I have been fortunate to spend every summer in the Okanagan with my family for the holiday. There is no question that it’s the towns, the people and the wine that keeps me coming back. The past few decades have seen a lot of wineries flourish, and many of these are considered some of the best in world. My holiday getaway has been cancelled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, but I am extremely excited to eventually get back to the region as soon as we can do safely.
Today we are looking at the newest winery on the bench, and it is already setting a new bar of excellence for not only its wines, but also for everything that the winery has to offer onsite. Phantom Creek Estates has set out to be a destination that is so much more than simply a “stopover” on your wine tour. But first let us take a few moments to learn how this journey began, and most importantly, who is behind the wine.
We all know that regardless of any gimmicks, the success of a winery comes down to the quality of the wine. This is where I get really excited because I have an affinity for Bordeaux style wines. When I read that both Philippe Melka and Olivier Humbrecht were involved, I knew that something really special was fermenting in Oliver, BC.
The vineyards at Phantom Creek come with a story to tell that spans decades, and these lush lands are perfect for producing a variety of grapes. Located on the lower terrace of the southwest-facing Black Sage Bench in Oliver, BC, you find the perfect climate for growing these award winning grapes.
The vines established in 1996 at Phantom Creek are producing grapes for their award winning wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Merlot. These vines are can be found on the lower terrace of the Black Sage Bench, which sits slightly above the valley floor and provides plenty of warm afternoon sun.
You will find the Becker Vineyards that span over 50 acres on the upper terrace, which is home to the grapes for their Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Carmenere and Syrah. The vines here started way back in 1977. However, they were replanted in 1993 with the Cabernet varieties. This had many critics wondering if they could survive in this climate. Well, they certainly did. In fact, they thrived and will be producing incredible red wines for generations to come.
The third vineyard – aptly named Kobau – is on the Golden Mile Bench, and was planted back in 2005. It has been producing prodigious wines renowned for their balance of ripeness and Okanagan fresh acidity. When the team at Phantom Creek acquired the vineyard in 2017, they transitioned everything to the same organic and biodynamic farming practices of their estate vineyard collection. This climate is perfect for producing Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Viognier and Syrah.
The overall estate is a masterfully planned compound that houses more than just a tasting room and a wine cellar. This will be a place to experience their wine, snack and sip in designated picnic spots and enjoy shows in their amphitheater, which has seating for 400 people. The guided tours will immerse you and your group into the wine culture and not only delight the tastebuds, but tickle the brain as you will learn about their wine making process and the soil beneath your feet.
The wine experiences can now be booked online since they are finally open to the public. And if you are coming to the Okanagan you might want to book fast as locals and others throughout British Columbia are flocking to the region. We wish everyone at Phantom Creek Estates the best of luck (not that they need it), and are so pleased to see their doors finally open to the public. To learn more, watch their video series, Parts 1/2/3, which highlights the journey of this winery from start to the opening.