March 2023

Poplar Grove winery, situated a ~2 minute drive up the Naramata Bench from downtown Penticton, has always impressed with their style of premium Okanagan wines. The last time I had the opportunity to visit Poplar Grove was in 2017 so returning in fall 2022 after five years I was delighted to once again see, taste, and experience all the great things for which this renowned Naramata Bench winery has created such a “Legacy” over the past two decades.

Although this review is about their 2018 Merlot which I found to be outstanding, I’d be remiss if I didn’t recommend visiting their winery to taste their entire portfolio of impressive wines and dine at their beautiful estate restaurant overlooking the Okanagan Valley and Lake Okanagan. With their panoramic valley views, great wines, delicious dishes and top notch service, it’s a must when in the Okanagan.

A little tidbit about their winemaking philosophy: all of Poplar Grove’s wines are vinified to less than 1g/L of residual sugar (RS). From their flagship Bordeaux blend, The Legacy, with 0.6g/L of RS, to their fly-off-the-shelves popular Pinot Gris with less than a 0.5g/L of RS, each of their wines are vinified bone dry although as you’ll notice when you taste them, they’re full of flavour and each showing impressive texture.

Talking with proprietor Tony Holler, while standing in their Hudson Vineyard just down the road from the winery, this family run winery now farms over 140 acres of vineyards between Penticton/Naramata Bench and Osoyoos (video of some of Poplar Grove’s vineyards), with another 20 or so acre site coming soon along the Naramata Bench. You can sense the pride Tony has in their operations, and in his four sons (Chris, Andrew, Matt, Eric) which run the day to day now with that same passion and commitment to excellence that Tony established from the beginning. Each of the Holler men are playing important roles in the success of Poplar Grove and they’re no strangers to rolling up their sleeves just as viticulturists @FamerMatt and Andrew Holler say, “the best fertilizer for a vineyard is a farmer’s shadow” – it’s a safe bet you’ll find the Holler men working hard in the vineyards or the winery every day of the year to craft the premium wines Poplar Grove is widely recognized for. The Holler family have a great operation along the Naramata Bench and it’s one I encourage you to check out when visiting the region or when you see a Poplar Grove wine on a shelf at your local wine shop or on a list at any fine dining establishment.

Matt’s review of the 2018 Merlot:

A blend of 89% Merlot with 4% Malbec, 3% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2% Cabernet Franc bringing additional aromatic and flavour complexity to this impressive wine. Ruby red with a garnet hue, the nose shows savoury dark fruits, plum, sweet spices, with a hint of wood smoke and familiar Okanagan Black Sage. A fantastic expression of premium Okanagan Merlot. Great intensity, exceptionally well balanced, the youthful fine grained tannins make this a great choice to enjoy with grilled steak, mushroom risotto, or firm aged cheese. Decant and enjoy over the next decade. Tasted September 2022. 93-94 points. Matt Steeves –

Poplar Grove Merlot 2018 – available winery direct $39