Severine Pinte-Kosaka: From France to British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley

Severine Pinte-Kosaka, photo by Christine Campbell
Severine Pinte-Kosaka, photo by Christine Campbell

You know those moments when you meet a person for the first time and everything just falls into place?  There is a warm smile exchanged and an openness that instantly puts you at ease?  This was my first impression of Severeine Pinte–Kosaka, the extremely talented and humble viticulturist and winemaker at Le Vieux Pin Winery in Oliver, British Columbia.

Pinte-Kosaka and I sat down at Le Vieux Pin Winery over a glass of her beautifully made Viognier to chat about the winemaking industry in British Columbia, and her journey to B.C. from her home and tutelage in France.

When asked about what is currently happening and changing in the B.C. wine industry, Pinte-Kosaka stated, “I am noticing that the grape itself is now getting the attention and focus it deserves and ‘winemaker as grower’ is more important.  Historically, there has been a focus on making money, which I understand, but now I feel that there is more pride and a shift of focus being put into the vineyard to grow excellent grapes.  The new grape trend in British Columbia is Syrah, becoming more poplar in the South Okanagan and we are seeing less oak used.”

Pinte-Kosaka enjoys working with both Syrah and Viognier – two of Northern Rhone’s most famous grapes – that can do well in the Southern Okanagan region.  At Le Vieux Pin Winery, there are no pesticides used or herbicides, nor does Pinte-Kosaka add sugar or acidity to her wines, “I want to be honest to the people who drink my wine.  I don’t want them to guess what is in their glass.”

Pinte-Kosaka was born in Lille, France and originally thought she was going to have a career in math, physics or engineering.  She is a graduate from ENSAM (Ecole National Superior Argonomic of Montpellier) with a master’s degree in viticulture and oenology,  “Wine was an integral part of my family growing up and I grew up in a family of wine lovers so it was a natural evolution to become a winemaker.”

When asked what her proudest moment is, both personally and professionally, Pinte-Kosaka answered, “Personally, immigrating to British Columbia, Canada from France with our young family was a huge move and I am pleased with how our two children have really embraced their new home.”  She is a believer in work/life balance and feels that this is the core of what makes a successful family dynamic.  “Professionally, when I was asked to become part owner of Le Vieux Pin and La Stella wineries, this was a huge achievement for me, as was working under the direction of a famous winemaker and winery owner, André Lurton, in Bordeaux.”

Tasting Room at La Stella winery, with Michael Kosaka in background. Photo by Christine Campbell.
Tasting Room at La Stella winery, with Michael Kosaka in background. Photo by Christine Campbell.

When not drinking British Columbia wine, Pinte-Kosaka says that she likes to drink and sample Syrahs from around the world.  One of her favorite autumn food and wine pairings is a rosemary lamb shank with a cool year Syrah, like a 2008 vintage.

When you meet Pinte-Kosaka, you know that she is happy doing exactly what she wants to do.  This fantastic attitude and her warmth translates to her wines …there is a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ about what she is doing with her winemaking that is truly top tier and beautiful to drink.

Stand out wines from Le Vieux Pin:

2010 Syrah

2011 Syrah “Violette”

2011 “Ava” Viognier

2012 Sauvignon Blanc

Visit Le Vieux Pin Winery in Oliver, British Columbia.  Visit La Stella Winery in Osoyoos, B.C.