March 31, 2013

Wineries prepare to launch

Two new B.C. vineyards promise to add value – and fun – to the wine-touring map.


Among the wineries opening in 2013 two offer memorable wine touring experiences.

One is Culmina Family Estate Winery, the showpiece winery that Don and Elaine Triggs will open in August on a high vineyard bench south of Oliver. The other is the fruit winery being launched in the spring by Krause Berry Farms in Langley, where the tasting room bar stools are riding saddles.

The Triggs name is familiar in wine because Don was one of the founders of the Jackson-Triggs Winery, the flagship winery of Vincor International. Vincor became the 14th largest wine company in the world before it was taken over in mid-2006 by Constellation Brands, the world’s largest wine company. The takeover price was $1.6 billion. Don, having been a major Vincor shareholder, enjoyed the kind of payday that propels most into retirement.

Elaine and Don Triggs. Founders of Jackson-Triggs Winery, are starting up the Culmina Family Estate Winery.

“Retirement to me is a nasty word because it implies stopping,” says Don, who was born in 1944. “I don’t think life is about stopping. It’s about continuing and doing what you love.” That is why he and Elaine, who shares his passion for wine, were looking for vineyard property in the Okanagan by the end of 2006. The following summer they bought 18 acres on the Golden Mile, not far from Road 13 Vineyards. In 2009, they added another 24 acres of raw land farther up the hillside. When the final plantings are done this spring, Don and Elaine will have 22 acres of high density vines, including the first Grüner Veltliner in the Okanagan, planted on the highest elevation vineyard in the valley at about 600 metres. The views are spectacular.

The winery name, Culmina (with the emphasis on the first syllable), comes from Latin for peak. This winery will be the peak, or the culmination, of their lives in wine. No expense has been spared, either in the vineyard or in the winery, which is why winery visitors will be offered personal vineyard tours as well as tastings.

The winery will open with a limited selection of wines. There will be a Chardonnay called Dilemma from vines already on the property when Don and Elaine bought it. Most of those vines have been pulled out and replaced with better varieties. But Don and Elaine are still in a dilemma whether or not to keep the old Chardonnay vines. The other wine to be released is a red Bordeaux blend called Hypothesis. Why? The wine is their hypothesis that they can raise the quality bar in Okanagan wine. Count on it: they will.

Sandee and Alf Krause. Their Berry Farm is a popular destination.

Krause Berry Farm Fruit Winery is based on the 81-hectare berry farm that Alf Krause has run since the 1970s. Over the years, Alf and Sandee, his wife, have continually added value to their farm products. The result is a destination that offers everything from U-pick berries to fresh pies and, near Christmas, the world’s best fruitcake from the in-house bakery. Last year, their restaurant added waffles smothered in berry sauce, another way of selling their berries.

The wines are yet another use of the farm’s fruit. The winery is launching with apple wine, blueberry wine and raspberry wine, all dry and food-friendly. The labels resemble cowboy boots! “We had to be different because we are different,” says Sandee, who is a keen equestrian.

The tasting room is memorably different with gun handles as door pulls, a tin ceiling, bullet-riddled metal horse troughs as chandeliers, antique furniture and, of course, tasting bar saddles. If you fall off, you will know you have tasted enough.


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