by Andrew Morrison | As far as picturesque estate vineyard locations go, the Skinner family struck gold with Painted Rock. They bought the 60 acre Skaha Bluff (just outside Penticton) property back in 2004 and started planting the following year, gearing up towards their critically-acclaimed Bordeaux-style Red Icon blend and of course their Syrah, Merlot, and delicious Chardonnay. I’ve been a fan from the get go, both of the wines and the property, even when the tasting room was just a shack.
It wasn’t that long ago – maybe two summers – that proprietor John Skinner walked me up the hill at the back of the winery, pointed at the tiny, rather humdrum building and told me about his plans to replace it. His enthusiasm for “the big idea” – a modern tasting room facility that could host all manner of events, even weddings – was infectious, but it seemed a far way off.
I checked in again earlier this summer when I was up buying wine. John had just had a very gnarly high speed bicycle accident and was lucky to be alive, but there was no way that he wasn’t going to show me around the shell of the new facility. Though he wasn’t 100% (and probably shouldn’t have been out of bed), he was nonetheless giddy as hell about the progress that had been made, and quite rightly. One could easily tell from the framing of the construction site that the finished product – by architect Robert Mackenzie with detail work by Keith Panel Systems – would be something special, even spectacular. The materials are state of the art, the design sleek and tucked nicely into the landscape, and its orientation within the vineyards overlooking Skaha Lake is just perfect.
All of that is to say that what I saw earlier today was a great vision made finally real. It was very satisfying to see. In the photos above, the big tent on the sprawling lawn (rain had been forecasted) detracts from the design, so the pictures really don’t do the new tasting room justice. Rain or shine, the place is in a class of its own.