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April 20, 2009
A New Winery for Hester Creek
Of all the wineries undergoing a transformation in the Okanagan, few have matched the scale of Hester Creek Estate Winery .
Following a major cash infusion from new Prince George-based owners, the 40-year-old winery located in the Golden Mile area between Oliver and Osoyoos has followed a steady progression of upgrades which over the last couple of years have included:
- The adoption of new labeling and branding by award-winning Vancouver marketing expert Bernie Hadley-Beauregard (plus a recent re-tweaking of those designs).
- The creation of several Tuscan-style, luxury guest villas at the top of Hester Creek’s 85-acre property – each with a 180 degree, eagle-eye view of the valley below.
- The hiring of Robert Summers , the new winemaker from Niagara, Ontario who has brought his proven expertise with Riesling wines to the table.
- And most recently, the building of a massive, 35,000 case capacity winery of concrete and timber, that over the winter has emerged from the hillside like the entrance to the Cave of the Morlocks in H.G. Wells science fiction classic, The Time Machine . Inside, the look is intended to be less modern/futuristic as opposed to classic and patrician – with a touch of the old world. While the back of the structure will contain the working engine of the winery (fermentation vats, crush pads, labs, etc.), out in front, the cathedral ceiling-ed space will house offices, a tasting room and bar, take out deli, gift shop and visitors centre, as well as a wrap-around, outside deck complete with forno oven. Projections for the official opening is for a date in June.
Next up will be the creation of an in-house cooking school featuring guest chefs from the Okanagan Valley as well as the rest of the province. (Manager Robin Openshaw is in talks with Edible BC owner/founder Eric Pateman about that particular project.) Also on the agenda is the renovation of the old tasting room building which will be leased out as an on-site, fine dining restaurant. Kelowna’s Chef Mark Filatow is one of the chefs rumoured to be interested.
Now all they have left to do is create wines that consistently rock the socks off local and international wine critics and they could be set to be The must-go destination of the South Okanagan.
Soft spoken Mr. Summers may be a talented winemaker with a giant box full of new dream toys but he has his work cut out for him too. Big stages tend to foster big expectations.