Why this winemaker moonlights as a winemaker

Anthony Buchanan Garagiste

In anticipation of the highly anticipated Garagiste North Small Producers Festival Sunday, August 18th, I will be featuring a special series of interviews featuring some of the star winemakers coming to this year’s fest! This annual event features the small lot, hard to find wineries that are making a huge buzz with their fantastic wines. Award-winning, boutique, and many without yet a tasting room, these are the renegades who are rocking the wine world. Garagiste North offers wine lovers a chance to meet these winemakers and taste their exclusive wines. Tickets for the festival here: www.garagistenorth.com

You may not know his name yet, but you will know of his winemaking skills. Anthony Buchanan is the winemaker behind super award-winning labels from Desert Hills Estate Winery in Oliver. On the side, he crafts wines for his own label, Anthony Buchanan Wines. And they are exceptional. In his spare time, he is a husband and daddy with two small children.

Q & A with Garagiste winemaker Anthony Buchanan:

Q: Tell me your story- when did it hit you that you needed to make wine?

A: I started to appreciate wine at around the age of 21. From there, it escalated to include weekly tastings with friends, studying wine books and joining wine clubs (ie Opimium Club). In 2006, I was standing in a vineyard when I had the epiphany that this is what I was meant to do. From that moment on it was full steam ahead!

Anthony & Nicole pouring at Garagiste North last year
Anthony & Nicole pouring at Garagiste North last year

Q: Explain your dream and where you are at now. What are your plans?

A:  I’ve always been self-motivated and had an entrepreneurial mindset, so I knew I needed to educate myself and surround myself with industry veterans and work in a number of challenging situations. Some of the wineries were very successful and some were not, but I believe these situations make you stronger. Our plans are to purchase a small piece of property 5-10 acres, build a simple and environmentally conscious winery with a tasting bar and to keep it small at around 3,000 cases of focused wines (making no more than 6 SKUs (different wines).

Q: What are the wines that you are making?

A:  We make six wines: Pinot Noir, Whole Cluster Ferment Syrah, Barrel Ferment Pinot Blanc, Barrel Ferment Semillon, Orange and our Methode Ancestrale Sparkling. All are personal favourites of ours and all grow very well here in the Okanagan Valley. Crafting these grapes into wines has a very special place in our hearts.

Anthony Buchanan Wines
Anthony Buchanan Wines

Q: How would you describe your passion and what advice would you give to future wannabe winemakers?

A: My passion and attitude is it’s “all or nothing” so consume yourself in every aspect of the business and learn as much as you can (in winemaking, you are always learning). Another mantra is to taste, taste and taste! Focus on experimenting and tasting wines from all over the world to form your own opinions. Get into the business for the right reasons and forget about being a rockstar, make a difference and think about the environment.

Q:  Why do you love the Garagiste North Wine Festival?

A: The Garagistes are a fun, eager, hungry group of people producing wines that they truly believe in and are not making wines that are mass produced or have a marketing team telling them how to make them. These people are not backed by huge corporations or investors that just likes the idea of owning a winery or vineyard (oh the romance). The Garagiste wines and their stories are pure, real and much more interesting.

Q: Your day job is also making wine, what is your favourite part of the process?

A: My day job is head winemaker for Desert Hills Estate Winery. I work for a fantastic family and I’m considered family now. They have provided me with everything I could ask for and are extremely supportive of AB Wines. My favourite part is being a member of their team and experimenting each vintage to always improve our wines.


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