BC Spotlight Hester Creek

Today, the name Hester Creek endures—immortalized by the winery as well as many a legend. Ever-hopeful prospectors still frequent the hills. An Ideal Site Hester Creek’s remarkable old vines are situated on the edge of the west-side alluvial fan that defines the Golden Mile Bench, which was formed millennia ago when the glaciers retreated. The unique mix of soils, climate and weather has made the region a productive growing area, though not only for grapes. The Golden Mile name was originally coined in the 1920s, likely due to Oliver’s favourable climate for ripening cantaloupe melons, by far the most successful of the early crops. The South Okanagan was entirely desert until 1918, when a 37 km canal was built to take water from Vaseux Lake on the Okanagan River south to the Canada- US border. A tunnel helped route the canal through Oliver and eventually an electrical pumping system took water up to the west-side benches. The canal helped turn what was arid cattle range into viable agricultural land—and sowed the seeds for today’s thriving wine industry. When grapes were first planted, several of the valley’s original estate wineries were located on the Golden Mile Bench. The Okanagan Valley’s wine-producing area was recognized with a Geographical Indication (GI), and in 2015, the bench, with its unique soils and topography, became BC’s first declared sub-GI.

Photo courtesy of Hester Creek Estate Winery

P erched on the Golden Mile Bench in the heart of the South Okanagan, Hester Creek Estate Winery enjoys one of the longest histories of any in the valley. The original vineyard was established some 55 years ago by Treviso-born Joe Busnardo and now boasts some of BC’s oldest vinifera vines, including Canada’s only known planting of Trebbiano grapes. In 2004, Prince George entrepreneur Curt Garland purchased the then struggling business out of receivership. The new owner then engaged veteran Niagara winemaker Rob Summers to develop a state-of-the- art winery. As Garland has made further major capital investments, the winery has gone from strength to strength, adding the Mediterranean-themed Terrafina

Restaurant and Tuscan-styled luxury villas that enjoy sweeping valley vistas. Although Hester Creek may be rooted in the past, its focus is very much on the future. What’s in a Name? The winery is named after nearby Hester Creek, which borders the property. Back in the late 1880s, the lure of gold and quartz found in Hester and other creeks led to several mines being established. High above the valley, the town of Fairview grew into the area’s major settlement and thrived until gold mining waned some 20 years later. In 1904, the closing of the important Stemwinder Mine proved to be the nail in Fairview’s coffin.


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