After nearly five years, Phantom Creek Estates Winery in Oliver has opened its doors to the public, and considering the luxurious facilities and pain-staking detail put into the organic wine making process, many would agree it was worth the wait.
The winery recently announced the completion of phase one of construction and has now begun offering tours by appointment of some of the facilities. Guests can sample and purchase red and whites from the winery’s 2016 and 2017 vintages. It is anticipated the winery will be fully-operational by Spring 2020, when it will host a grand opening celebration.
“There’s nothing more exciting to see the reaction of guests when they try your wines and they roll their eyes and they appreciate everything that you do by tasting the wine. In the end, that’s why we do everything we do — starting from farming to wine-making to the hospitality experience,” said Santiago Cilley, CEO of Phantom Creek Estates. “In the end, we want the customers to enjoy the wine and appreciate all of the work that we’ve been doing. It’s great to go from construction and building mode to start seeing the reactions of visitors to the winery. It makes you feel that all the hard work is worth it.”
Cilley joined the winery’s team about four months ago, and said his decision to uproot his well-established career in Napa Valley, Calif., was partially due to the potential he sees in the winery and area in general. He added that he anticipates to have a great working relationship with the winery’s owner, Richter Bai, who built the winery as a “legacy for his family for generations to come.”
“I think this is a very unique and exciting project in a very young area like the Okanagan. As far as I am concerned, there are probably very few projects that are as exciting and ambitious in terms of scope and that’s what attracted me to the area,” said Cilley. “(Mr. Bai and I) get along great, we see the world in a very similar way so that was a very important criteria when I decided to come here. He has a very clear, long-term vision and he’s building this for the right reasons – to be a legacy for his family for generations to come.
“He focuses on quality and not cutting corners anywhere, and I can relate to that and respect that. I think we’re going to get along great.”
The wine making team is headed by winemaker Francis Hutt, who hails from New Zealand and has a profound knowledge of organic and biodynamic wine making. Phantom Creek, located at 4315 Black Sage Rd., uses grapes from vineyards all over the South Okanagan to showcase what the area has to offer, specifically the cabernet sauvignon variety. It also offers a number of signature bold white wines, ensuring all guests will find something to cheers to at their next visit.
Altogether, the winery will contain a multi-level hospitality centre, an indoor and outdoor restaurant and a 500-seat amphitheatre for outdoor concerts. It is estimated $100 million was invested into Phantom Creek Estate Winery.
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