An early bud break this spring has River Stone Estate Winery’s Ted Kane thinking that the 2016 growing season might once again be earlier than usual. But if the harvest is anything like the 2015 vintage for quality he will be a happy winemaker.

Ted, who owns River Stone with his wife, Lorraine, says production in the winery is up to 2,350 cases now, thanks to excellent crops in his immaculate vineyard.

With bottling finished in March and a new vintage on the horizon, Ted’s conversation is sprinkled with gratitude, not least because of an addition to the River Stone team last year.

“Julie Planiden has been doing great things for us,” he says of the winery’s assistant general manager. “She has a great passion for our industry and her knowledge of wine is very thorough.” Experience is the great teacher in the wine business, and Julie has an impressive resume. She began her career in Winnipeg, working at one of the city’s top wine shops, where she did event planning, inventory management and created restaurant wine lists.

Since moving to British Columbia, Julie has worked at Red Rooster Winery, Poplar Grove Winery and Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars, gaining friends and experience along the way. “When we were looking for someone to manage our wine shop, we wanted a passionate and knowledgeable team player. Julie has exceeded our expectations,” Ted says.

With more time for the vineyards and wineries, Ted is now planning a small production run of sparkling wine, and he is excited to see how the response is to the May release of Malbec, a River Stone first. “I like to keep things fresh and interesting,” he says.

~ Lorne Eckersley