Sandhill tops wine fest medal count

Most wineries don’t make as many wines as Kelowna’s Sandhill won awards for in this year’s judging competition that kicked off the 31st Fall Okanagan Wine Festival, Thursday night.

Winemaker Howard Soon’s line of single vineyard wines came away with three gold medals, nine silver medals and five bronze, more than any other winery competing this year.

Sandhill Wines is owned by Peller Estates, which also owns Calona Vineyards and Red Rooster Winery in Naramata. Soon oversees winemaking for Peller Estates, although other winemakers are responsible for all but the Sandhill line.

Eight medals were picked up for Peller Estates wines, while two Calona Vineyards wines won awards and Red Rooster received six.

The international roster of nine professional judges who swirled, sniffed, sipped and spit tastes of more than 450 wines in Kelowna this week also selected the top white, red and dessert wine.

They named Volcanic Hills Estate Winery of West Kelowna the best new winery.

The award for the top white wine went to Summerhill Pyramid Winery’s 2010 Riesling which also won a gold medal. It was made by winemaker Eric Von Krosigk, who is also chairman of the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society.

Also in the the medals this year were Central Okanagan wineries Arrowleaf Cellars, CedarCreek Estate Winery, Gray Monk Estate Winery, Kalala Organic Estate Winery, Mission Hill Family Estate Winery, Mt. Boucherie Family Estate Winery, Quails’ Gate Estate Winery, SpierHead Winery and The View Winery.

Other gold medal winners from local wineries included Sandhill’s 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, 2008 Small Lots Malbec and 2009 Small Lots Petit Verdot; Quails’ Gate’s 2009 Pinot Noir; Peller Estates’ 2010 Family Series 2010 Pinot Blanc; Gray Monk’s 2010 Gewurztraminer and Arrowleaf Cellars’  2010 First Crush.

In all, the judges selected more than half the wines submitted for medal recognition.

“I hope that everyone who visits our wine region will take the time to visit a winery and enjoy our wines and hospitality,” said Von Krosigk.

“It is the harvest season and a special time to give thanks and meet the people who work hard to make such amazing wines.”

The valley-wide wine festival continues for the next 10 days, with hundreds of events ranging from educational seminars, wine and food pairings and tastings, to extravagant events such as Gourmet and Grapes, Iron Chef throwdown at Cabana Grill with top chefs competing for the title while guests nibble and sip and watch.

For details of all the events, pick up a copy of the brochure at participating businesses, liquor outlets or visitor centres, or go to the website at:



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