714 V O L . 7 5 P A R T 5 S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 7 THE ADVOCATE
for the winery. He is also proud of their Port-style wine, Tribute (made from
Syrah), and of being able to ripen and make wine from Fraser Valley
He concluded our interview by saying, “You know, like any organization,
a winery has to be like a Swiss watch. All the gears have to work together.
At Chaberton, they do.” He has been happy with the long association with
both sets of owners.
Chaberton is in transition now, with a resident winemaker who works
with Elias. Her name is Andrea Lee. I asked her how she became a winemaker.
She credits it to “serendipity” as, after finishing high school in Summerland,
she wanted to be a molecular biologist and biochemist and studied
for this at SFU. As an X Files fan she wanted to go into genetic research.
After working for a while doing pre-clinical research for a company which
produced sunscreens into how they reduced the risk of skin cancer (not
exactly X Files stuff), she left for New Zealand on a work holiday. It was cut
short by a bad auto accident and she had to return home to Summerland.
Casting about for something to do, she got a job in the tasting room at Sumac
Ridge, where she met a number of winemakers, both local and international,
and was inspired. But there is much competition for jobs in the wine
industry in the Okanagan, and so, when an opening appeared at Chaberton
for a cellar hand (or as the industry nicknames it, “cellar rat”), she applied
and got it. She saved her funds and used them to go travel and work in
wineries abroad and then to take a master’s in viticulture and oenology at
the University of Adelaide, after which she divided her time working for a
couple of smaller wineries in B.C. and winemaking in Champagne and Tasmania.
She then returned to Chaberton in 2015. To date, besides echoing
Elias’s comments about their Bacchus, she is proud of her work on a new
and bolder Beaujolais style for their estate-grown Gamay (reviewed below).
The third winemaker with whom I spoke for this column, Charlie
Baessler, works for his family’s winery near Keremeos (one of 19 wineries
in this appellation). The winery is Corcelettes Estate Winery, named after
the family farm in Switzerland. On the label of their wines you will find picture
of a menhir, an ancient 11-foot stone that stands on that family farm on
the shores of Lac de Neuchâtel. According to the archaeologists, the origin
of these raised stones dates back to the Neolithic Period (3000 to 2000 B.C.);
they are found in many parts of northern Europe and have a similar significance
to Stonehenge, which is a circular ring of menhirs.
Charlie told me the family, which has a long history of farming in
Switzerland, came to Canada in the 1990s, buying farmland near Brandon,
Manitoba that was planted in mixed grains. The family also bought a bison