People

Winemaker Q&A: Five questions for Gina Fernandes Harfman

July 22, 2021

Located on the Black Sage Bench in Oliver, British Columbia, Nostalgia Wines Inc. (formerly Oliver Twist Winery) is known for its expressive and terroir-focused, small-lot wines. Established in 2006, Nostalgia Wines is led by Gina Fernandes Harfman, who is the owner, winemaker, and fourth generation South Okanagan family farmer. 

Nostalgia Wines offers three tiers of wine – the Family Collection, Nostalgia Series, and the mischievous Pin-Up Series labels that depict 1960s-inspired artwork (so chic and fun!). And they have quite an offering – from dry to off-dry whites and rosés, medium to full-bodied reds, to sparkling and dessert wines (including a fortified Port-style).

Read Also: Winemaker Q&A: Five questions for Renée Ary 

Harfman ensures the grape quality is high, sourcing most of the grapes from the estate’s home vineyard: Pinot gris, chardonnay, viognier, kerner, merlot and syrah. She also sources from her family’s farm, and from treasured, long-term grower partners. Her attention to detail continues throughout the entire winemaking process and it’s vividly apparent in all the wines we had a chance to sample.

VineRoutes had the pleasure of sitting down virtually with Harfman to get to know more about the wines, her inspiration, and her vision for the winery.

VineRoutes: Why is 2021 the right time to rebrand from Oliver Twist Winery to Nostalgia Wines?

Gina Fernandes Harfman: The winery opened in 2006, so this celebrates our 15th year. We thought it was a perfect time to make the change. 

Gina Fernandes Harfman

Gina Fernandes Harfman has a penchant for nostalgia, and it shows even in the cars she owns.

VR: Your winery is located on the prestigious Black Sage Bench. What makes this place so distinct when it comes to terroir expression in your wines?

GFH: The Black Sage Bench is known for its sandy soils, and Nostalgia’s Home Vineyard is no exception. We are especially sandy in the mid to lower parts of the vineyard where our white varietals thrive. A bit of clay runs through our mid-slope, and at the top of the property, along the Black Sage road, there is a pocket of gravel. The gravel is great for draining water in our red blocks.

There is no natural irrigation on our property, and our vines are watered with thousands of metres of drip irrigation. This enables us to monitor and control the amount of water the vines receive, so we can ensure they face the “good struggle” to produce the most intensely flavoured fruit.

Our vines are planted along wires trained northwest to southeast. This allows the afternoon northern winds to move the air through the vineyards, keeping the vines healthy. Pest and disease pressure are low in our vineyard due to the low humidity and good air flow.  

The Black Sage Bench is on the east side of the Valley, so it benefits from the hot afternoon sun, which results in lower yields and intensely flavourful grapes. The region is dry thanks to protection from the Coastal Mountain Range, with annual precipitation levels around 318 mm (12 inches). 

Oliver has a short, hot growing season. The temperature swing is very extreme, from over 40°C in the summer to below -20°C in the winter. We enjoy long hours of daylight during the summer, and blue skies and dry conditions to allow our grapes to sunbathe. The diurnal temperature shift in the summer is large: from 40°C in the day to 10°C overnight. The cool nights help our grapes to maintain their acidity and freshness.

Budbreak occurs between April and early May, and harvest may begin as early as mid-September and continues through to early November. We pick by hand and treat each variety individually. This requires many passes through our vineyards to bring in each grape variety, so harvest and crush may be a five to eight week process, depending on Mother Nature.

Nostalgia Wines

Gina Fernandes Harfman along-side her father.

VR: How has your family’s Portuguese roots influenced your winemaking?

GFH: My mother’s side of the family are from Madeira Island, Portugal, they were farmers more than winemakers or grape growers. Their biggest influence on me is hard work ethic. They taught me how to farm and be passionate about growing.  Although, there was wine served with every meal while I was growing up! 

VR: What is a statistic or interesting fact that would surprise people about you or your winery?

GFH: I’m a fourth generation South Okanagan girl, a single mom of two littles ones, and I’ve owned the business solely since 2012 (when I was just 32 years old). Both me as owner/winemaker and Sheila my General Manager were born and raised in the South Okanagan, and that makes us 100 percent locally women owned and managed. We have a niche here about vintage things – our labels in the pin up series, the vintage memorabilia inside and outside, even the music we play! 

VR: You mentioned you have exciting plans for the near future – can you give us a hint as to what you have planned? 

GFH: I always have plans for the future of the winery and the wines I’ll make! We’ve been doing a big landscaping project so that we can offer an even better experience to guests when they visit us. I’ll keep on making changes and improvements to the property. 

For winemaking, we have a couple exciting releases coming up. I made gamay for the first time in 2020, so look for that release this summer. And I have a few other surprises up my sleeve for the fall and next year … you’ll have to stay tuned!


Nostalgia WinesNostalgia Wines 2020 Kerner

Like sunshine in a glass with aromas of ripe pear, tangerine and honeysuckle. Off-dry with just a touch of sweetness and some spice on the finish. ($21.99)

 

 

 

 

 

Pinot GrisNostalgia Wines 2020 Pinot Gris

A dry, medium-bodied pinot gris with refreshing acidity and intense notes of white peaches, crisp apples, and ripe pears. ($21.99)

 

 

 

 

 

Nostalgia WinesNostalgia Wines 2020 Rosé

This saignée-method rosé has notes of watermelon, cranberry, pink grapefruit, raspberry and passionfruit. ($23.99)

 

 

 

 

 

Sparkling WinesNostalgia Wines NV Chantilly Lace

Refreshing semi-sweet flavours of crisp white peach, pear, tropical mango and pineapple. This frizzante wine is made with kerner and a splash of unoaked chardonnay. ($24.99)

 

 

 

 

 

Nostalgia WinesNostalgia Wines 2018 Merlot

A classic Merlot vintage from their home vineyard on the Black Sage Bench with notes of ripe cherry, juicy black plum, blackberry and raspberry. Unfiltered. ($32.99)

 

 

 

 

 

MeritageNostalgia Wines 2018 Meritage

Winner of a Bronze medal at the 2021 All Canadian Wine Championships, this complex, vivid blend is dominated by Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and bursts with notes of black currant, raspberry, cherry, and blackberry. Hints of violet, clove, oak, leather, vanilla and baking spices add layers and depth, while the firm, supple tannins are balanced by fresh acidity. ($37.99)