Arts & Entertainment

Feel like a drop? Whine not!

 | January 5, 2013

It’s only days until the corks start popping and the glasses start clinking at the 15th Annual Sun Peaks Winter Festival of Wine.

Running from January 12 to January 20, the festival will feature a gamut of wineries from the Thomson-Okanagan region showcasing their finest wines. One of these will be the Fort Berens Estate Winery.

Established in 2008 by Rolf de Bruin and his partner Heleen Pannekoek, Fort Berens Estate Winery is located in the Fraser Canyon across from Lillooet, B.C. It’s the area’s first vineyard and winery.

De Bruin, who along with Pannekoek left corporate careers in the Netherlands to follow their dreams of running a vineyard and winery, said the search for the vineyard’s location didn’t originate in the Gold Trail region.

“We initially looked for a location . . . in the Okanagan . . . (but) land in the Okanagan was quite scarce,” de Bruin said.

After much research and consultation, they received advice that Lillooet, B.C. may be the next frontier for grape growing.

“Our research conclusion was that we should be able to grow grapes here, no one had done it (before) on the scale that we are,” de Bruin added.

The bold decision appears to have paid off with numerous Fort Berens wines being international award winners, including the 2011 Chardonnay. According to de Bruin, those attending the Sun Peaks Winter Festival of Wine should keep an eye out for a couple of Fort Berens’ finest.

“We’re going to be bringing a Meritage 2010, which is a full bodied red that won a gold medal/best in class at the Pacific Rim International Wine Competition . . . it’s very much in its prime right now,” said de Bruin.

“The Chardonnay 2011 is tasting really nice. It’s lightly oaked and great with some winter fare.”

De Bruin said that his involvement in the Sun Peaks Festival of Wine was a no-brainer.

“We’re quite close to Sun Peaks . . . and we feel, with Sun Peaks, a very strong bond and a strong adaptation to local wine. We naturally feel at home at Sun Peaks,” de Bruin said.

And just like those prospectors 150 years before them in search of gold, de Bruin appears to have struck liquid gold. Fort Berens Estate Winery will host an intimate three course dinner at Black Garlic Bistro on January 12, 2013.

SPIN will be attending some events so watch for our online reviews and social media.

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