In British Columbia’s beautiful and tranquil Okanagan Valley, there are more than 100 wineries, but one stands out head and shoulders over every other – Mission Hill Family Estate.
The location is incomparable atop a hill overlooking the Okanagan Lake, and even before Anthony von Mandl built the new, architecturally, stunning winery, the old building had visually a lot to offer.
Now this avant-garde winery owns a respectable acreage of vineyards (approximately 450 hectares on five locations), operates a fine restaurant, and offers tours. Practically all tourists to the valley pay a visit to see the winery, taste its fine wines, enjoy the scenery, and often have lunch superbly matched with John Sime’s wines. Before this New Zealander came aboard, Mission Hill wines were fine, but never outstanding. A few years after his arrival his Chardonnay won a gold medal in a prestigious London wine competition where wines are tasted blind. When the judges heard that the winning wine originated in British Columbia, they insisted on trying again. They could simply not believe that a wine from British Columbia would be good enough to win gold! The wine scored high once more and this pt the winery on the map.
Ever since, J. Sims has been producing superbly crafted wines alonf with regular quality for large market segments.
Anthony von Mandl subscribes to a simple philosophy of marketing wines of quality at reasonable cost.
J. Sims strives to produce New World style ripeness with Old World elegance, and often succeeds, given the climate of the valley.
In the south, it is desert (the only one in Canada). And further north, long warm, summers with intermittent rains yield aromatic fruit suitable for elegant wines.
Like most medium-sized wineries, Mission Hill Family Estates has several quality levels, from general, to Mission Hill Estate, to Special Editions, which represent the very best.
Take Oculus, 2007 a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. Many wine writers have judged it as superb, outstanding, refined and elegant. It is truly a fine wine with aromas of blackberry and currants. The smoke and cedar flavours support the fruit and elevate the wine to extraordinary heights of elegance and refinement.
Vintages Essentials Catalogue picked four Mission Hill wines, all of which are available throughout Ontario L.C.B.O. stores.
All the extravagance comes with a hefty price tag, and winery markets Mike’s Hard Lemonade to compensate extra expenses.
When the category has had its day, some other “new drink category” will be invented to generate enough funds to keep the fine wine division going.
Mission Hill Family estate is not a charitable organization. It generates revenue, and equity accumulates, but Anthony von Mandl’s passion for wine sets the tone.
When it comes to fine wine, he insists on quality and the best possible product, given the vintage.
Mission hill is a combination of sensual delights, architecture, natural beauty, art, food and wine, hospitality and ingenuity – it is unique.
No wonder 125,000 visitors come to visit the winery, and every year the numbers grow.
One could say that what von Mandl has done for Okanagan Valley is what Robert Mondavi did for Napa Valley in California.