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Something to celebrate: B.C.’s Culmina turns five this fall (we have reviews, plus a look at new wines from Monte Creek Ranch)

B.C. wine

By Rick VanSickle

A pioneering family that helped blaze the trail for B.C.’s flourishing wine industry will raise a glass to five fruitful years for Culmina Family Estate Winery when Don, Elaine and Sara Triggs host a fifth anniversary celebration at their Golden Mile Bench estate Sept. 14-16.

Throughout the weekend, guests can take part in an exclusive series of events including a Collaborative Chefs’ Dinner prepared by Vancouver Magazine’s 2018 chef of the year, Alex Chen of Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar, and executive chef Mark Filatow, of Kelowna’s Waterfront Wines Restaurant.

The event will also showcase an anniversary rosé created exclusively for the dinner, showcasing the talents of a world-renowned B.C.-artist.

Okanagan wine
Don and Elaine Triggs, Jon Adrian Photo

The complete schedule for Culmina’s Fifth Anniversary Weekend Celebration includes:

A special edition of Culmina’s ‘Open Deck’ event series on Friday, Sep. 14 from 5 to 8 p.m., featuring R&D by Culmina wines paired with small bites and a special guest DJ playing an all-vinyl set, all ‘served’ in the Tasting Room overlooking the winery’s picturesque vineyards;

A multi-course Collaborative Chefs’ Dinner with Vancouver’s Chef Alex Chen and Kelowna’s Chef Mark Filatow in Culmina’s Barrel Room on Saturday, Sept. 15 at 6 p.m. The event will include a canapé reception, a proprietor-hosted vineyard and winery tour, as well as a selection of wines that highlight Culmina’s portfolio, such as the Number Series, a selection of library releases and an anniversary rosé produced exclusively for dinner guests;

A send-off, drop-in Continental Brunch on Sunday, Sept. 16 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. catered by Miradoro Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek and served throughout the winery.

Canada wine

During the weekend, Culmina will donate all reserve tasting proceeds to CreateAbility, a non-profit initiative launched in Oliver in 2017 that helps people with disabilities explore art as a creative outlet in a supportive environment.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our Culmina family to celebrate a happy milestone with Waterfront Wines and Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar alongside all of our supporters, neighbours and friends, while also giving a little something back to the community as well,” says Culmina co-proprietor and principal Don Triggs.


A limited number of tickets to Culmina’s Fifth Anniversary Weekend Celebration on September 14-16 are available for $250 per person including taxes, gratuity and Saturday dinner shuttle service to/from Oliver and Osoyoos. À la carte tickets to the ‘Special Edition Open Deck’ event on Friday, Sept. 14 are also available for $25 per person including tax. To purchase tickets, visit here.

New Culmina Family Estate wines

Culmina Saignée 2017 ($24, 92 points) — Culmina bleeds off a portion of juice from each of the estate’s best Bordeaux-red varietal lots to achieve this authentic saignée style of rosé. It is one of the best examples of this fresh, dry style made in Canada with a wow nose of succulent red berries, pretty floral notes and subtle savoury herbs and minerals. This pale salmon hued rosé dances lightly on the palate and reveals pretty red fruits, lovely texture and vibrancy through the finish. Just a delicious and classic sip.

Culmina Malbec 2015 ($39, 93 points) — This is the first single-varietal Malbec Culmina has made at the Golden Mile Bench estate. It has thick and rich aromatics of black currants, blackberries, plums, graphite and a range of elegant oak spices. The juicy and ripe fruits hold up well against the structured tannins, showing depth as well as smoke, anise, black and red currants, oak spices with good length and cellaring potential.

Culmina Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 ($39, 92 points) — A dark and dense drop in the glass and then thick, rich aromas of blackberries, blackcurrants, elegant oak spices and loamy, earthy accents. It is ripe and simply stunning on the palate with a range of currants, anise and blackberry fruit, a firm bed of tannins, elegant spices and plenty of complexity and depth through a long finish. Very fine Cab Sauvignon that can cellar for 7+ yeats.

Culmina Merlot 2015 ($35, 90 points) — An inviting nose of cassis, cherry and currants with well integrated oak spice notes. It is lavishly appointed on the palate with blackberry, cherry, and currant fruits to go with smooth, fine tannins, barrel spices and a long, long finish. Can cellar 5+ years.

Monte Creek Ranch

Monte Creek Ranch is located in the newly recognized B.C. VQA region of Thompson Valley. The ranch is a 900-acre property with 50 acres currently under vine, planted to mostly Marquette, Chardonnay, Foch, La Crescent and Pinot Noir.

Another 20 acres of planted vineyards at Lion’s Head Vineyard includes Riesling, Frontenac Gris, Frontenac Blanc and Marquette.

The new VQA geographical designation will allow Monte Creek to proudly display where the wine comes from on the label.

“Monte Creek Ranch Winery is very passionate about the wines produced from our site in the Thompson Valley,” said GM of the winery Erik Fisher. “Our winery has, and continues to make, significant investments in producing premium wines from this new emerging region.”

Here’s what I liked from tasting the new releases recently:

Monte Creek Ranch Rosé 2017 ($17, 87 points) — This 100% Marquette rosé is a fun and accessible thirst-quencher with notes of strawberries, cherries, cotton candy and light herbs on the nose. There is some sweetness on the palate with ripe red berries and herbs all balanced out by decent acidity.

Monte Creek Ranch Riesling 2017 ($17, 88 points) — A pure citrus nose with subtle green apple accents. It’s made in a dry style that’s steely and taut even though there is some residual sugar in the wine. It’s all about the lemon, lime and grapefruit notes through the mouth-watering finish.

Monte Creek Ranch Chardonnay Reserve 2016 ($25, 89 points) — This wild-fermented Chardonnay has a lovely nose of spiced apple, creamy pear and toasted vanilla oak spices. It’s elegant and poised on the palate with quince fruit that’s nicely spiced through a finish that is finessed and vibrant. Delicious Chardonnay.

Monte Creek Ranch Pinot Noir 2016 ($20, 88 points) — A nose that’s loaded with dark cherries, cassis, vanilla and nutmeg spices. It’s a rich and spicy Pinot with a mélange of crushed red berries and dark fruit accents with nicely balanced spice and acidity through the finish.

Monte Creek Ranch Hands Up Red 2016 ($17, 88 points) — A red blend consisting of Merlot (mostly), Marquette, Frontenac Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. There’s a lot of interesting things going on here — aromas of blackberries, currants, black cherries, red licorice and spice. It’s smooth and rich on the palate with plenty of red and dark fruits and balancing acidity to keep everything vibrant through the finish.