By Judie Steeves
Kelowna’s 2010 Sandhill Estate Vineyard Chardonnay was the only wine in Canada to receive a gold medal at this year’s prestigious Chardonnay du Monde international competition in Burgundy, France.
Winemaker Howard Soon of Peller Estates, which also owns Sandhill, Calona Vineyards and Red Rooster in the Okanagan, is a pioneer in the Okanagan’s wine industry and has been responsible for the premium Sandhill wines since they were first produced more than a decade ago.
Peller’s Okanagan winemakers work as a team on the wines for all four of the VQA wineries explains winemaker Stephanie Leinemann who says they’re very excited to have been the only Canadian winery to bring home a gold this year. “We’re very proud,” she commented.
Calona Vineyards’ 1994 Artist Series Chardonnay won gold at the competition in 1999, she noted.
In 1994, Mission Hill Family Estate put the Okanagan Valley on the global wine map by winning the Avery Trophy for best chardonnay at the International Wine and Spirits competition in London. The judges were so stunned when they learned the origin of the wine, they insisted on a re-tasting, but it only re-affirmed their initial decision. (Last fall, the winery was judged best Canadian winery to have entered the competition.)
Some years later, Mission Hill became the only North American winery to bring home a gold medal from the Chardonnay du Monde competition.
This year, there were a total of 67 gold medals awarded, while the judging included hundreds of wines from more than 35 countries.
There were also seven Canadian wineries that brought silver medals home, including the Central Okanagan’s Mission Hill Family Estate, for its 2010 Five Vineyards Chardonnay and Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery for its 2010 Summit Reserve Chardonnay.
In the south Okanagan, Burrowing Owl Estate Winery won a silver for its 2009 vintage and Jackson Triggs Okanagan Estate won two silvers for its 2008 Gold Series Entourage Sparkling Chardonnay and its 2009 Gold Series Chardonnay.
Bronze medals were awarded to Quails’ Gate Winery for its 2009 Stewart Family Reserve, while
Naramata’s Red Rooster brought home a silver for its 2010 Chardonnay Reserve.