Hester Creek Estate Winery (877 Road 8, Oliver)
When reached by phone, hospitality director Roger Gillespie says he has been a consumer and purchaser of Hester Creek wines since the late 1990s. At that time, he was managing the Wickaninnish Inn’s Pointe Restaurant in Tofino when he put his first Hester Creek Cabernet Franc on the menu.
“It was actually our first $10-plus glass of wine, which in those days was a big deal,” Gillespie recalled in a phone interview with the Straight. “It’s tough to find them under that now.”
He said that the same Cabernet Franc has retained a similar flavour profile to this day. According to Gillespie, this demonstrates the consistency of the winery’s old vines. The vineyard was planted by Italian immigrant Joe Busnardo in 1968, making it one of the oldest in the region.
In 2012, Gillespie joined Hester Creek Estate Winery, whose management team also includes owner Curt Garland, president Mark Sheridan, and winemaker Rob Summers.
“There are two types of winemakers,” Gillespie said, “one that makes wine that they want to make and one that understands the business. That’s certainly where Rob excels. He understands what people want and he understands what type of winery that Hester Creek is and the type of wines we need to deliver in order to be successful.”
Gillespie pointed out that the winery produces 35,000 cases a year of “good-quality, well-priced wines”.
“The last few vintages have been very good,” he added. “Both quality and quantity have been nice.”
He said that that having vineyards on the western side of the Okanagan Valley helps ensure the wine has “soft, elegant flavours”.
“We get a little gentler cooling period through the evening because we lose the sun a couple of hours earlier behind the western hills,” Gillespie stated. “The vines get a chance to rest a little bit.”
Hester Creek Estate Winery also has a 45-seat restaurant, Terrafina, with another 24 seats on the patio. There are six Mediterranean-style suites in the Villa at Hester Creek, as well as cooking classes at the winery, some of which will be led by Gillespie.
“I’ve had people stand on our patio and say, ‘Wow, this is incredible. This is just like when we were in Tuscany last year, only you have lakes,’ ” he said. “That put it in perspective for me.”
Signature wine: Hester Creek is the only Okanagan winery that produces Trebbiano. “It’s a northern Italian variety,” Gillespie said. “We produce a very small amount, maybe 600 to 800 cases a year, depending on what Mother Nature yields us.”