54 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 78 PART 1 JANUARY 2020
The vineyard, at the end of a long and winding road, was shrouded in fog.
I stopped for a picture and the owner, Russ Niles, came out the winery, which
was closed for the winter. I explained why I was there and he graciously
opened the wine shop for a private tasting. I asked about growing grapes in a
more northern climate. He replied, “Primarily, what you get around here are
little pockets of land that work. We are lucky to have a south-facing slope of
sand. But if you go 500 yards, you can forget it.” We sampled his wines, including
one whose name he does not know. It is some sort of pinot, he surmises,
from rooted prunings that a neighbour gave him some years ago. They were
apparently cut and left on the ground in a vineyard at Gray Monk Estate Winery
in Lake Country. He calls it “Argus”, the name in ancient legend of
Ulysses’s dog, faithful to the death. It tasted like Pinot Blanc, but not exactly.
By coincidence, that same evening, I spoke with the marketing consultant
for Baillie-Grohman, a winery in the Creston Valley. She told me that this
increasingly well-known winery is phasing out use of any grapes not grown
in its own vineyards. The owners have confidence in what they produce and
want their wines to reflect their origin. Their motto is “On the edge of a new
wine region: growing superb cool-climate wines in the Creston Valley.”
It started me thinking about those other areas of B.C., from Vancouver
Island and the Gulf Islands, the Fraser Valley, up the Fraser Canyon, to Lillooett,
and into the Thompson Valley that are becoming established grape
At home that evening, I picked up a book entitled To the Edges of the
Earth: 1909, The Race for the Three Poles, and the Climax of the Age of Exploration1.
Then, I was on edge—I had an idea for a column. Between my
recent winter excursions and choice of reading, it seemed fitting to look at
some B.C. wineries that see themselves as at the edge of the known B.C.
wine world, and to tell of their challenges and triumphs.
So, starting where I began this exploration, here are those new, increasingly
explored wine areas.
Recline Ridge on a winter’s eve