Ted Kane started making wine before he could even drink it. At 17 years old, Kane experimented with winemaking kits. He squeezed wine from anything he could use — crab apples from his parents’ tree, grapes from the market, even potatoes. Wine has been his life’s work.
Now he puts those decades of experience making wine and growing grapes to good use at the winery he founded, River Stone Estate Winery in Oliver.
“So much of the fun to me is experimenting,” said Kane. “I learned how to manipulate the chemistry in certain ways.”
Knowing he wanted to farm a vineyard, Kane experimented with growing his own grapes in a greenhouse in Edmonton. Set on his dream, Kane and his wife, Lorraine, found an unspoiled 9.5-acre piece of land just outside Oliver bordering on the Okanagan River — a perfect place to produce red wines.
They moved from Edmonton, and Kane began to chase his winemaking dream and his wife pursued her career as a doctor.
“This is the Napa of the North, and the centre of the universe for growing grapes is Oliver,” he said. “The climate is unique to Canada.”
The vines he planted are rooted in deep rock and gravel soils laid down following the last glacial recession. He had the vineyard planted with Bordeaux blends in mind.
“Mother Nature runs the show. You’ve got to keep up with her, and you’ve got to be in tune,” he said.
This is his 16th year farming the site and the eighth season the wine shop has been open. The hard work has been paying off, with a growing base of loyal customers.
Kane now has a repertoire of popular wines, including a Pinot Gris-Gewurztraminer mix called Splash, a sparkling white Merlot (which is relatively new) and Malbec Rosé– which “I never can seem to make enough of it.”
The winery also makes several Bordeaux-style blends, including Stones Throw, and its signature wine, Corner Stone.
~ David Wylie