Founder-owners | Alishan Driediger and Rhys Pender MW.
Background | Little Farm Winery is the result of years of hard work for owners Alishan Driediger and Rhys Pender MW. The 4 acre vineyard was planted in Cawston between 2009-2011. Little Farm started with a passion for wine and developed into growing and producing Chardonnay and Riesling from their Mulberry Tree Vineyard at their home in Cawston, BC in the Similkameen Valley. The goal was always to make wines with minimal manipulation and intervention that really captured the vineyard site and the growing season. The vines were planted in 2009 on the calcium carbonate rich soil and braving the unforgiving Similkameen sun and wind. The first wines were made in 2011. In 2012 a dry Rosé was added to the lineup.
Other jobs | Rhys owns and runs Wine Plus+ as well which runs a WSET school and he does writing, judging, consulting and training. Alishan works full time on the business at the moment but has also baked and sold artisan bread at the farmers markets as a part time income in recent years. Alishan makes and sells naturally leavened artisan breads at the Penticton Farmers’ Market every Saturday between May and Thanksgiving.
Cawston terroir | Soils are mostly glacial deposits, they are a mix of rock material and there are large amounts of calcium carbonate that were leeched out of the limestone in the mountains and deposited in the old river beds. This gives the wines powerful acidity, low pH and a strong minerality. Second is the wind and dry conditions. Low rainfall, low humidity and often powerful winds make this an organic hotbed and just under half of all farms (43% was what I last heard) in the area are certified organic.
Mulberry Tree Vineyard | Mulberry Tree Vineyard, the home site, is situated in the sunny, windy and rugged climate of Cawston, BC. A lone mulberry tree sits in the middle of the Riesling block, giving the vineyard its name. The five-acre property was purchased in 2008. The property was half fallow land (2ac) and half a mixed 2ac orchard (which was cleared) including peach, pear, plum, apple and one Mulberry Tree which we kept, designed the vineyard to be planted around it and then named the vineyard after it Mulberry Tree Vineyard. After the existing orchard was cleared the initial 4 acre planting of Chardonnay (2 acres) and Riesling (2 acres) took place in 2009. Due to a harsh winter in 2009 further vines were planted in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Three different clones of Chardonnay were planted and six different clones of Riesling to give added complexity. In 2016 the estate had just under 4 acres of grapes planted. Split 50/50 between Chardonnay (3 clones) and Riesling (6 clones). About 2800 plants of each variety (1556 vines per acre density).
Soil | The key feature of the site is its complex soil which is very heavy in calcium carbonate. This soil combined with the relentless Similkameen wind and long hours of sunlight combine to give small, intensely flavoured clusters of grapes, a low yield and a great range of flavour.
Rootstocks | Originally 101-14 and then 3309C for some replants. This was for a number of reasons, the most important being a potentially high water table in some parts and the ability to reduce vigour and advance maturity to allow for better protection against winter freeze. These things (and what was available!) were considered more important than lime tolerance at the time.
Weeds | Weeds are controlled by mowing in between the rows and with a grape hoe under the vines. Native plant species are encouraged to flower in spring. They attract a range of beneficial insects.
Certification | 2008 The founder-owners farmed the property organically since 2008 but didn’t apply for certification immediately. | 2015 First vintage with organic status for Mulberry Tree Vineyard in April 2015.
Rosé, Blind Creek Vineyard | The Cabernet Franc grapes for the Rosé are sourced from Blind Creek. Blind Creek Vineyard sits on the bench in Cawston just over a kilometre from Mulberry Tree Vineyard. The Cabernet Franc grapes are dedicated specifically to the Little Farm Rosé and are harvested early. The Blind Creek Vineyard seems to share many similar soil characteristics to Mulberry Tree Vineyard.
Chardonnay, Mulberry Tree Vineyard | 2014 13.5%. Similkameen Valley. 72 cases produced. Bottle given to me by Michaela Morris in Jesi in Sept 2016 and tasted soon after over several days. Revivingly crisp, with nice clear yellow-green apple fruit.
Little Farm Winery
2155 Newton Road, Cawston, BC. V0X 1C1, Canada