Township 7 Winery is actually two wineries: one in Langley, BC and one in Naramata, in the Okanagan Valley. It opened its winery in Langley in 2001, just a year after the first grapes were planted. The original founders, Corey and Gwen Coleman were two University of Saskatchewan graduates (both B.Comms) who left the prairies to learn the wine business first-hand in the Okanagan. Corey worked at winemaking and sourcing grapes from local producers. Gwen was a marketing consultant who had several wineries as clients. They teamed up and headed down to the coast to start their own winery in Langley.
Using Corey’s established contacts with growers, they were able to source Okanagan grapes for their first few vintages as they allowed their vineyards to mature. They made wines under the Township 7 label and focused on sales to local restaurants. Gradually they were able to grow the business and build a name for their fledgling winery.
Not content with just Langley they branched out back to the Okanagan and there, in 2004, they planted 7 acres on the Naramata Bench. Additional acreage was planted in 2005 and 2006. In 2005 Corey decided to bring in Bradley Cooper as winemaker. Brad had experience as the winemaker at Hawthorne Vineyards (now called See Ya Later Ranch), another Okanagan winery, where he started in 1997. He further honed his skills working at wineries in New Zealand and in Washington State. His reputation was well established by the time the Colemans got him to join them in 2005. Once at Township 7 he settled in quickly and his 2006 Chardonnay Harmony One was chosen as best Chardonnay in Canada at the All Canadian Wine Awards in 2008.
In 2006 the Colemans sold Township 7 to restaurant entrepreneur Mike Raffan. Mike kept Brad on as winemaker while he attended to the business aspects of the winery. Under Mike’s ownership the winery has grown and now offers a broad range of red and white wines, both sparkling and still. Recently Mike brought in an outside investor to help expand the growth initiatives while he stays on as General Manager.
We drove out to Township 7’s Langley winery to meet with Mary McDermott, Township’s winemaker since 2014. Mary came to Township 7 from Peller Estates premium wineries Trius Winery at Hilldebrand and Thirty Bench. After graduating from Ryerson University she married a local chef and they set off to travel the world. This lead to stints in the wine regions of Italy, France, Australia and New Zealand which formed the foundation for her training as a Sommelier. Her Sommelier experience included working at Monk McQueen’s in Vancouver and at several wine country restaurants in the Niagara Escarpment. It seems that a love of wine leads to a career in wine and we suppose the logical end-point to that would be to make the wine. And that is just what Mary did, becoming cellar-hand at Stratus Wineries and assistant cellar-master at Cave Springs Winery. In 2010 she began her winemaking career at Peller.
We asked Mary about Langley, and how was it for growing wine grapes. “It is definitely a cooler climate here than in the Okanagan. The weather here is similar to Champagne, and so we focus on sparkling wine production here” she tells us as we look out over the rows of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the two varieties grown in Langley. In the Okangan they grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc , Merlot as well as Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat. The result is a large range of blends and single varietal wines. One sparkling wine is made, Seven Stars. This is a vintage dated blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, made in the methode traditionale, the same method used to make Champagne. The wine sits for 18 months en tirage (the tradition of Champagne where the wine sits on the “lees” or spent yeast cells) that gives the wines their bread dough character, always a classic trait of a good sparkler.
Township 7 has built a great tasting room at their Langley property. It is a basic shed design with garage doors that open up on to a large patio with a vista down the rows of Pinot and Chardonnay. Inside is cozy with rough hewn boards to make siding and a long wooden bar with stools made from old barrels. It is casual and comfortable, and has a very vinous feel about it.
If wine tasting isn’t enough for you, check out some of the fun events that Township 7 holds at their winery. From live plays next to the vineyard to costume Easter egg hunts, Township 7 is all about enjoying yourself. And what better way to enjoy yourself than with a glass of wine?