnay vines planted in 1998. It also had a sturdy building which they converted into a 3 story, gravity-fed winery. Noble Ridge is an estate producer relying exclusively on its own grapes. Its vineyards, when fully planted, will allow the winery to cap its annual production of about 6,000 cases. "Our goal is to make premium quality wine," Jim says. "After travelling the world and tasting various wines, I am convinced that Canada can and is producing excellent, world-class wines."
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