Kamloops’ pioneer estate winery is showcasing its wines for the first time at the 16th Annual Winter Okanagan Wine Festival.
When Ed and Vicki Collett first laid roots in 2008 with seven acres of vines, they could only imagine the success Harper’s Trail Winery might be. Now growing 24 acres and producing the wine entirely on site, the Colletts have something to smile about.
Perched on the clay soil of the bank of the South Thompson Rivers, Harper’s Trail Winery is named after Thaddeus Harper, a cattle driver who used the winery’s site as a camp and staging area for cattle in the early 1800s. Today, Vicki Collett believes that setting gives her wines the edge.
“(The clay and limestone in the ground) add minerality to the soil which transfers to the grapes and the wines,” explains Collett. “Minerality is sought after in wine growing and is unique to this area.”
Using only fruit grown on their land, the Colletts offer a wide selection of white wines including Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, and Chardonnay, as well as their first red, a Cabernet Franc.
Harper’s Trail operations manager, Bobbe Lyall, boasts of the wine’s ability to sell itself.
“We really try to diversify and market as much as we can in many different formats — radio, TV, you name it we’ve done it,” explains Lyall. “But the most effective marketing that we can ever do is to get our wine in people’s mouths and have them taste it. Once we do (that) we generally have pretty good loyalty.”
Being the first and only local estate winery in Kamloops, Harper’s Trail is host to events and functions, such as weddings and private tastings. Its products are sold in several private and government liquor stores throughout the Kamloops area and in several of what Lyall described as “finer” restaurants.
In Sun Peaks, Harper’s Trail wines are available at the Sundance Liquor Store, as well as at Masa’s Bar and Grill, Powder Hounds Restaurant, Voyageur Bistro and Sun Peaks Lodge Steakhouse.
“We’ve had a really great response from Sun Peaks and we’re super grateful for that,” says Lyall. “The liquor store has basically listed almost everything of ours, which is fantastic.”
Harper’s Trail will also be participating in this year’s Sun Peaks Winter Okanagan Wine Festival. Several wines will be showcased in multiple events including Comforts of Grilled Cheese & Wine, Taste of the Thompson, the Progressive Tasting, and the Bella Italia Brunch Buffet.
“We’re very excited to have (Harper’s Trail) included (in the wine festival) this year as they’re so close to Sun Peaks,” says Brandi Schier, media relations for Tourism Sun Peaks. “Kamloops is becoming more of a wine region with two new wineries, and it’s great to see that represented in the wine festival.”