We sat down with Matt Sartor, Founder and President of Solvero Wines to tell us how the vision for a premium Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyard & winery in Garnet Valley came to be a reality. Here is our conversation:
Q. When and why did you first decide to pursue the vision of a vineyard and winery?
A. After 5 years selling wine and immersing myself in the wine world, I found myself gravitating towards viticulture when reading. I began talking incessantly about the fascinating way in which a grapevine translates a time and place into a bottle of wine. Eventually friends and family politely suggested I leave to pursue what was clearly an enduring passion. In 2010 I decided to enroll in the viticulture course and move to the Okanagan. By the time I visited the valley for the first time in August of that year it was clear to me that I was in the right place to nurture that passion into a lifelong pursuit.
Q. What led you to this place?
A. A conversation in early 2012 started our family down the road towards Garnet Valley. While enjoying a glass of Pinot Noir, we discussed the qualities of the variety in the Okanagan, and what climatic conditions may be obstacles to showcasing its more delicate and nuanced personality. This led to over two years of searching for a site in the Okanagan that would fit a stringent set of parameters we felt would allow Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to flourish.
Q. What is special about this Garnet Valley vineyard?
A. During our search for the perfect site, a pattern emerged to us while tasting through Okanagan Pinot. The majority of the wines we preferred tended to be from cooler sites, and more often than not east or north facing aspects. While the Growing Degree Days, Mean July Temperature, and other related growing metrics for Summerland are in league with renowned Pinot/Chard regions of the world, we had an issue to resolve: sunlight. With a short, continental season, high latitude, and generally clement summer conditions, sunlight can be too abundant. This leads to a ripeness conundrum. Long, sunny days drive photosynthesis so efficiently that sugar production outpaces grapevine physiology. Finding a warm, steep, southwest facing bowl in narrow Garnet Valley solved the problem in theory, with each vintage to date serving as a proof point of the concept.
I also think it's the most beautiful place on the planet.