Thank you again to fabulous photographer Victor Poirier and Henrietta Poirier of Studio Red Star for shooting this gorgeous cover. Studio Red Star is a production studio based in Kelowna with a focus on video, photography and branded content.
Our handsome cover model this issue is winemaker Grant Elio Biggs from Kitsch Wines in East Kelowna.
Thanks to the Kitsch family for allowing us to photograph Grant in his second home, the garage of their stunning home that is also the acting wine cellar and tasting room surrounded by their estate vineyard. Kitsch Wines tasting room is located at 3330 Neid Road and besides offering excellent wines, it has a to die for view of Kelowna to enjoy. The Kitsch family’s Okanagan roots go back to 1910, with winery proprietors Ria and Trent Kitsch being the fourth generation. Keep up to date on this growing winery on their website kitschwines.ca.
Interview with winemaker Grant Elio Biggs: This local guy epitomizes passion for the craft.
From vine to bottle, he is living his dream.
His advice? Find what you love and let it kill you.
1. How did you get into winemaking?
Tell us your story.
Wine has always been a part of my life. Growing up, I used to help my Italian grandfather make wine in his basement in Port Alberni with grapes imported from California. From a very young age I was fascinated with fermentation. Watching grapes turn into wine and then seeing the finished product enjoyed alongside the most comforting meals cooked by my French grandmother was a massive part of my upbringing. I always associated wine with food and food with wine.
I never considered it a career path until I was in my early 20’s. After dropping out of a kinesiology degree I started travelling. In order to fund my travels I started working in restaurants. Spending a busy season at a restaurant to make enough money to travel again. Each time I returned I found myself working in nicer restaurants with better chefs and better wine lists. In 2006 I was working at The Mark Restaurant at the Hotel Grand Pacific in Victoria. It was there that I was offered the opportunity to enroll in the International Sommelier Guild’s Diploma Program.
My diploma teacher, DJ Kearney, recently reminded me that in the very first class when asked what I wanted to do with my diploma, my answer was, “Grow and make wine”.
After receiving my diploma in November of 2009 I managed the opening of a boutique liquor store in Victoria before making the move to the Okanagan in early 2010 to pursue winemaking. I spent a couple years with the extremely talented team at RauDZ Regional Table while building a strong foundation in chemistry at Okanagan College and starting the University of California Davis Institute’s distance Oenology program. In 2012, I landed my first job in the winemaking industry at Mt Boucherie Family Estate Winery in West Kelowna as a vintage cellarhand, after falling in love with my first crush I was asked to help see the 2012 wines into bottle by winemaker, Jim Faulkner. I was hooked. In 2013 I joined David Paterson at Tantalus Vineyards for harvest. Spring 2014 saw me in New Zealand at VinPro, working with some incredible Pinot Noir fruit from all over Central Otago. My second crush of 2014 was back at Tantalus for harvest and when the final icewine grapes of the season were picked, I started my journey with the Kitsch family and what would eventually become Kitsch Wines.
2. What is your favourite part of the process?
That’s a loaded question. I love every part of the process equally. From pruning in the winter to harvesting in the fall I enjoy every aspect of vineyard work except suckering, that sucks. As far as winemaking goes, I love monitoring fermentations. Fermentation is a beautiful thing. It utilizes all your senses: seeing, touching, smelling, tasting, hearing and then evaluating each wine from the vine to the bottle is my favourite part of the process. I love plunging my arm into a roaring Pinot Noir ferment to feel the CO2 bubble up through the cap. I love putting my ear up to the bunghole of a Chardonnay barrel that is just starting to ferment, listening to the slow ticking of the yeast doing their thing.
3. What is your dream?
If I could be anywhere in the world, doing anything, without limitations on education or finance, I’d be living and working in East Kelowna on a young, 13-acre vineyard, making sparkling wine, aromatic whites and Pinot Noir… Oh wait! That’s what I’m doing – I’m living my dream. Life’s too short not to. I get to wake up everyday and do what I love. I wish that for everyone.
4. If you were a bottle of wine what would you be?
A Magnum of Vintage Champagne
5. What would your tasting notes be?
Lively, youthful, delicate and sometimes boisterous. Enjoyable day or night and has the ability to turn any occasion into a memorable experience. Enjoy now or can be laid down and savoured for years to come as it’s only going to get better with age.
Cheers Grant! We look forward to watching your passions unfold on the Okanagan wine scene.