Legendary B.C. winemaker Howard Soon, who recently “retired” from Andrew Peller Ltd. after 37 years, has now joined Vanessa Vineyard as the winery’s master winemaker, the winery announced today.
A pioneer in the B.C. wine industry, he has been awarded with innumerable accolades and established many firsts in the province, including the first to release a series of single vineyard designated wines.
“I’ve worked with Vanessa Vineyard grapes since its founding, and believe it is unlike any other vineyard due to the site’s unique topography, climatic conditions, and soil types – the perfect combination for making truly distinctive wine.
“When we first started getting fruit from Vanessa for Sandhill Wines it was very early days for attempting premium vinifera in the Similkameen. We however saw the potential, and when I tried our first vintage of Cabernet Franc I was blown away. It was the beginning of great wine coming from the Similkameen,” said Soon. “I’m excited to go back to the workbench, it will be refreshing to be hands-on with these small productions. I believe this special terroir is the best site for growing premium reds in Canada.”
Suki Sekhon, co-founder Vanessa Vineyard, commented: “We aspire to produce the best red wines in the country and are proud to have a winemaker of Soon’s expertise on our journey. With this premier site and an extraordinary winemaking and viticulture team, we can craft profound wines that reflect this truly distinctive vineyard,” said.
For over three decades Soon has been on the leading edge of winemaking innovation. Originally a brewmaster, a taste for more creativity saw him join the fledgling B.C. wine industry in 1980.
Among numerous other milestones, Soon was the first winemaker in the province to receive a Gold Medal at the Chardonnay du Monde in France; release a series of single vineyard designated wines; and sweep the Canadian Wine Awards receiving Red Wine of the Year, White Wine of the Year and Winery of the Year — the only winery to ever win all three.
Most recently, Soon was recognized at the 2015 Vancouver International Wine Festival Celebrating Excellence Awards with the highly coveted Spirited Industry Professional. His collaborative relationships with growers led him to Vanessa Vineyard in 2006, where working with their viticulture team, he oversaw the planting of their vineyard. He subsequently purchased the vast majority of their grapes for his highly acclaimed Sandhill Vanessa Vineyard wines.
In 2017 Soon “retired” after 37 years with one of Canada’s largest wine companies to focus on truly small lot winemaking as Master Winemaker for Vanessa Vineyard.