When one of the Valley’s OG winemakers, Howard Soon retired late last year from Sandhill Wines, I think most folks presumed that he was done with winemaking altogether – at least that’s how it seemed. However, it turns out that he “retired” to “go back to the workbench” as he coins it, focusing on some of that truly small-lot winemaking that the mass produced Peller brand occasionally gets the opportunity to dabble in (to nice results I might add). Mr. Soon has turned up at the relatively new winery in the Similkameen, Vanessa Vineyard.
In the first five years after purchasing the site from Clarence Schneider, a second-generation Similkameen farmer in 2006, the Vanessa Vineyard was exclusively a grape grower, selling high quality fruit to a select few wineries in BC, wine giant Andrew Peller Limited (owner of Sandhill Wines) among them. In 2012, they made the decision to begin producing small quantities of premium wine in what EnRoute Magazine calls one of the “world’s five best wine regions you’ve never heard of.” The Similkameen Valley is on the rise, with more than 40% of all crops grown organically, the region is increasingly hailed as one of the the ‘organic capitals of Canada’.
Ever since, Vanessa wines have been gaining accolades, and their portfolio is expanding. This past summer, a tasting room was unveiled on the estate in Cawston, and Soon’s appointment as consulting winemaker only adds to the hype. Today you can sample and purchase their Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Meritage, Syrah and Rosé. Warm climate wine-lovers after that black fruit vibe will definitely want to try their Meritage vintages.