Located in southeast Oliver, the CheckMate Artisanal Winery building is set in the heart of a historic estate vineyard and exhibits a striking contrast of contemporary architecture and breathtaking views.
Choose from two intimate, guided wine-tasting options, where wine ambassadors guide you through some of the finest and most exclusive Chardonnay and Merlot in Canada.
The Scholar’s Mate Experience, $40 per person, presents four of the award-winning CheckMate Chardonnays and Merlots. Savour a seated tasting in the stunning hospitality lounge as you are guided through the curated wine selection. Learn about the vineyards from which the grapes are sourced and the winemaking philosophy behind each bottle.
The Grandmaster’s Table, $75 per person, includes a winery tour followed by a seated tasting featuring an exclusive and unique-to-you flight of CheckMate library Chardonnay and Merlot expertly paired with a cheese and charcuterie plate.
Wine membership entitles members to complimentary experiences in the Tasting Lounge or on the Wine Club Members’ Exclusive Veranda.
Reservations are recommended. Book online at checkmatewinery.com. Visit or call 250-707-2299.
Seattle architect Tom Kundig designed CheckMate Artisanal Winery. As described on olsonkundig.com, “Envisioned as a signature object set into the hillside, CheckMate Winery balances bold architectural gestures with deference to the surrounding environment. The clean, sharp lines of the building are visually distinct from others in the region and create an elegant contrast to the gentle slopes and curves of the landscape.”
Built on the footprint of the existing facility, the bold new structure mimics a chessboard graphically with a black and white skin, which cleverly “creates degrees of opacity” and helps reduce solar heat gain to assist in summer cooling.
The entry is framed by symmetrical water features with a bronze entry door opening to a curving bronze bar and a custom wooden screen. The intimate tasting room affords views of the production areas below. Beyond, an exterior tasting room with floor-to-ceiling windows cantilevers dramatically across the landscape providing an everchanging canvas of vistas.
This striking, innovative design captured a 2023 International Architecture Award organized by The Chicago Athenaeum Museum for Architecture and Design. CheckMate’s architecture is a masterpiece best appreciated in person.
CheckMate focuses on two varietals, Merlot and Chardonnay, each an expression of their soils and mesoclimate from five different vineyard sites. The locations include Dekleva Vineyard, southwest of Oliver – perhaps the oldest Chardonnay plantings in Canada; Jagged Rock Vineyard, Black Sage Bench; Border Vista Vineyard, 30 feet from the BC-Washington border, Osoyoos; Sunset Vineyard, Black Sage Bench; and Combret Vineyard, Golden Mile Bench. All vines are tended gently by hand. All the canopy management, leaf-pulling and cluster-thinnings are manual to ensure precision.
The vinification of the five vineyards is consistent in highlighting the unique expression of terroir. Grape clusters arrive in small picking containers for inspection and hand sorting before the whole bunches are gently pressed. The wines go through wild fermentation to allow the naturally occurring stains of indigenous yeasts to battle for supremacy creating layers of texture and nuance.
Malolactic fermentation gradually softens the wines during extended oak cellaring. Adding texture and mouthfeel, each undergoes a prescribed regimen of bâtonnage: periodic stirring of lees in the barrel. Finally, the finished wine goes to the bottle, unrefined and unfiltered to maintain the most complete expression.
As the facilities transformed and the vineyards were rehabilitated, von Mandl Family Estates remained true to the goal: “To make new world Chardonnay and Merlot with old world elegance in North America.”
New Winemaker and General Manager
This summer, Spencer Kelly was recruited as winemaker and general manager at CheckMate Artisanal Winery.
“It is with great confidence that we welcome Spencer,” noted Philip McGahan, winemaker emeritus. “Born and raised in the Okanagan (Kaleden), Spencer understands the region intuitively and respects the standards we have set for our next world.”
Previously Kelly was based in Napa Valley as a winemaker at Eisele Vineyard, which is part of Francois Pinault’s prestigious Artemis Domaines, known for iconic brands like Kering, Gucci, Saint Laurent, and Alexander McQueen.
As news of CheckMate’s success reached him in California and after more than a decade away perfecting his skills of creating the finest vintages from distinguished vineyards, the opportunity called him home to the Okanagan Valley. checkmatewinery.com.