Owned by brothers Randy, Dave and Jessie Toor, Desert Hills Estate Winery has long been a fixture for wine-lovers searching for that ‘perfect’ bottle representative of the South Okanagan. Personally, I’ve yet to see anyone leave their Oliver winery empty-handed: people tend to walk out with a case or two.
The Toors started as grape growers and handpicked the site of each varietal. Between their intimate knowledge of their own vineyards and the solid expertise of winemaker George Phiniotis, (son and protégé of consulting winemaker Elias Phiniotis, PhD), Desert Hills has achieved enviable success. 2013’s wines may prove the best vintage yet.
“It’s been a great year,” explains Dave Toor, as he hops off the tractor moving bins of sun-ripened Syrah. “We didn’t experience any mildew or frost. The grapes are perfect.”
Due to Desert Hills limited production and sheer popularity, true fans should consider joining their wine club. Priority access to new releases, discounts, special events and exclusive offers (such as member-only access to their upcoming 2013 barrel-fermented Cabernet~Shiraz) make membership highly desirable. Here are a couple of more reasons to join the club:

2008 Mirage ~ $36.90

Double Gold, Best of Class and 93 points at the 2013 LA International Wine & Spirits Competition. Their renowned Bordeaux-style red is a complex blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, barrel-aged in 100% French oak and cellared. Aromas of cassis, cherry and plum complement flavours of spice and dark chocolate. This is the ultimate share-a-glass-by-the-hearth wine of romance this winter.

The Ambassador ~ $24.90 (200ml)
Delectable, rich and aromatic, this Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot-based Port-style dessert wine would make a welcome gift for anyone you care to impress this holiday season. Aromas and flavours of cocoa and dark-roast coffee, it’s a perfect after-dinner treat with or without the Cuban cigar.

~ Sarah Willard