Wine Business Monthly – Winemaker of the Month
Severine Pinte, winemaker, viticulturist and managing partner, Le Vieux Pin winery and LaStella Winery, South Okanagan, British Columbia, Canada
“The British Columbia wine industry is still quite young but very dynamic. As we grow, every day I am constantly seeking information and Wine Business Monthly has been, for the past 11 years, a huge source of testimonials, research and studies on all aspects of the industry: vineyard management, winemaking, aging, business management, finance. Sharing knowledge is one of the keys to succeed as a whole industry!
We have also been confronted with multiple wildfires in the past few years, and the smoke taint problem is also daunting. Reading the recent research project “From Blaze to Bottle: Smoke gets in Your Wine” in the January 2020 edition was really helpful. The more knowledge I can acquire on this problem, the more proactive we can be if we do get exposed again in the future. Lots of questions are still not answered, but now knowing that we can potentially make a quick and somehow accurate decision by testing some key components in the vineyard prior to harvest has opened new doors to limiting the impact of smoke on our wines.”
The goal of the wineries is to produce sustainable, high-quality, balanced winegrapes with low-input viticulture. It helps us make exclusive vintages that carry with them a sense of time and place, while practicing a non-interventionist winemaking attitude.
ANNUAL CASE PRODUCTION:
Le vieux Pin: 9,100 cases; LaStella Winery: 7,200 cases
67 acres scattered throughout the South Okanagan
I came to Le Vieux Pin in 2010 with 14 harvests of international winemaking experience under my belt, along with eight years of vineyard management. After graduating Montpellier SupAgro, I apprenticed at the Cave de Tecou in the AOC Gaillac in France. I came to British Columbia for the first time to work for Domaine de Chaberton as an assistant winemaker. In 1999, I returned to France and worked a year in Bordeaux under the direction of Andre Lurton as the director of the Pessac-Leognan Appellation Association, then returned to the Languedoc. For nine years I was the head winemaker and viticultural consultant for Le Vignoble des 2 Terres (Vineyard 2 Lands cooperative) in Terrasse du Larzac. Curiosity and the pursuit of new challenges brought me to the South Okanagan in 2010. The Okanagan, with its unique terroir and cool climate, has always been intriguing to me.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST PROFESSIONAL CHALLENGE?
One of the most difficult aspects of my job is to maintain a vibrant and fluent flow of communication amongst my team and with our partners. Everyday there is a new lesson to learn and we constantly need to adapt to all the moving parts in order to succeed. Without my team, I would have probably abandoned this career path a long time ago. Many factors are challenging: The wine industry is a male-dominant industry, the culture difference between France and Canada is huge, the pocket desert we live in with hot days and cool nights is constantly reminding us of the uncertainty of farming. Spending time listening to every individual has helped me tremendously to navigate and find the right way to produce great quality fruit year after year.
VARIETALS THAT YOUR WINERY IS KNOWN FOR:
Le Vieux Pin winery is well known for its Rhône varietal style wines: we produce three different cuvée of Syrah and a white Rhône varietal blend called Ava, named after my daughter. It is a blend of Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne. At LaStella we focus more on Super Tuscan style wines. We grow some Sangiovese on the estate, and this grape brings some nice, bright, fresh, red fruit aromas along with bright acidity to counterbalance the bold and ripe Merlot and Cabs.