History

When one of the owners first visited the property, he noticed the pasture was covered in butterflies and from this he took the Greek word for butterfly, Vanessa, as our vineyard name.

On the advice of respected vineyard developers Robert Goltz and Richard Cleave, a decision was made to fully commit to transforming the site into a vineyard dedicated exclusively to red wine grapes due to the Similkameen Valley’s favourable climate and the site’s ideal growing conditions. A team of advisors assisted in choosing the best clones and rootstock for our site based on its microclimate and terroir.

Due to the quantity of rocks that were on the site, the vineyard development was initially challenging. Although at first viewed as burdensome, the rocks became a key asset for the soils. The rocks act to stress the vines while allowing the day heat to be harnessed and imparted throughout the cooler nights. Additionally, the gentle sloping hillside and southwest exposure of the site are optimal for the vines as they directly benefit from the afternoon sun, which contributes to the lengthening of the growing season and the production of intensely ripe fruit. With these factors the fruit is able to capture the minerality of the soils on which it grows that are unique to the land, and allows Vanessa Vineyard to produce fruit of the highest quality, with flavours and minerality that are distinctive.

History, Vision & People

The site was purchased in 2006 from Clarence Schneider, a second-generation Similkameen farmer. The 220-acre site was previously a grazing pasture, partially planted with alfalfa.

Our Vision

Our vision is to produce only the highest quality grapes that reflect the terroir on which they grow and, in time, to become one of the best red sites in Canada. For the first five years we were exclusively grape growers, selling our high quality fruit to a select few wineries in British Columbia. In 2012, the decision was made to begin producing small quantities of premium wine. We hope that by using only 100% estate-grown fruit in the making of our wines that we can properly represent the Similkameen Valley and strengthen its reputation as what EnRoute Magazine calls one of the “world’s five best wine regions you’ve never heard of “.

We are committed to achieving uncompromising quality and production efficiency and, most importantly, to respecting the land on which we operate. We aim to bring innovation to the Similkameen Valley, and build a strong reputation in the wine industry through our standard of quality and environmental consciousness.

A team of advisors assisted in choosing the best clones and rootstock for our site based on its microclimate and terroir.

Our People

Proprietor

Suki Sekhon

Helping businesses and charities grow, Suki is a tireless philanthropist and businessman. As President and CEO of CRS Group of Companies, Suki runs companies in Western Canada primarily related to commercial real estate, and is a champion for several BC non-profits. An advocate and fundraiser for numerous causes close to his heart includes BC Children’s Hospital, Rick Hansen Foundation, Ronald McDonald House BC, and Special Olympics BC. A decade ago, he identified a unique opportunity to help another venture thrive, and acquired a rock strewn 220 acre piece of land for Vanessa Vineyard.

Proprietor

John Welson

After many years in Canada’s financial industry, John left the business to pursue different projects that were off the beaten path – taking up farming on two continents. A keen desire for new challenges saw him purchase a finca in Northern Argentina’s Salta province. While with his friend and business partner Suki, he also co-founded Vanessa Vineyard in the then fledgling and equally striking Similkameen Valley wine region. At Vanessa, John brings his knowledge and appreciation of wine to oversee the direction of their winemaking program and pitches in on all aspects of the business from the cellar to winery to bottling line.

Master Winemaker

Howard Soon

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. Shortly thereafter, Howard began establishing milestones in BC wine, becoming the first to release a series of single vineyard designated wines, amongst innumerable other benchmarks. His collaborative relationships with growers led him to Vanessa Vineyard in 2006, where working with our viticulture team, he oversaw the planting of our vineyard. He subsequently purchased the vast majority of our grapes for his highly-acclaimed Sandhill Vanessa Vineyard wines. In 2017 Howard “retired” to “go back to the workbench” as he coins it, focusing on truly small lot winemaking as Master Winemaker for Vanessa Vineyard.

Vineyard Developer and Manager

Robert Goltz

Coming from the third generation of an agricultural family that has been leaving their footprint in the Okanagan since 1926, Robert has 41 years of experience in vineyard development and management, and is dedicated to the land and the production of quality fruit. Robert, along with his son Nathan, manage the vineyard day-to-day. They are renown for their numerous innovations and the continual improvements of vineyard management techniques.

Site Manager

Nathan Goltz

A fourth generation farmer who grew up in Oliver, British Columbia. Nathan studied business at Malaspina University in Nanaimo and then apprenticed under his father, Robert Goltz. Bringing to Vanessa Vineyard his reputation for innovation, Nathan has extensive experience from managing several well-known vineyards through years of practice and earned knowledge.

Operations Manager

Sandeep Sangha

“Intrepid traveler & team builder”; British born but locally grown, Sandeep developed a love of nature working the family farm during her childhood in the nearby Fraser Valley. An outdoors enthusiast who has traveled the world, she is always up for a challenge. Working with CRS Group since 1999 running the day-to-day operations, she helped grow the company by building a team of talented staff from across the globe. Being part of the vineyard and winery from their inception she has developed an appreciation for wine and its intricacies, she’s now returning to her agricultural roots, pursuing a new challenge in assisting the growth of Vanessa Vineyard.

blair-dufty

Estate Manager

Blair Dufty

In hospitality since the age of 15, Blair has an extensive range of employment experiences in the restaurant and wine business. From working in the kitchen of a pizza parlour as a teenager to managing a couple restaurants in Whistler in his 20s, he loves the “front of house” interaction with guests whilst also enjoying cooking in the “back of house”.  However, as Bar Manager at the famed Wickaninnish Inn, he found his true calling with British Columbia wine.  This calling led him to the Okanagan where he landed first as Food & Beverage Manager at the Naramata Heritage Inn, followed shortly thereafter at Red Rooster Winery.  As Estate Manager there he oversaw their retail store for almost a decade.  A desire for a more intimate and hands-on work environment drew him briefly to Poplar Grove Winery and ultimately to Vanessa Vineyard where he saw a team of like minds who are passionate about food, wine and people.

Having fully embraced the BC lifestyle Blair is an avid surfer from his years living in Tofino and snowboarder from his time at Whistler.  In the winter he can also be found on his backyard ice rink skating with his family and friends.