Monte Creek Ranch Winery became the latest addition to the growing Thompson Valley wine scene with the opening in June of a spectacular building on the TransCanada Highway, near the junction with Highway 97 on Miner’s Bluff Road. Constructed on a promontory that looks northward over the TransCanada to one of the winery’s two vineyards, if offers jaw-dropping panoramic views.
There was no need for general manager Erik Fisher and his wife Danett, wine shop manager, to create stories for the new enterprise. Monte Creek Ranch already has a cattle and honeybee operation, and the Thompson Valley is steeped in history. What other winery can boast that Billy Miner, the famous “Gentleman Bandit”, robbed a train on their property? He escaped with the princely sum of $15.50!
Now a 1,200-acre property on what was long known as Ducks Ranch, the Sidhu family, nursery owners and blueberry farmers in Mission, BC, purchased Monte Creek Ranch in 2009. The land looked promising for grapes, and the first vintage in 2014 has confirmed the potential. The unique and lesser-known cool climate grapes are already producing well, as are better known vinifera varieties like Riesling and Chardonnay.
Visitors should not expect an intimidating wine experience. Monte Creek Ranch strives to be sincere, down to earth yet proud of its state of the art winery, and devoid of ego. After all, a snooty winery experience in the midst of country where cowboys still saddle up for cattle drives just wouldn’t fit, and that’s just fine with Erik.
“Our goal is to produce approachable, easy drinking wine that over delivers on quality for the price,” he says. And if Hands Up Red and Hands Up White, named for the Billy Miner escapade, are any indication, Monte Creek Ranch is well on its way. The white blend is perfectly balanced, with enough acid to pair with food but light and smooth enough to enjoy on its own out on the patio. Melon, honey, citrus and orange blossom aromas are enough to make the toughest hombre swoon. Hands Up Red is a blend of four grape varieties. Balance is lovely on this one as well, with its medium acidity and red and black fruit aromas and flavours. It will nicely complement a barbecue or anything cooked over an open fire. Cowboys take note.
Visitors are welcome to bring picnic fixings to enjoy with wine on the patio, and some food is available for purchase.
~ Lorne Eckersley