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CheckMate Artisanal Winery Appoints World Renowned Winemaker, Spencer Kelly

The Goods from CheckMate Artisanal Winery

Oliver, BC | Spencer Kelly joins CheckMate Artisanal Winery as Winemaker/General Manager. Kelly returns to the Okanagan from the Napa Valley where he was Winemaker at Eisele Vineyard, part of Francois Pinault’s (Kering|Gucci, Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen) Artemis Domaines whose holdings include Chateau Latour and Clos de Tart. Over the eight years he led winemaking at Eisele Vineyard, Kelly’s wines consistently scored above 95 points. He worked with Chateau Latour’s technical team and participated in a harvest at Clos du Tart.  

Previously, Kelly was a member of the winemaking team at another highly allocated Napa winery, Colgin Cellars, and an Enologist and Viticulture Technician at the Seavey and Stagecoach Vineyards. Over the years, he developed a patient, delicate and thoughtful approach to producing singular and distinctive wines from celebrated vineyards.

This move represents a homecoming for Kelly. Born and raised in the small Okanagan Valley town of Kaleden, Kelly grew up alongside the then-emerging B.C. wine industry. Following a Bachelor’s in Food Science at the University of British Columbia his passion for wine drew him to pursue studies in Enology and Viticulture at CSU Fresno in California.   

After over a decade, the opportunity to take over as winemaker at CheckMate Artisanal Winery, producing 100 point wines in the Okanagan valley close to where he grew up was irresistible. With Chardonnay vineyards approaching 50 years of age, the unique and complex soils of this astonishing region, and the relentless passion and drive to continuously raise the bar in a region that was his home, aligned precisely with Kelly’s values.  

“I’m humbled by this opportunity to craft wines in my home region and thrilled to join the incredibly dedicated CheckMate team,” says Kelly. “To have the opportunity to work and learn in these stunning vineyards that are approaching 50 years old is tremendously exciting – the potential for the Okanagan has no limits.”

With his return to Canada, Kelly is thrilled to rejoin the B.C. wine industry at the most exciting time in its trajectory. He has a deeply held belief that small-scale winemaking, with a focus on unique geology and careful attention in the vineyard, can achieve greatness. He is committed to continuing the legacy of Winemaker Emeritus, Phil McGahan, who for family reasons returned to his home in Australia, with a new generation of greatness at CheckMate Artisanal Winery. 

“It is with great confidence that we welcome Spencer Kelly as CheckMate’s new winemaker,” says McGahan. “Spencer was born and raised in the Okanagan – he understands the region intuitively and respects the standards we have set for our next world Chardonnay and Merlot.  I’m excited to see where he takes the wines as he helps write the next chapter for CheckMate Artisanal Winery.”


Region: The Okanagan
4799 Wild Rose St, Oliver, BC
250-707-2299

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