Painted Rock 2011’s Made Me See Red

Back in March, I met the Painted Rock family, John and Trish Skinner along with son Riley, in the spectacular wine tasting room of Yaletown’s Blue Water Café.

The occasion was the coming out party for Painted Rock’s artful collection, their 2011 red wines.

And what a collection it is!


First, I was introduced to the 2011 Merlot, which the Skinners depict as having a “brooding character.” I disagree. This fellow was rather cheerful.

He was round and supple with long ripe tannins and a smooth finish. Accompanied by a sliver of duck breast and caramelized parsnip, these two made a lovely pair. 

The name, Painted Rock, is a nod to ancient pictographs found on rocks lining the vineyard’s bluffs. First Nations consider these a symbolic of coming of age, and that was an appropriate note for the day. 


Next was the 2011 Cabernet. The first thing I noticed about this guy was the great legs! He was heavy-bodied, robust and dare I say, rather smooth.

I could see this guy doing well with any charbroiled meats who would have him.

Painted Rock winery
Courtesy Painted Rock

Painted Rock winery sits on the eastern bench of Skaha Lake in Penticton. The Skinners acquired the property in 2004 and shaped it to promote air flow. They brought in experts on wines and vines and designed their planting strategy. 


My next introduction was to the prodigal son, the Red Icon. This blend is Painted Rock’s flagship bottle. His claim to fame is the Lieutenant General Award he won several years ago. Complex yet subtle, this winner had the perfect date: smooth mild goat cheese piped into phyllo cups capped with a witty morsel of sun-dried tomato.

After Skinner showed off Red Icon, he described his excitement about the winery’s new pruning strategy. They cull one of every three vines. This challenges the most successful plants, not the least successful. It’s been working wonders and, at harvest time, renders a spectacular curtain of ripe grapes across the vineyard.


Painted Rock 2011 RedsMy final pit-stop was to meet the Syrah. Oh, the Syr-ahhhh. As soon as this caressed my tongue, I was officially in love. A score of 94 points doesn’t do him justice! He is lush and sweet, a balance of maturity and playfulness. I tasted a hint of sweet black cherries when he kissed me. This guy was simply delish.

Nearby was a plate of short-ribs on parsnip puree. I don’t usually like parsnips, but Blue Water Café was changing my mind about them. Then again, holding that Syrah made me feel as though anything was possible.

I’m not sure if the platter of short-ribs was the day’s escort, but I made fast work of them so I could be alone with Sir Syrah.

Painted Rock

Painted Rock is a great wine family. Being raised in the Okanagan with its combination of hot, dry summers, cool mountain air, and unique microclimates has served them well. Less than ten years have passed since the winery began, but it has a wide following. 

Dubbed BC Winery of the Year by the 2013 Intervin International Wine Awards, the Skinners have a lot to be proud of. But mostly, the proof is in the product. Their family of reds has turned out beautifully, no small feat considering that 2011 was a notoriously cool growing season for the wines of the Okanagan.

Even Skinner himself said he’s amazed at the success of his lush brood. He feels that 2011 was like an exam and he’s thrilled to have passed with flying colors – of red.

Painted Rock wines are available at many VQA and private liquor stores around British Columbia

Nancy Baye

Nancy Baye is a creative copy-writer, playwright and budding novelist who just happens to love wine...