Credible, international and reputable awards draw justifiable attention to less well-known, small wine producing regions.
The powerful international wine press notably the California-centric Wine Spectator and Euro-centric Wine Advocate published by a one-time government lawyer Robert Parker Jr. can stimulate demand in a wine region by simply recognizing a winery.
Wine awards can reveal patterns of consistency and excellence that some wineries try to achieve every vintage.
One such winery is Mission Hill Family Estate in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley.
Recently Mission Hill was named the winery of the year at the inaugural Canadian Wine Awards presented by the Wine Access Magazine and Air Canada wine awards during which , the much smaller B C wine industry outperformed the much larger Ontario industry with more than 60 % of the medals awarded.
entered 19 wines into the judging and 14 won awards. Consider that only 47% of all wines entered were recognized as award worthy.
Anthony von Mandl, a Vancouver native, bought the winery in 1981 raised in Europe, who decided to make his Mission Hill winery one of the best in Canada.
This is a tall order given the fact that British Columbia’s wines seldom reach international markets. To that end Mr. von Mandl hired John Simes, a New Zealand winemaker, who actually put Montana Wines, today the largest in that land, on the international wine map, in 1992.
When his 1992 Grand Reserve Barrel Select Chardonnay won the prestigious best Chardonnay award at 1994 IWSC (International Wine and Spirits Competition in London, England) many lingering doubts about Okanagan’s wines potential vanished overnight.
Today, Simes continues to explore the limits of Okanagan fruit. Oculus 1998, a Bordeaux blend, is an excellent wine made in very small quantities and available only at the newly remodelled winery boutique.
The setting of the Mission Hill winery overlooking the placid, peace full and beautiful Okanagan Lake is spectacular, and so also is the winery. Architecturally, the cellars are dug into the hill on which it sits. The 12-storey tower furnished with four bells specifically manufactured by Paccard Bell foundry in France ring twice daily at 12 am and 5 pm.
The winery draws 100 000 visitors, most of whom purchase at least two bottles.
The winery is located 250 km. east of the Pacific Coast, nestled between the Cascade and Monashee Mountains.
It owns and operates four vineyards throughout the 160 km. long Okanagan Valley that starts at the 49th parallel dividing Canada and the U. S. A. The valley in the south houses the only desert (Sonoran Desert) in the country and which is now being developed to become a prime vineyard region.
Mission Hill draws Syrah, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling from its vineyards, but also buys fruit from reputable, long-time vignerons under long-term contracts.
Mission Hill’s icewine is exported to many Pacific Rim countries including Taiwan, which is starting to become one of the major markets for the famed Canadian icewine.
Anthony von Mandl has been able to create an architecturally unique, appealing, and internationally recognized winery using only premium fruit originating in meticulously managed vineyards.