Pull up a red chair, pop open some lovely pink frizzante-style Infusion, soak in the stunning views and drink a toast to the 15th anniversary of Thornhaven Estates Winery. This down-to-earth adobe-style winery with its way up in the sky views of vineyards, canyon and Lake Okanagan is a cause for celebration.
Summerland’s oldest family-run winery began life as a retirement project by Jan and Jack Fraser. They have been at it long enough to call it their second career project while changing the lives of their son Jason, (Thornhaven Estate’s winemaker, cellarmaster and vineyard manager) and daughter Cortney. She heads sales and marketing and along with her husband Nick, oversee the Elmo’s Vineyard, home of the winery’s special Orange Muscat.
“Thinking about this 15th anniversary, I’m most proud of the fact that we are still here,” Jan says. “We’ve seen a lot of changes in the wine industry over the years and it’s great to have been in Summerland when we were only the third winery here.”
Cortney says she is proud of her brother. “We never set out to make wine that won awards. We wanted to make great wines but the awards, like the most recent Golds for our 2015 Gewürztraminer and the XV Syrah (specially crafted and released for the anniversary) at the Spring Wine Festival are a happy surprise. With so many wineries its something that we make really great wines too. That’s all down to Jason.”
If someone suggests whipping up a picnic to enjoy on Thornhaven’s patio with a glass or two of vino with a vista…drop everything and go. Within five minutes of being greeted by the friendliest staff you could imagine, and enjoying a free tasting of some beautifully-crafted reds, whites and bubbly, you will get that weekend vibe, even if it’s a Monday. If you can visit on an actual weekend, the vibe ratchets up a notch with live music. Check out thornhaven.com for a schedule of entertainers who will play for you from 1 to 4 pm on weekends throughout summer.
“We had a great group of musicians, sunny skies, people dancing and laughing on the patio and a guy turned to me and said, I feel like I’m on a movie set right now this is so amazing,” Cortney says.
As for the next 15 years, Jan says they are taking it one year at a time with the goal of producing consistently great wine and keeping the family happily working together among the growing community of great winemakers on Bottleneck Drive.
~ Elaine Davidson