B.C.’s own Mission Hill Family Estate has been named one of the best vineyards in the world—the only Canadian winery to rank in the just-released inaugural list by the World’s Best Vineyards Academy.
Close to 500 wine aficionados, sommeliers, and wine-tourism experts from around the globe make up the academy. The awards were announced on July 8 at London's Banqueting House.
A total of 50 wineries made the list, with Mission Hill clinching that Number 50 spot.
“British Colombia may not be on many wine lovers’ destination list [ahem] – but it sincerely ought to be,” reads World’s Best Vineyards’ write-up of the Okanagan winery started by Anthony van Mandl more than three decades ago. “Set your sights on the beautiful Okanagan Valley, specifically Mission Hill Winery in Kelowna – architecturally impressive and with a cracking range of wines to boot.
“An imposing 12-floor bell tower has four bells cast by Fonderie Paccard in Annecy, France, while the artwork-adorned winery and cellars and the Terrace restaurant, set within an outdoor colonnade overlooking Lake Okanagan, all lend Mission Hill a sense of Old World grandeur that will come as a pleasant surprise to curious visitors.”
Argentina’s Zuccardi Valle de Uco, a family-run winery with a modernist bodega, came in first.
A total of 1,500 wineries around the world were nominated, with about 3,500 votes cast by an international academy of wine tourism experts.
Of 17 countries represented in the full list, Chile received the most nods, with eight vineyards placing in the top 50.
Winemaker Ben Bryant joined Mission Hill last summer, after years spent working in Australia and Asia. The winery has several collections, including Legacy (which boasts Oculus, its Bordeaux-style wine); Terroir, Reserve, Estate Series, and Five Vineyards.
World’s Best Vineyards praised Mission Hill for its winemaker’s dinners, culinary workshops, and outdoor summer concerts in its outdoor amphitheatre.
The organization also made specific mention of Terrace restaurant, which overlooks grapevines and Lake Okanagan, as one of the winery’s standout features.
Executive chef Patrick Gayler is a former core chef member of Culinary Team Canada, competing in the 2010 Expogast Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg city and the 2012 IKA Culinary Olympics in Germany.
Georgia Straight readers, of course, already know just how remarkable Mission Hill is, having voted Terrace as the Best Winery/Vineyard Restaurant in this year’s Golden Plates awards.
Gayler prioritizes local, in-season products and showcases these ingredients in simple but glorious ways.
Consider the charcuterie board. Selections may change but could include Mt. Ida Brie from Terroir Cheese (Shuswap-based); velvety King Cole Blue Cheese, with hints of apple and pear, from Naramata’s Upper Bench Creamery (Naramata); and Chabichou from Kelowna’s Carmelis Goat Cheese, all creamy and rich yet finishing with a tang.
Then there’s bresaola, made of natural Cache Creek eye of round, cured in Mission Hill Family Estate Shiraz and estate-grown herbs for eight weeks before drying. Gayler’s fennel-pollen salami has Cheam View Ranch pork, which is marinated with local fennel pollen and espelette pepper, before being dried for three weeks.
That same Cheam View pork is marinated with the property’s own anise hyssop and thyme for six weeks prior to a four-week drying period.
Gayler even pays homage to his roots, featuring his great grandmother’s imperial relish on the board. Similar to a piccalilli, it’s made in late summer when all of the ingredients are available, such as peppers, onion, cucumber, and cauliflower.
Terrace is also renowned for its house-made cheese, made of grass-fed, unhomogenized, organic milk from Grass Roots Dairies in Salmon Arm. Every day, chefs set the curd using rennet then hang it in cheese cloth overnight, to serve with seasonal garnishes.
Chefs also make their own pasta on-site out of durum wheat from Tyner, Saskatchewan.
Check out the photos below of Mission Hill Family Estate and Terrace Restaurant.