As we move past Thanksgiving, our team continues to be thankful for the recent awards that our current vintages have received:
Vanessa Vineyard Meritage 2013 and Syrah 2013 both won GOLD at the 2017 Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition. The 2017 Awards result page on their website states:
“The wines of British Columbia found an appreciative audience with the judging panel, which awarded 16 gold medals to Canadian entries, four of those being unanimous double golds. Perhaps even more impressive was that 11 of those gold medals went to work with red wines, including six focused on Bordeaux varieties. Howard Soon, one of Canada’s most respected winemakers, heads up Vannessa Vineyard Estate Winery in the cooler Similkameen Valley west of the Okanagan Valley. His 2013 Meritage and 2013 Syrah each merited a gold medal.”
In the wine industry, October is often referred to as “The Month of Merlot”.
We are also honoured that our 2014 Merlot continues to receive some stellar reviews:
Beppi Crosariol, lifestyle columnist for the Globe and Mail wrote: “The 2014 Merlot is a blend of 85 percent Merlot and 15 percent Cabernet Franc, with a smooth, luscious texture carrying flavours of ripe plum, currant jam, cocoa, tangy cedar and toasty oak. Well structured.” 90 points.
The Merlot accolades continued with John Schreiner: “This is the first single variety Merlot from Vanessa. The wine shows good concentration, with aromas of blackcurrant, black cherry and spice, all of which is echoed in the dried fruit flavours on the rich palate.” 92 points.
To view more of our awards and accolades, please visit our website here.
Vanessa Vineyard is proud to announce Howard Soon as our Master Winemaker. A pioneer in the BC wine industry, he has been awarded with innumerable accolades and established many firsts in the province, including the first to release a series of single vineyard designated wines.
“I’ve worked with Vanessa Vineyard grapes since its founding, and believe it is unlike any other vineyard due to the site’s unique topography, climatic conditions, and soil types – the perfect combination for making truly distinctive wine. When we first started getting fruit from Vanessa for Sandhill Wines we saw the potential, and when I tried our first vintage of Cabernet Franc I was blown away.” said Howard Soon, Master Winemaker. “I’m excited to go back to the workbench, it will be refreshing to be hands-on with these small productions. I believe this special terroir is the best site for growing premium reds in Canada.”
Vanessa Vineyard is situated high on a hillside overlooking the Similkameen Valley with red grapes cultivated on sloping terrain. The vines grow in rows of rock, absorbing the day heat and imparting that warmth during the cooler nights, thus bestowing complex flavours and minerality that are truly distinctive. A burgeoning appellation, the Similkameen Valley is touted as “the next great Canadian wine region.”
Viticulturist Robert Goltz comments, “I’ve been planting vines in the Okanagan for over 40 years and in the Similkameen since the NAFTA grape pullout. From the start, we recognized the Vanessa site was ideal for premium reds, there is just so much sun exposure in the summer and the rocks were both a huge problem and an advantage.”
“Over the past decade we’ve worked closely with Howard. He helps growers and everyone else excel at their craft in the expertise he provides. He is unique among winemakers in giving us such incredibly detailed feedback on exactly what he’s looking for on the palate so that we can make changes in the vineyard to meet the precise flavour profile he’s trying to achieve in the fruit. Now that he’s with Vanessa, he will have even more freedom to continue this,” Goltz said.
“We aspire to produce the best red wines in the country and are proud to have a winemaker of Soon’s expertise on our journey. With this premier site and an extraordinary winemaking and viticulture team, we can craft profound wines that reflect this truly distinctive vineyard,” said Suki Sekhon, co-founder Vanessa Vineyard.
A living legend, for over three decades Howard Soon has been on the leading edge of winemaking innovation. Originally a brewmaster, a taste for more creativity saw him join the fledgling BC wine industry in 1980. Amongst numerous other milestones, Howard was the first winemaker in the province to receive a Gold Medal at the Chardonnay du Monde in France; release a series of single vineyard designated wines; and sweep the Canadian Wine Awards receiving Red Wine of the Year, White Wine of the Year and Winery of the Year — the only winery to ever win all three. Most recently, Soon was recognized at the 2015 Vancouver International Wine Festival Celebrating Excellence Awards with the highly coveted Spirited Industry Professional. His collaborative relationships with growers led him to Vanessa Vineyard in 2006, where working with their viticulture team, he oversaw the planting of their vineyard. He subsequently purchased the vast majority of their grapes for his highly-acclaimed Sandhill Vanessa Vineyard wines. In 2017 Howard “retired” after 37 years with one of Canada’s largest wine companies to focus on truly small lot winemaking as Master Winemaker for Vanessa Vineyard.
Industry Night – July 27, 2017
Industry Night was a special invitation to friends in the wine industry and affiliated businesses. An opportunity for all of them to view our new facility, taste our wines and tour our spectacular property.
Media Launch – August 1, 2017
The official Media opening of the Similkameen Valley’s newest tasting room was held on August 1st. Guests had the pleasure of meeting owner Suki Sekhon and the rest of our team and enjoyed a tour of our unique property aptly described by Howard Soon as “a vineyard unlike any other in Canada, it’s the best site for growing premium vinifera reds”. That was followed by the ribbon cutting ceremony, and an afternoon where the guests enjoyed our exclusive wines. It was wonderful to receive great feedback from the attendees on the Tasting Room design and the flavour profiles of the wines.
Grand Opening – August 11, 2017
The grand opening party of Tasting Room was a friends and family event held on August 11th. The design of the Tasting Room is inspired by the region’s natural grandeur. Its elegance is in its simplicity, incorporating the natural mosaic of the land and integrating our distinct rocky terrain.
The guests tasted our exclusive wines, along with delectable local cuisine, and enjoyed lively music. Guests had the opportunity to meet the team and have the pleasure of having special bottles signed by owners Suki Sekhon and John Welson.
Vanessa Vineyard Opens Highly Anticipated New Tasting Room in Similkameen Valley
350th Winery to Open in British Columbia
CAWSTON, BC – AUGUST 1, 2017: Vanessa Vineyard is thrilled to announce the opening of their new tasting room in the ruggedly beautiful Similkameen Valley. Inspired by the region’s natural grandeur, Vanessa Vineyard’s tasting room is elegant in its simplicity, incorporating the unique local terrain. A burgeoning appellation, the Similkameen Valley is touted as “the next great Canadian wine region.”
In celebration of Vanessa Vineyard’s opening, a ribbon cutting is scheduled from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm today with local dignitaries including MLA Linda Larson and MP Dan Albas; and a public grand opening party is planned for August 11th from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
“Over one million tourists will visit British Columbia wineries this year with BC wine tourism generating $246 million in revenue for the economy,” said Miles Prodan, President and CEO of the BC Wine Institute. “What’s impressive about these numbers is that most BC wineries and grapegrowers are independent, family-owned farmers like Vanessa Vineyard,” adds Prodan. “It’s exciting to see these small businesses grow and expand to offer visitors a farm-to-glass experience that showcases the wines of the Similkameen Valley.”
Vanessa Vineyard, comprising 75 acres of extremely rocky terrain, is situated on a hillside overlooking the Similkameen Valley. Planted in 2006 under the guidance of renowned viticulturists Robert Goltz and Richard Cleave, the quantity of rocks on the site initially made vineyard development exceedingly challenging. The rocks, however, are a key asset to the property’s unique terroir, allowing day heat to be harnessed and imparted throughout the cooler nights enabling the fruit to produce flavours and minerality that are truly distinctive. In 2012 the owners Suki Sekhon and John Welson transitioned from grape growers to vintners. After ensuring the fruit was of superior quality, they began crafting small quantities of fine red wine. The new tasting room is a short 19 minute drive from Osoyoos and is located at 1090 Highway 3, Cawston, BC. Daily summer hours are 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.
“Despite our literal very rocky start a decade ago in planting the land, we’re thrilled with the reception our grapes and wines received right out of the gate. From the beginning Sandhill’s Vanessa Vineyard wines, followed by our own Vanessa Vineyard wines have shown remarkably well,” said Suki Sekhon, co-owner Vanessa Vineyard. “This critical acclaim from competitions and critics, gave us the confidence to proceed with building a tasting room inspired by our strikingly beautiful Valley”.
John Welson co-owner, Vanessa Vineyard remarks, “to produce Vanessa Vineyard wines, we start with 100% estate grown grapes that reflect the unique terroir of our vineyard and then use traditional wine making techniques and blends to produce wines of original character.”
Suggested tweet: New @VanessaVnyrd Opens ‘Modern Rustic’ Tasting Room in burgeoning #Similkameen Valley #wine region, 350th BC winery http://ow.ly/thZI30e1khT
High Resolution images available upon request.
Carved from stone, fuelled by sun, a vineyard like no other. Vanessa Vineyard is situated high on a hillside overlooking the Similkameen Valley with grapes cultivated on sloping, well-drained terrain. The vines grow in rows of rock, absorbing the day heat and imparting that warmth during the cooler nights, thus bestowing complex flavours and minerality that are truly distinctive. www.vanessavineyard.com
920-475 West Georgia Street | Vancouver, BC | V6B 4M9
C: +1 604-808- 6655
We’re honoured that our grapes are so well received by the critics. With 75 acres planted, we’re not able to use all the fruit for our own winery and sell some to a very select few local wineries. Their single vineyard Vanessa wines are achieving incredible acclaim. This past spring, renowned British wine critic Jamie Goode visited BC for the Vancouver International Wine Festival and had the chance to taste a range of local wines and wrote of the Sandhill Vanessa Vineyard Syrah 2013,
“Sweet and textured with ripe black cherry and berry fruits with some lovely olive and pepper notes. Some dried herbs and spice, with a savoury, mineral intensity to this wine. Warm but with some peppery notes of cool climate. Lovely stuff. 93/100”
Similarly, renowned Canadian wine author John Schreiner recently wrote,
“Sandhill now sources some premium reds from Vanessa Vineyards in the Similkameen. This 100-acre vineyard has relatively young vines but it holds the promise of high quality wines as well. Certainly, the flavour profile differs from Phantom Creek. That simply underlines the Sandhill philosophy of making single vineyard wines that display the terroir and individuality of each and every vineyard…
Sandhill Small Lots One 2016 Vanessa Vineyard (barrel sample). This wine is a co-fermented blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Early in its aging process, this is a promising successor to the previous succession of Phantom Creek wines. The profile seems brighter, with minty and floral aromas and with brambly flavours. 90-92.”
Kudos to Howard Soon, winemaker Sandhill Wines for his repeated honours with our fruit!
“It may be the best wine appellation you’ve driven through but have yet to visit…” Anthony Gismondi the wine writer for the Vancouver Sun, commented earlier this month on the elegant wines of the Similkameen. He along with many other prominent wine writers across the globe have recently had our pristine Valley in their sights.
A similar perspective was reflected across the pond, “The Similkameen Valley is a peaceful yet dramatic place. Running parallel to the Okanagan, it lacks the lakes, but makes up scenery wise by being hemmed in moodily by mountains. The valley has an almost alpine feel, and I reckon this is one of the most exciting viticultural areas in Canada. As yet, however, its potential is somewhat untapped…” Wow! Jamie Goode, renown British wine critic recently visited the Similkameen and wrote about it’s huge potential. Noting, the uniqueness of our region which due to the lack of a lake effect tends to have a more extreme climate than the Okanagan. The results are larger diurnal temperature swings and frequent strong winds. The benefits of this are low disease pressure and preservation of acidity. He comments, “This is a huge advantage, because we have here a combination of what looks like quite a warm climate (in terms of growing degree days it’s the same as Australia’s Yarra Valley), with the ability to make wines that are fresh with good acidity.” Jamie concludes, “There aren’t a lot of vines here in the Similkameen – just 600 acres or so – but there’s a lot of potentially fine vineyard land here that’s not planted yet. A region to watch.”
In La Belle Province, Montreal Gazette’s wine critic Bill Zacharkiw had a similar take on the Valley’s terroir, “Another really interesting region is the Similkameen. Just to the west of the Okanagan, it has a completely different feel to the Okanagan. The wines tend to be crisper, more European, and there is very much a “vigneron culture.” You can find nearly every grape there and it seems every winery does something really well. Orofino’s gamay, Little Farm’s riesling, Vanessa Vineyard’s syrah, Courcelette’s Chasselas-based blend, Clos du Soleil’s white Bordeaux-styled — the list is long. The Similkameen is beautiful and the wines are truly worth investigating.”
We’re excited for what the future holds for our Valley. Stay tuned for more exciting developments for Vanessa (and no doubt in the Valley as a whole) in the coming year!
We were surprised and delighted to see our 2012 Syrah included in a blind tasting this spring by a small, exclusive group of wine critics in California. The judges meet annually in the quaint Sonoma wine community of Geyserville for the “Judgment of Geyserville”. Each year they select a theme, then select three examples each from various regions across North America.
This year, the theme they chose for their tasting was cool-climate Syrah, and the judges found superb examples from up and down the West Coast (California, Oregon, Washington State and BC).
They noted one of the most difficult tasks of this particular judging was defining what “cool climate” means. The participants decided that in this case, cool-climate Syrahs come from regions that have somewhat cooler and longer growing seasons but are still capable of reliably ripening Syrah grapes each vintage. The goal was to find examples of Syrah that were not big, rich and overripe. Rather, they hoped to taste Syrahs that showed complexity that goes well beyond the jammy, ripe flavours often found from inexpensive Aussie Shirazes or California Syrahs — i.e. one reason Syrahs grown in France’s northern Rhône Valley are so great is the cooler climate — and the complexity of aromas and flavours that follows.
The participants consisted of :
- Mike Dunne – longtime wine columnist for The Sacramento Bee and one of the top wine judges in California.
- Ellen Landis, master of wine, former Sommelier for the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay California, and one of the top professional wine judges in the United States, wine blogger at Ellen On Wine
- Eric Degerman, president and CEO of Great Northwest Wine, is co-founder of Wine Press Northwest magazine and a regular judge across western North America
- Andy Perdue, editor and publisher of Great Northwest Wine, is the wine columnist for The Seattle Times
- Ron Washam – former Sommelier of the Year by the Southern California Restaurant Writers’ Association, a regular wine judge for Bay area competitions, and writes the HoseMaster of Wine blog
We have summarized their interesting results (see the blog links above for the full articles), and we are thrilled that our inaugural 2012 Syrah was honoured with a silver (one of the 12 medalists). They describe the Vanessa Vineyard Syrah as:
“It is rare to find wines from the remote Similkameen Valley, which is west of the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia’s Interior region. This is a classic cool-climate Syrah with aromas of wild mushroom risotto, dried herbs, jasmine and vanilla bean. On the palate, flavors of Marionberry and dusty black cherry are backed by juicy, fine-grained tannins. This will be fascinating to taste again in another half-decade.”
We look forward to many more “judgments” in the coming months and years!
Starstruck! Vanessa Vineyard Debuts at Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver With The First Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Ceremony in Canada
VANCOUVER, BC – APRIL 13, 2016: Vanessa Vineyard is honoured to debut at Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver for the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star dinner. The winery’s 2012 Syrah was chosen as the entrée wine pairing by Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver for the prestigious Forbes Travel Guide Awards Ceremony this evening, the first time it has been held outside the USA in its 58-year history.
Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver was selected by Forbes to host the annual gala celebrating the worldwide recipients of the prestigious Forbes Five-Star Hotel Rating, of which Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver is one. The evening will be attended by the 250 General Managers of each Forbes 5-Star property from around the world. It is the first time the event has been held internationally, and is a rare opportunity to showcase British Columbia to the world with a Pacific Northwest inspired evening.
Vanessa Vineyard is situated on a hillside overlooking the Similkameen Valley, comprising 75 acres of extremely rocky terrain. Planted in 2006 under the guidance of renowned viticulturists Robert Goltz and Richard Cleave, the quantity of rocks on the site initially made vineyard development exceedingly challenging. The rocks, however, are a key asset to the property’s unique terroir, allowing day heat to be harnessed and imparted throughout the cooler nights enabling the fruit to produce flavours and minerality that are truly distinctive. In 2012 the owners Suki Sekhon and John Welson transitioned from grape growers to vintners. After ensuring the fruit was of superior quality, they began crafting small quantities of fine wine for their two reds, a premium Syrah and Meritage.
The Vanessa Vineyard 2012 Syrah is a full-bodied wine with well-integrated tannins, superior structure and concentrated flavours. Black fruits, leather, white pepper, and chocolate notes fill the mouth layered over silky tannins. A small percentage of Viognier was co-fermented with the Syrah in the traditional northern Rhone style. Produced in a small lot of 200 cases, the 2012 vintage retails for $33.83 and is sold out. The 2013 vintage will be released in May and available at vanessavineyard.com, as well as select fine dining establishments in Vancouver and the Okanagan.
“We are very excited to be showcasing the Vanessa Vineyard Syrah as we host the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Awards Gala. As the Similkameen & Okanagan valleys continue to gain notoriety internationally, specifically for Syrah, we felt that Vanessa was a benchmark for B.C. in terms of its elegant styling via its Rhone Valley inspiration, without sacrificing the opulence and richness that the great reds from 2012 show. It was the perfect selection to present B.C. wine at its best for this highly influential global hospitality celebration,” said Steven Lane, Sommelier, Yew Seafood + Bar, Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver.
“A decade ago when we first started planting, we were overwhelmed by the sheer amount of rocks on the property, which covered the majority of our arable land. This has however, proven to be a phenomenal and unique attribute in the Valley with the vineyard transcending our expectations on its ability to produce quality fruit and wine,” said Suki Sekhon, co-owner Vanessa Vineyard. “We were honoured when Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver approached us to provide the red wine for their Forbes Five-Star Gala. Four Seasons extraordinary level of excellence is truly worthy of the Forbes Five-Star rating and is a perfect pairing with Vanessa.”
Our 2012 Meritage is a full-bodied blend with excellent structure and concentrated flavours. But what, exactly, gives it the name ‘Meritage’?
In the late 1980s, a group of American vintners joined forces to come up with a name for the type of blended wine that they had begun producing in the popular Bordeaux style. The wines were a blend of ‘noble’ grape varietals that can typically be found in the Bordeaux region of France, famous for its excellent vintages.
In 1988, this New World wine had yet to receive a recognizable name and so the alliance of winemakers decided to open up the naming process to an international competition. The chosen name ‘Meritage’, is a combination of the words ‘merit’ and ‘heritage’. ‘Merit’ was chosen to reflect the quality of the grapes while ‘Heritage’ was chosen to recognize the centuries-old blending process that was involved in making the wine.Read More
So what does it really mean for our wines to be ‘true to the heritage of its terroir’?
The ‘terroir’ refers to the natural environment that a wine is produced in. This includes the soil condition, topography of the land and the local climate. Each of these factors play a role in creating a unique taste and flavour for that particular wine.
Vanessa Vineyard is fortunate to be located in the beautiful and expansive Similkameen Valley in the Thompson-Okanagan region, just north of the US border. With 691 acres planted, comprised of several award-winning vineyards, the valley has a unique terroir that is very well suited to growing grapes. The summers are hot, with low rainfall, low humidity and strong afternoon winds, which reduces the chance of crops being lost to disease or pests.