Long ago (in terms of the BC wine industry) and in part because of his fluency in German and hobby winemaking, Crescent Hill Winery founder Glennallyn Murray became close friends with Tom Hoenisch, a winemaker at Andres Wines in Port Moody, BC.
When Hoenisch moved to Penticton as a winemaker at former Casabello Wines in the late 1970s, Murray sold his real estate holdings to follow his mentor to the Okanagan. Murray purchased land in Penticton, creating one of the area’s first vineyards to pursue his winemaking hobby full-time. Influenced by Hoenisch’s belief and later Elias Phiniotis’ research that vinifera grapes would produce finer wines in the Okanagan, Murray brought back 100 per cent German cuttings in his suitcase from Europe.
By 1980, he purchased European equipment and made his first vintage. A bit of a renegade, Murray was happy to sell his “juice” without a winery license to friends and neighbours, and to Casabello and Calona Wines. His family shared in vineyard and farm gate duties.
Says daughter Teresa Murray Wiseman, “As kids, we were taught to notice details like the shoes on people who came to the gate. Only bureaucrats and enforcement people would wear shiny black shoes to a vineyard. We’d sell our ‘juice’ to anyone but them.”
Back then, her dad was told by a Summerland Research Station staff that “pigs would fly before Gewürztraminer would grow in the Okanagan.” As it flourished, Teresa donned a flying pig pendant necklace, which she still wears. She took up the gauntlet to license the winery when, as her father was dying in 1999, he asked her to carry it forward.
With her family and husband, Russell Wiseman, she succeeded. Interestingly, when Wiseman took winemaking at Okanagan College, he shared classes with George, the son of Elias Phiniotis.
Imagine their delight when the Gewürztraminer named “Glennallyn” — to honour her father — was awarded Double Gold and Best White Wine in Canada at the All Canadian Wine Championships, plus Double Gold at Sip Northwest. Accolades continue for Crescent Hill Gewürztraminer and others such as Curvy Gurl Chardonnay 2014 and The Olde Orchard Pearl of Csaba Muscat, made from Hungarian orange Muscat — one of the world’s oldest grape classes.
Fulfilling her father’s dying wish was challenging as a woman. She persevered to take the farm gate operation that was hidden in plain sight to what Crescent Hill Winery is today. Last year, the small tasting room was launched. In those early days, her father operated a small bus to bring visitors to his property and then later added Lang Vineyards to his tour. Now, wine tours delight in making the trek overlooking Skaha Lake to visit Crescent Hill. The family cycle continues too, as her own children get increasingly involved in the vineyards and winery.