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Column: Kamloops winery reveal its new look

Monte Creek Winery makes big changes

The year 2022 saw Monte Creek Winery in the Thompson Valley make some big changes: a refinement to the name (from the original Monte Creek Ranch Winery) and packaging and investments in winery infrastructure, all to better reflect the team’s commitment to quality, ongoing innovation, and sustainable practices.

“We felt that our brand needed an update to better align with our vision,” shares Erik Fisher, general manager at Monte Creek Winery. “Over the last eight years, we’ve invested our time and resources into creating a motivated, innovative, and sustainable operation, and the look we had was not reflecting this anymore. We are ready for wine lovers to understand who we are both in the bottle and on the shelf: a premium product that is delicious and sustainable.”

Monte Creek is the largest of four wineries nestled amongst the natural beauty of the Thompson Valley near Kamloops. In 2018 the Thompson Valley was recognized as BC’s newest wine region, meaning wine consumers can now buy BC VQA Wine with Thompson Valley on the Label. There the rain shadow of the high coastal mountains, the semi-arid conditions provide creative options for winemakers to shine.

With the rebrand, Monte Creek Wines are now divided into three separate lineups: The Living Land, The Ancient Waters, and The Pioneers.

The Living Land series celebrates the idea that great wines only come from balanced vines and earth that is alive and thriving. Sustainability is a core value at Monte Creek. As a result the vineyards’ ecosystems are rehabilitated and conserved including a compost system and planting cover crops made up of indigenous species.

The vineyards are farmed organically. “Chicken tractors” are utilized where chickens graze on the rows between the vines. And the winery is also a Certified Salmon-Safe Farm for its practices that protect and enhance salmon health and habitat through transformative land and water management.

Beyond the vineyard, Monte Creek Winery’s sustainable practices are done in their onsite restaurant, The Terrace, which is 100-per-cent OceanWise. The winery team has reduced energy consumption and waste, lowering the winery’s carbon footprint.

I highly recommend the 2020 Monte Creek Chardonnay from the Living Land Series ($23.99; 91 points). Although 2020 was a cool and compressed season, the warm late summer allowed the grapes to ripen so that the wine was well extracted with a refined structure.

The Monte Creek Chardonnay underwent wild fermentation and was aged sur lie, increasing the wine’s complexity. 25 per cent was aged in three Concrete Eggs while the rest was aged in French oak.

A small amount of the wine underwent Batonnage, which is stirring settled lees back into the wine. Lees are the sediment of winemaking, made up of dead yeast and grapes seeds and solids. By keeping these solids in contact with the wine more flavour, aroma and texture are produced.

The Monte Creek Chardonnay has a gleaming medium golden colour and an attractive aroma of light toast, minerals and citrus with stone fruit.

There’s plenty of flavours revealed on the palate: vanilla, lemon, peach, toasted hazelnuts, lively acidity with salinity, and juicy citrus finish with hints of nutmeg to spice things up. Well-balanced and a perfect oyster wine, although any seafood would be enhanced with this Chard. It’s available in Vancouver at Liberty Wine Point Grey and Robson Wine, Beer, Spirit.

Also from their Living Land Series is the Monte Creek 2020 Rosé ($24.99; 90 points). It won a Double Gold at the 2021 All Canadian Wine Championships and is available online at the winery and at Robson Wine, Beer, Spirit in Vancouver.

Expect a bold rosé! Produced from 85% Marquette grapes grown at the Thompson Valley Monte Creek vineyard, it projects a rich reddish orange colour like a beautiful sunset. A small amount of Riesling was included to make the wine more serious and to add finesse.

The Monte Creek Rosé is aged in stainless steel to preserve the fruity aromatics with strawberries, raspberries, red cherries, pomegranates and spice. On the palate those aromatic characteristics continue along with a zing from the lively acidity that tickles the taste buds and concludes on an off-dry finish that excites the palate for another sip.

Great with the Texas Barbecue Ribs I enjoyed last weekend. Other matches would be Lobster Spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce, and grilled lamb merguez sausages. Check out Monte Creek Ranch if you have a chance.