Written By Sharon McLean Drink This / Libations / Red Wine Dec 17, 2015 BC’s Newest & Hottest Wine Region SHARE VIA: Facebook Twitter PinterestLillooet. Wine. Not two words that you usually see together, but that hasn’t deterred the folks at Fort Berens Estate Winery. They’ve been too busy putting Fraser Canyon on the wine map as one of BC’s newest – and hottest – region to notice.The founders and the driving force behind Fort Berens are Rolf de Bruin and Heleen Pannekoek, a husband and wife team that emigrated from Holland in 2009 to settle in Lillooet. Their journey started with simply enjoying wine and Pannekoek took an introductory wine class for fun. A few courses and many tastings later, she was a certified sommelier with a passion for wine. de Bruin admits at this point he was more spectator than participant. Things were about to change.de Bruin and Pannekoek were both corporate players, but their priorities changed and they wanted a simpler, more rural life with space to raise a family. Most of us know that dream, but de Bruin and Pannekoek followed through. They analyzed, planned and then swapped their Italian leather shoes for gumboots and haven’t looked back since.Of course, it wasn’t quite that simple. Finding the right site took research and getting visas took years. de Bruin reports that they decided on Canada early on – being able to speak the language would be critical to learning a new business and having previously visited Canada they felt comfortable they could settle here. Their hunt took them across the country, but when they flew into Kelowna to find sun and warmth after the snows of Prince Edward County, they were sold on BC. Finding the right property wasn’t easy – the Okanagan had already gone through a boom and finding a premium site at a decent price was nearly impossible.It was then that three very influential people all pointed them in the direction of Lillooet: Harry McWatters, founder of Sumac Ridge Estate Winery; Pat Bell, then Minister of Agriculture; and Richard Cleave, from Phantom Creek. It would be madness to ignore this trio and de Bruin and Pannekoek went. They came back excited. It was uncharted. It was rural. It had a climate similar to the Okanagan. de Bruin describes visiting Lillooet for the first time as an “ah-ha” moment. This was the Canada they were looking for.From there, things fell into place. They bought a 65 acres parcel and started planting in 2009. There was no-one to ask what should be planted – this really was uncharted territory – so they planted different varieties, different clones, different rootstocks. Something clearly worked and the wines from Fort Berens have won medals and awards at multiple competitions. de Bruin credits consumers, the local community and the other owners as being a huge part of the success. All took a leap of faith with de Bruin and Pannekoek and there were few guarantees that a winery in Lillooet could be successful. Proof has now come and the ownership team celebrated their success when they opened a new winery in September 2014.For de Bruin one of the most exciting things about Lillooet is not knowing what the true potential is. Not shy of dreaming big, de Bruin notes that there’s nothing to say that they can’t make the best wine in the world here. Clearly, there’s more to come.Look for these wines at the Strath Ale Wine & Spirit Merchants on Douglas and local VQA stores:2013 Fort Berens, Meritage – a rich, supple blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Ripe blackcurrants, plums, spice and vanilla supported by fresh acidity. (Approx. $23)2013 Fort Berens, Pinot Noir – ripe raspberries, strawberries and red currants wrapped round a savoury core of wert leaves and nutmeg. (Approx. $23)2013 Fort Berens, Cabernet Franc – a full bodied wine with dark fruit, black licorice, smoke and herbs. Distinct vanilla and coconut join in at the end. (Approx. $25) Fort Berens Estate WineryWebsite1881 Highway 99 North PO Box 758 Lillooet, BC V0K 1V0 TF: +1 (877) 956-7768 SHARE VIA: Facebook Twitter Pinterest Written By: Sharon McLean ... Read More You may also like Cocktails / Drink This May 19, 2016 It’s National Caesar Day – You Know You Want One “Celebrating Caesars: Canada’s Signature Cocktail” If you enjoy sipping on a caesar get ready to raise your glass on May 19th, to ... Read More Beer & Cider / Drink This March 17, 2016 Ernest Hemingway and a Night of Wine Tasting “Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest ... Read More Drink This / Sparkling Wine December 31, 2014 Celebrate (Every Day) with BC Bubbles I’m not advocating saving sparkling wine for special occasions. Quite the opposite – any day that ends in Y receives a YAY sparkling wine vote ... Read More Drink This / Food Pairings December 17, 2014 Pairing Wine With Holidays Carols (or How I Learned to Like Carols) Now that December is here, it’s officially time to open your ears to holiday carols. If you’re still in denial that Christmas is nearly upon us, ... Read More Drink This December 10, 2014 Drinks Pairing for the Big Holiday Feast It’s no real surprise that one of the largest and most orchestrated meals of the year for many people is also one of the most challenging to pair. ... Read More Drink This November 26, 2014 Warm Weather, Big Feasts Maybe it’s just me, but when I think down to a big traditional turkey or roast beef or baked ham dinner with the fixins, it’s chilly out. Whether ... Read More Comments are closed.