Easter Weekend:vinAmité 2018 Season Opening When looking back to the end of 2017, it seems like a long time ago now. Winter has been long for us in the Southern Okanagan Valley this year but at vinAmité, we’ve been on the go for some time now in the vineyard and in the winery, busy with last year’s vintage and to prepare our next wines in tank and barrel rooms for bottling later this Spring. Our vineyard pruning is finished for the season, with an extra amount of renewals pruned on many of our 19 year old plants and the removal of some old wood in the process to help the plants’ efficiencies for quality fruit. We’ll be managing the vineyard’s, mulching, fixing and tightening wires, posts, and other tasks as the plants begin to wake up. Although we were open only on a sporadic basis (and for several special private functions since Christmas, frustrating customers in the process), we are now open full time as of Easter Weekend, 11 to 5, seven days a week. Our experienced wine lounge staff of five vinAmité Wine Guides includes four with WSET 2 certificates, the globally recognised wine knowledge program. We’re lucky to include Wine Guides who have returned to serve with us again this year. Most important to our readers is this coming next vintage of wines which are to be released in May, 2018 which is of particular interest for vinAmité wine enthusiasts and vinAmité Private Wine Club members. In addition to our eight wines, we will be releasing the first of five oak barrels of fortified port-style wine, bottled in the special 375 ml format. This first release has aged in barrel for three years, and was made the old-fashioned way with no shortcuts to rush it to market. We call it Ouest, French for ‘west’ with the same pronounciation. This port-like wine has 19.2 alcohol level, is ruby in colour and consists of our estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah blend, folded into our previously distilled Cabernet Sauvignon alcohol, then barrelled and aged for a minimum of three years. (Club members get first choice on all wine releases.) Each barrel will deliver a limit of only 50 cases. Only one barrel of Ouest will be bottled per year, increasing the balance of the port’s time in barrels by up to seven years. Several comments received indicate that some lovers of port-style wines and club members are looking to collect all five bottles over the years of release as a unique collection beyond the enjoyment of separate bottles judging by the few who have tasted barrel samples. Each barrel number is identified on the Ouest label which is unique to the category of Okanagan fortified wines.