Our story is about ‘little steps toward the big picture’.
It all started with a passion for winemaking and the love of all things technical. I started making wine at the age of 19. I soon realized that the best wines came from the best grapes and ventured out to find this quality fruit. My quest led me to the deep south of BC to Oliver and arguably the best grape growing region of Canada. Over time, I came to develop a particular affinity for the Bordeaux red varietals and the wines being produced in a new world style. These are rich in color and texture and bold in fruit flavors.
‘Timing is everything and patience is a virtue’. I knew where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do, but life`s twists and turns hadn’t yet allowed me to chase the dream. While working as a Respiratory Therapist at the University of Alberta Hospital, I tried to figure out how to make this move and fund the vineyard dream and the eventual winery project. While keeping abreast of all of the BC wine industry who’s who and their activities through the Wine Trails publication, I was reading grape growing journals and planning for the eventual vineyard. I went as far as building a green house attached to a single car garage on my first house in Edmonton and then purchased and propagated grafted grape vine clones from eastern Canada. I was studying trellising, pruning, and irrigation techniques in my spare time.
While working at the U of A Hospital, I met my future wife who, at that time, was a recent nursing graduate already contemplating another 4 years of university education to become a physician. I recall expressing concern that in another 4 years all the good land would be gone… but where there is a will, there is a way.
With some convincing, Lorraine was sold on me and on the dream to move to Oliver. Our first trip out there together was during Lorraine’s residency training to complete a rural family practice elective. While Lorraine was busy doctoring, I was busy figuring out where we would live and raise our two young boys. I was in search of the dream piece of property.
It almost didn’t happen, but before Lorraine’s elective was finished, and we had to go back to Alberta for another cold winter, we found the perfect piece of land. It was a 9.5 acre parcel just outside of Oliver and bordering the Okanagan River. It had everything a grape grower/winemaker could want including a slope for frost drainage and southern aspects for long hours of sunshine. It had deep gravel soils perfect for drainage and heat retention for optimal ripening. The land had been left fallow for 30 years prior to our purchase. My canvas was blank and ready for the masterpiece we were about to begin to paint.
Having done considerable reading on grape growing and understanding the importance of good fruit to a successful winery, I knew I needed to learn more about grape growing and so enrolled myself in the viticulture program at OUC Okanagan. While taking courses that first winter, we were planning our vineyard and in the spring the construction and planting began. Now, after years of growing, our philosophy in the vineyard is "mother nature runs the show" and the best approach for success is to work with her in all aspects. We believe that the vines should be in balance to achieve the best possible fruit in a given growing season and not all years will be the same. Each will have its own challenges.
As we enter the winery phase, our grapes that were once available to other wineries, the main being Laughing Stock Vineyards, will eventually all be crafted into our own premium wines.