Although Ancient Hill Vineyard and Winery just opened the doors to the public in 2011, this is not the first time a vineyard has called this 16-acre site, near the Kelowna airport, home. After researching some of the history of the area, winery owner Richard Kamphuys discovered that the location was home to vineyards in the 1940s and 1950s. Several abandoned vines from that era can still be found on the site to this day. Kamphuys began growing grapes in 2005; in 2008, construction of the building began. The 2009 harvest produced Ancient Hill’s first wines. Kamphuys uses only grapes from his own vineyard so he has chosen varieties that respond well to the cooler climate that prevails there. Hence, the vineyard contains Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Baco Noir, Pinot Noir, Lemberger and Zweigelt grapes.
“Our wines taste unique because of the location of our vineyards. You’ll find more pronounced fruit and caramel notes,” he says. “We are a colder climate, European style winery with distinctly flavourful wines. Our winery is rustic, with a lot of wood. We are smaller and more intimate. We have a patio picnic area where guests can enjoy a panoramic view of the Okanagan Valley.”
Not only does Ancient Hill offer tours and tastings, but visitors can get a rare glimpse of the actual process involved in the production of their wines. Their tours are free of charge and their tastings cost $3.00, which is waived when a customer purchases wine. They are open daily in the summer and by appointment during the winter. Kamphuys identifies two whites that he would consider their ‘signature wines.’ Both their Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer, a Gold Medal winner, are very popular. Red wines include the Lazerus blend, made with Lemberger and Zweigelt grapes, as well as their Baco Noir. “The Baco Noir is a hybrid and not many wineries have it. It is a dark red, with lots of fruit and a velvety finish.” Kamphuys is confident that the wines he is producing will make their mark in the local market. “Ancient Hill plans to be a presence in Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley. We’ve received nothing but positive feedback, so we’re doing something right!” he says. ~ Deanna Rainey