Driving Oliver’s Black Sage Bench Road to Desert Hills Estate Winery is always fun. I’m excited – it’s my first visit since the Toor family released their 2010 Syrah and Mirage, opened their patio and made their paved driveway and parking lot expansion.

I opened the wine shop’s big oak door to see a familiar scene. Proprietor Randy Toor, centre stage in his U-shaped bar, surrounded by 30 or-so visitors—completely in his element.

The guests were from everywhere. Most were first-timers, having heard great things about Desert Hills’ wine portfolio: the big, bold reds, the fresh and tasty whites, the small-lot series and winemaker George Phiniotis’ port-style, “Ambassador.”

Randy held his audience’s complete attention, effortlessly pouring samples while engaging everyone with his charismatic personality. A showman par-excellence, Randy also knows his wines. He expertly fielded questions from novices and oenophiles alike, getting some laughs along the way. On cue, Randy’s wife Lakhwinder and daughter Simrit emerged to take over, allowing the orator to launch into his wine club soliloquy.

“We simply have the best wine club setup in the business,” stated Randy. “We have over 1700 members. It’s because we make it easy.”

Wine club members choose between a six or 12-bottle delivery, three times annually. All receive 10% discount on wines, with exclusive access to library and small-lot wines and priority access to new releases. Visit deserthills.ca for all the great incentives!

Immediately, three couples signed up. They asked to try the Zinfandel, one of Desert Hills’ ‘exclusive to wine club tastings’. Non-wine club members sighed in disappointment. “Membership has its privileges,” smiled a wine club member. Randy laughed and asked, “Shall we let the rest of them taste it, too?”

(pictured: Simrit Toor, with her Dad, Randy)

~ Sarah Willard