When Gray Monk Winery’s George and Trudy Heiss throw a party, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be a hit. All this year, the owners of Gray Monk have set their sights on their biggest celebration ever! In 2012, their 30-40-50 festivities will celebrate the 30 years Gray Monk has been in operation, their 40 years of grape growing and perhaps most important of all, George and Trudy’s 50th Wedding Anniversary. Nestled in the hills above Okanagan Lake, Gray Monk has been an icon in Lake Country since 1982, when George and Trudy opened their doors and began selling their high quality wines at affordable prices. Prior to that, they spent 10 years growing and perfecting the grapes that would ultimately be used in their world-class wines. Their attention to detail and craftsmanship has resulted in hundreds of national and international awards. Currently, Gray Monk farms about 100 acres of grapes annually. Gray Monk is BC’s oldest family owned and operated winery, and Trudy says they are well into the process of passing on their knowledge to their three sons, to create their own special blends of magic. “We have been here a long time. Generations, really…my Mother, who is 92 and still lives on the property, grew grapes here in the 1960’s,” she recalls. Trudy, George and their family offer an extensive portfolio of Gray Monk wines, and she singles out their Pinot Gris and Latitude 50 as their signature wines. “We have an excellent Pinot Gris that is perfect for the salmon and seafood of BC. Our Latitude 50 is a high end blend that is a reasonable price, and we never sacrifice the quality from one year to the next,” Trudy said. Gray Monk is anxiously awaiting their new releases, which Trudy describes as “exceptional.” “Right now the wine is in the tank but just doing a tank tasting will blow you away!” With the arrival of spring comes the eagerly anticipated Spring Okanagan Wine Festival. The Grapevine Restaurant, located on site at Gray Monk, will be hosting a unique special event during the Festival. Proprietor and Winery Chef Willi Franz says they will feature a reception and 5-course dinner paired with Gray Monk wines on Saturday May 5th. They call it The Ultimate Okanagan Chefs’ Table and it will involve 5 of the top Chefs in the region. Check their web site or contact the Okanagan Wine Festivals for details. In addition, the restaurant will feature daily 3-course lunch and dinner menus with Gray Monk wines. Gray Monk does have a great deal to celebrate, beginning with their very loyal customers who have been fans of their wines, in some cases for decades. “We are very appreciative of our customers. Some drive a long way just to get our wines. And we’ve had great support from the industry. We seem to have some longevity and staying power. We don’t take ourselves too seriously but we are very serious about what we produce,” said Trudy. ~ Deanna Merrick