By Roslyne Buchanan
Mt. Boucherie Winery welcomes you to its new Wine Experience Centre after a complete re-envisioning of the site. The stunning architecture pays homage to the former Mt. Boucherie volcano, active more than 60 million years ago, for which the winery was named.
General manager Jesse Harnden is proud that the “roots run deep” at Mt. Boucherie and respects its legacy. “Mt. Boucherie owns and manages some of the oldest vineyards in British Columbia, growing the best quality vinifera grapes on estate vineyards in the Okanagan Valley, Golden Mile Bench and Similkameen Valley. Brett Thiessen as Vineyard Manager leans into organic methodology, ensuring this important resource is nurtured and sustainable practices are ramped up.”
Optimizing the glorious views of the vineyards, Okanagan Lake and the surrounding hills, Mt. Boucherie Winery portrays a modern, almost Scandinavian, façade designed by Vancouver’s Ciccozzi Architecture. Stepping into the 15,000-square-foot facility (with extra cleaning, sanitizing and physical distancing protocols), you’ll find a stone-accentuated foyer leading to the restaurant and lounge with a huge wraparound balcony. As tantalizing aromas waft from the kitchen and the ring of glasses reverberates from the bar, it’s easy to envision yourself spending many social hours here as you absorb that Okanagan vista. The third-level deck, intended for private functions, tastings and wine-paired dinners, provides a lookout with the feel of a castle turret.
The downstairs walkout is the retail, tasting area and barrel room. Here, too, massive windows ensure the sense of place is not lost. Patio doors allow festivities to spill out onto the deck and lawn, where perhaps you could play bocce as you sip your wine. The extensive windows capable of opening wide on each level are part of the architectural intention to blur the transition from indoors to outdoors. The mix of timbers and local rock facing softens the contemporary concrete lines. Key to the ambitious construction is a new winemaking facility with updated equipment.
Winemaker Jeff Hundertmark was appointed head winemaker in 2019. An award-winning winemaker and sommelier, he relocated from Ontario to BC in 2017. He spent just over a year in charge at Mt. Boucherie’s sister property in Oliver, Rust Wine Co. He is even, perhaps, a catalyst for additional migrations, with Rob Hundertmark joining the team as retail manager.
The Modest Butcher
Head chef Dan Carkner of the onsite restaurant, The Modest Butcher, also came to Mt. Boucherie from Ontario. He spent time in the House of Commons kitchens and Petit Bill’s Bistro in Ottawa before working at Jack’s Pizza and Liquor in Kelowna.
The Modest Butcher, open 11 am to 9 pm daily, has a simple philosophy: “Modestly the best,” inviting you to “Indulge. Relax. Laugh. Eat a steak.” Chef Carkner champions the approach of “familiar dishes done well.”
Classic wines from around the world will eventually complement Mt. Boucherie’s own, and the restaurant features full bar service with an “epic cocktail menu, craft beers and world-class spirits.” Even when The Modest Butcher opened with an abbreviated menu, the locals from the surrounding region seemed eager to make it their regular haunt.
About 30 per cent of the 200 acres of vineyards have been replanted over the last three years with vines propagated in Mt. Boucherie’s own greenhouse––the first order of business under its new ownership. Vineyards are in West Kelowna, Okanagan Falls, Oliver’s Golden Mile, and North and South Cawston.
Winemaker Hundertmark takes the philosophy of making the wine for each bottle seriously. He “believes there is a place for wines to be cherished for years as big age-worthy collectables, and a place for fresh wines ready for early consumption.” Mt. Boucherie’s portfolio is made in distinct tiers, with snazzy new labels to distinguish them.
The white-label wines are made in a crisp, refreshing style meant for early consumption.
Reserves are barrel-aged for 12 to 22 months and are meant to age gracefully in your cellar. At the pinnacle, showcasing the best blocks and barrels from Mt. Boucherie, are Summit, Contessa and the newly released Original Vines series.
Another new addition is the tier of “Modest Wines,” which are a fit for the restaurant and sport cheeky selections such as the Elder Vicar, an Alsatian-style co-fermented blend of Muscat, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer and Riesling.
Check out the story on each of these labels at mtboucherie.com.