Mission Hill Family Estate Winery is definitely what many people think of when they hear the words “BC Wine”; it is one of the most recognized brands in Canada. It is also in a very picturesque location, perched high above Okanagan Lake, on the south side of Mount Boucherie (an extinct volcano) in West Kelowna. Mission Hill Winery has been in existence since 1966, although the current ownership has been in place since 1981 when Anthony Von Mandl bought the then run-down “Golden Valley Winery” and slowly brought it back to life, giving it back its original name of Mission Hill. Mission Hill truly made an international name for itself with its 1992 Grand Reserve Chardonnay, winemaker John Simes’ first vintage for Mission Hill, by winning “Best Chardonnay” at the International Wine & Spirit Competition in London England in 1994. From that point, Mission Hill has continued to grow exponentially. The spectacular winery complex was completed in 2002, including a large Visitors Centre with tasting room and wine shop, the winery and barrel cellar, a terrace restaurant, bell tower and lovely manicured grounds with a natural amphitheatre for concerts. Over the years I have visited Mission Hill several times, usually bringing along out-of-town visitors to show them the gorgeous Okanagan views and let them sample a bit of wine. Most recently I stopped in during the slow winter season when the wine shop wasn’t hopping with tourists to do a bit of more leisurely tasting, and to pick up a couple bottles of winery-only wine – their Martin’s Lane Riesling.
I started my tasting with the 2011 Five Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc. It has crisp acidity and pleasant flavours of citrus and gooseberry. The 2010 Five Vineyards Pinot Noir has strawberry and a bit of spice on the nose. It has some nice acidity and medium tannins with flavours of strawberry, cinnamon and red currant on the palate and a medium length finish. The 2009 Reserve Merlot is a beautiful ruby hue with plum, blackberry and blueberry on the nose, medium plus acidity and tannins with plum, blackberry, cocoa and coffee on the palate with a lingering finish. The 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is a deep ruby colour with a tinge of purple. It has a nose of cassis and spice, with a hint of green bell pepper. It has big tannins and nice acidity with flavours of cassis, plum, cherry and spice and a medium finish. The 2009 SLC (Select Lot Collection) Syrah is a beautifully deep ruby colour with blackberry, cocoa and pepper on both the nose and the palate, with medium acidity and fairly chewy tannins. The finish just goes on and on. I finished up with the 2009 Quatrain, which is a blend of 35% Merlot, 30% Syrah, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc. This wine had been decanted already for a couple of hours but still had really big chewy tannins, although they were well integrated. The Quatrain has intense flavours of cherry, plum, pepper and blackberry with a deliciously long finish.
I do always enjoy my time at the Mission Hill wine shop as they always have so many wonderful wine and food-related items to check out throughout the store. It is very easy to spend an hour there even if you’d only planned on popping in briefly to try a few wines. Perhaps I’ll have to plan one of my next visits to include one of their culinary workshops or outdoor concerts!