You’ll have your hands up to be among the first to visit the Monte Creek Ranch tasting room opening this June. Just a 10-minute drive East of Kamloops off Highway 1 at 2420 Miner’s Bluff Road, you’ll find Kamloops’ newest winery on a working ranch straddling the Thompson River. Today it is home to two stunning estate vineyards, a winery, Haskap berries and graze land for grass-fed cattle, horses, honey bees, and wildlife. Frontiersmen, prospectors and even infamous bandits like Billy Miner once roamed this hub. General Manager Erik Fisher explains, “Our Hands Up Red and Hands Up White wines are named as tribute to Miner who was known as the ‘Gentleman Bandit’ given his civil approach to robbery as he advised ‘put your hands up and no one gets hurt’. His last train robbery in 1906  actually took place on this property and his escapades captivated Canadians.”
Boldly, taking a cue from the region’s historic spirit, Monte Creek is forging a new path in the footsteps of the early explorers and settlers to map out Canada’s next wine growing area. At the edge of cool climate viticulture, the vines are cooled dramatically over winter while basked in heat during summer. There are two distinct vineyards across the valley from each other. The Monte Creek vineyard, on the south side of the Thompson River that surrounds the winery is primarily Maréchal Foch and lesser known but promising grape varieties specifically developed for cooler climates namely La Crescent and Marquette. On a sunny slope north of the river, the Lion’s Head Vineyard, named for the mountain it sits below, is predominantly Riesling and Chardonnay.
Monte Creek’s first wines are ready for enjoyment in advance of the winery opening. Monte Creek invites you to “taste the adventure” and playfully embraces the rugged West imagery on its labels. Make no mistake the bright and lively wines in those bottles are serious. First vintages were made by consulting winemaker Eric von Krosigk of Kelowna’s renowned Summerhill Pyramid Winery. Winemakers Michael Alexander and Galen Barnhardt joined the team in time for the 2014 harvest and von Krosigk will consult as needed. The wines are receiving accolades already with the Hands Up White and Gewürztraminer each capturing a Silver Medal at the 2014 BC Wine Awards at the Okanagan Fall Wine Festival.
~ Roslyne Buchanan