Road 13 Vineyards – A Winery Profile

BC’s Road 13 Finds its “Rhone” Niche
by David Lawrason

This feature was commissioned by Road 13 Vineyards.

No one will be watching the results of the 2019 National Wine Awards more intently than Joe Luckhurst, general manager of Road 13 Winery in B.C.’s southern Okanagan Valley. The results will be released category by category over several days in July, and he will be adding up medals to see if Road 13 might repeat as Winery of the Year in 2019. The chances are pretty good as Road 13 has finished in the top ten each year for the last six years – three times placing third in Canada.

The break out on top in 2018 was particularly gratifying. “Winning Winery of the Year was a personal validation that we are going in the right direction, having planted our flag with the Rhone varietals,” said Joe Luckhurst.

Road 13 makes two syrahs, including the hugely impressive Jackpot Syrah. It also makes a “southern Rhone-inspired” GSM, a syrah-malbec blend, as well as whites from marsanne, roussanne, and of course, viognier, the rising star varieties originating in the south of France.

In 2018, Road 13 took home an incredible 15 medals, including a platinum medal for its 2016 Roussanne, eight golds, two silvers, and four bronzes.  Some were under the banner of the Blind Creek Collective, a project based on fruit grown in the neighbouring Similkameen Valley.

The grand performance was noticed by Anthony Von Mandl of Mark Anthony Brands, who offered to purchase Road 13 in December 2018. Mission Hill Family Estate, the company’s flagship, has a long history of Winery of the Year titles itself, but few of its medals have been based on the Rhone varieties.

Joe Luckhurst, General Manager

Road 13 founders Pam and Mick Luckhurst accepted the offer and chose the moment to retire after sixteen years, with son Joe remaining as GM, working with his wife Laura.  Winemaker Jeff Del Nin (formerly at nearby Burrowing Owl and Church & State) and all other staff remain in place. Joe assured, “and no one is planning to leave.”

“They are a great winery and it makes sense to let them continue to do their thing,” said Mission Hill CEO Darryl Brooker at the time of the acquisition.

Now producing about 35,000 cases annually, Road 13 has been a mid-sized but mighty performer on the Golden Mile Bench since it was opened by the Luckhurst family in 2004.  In December 2003 they purchased the property – then called Golden Mile Cellars – from the Serweo family.

It included 9.3 hectares of established vineyard, which was expanded when the Luckhursts bought the adjacent 6-hectare Home Vineyard, which included a now famous block of old vine chenin blanc that continues to garner awards for sparkling and white wine. Since then another 12 hectares have been acquired on the Golden Mile Bench. The Luckhurst family retains its share in a large planting in the Similkameen Valley as well.

Road 13 Home Vineyard (photo by Chris Mason Stearns)

Syrah and other Rhone varieties were not significantly planted in the original vineyards, but have been added recently in most sites.

Having followed the rising qualitative fortunes of B.C. syrah and other Rhone varieties through their impressive success at the National Wine Awards of Canada in the last decade, I was not at all surprised that Road 13 should dive into this pool.  But it is a commercial risk, as the cabernet and merlot family of reds continue to dominate the marketplace.

“Syrah doesn’t carry the same recognition or prestige,” said Joe Luckhurst, “but we are focused on results in our tasting room and we so often see guests enjoying these wines. And what’s great is that the single best syrah vineyard is located right in front of the winery.”

Road 13

Syrah is commonly thought of as a hot climate grape (aka shiraz in Australia) but in fact it does its best work in sunny climes with moderating coolness via latitude or altitude. The northern Rhone Valley in France with appellations like Hermitage and Cote Rotie is one such place, and the homeland of this grape. The Pacific Northwest, including Washington and the Okanagan is another, and in my view among the best areas in the New World, alongside South Africa.

But syrah and its Rhone pals are not totally responsible for Road 13’s success. The fifteen medals in 2018 Awards ranged across several categories, including Bordeaux varieties, which means that winemaking is playing a role as well. Since its inception Road 13 has attracted some of the best in BC including Lawrence Herder, Michael Bartier, JM Bouchard, and now Jeff Del Nin.

The Road 13 range is organized in three price tiers. The Honest John wines are moderately priced, easily accessible, but not necessarily simple wines. The largest production is in the Road 13 varietal range. The top tier hit the “Jackpot” with perennial award winner Element in the ranks.

Here are my reviews of the current releases. Please link to the reviews for ratings and full tasting notes from the WineAlign team.

Whites and Rose

Road 13 Chip Off The Old Block Chenin Blanc 2018, BCVQA Okanagan Valley ($24.00)
What a lovely, generous and exacting chenin nose of green pear/melon with subtle elderflower and spearmint. It is very bright with both richness and tension. The length is excellent.

Road 13 Vineyards Marsanne 2017, BCVQA Similkameen Valley  ($24.00)
This is super bright and showing a fine sense of richness and tension. Marsanne often expresses orange nuances which I find in the background here, along with lemon, vague spice and herbal notes.

Road 13 Roussanne 2017, BCVQA Similkameen Valley ($24.00)
This pours with surprising colour intensity. The nose shows ripe pineapple, lemon blossom, spearmint and spicy nuances. It is full-bodied, almost creamy, warm and spicy with impressive intensity.

Road 13 Chip Off The Old Block Chenin Blanc 2018 Road 13 Vineyards Marsanne 2017 Road 13 Rousanne 2017

Road 13 Vineyards VRM 2017, BCVQA Similkameen Valley ($29.00)
Wow – this blend of viognier, roussanne and marsanne has great presence, a billowing, very complex nose of lemon marmalade, pineapple, star fruit, orange, fresh herbs, and wood spice. It is full-bodied, lush and smooth.

Road 13 Vineyards Honest John’s Rose 2018, BCVQA British Columbia ($18.00)
This is a generous, fairly intensely flavoured, just barely off dry rose with a fragrant nose of red cherry/strawberry fruit, rose and pomegranate. It is medium-weight, well-balanced and nicely spicy.

Road 13 Vineyards Vrm 2017 Road 13 Vineyards Honest John's Rosé 2018


Road 13 Vineyards Seventy Four K 2017, BCVQA British Columbia, ($25.00)
This is blend of syrah and merlot with generous tarry, toasty and smoky notes along with dark, very ripe berry/cherry fruit. It is full-bodied, dense and firm with considerable pepper and roasted herbs. Firm young tannins.

Road 13 Vineyards Honest John’s Red 2017, BCVQA British Columbia ($20.00)
This is a medium-bodied, supple, fruit forward blend including merlot, pinot noir and gamay. It is fairly rounded and easy going (but not light) red with some tarry oak, plummy/blackberry fruit and florality.

Road 13 Vineyards GSM 2016, BCVQA British Columbia ($42.00)
GSM refers to the grenache, syrah, mourvedre blend widely used in the south of France and Australia. This a full bodied, broad and rounded red with generous spiced plum, blackberry, pepper, licorice and dried herb aromas.

Road 13 Vineyards Syrah 2016, BCVQA British Columbia, ($35.0)
This powerful red has an intense, generous nose of prune/olive fruit, blackberry compote, pepper and smoked meat very typical of syrah. It is full-bodied, dense, rich, yet very smooth and not overly tannic.

Road 13 Vineyards Seventy Four K 2017 Road 13 Vineyards Honest John's Red 2017 Road 13 Vineyards Gsm 2016 Road 13 Vineyards Syrah 2016

Road 13 Vineyards Jackpot Syrah 2016, BCVQA Okanagan Valley ($43.48)
This features full bore, rich and complex, very ripe black fruit, pepper, smoked meat, vanilla and licorice – all nicely combined. It is very full-bodied, rounded, dense and plush with fine tannin. A powerhouse with some finesse too.

Road 13 Vineyards 5th Element 2016, BCVQA British Columbia ($49.00)
Fifth Element was the Road 13 merlot-based flagship before the Rhone era, and has maintained its stature. This multi-grape blend is very impressive – showing some elegance despite its obvious weight and depth.

Road 13 Jackpot Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, BCVQA Similkameen Valley ($120.0)
Grown in the Similkameen Valley, this cabernet is very full-bodied, almost thick, yet streamlined on the palate. It shows very ripe almost candied/dried blackcurrant, tea/evergreen herbality, spice and inlaid oak and vanilla. Very impressive fruit depth here.

Road 13 Vineyards Jackpot Syrah 2016 Road 13 Vineyards 5th Element 2016 Road 13 Jackpot Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

For full details on all the wines, and to order on line, please go to

This feature was commissioned by Road 13 Vineyards. As a regular feature, WineAlign tastes wines submitted by a single winery. Our critics independently, as always, taste, review and rate the wines – good, bad and indifferent, and those reviews are posted on WineAlign. We then independently recommend wines to appear in the winery profile. Wineries pay for this service. Ads for some wines may appear at the same time, but the decision on which wines to put forward in our report, and its content, is entirely up to WineAlign.