KAMLOOPS NEWEST WINERY CELEBRATES A TASTE FOR ADVENTURE.
The ranch aims to follow in the footsteps of the area’s early explorers and uncover what the land can offer. With vineyards at the edge of cool climate viticulture, they are set to reveal Canada’s next wine growing area.
The ranch’s first wine releases are ready for enjoyment now, in advance of the winery opening its doors in summer 2015.
Location Steeped in History:
The Thompson Valley is steeped in history. Frontiersmen and prospectors – even infamous train robbers like Billy Miner – sought their fortunes in this area as the West was being built. The site of the Monte Creek Ranch winery echoes with whispers of the past.
Generations back, the small community of Monte Creek, situated east of Kamloops along the South Thompson River and into the rolling hills, was known as “Ducks”, after the British settler Jacob Ducks, who ranched the area extensively. The town became a hub when Ducks opened a hotel to room railway workers, miners and other ranchers, and achieved fame in 1906 as the site of the last train robbery by the notorious “Gentleman Bandit” Bill Miner. In 1888 Hewitt Bostock purchased 3,380 acres near Kamloops from rancher Ducks. Years passed, yet locals continued to call it Ducks Ranch long after Bostock and his wife made it their home. Today’s Monte Creek is a tiny community where farming and ranching is still the mainstay.
In 2009, the Sidhu family, established nursery and blueberry farmers from Mission, were searching for new viable land. They came across the Monte Creek area and were excited about its potential, but it was the prospect of vineyards that caught their attention as these arid lands with ample sunlight looked promising for grapes.
Now, livestock share the ranch with grape vines and wildlife. Within the sweeping 1200- acre ranch sits a 40-acre vineyard, guest center, horse trails, pastures, creeks and views of the South Thompson River. The ranch’s unique beauty and hospitality are a welcome stop where visitors will soon be able to enjoy a wine tasting, and shop for delicious local products.
When it came time to give the land a new name, Monte Creek Ranch came to be; and the Sidhu’s pay homage to the former frontier home site. This is a new era of exploration for Monte Creek Ranch, as the winery joins the small and emerging new frontier of British Columbia’s wine country.
Unique Grapes for the Perfect Table Wine:
Choosing grapes that are ideal for the Thompson Valley climate was very important, thus the resulting focus is on plant science, and working within what the land, site and climate has to offer. Citing a first for BC viticulture, winemaker Michael Alexander is working with unique varietals such as Marquette and La Crescent, developed at the University of Minnesota to not only withstand cooler growing conditions but to offer full expressions of fruit flavours and aromas.
The first wines released in 2014 are a lineup of 2013 vintage wines that were made by consulting winemaker Eric von Krosigk (of Summerhill Pyramid Winery in Kelowna). The resulting Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Frontenac Gris, Cabernet Merlot, Foch, and Hands Up red and white blends offer fresh, lively flavours and aromatics, with legend-in-the-making Thompson Valley brightness.
The Hands Up Red blend is predominantly estate grown with the addition of grapes sourced from premium sites in the South Okanagan Valley. In time for the 2014 harvest, Monte Creek has appointed Michael Alexander as winemaker. Von Krosigk will continue to consult as required. Erik Fisher, formerly with Andrew Peller Ltd, has relocated to Kamloops and has assumed the role of general manager.
While not yet open to the public, industry insiders are aware of the work being done at Monte Creek Ranch, and the wines are already catching critical acclaim. At the 2014 BC Wine Awards at the Okanagan Wine Festival, the Hands Up White and the Gewürztraminer each captured a silver medal, offering insight into the quality of the wine line-up.
While the focus at Monte Creek Ranch since the beginning has been growing a strong vineyard and raising healthy animals, the winery is set to open in 2015 and construction is well under way. Next summer will be the time to take a drive along Trans Canada Highway #1 and visit the newest BC winery.
The Monte Creek Ranch team looks forward to welcoming wine lovers to visit and help them create the ranch’s new legends. For more information, visit montecreekranchwinery.com, and follow the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.
Media Contacts: Sujinder Juneja 604.367.6745, Leeann Froese 604.321.3295