When the weekend arrives and you are contemplating what to do, why not consider a road trip to Lillooet, BC. Not only is this a scenic drive on the Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler, but also north to Pemberton and over the pass to Lillooet, but there is a small family run winery called Fort Berens that you must visit, especially after 5 hours in the car 😉
Ft. Berens is in fact, the most northern winery in BC. They do source some of their fruit from other vineyards in BC, but have planted vines on their property in hopes of producing some great fruits in this hot little valley
Rolf de Bruin, one of the owners of the winery, took some time to tour me around his vineyard, and talk a little wine before doing a tasting of their wines. Unfortunately this amateur (that’s me) wasn’t able to catch my mini-interview on audio, so I’ll share the photos instead. Rolf brought his family over from the Netherlands in hopes of growing this piece of land into a successful family winery and business. So far, so good! Not only does the valley offer fantastic growing conditions with its hot summer days and cool nights through the growing season, but the earth on his section of land is a mix of gravely soil, loam, river rock and sand which was the result of the ice-age, 100,000 years ago. So this makes vines very happy.
And happy vines, produce great grapes, in turn make a great wine along with a good winemaker. Currently they are growing these varieties on the estate: Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. All of which, are delicious in their own way, but my all time favourite is their Chardonnay. It’s got weight, without it punching you in the face, you can taste the nuanced flavours of tropical fruits and minerals which showcase the soils of the area. However, with their recent Lieutenant Governor Award of Excellence for their Riesling… I might need a 2nd favourite! I’ve saved the 23 Camels red blend of Cab Franc, Cab Sauv and Merlot for this Fall. And Plan to serve their late harvest Riesling at Thanksgiving.
It’s wonderful to visit a local winery, with staff who have such passion for their wine – you can’t help but enjoy tasting a flight with them and taking wine home! I highly recommend you take a drive to this peaceful valley to visit their winery (with a brand new tasting room), or visit your favourite private liquor store and explore their wines, I guarantee they’ll surprise you.