Wine production in the Kamloops region expected to grow

Monte Creek winemaker Galen Barnhardt calls it the shed.

The new Monte Creek production facility looks the part, but rather than housing planes, this building is where the local winery plans to see its production soar.

Monte Creek Winery has more than tripled its capacity, allowing the local winery to grow in the same league as BC’s top wine producers over the next 10+ years.

The winery, located on a 1,200-acre property off Miner’s Bluff Road east of Kamloops, unveiled its latest two pieces of infrastructure added to the property in 2021 – a $2 million greenhouse and a powered production facility. by gravity of $8 million.

Barnhardt said the expansion came as the winery’s only other production facility — a 4,500 square foot space — outgrew, producing about 15,000 cases for the winery a year, compared to 8,000 for which it was designed when the cellar opened in 2015. .

“We quickly outgrew this facility. We were practically packed from the start – and, of course, that’s a good problem to have,” Barnhardt said.

The new, larger 15,000 square foot facility stands 52 feet tall from the base of the hill on which it is built, said Monte Creek general manager Erik Fisher. K.T.W..

The state-of-the-art facility is designed to create the best tasting red wines by using gravity, rather than a system of pumps and pipes, to collect the juice.

Whole grapes will be sorted and taken to a three-story top elevator and into vats below, where the fermentation process begins.

From these vats, excess skins and pips will be removed while the juice will flow by gravity into settling tanks on the ground floor, which also has a 200-barrel storage room.

Barnhardt said it’s a smoother process for making red wines and will help eliminate bitterness, which develops when the skins and seeds are pumped out.

“When you don’t need to pump the fruit at any time until bottling, it makes such a difference,” Barnhardt said of the gravity-fed process.

“You’re going to get less bitterness, a little more refined tannins in the wine, and a little more aromatics in the wine.”

The old installation that uses a pump system is dedicated to the production of white wine, since this process does not benefit from a gravity system because the skins and seeds of the grapes are immediately removed and only the juice is pumped into the reservoirs.

No wine has yet been processed in the new facility as it was not ready last year in time for harvest, meaning the inaugural vintage will christen the new digs in 2022.

Monte Creek creates up to 20 different types of wine a year, and for the most part the new facility will be used to increase the size of those batches, Barnhardt said.

About 20 BC wineries are producing the 50,000-case mark – the highest capacity in the province – and the Monte Creek expansion gives the local winery the capacity to produce the same amount.

Fisher said while Monte Creek now has that capacity, it can’t handle it all at once and plans to increase production in increments of 5,000 cases per year.

He said more vineyards had been planted to coincide with the growth strategy, aiming to produce 40,000 cases a year over the next decade.

The winery’s new greenhouse has been operational for a year and is used for growing vines from January to May and as an event space from June to December.

The 5,000 square foot greenhouse is equipped with misters, a retractable roof, speakers and a panoramic view of the South Thompson River.

Ashley Demederois-Cox, Monte Creek’s marketing manager, said the winery still has other infrastructure projects to come. The winery hopes to add an amphitheater within the next five years.

Welcome wine competition in Kamloops Fisher said Monte Creek’s $10 million investment is aimed at cementing the Thompson Valley as a “major player in food grape and wine production.”

The announcement follows Andrew Peller Ltd., Canada’s second-largest winery, which announced it was undertaking a year-long fact-finding mission across the valley.

Peller is investigating whether growing conditions are good on Tranquille land off Cooney Bay for a future winery in the area, citing high demand for BC wines and lack of land elsewhere as a reason to eye Kamloops. .

Fisher said K.T.W. he hopes to see Peller succeed in the Thompson Valley as the addition of wineries will help make Kamloops a bigger destination in the industry, noting that a rising tide lifts all boats.

“I would say we are underserved right now,” he said.

Shirley M. Pinder