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Picking Grapes With BC Wine Lover, Kimberley Conroy

The fourth instalment of our new Q & A series, Picking Grapes, has a Mark Anthony sales rep detailing her love affair with BC grapes.
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Picking Grapes With BC Wine Lover, Kimberley Conroy

Picking Grapes is a new series that asks wine professionals to map out their complex relationships with British Columbian wines by citing the ignition point of their interest and some of their favourite wineries.

In our latest instalment of the Picking Grapes series, we met up with Mark Anthony sales representative, Kimberley Conroy. A well known face within the local wine community, Kimberley holds her WSET Level 3 and is currently working on her Level 4 Diploma.

Name the BC wine that you first fell in love with. Do you remember where you were? What was the circumstance?

I visited Osoyoos over 10 years ago, more for the sunshine and quiet time. Having little to no experience with wineries, I first visited Tinhorn Creek. I was with a friend and we decided to purchase a bottle of Gewurztraminer (at the time I was only just getting into wine, so we decided to buy something we didn’t really know very much about – origin, history, etc.) and we decided to stay at the winery for a glass. We walked past their demonstration vineyards and as we walked past I noticed a sign on one of the rows of vines that said “gewürztraminer”. I remember holding up the bottle, looking at the label, looking back at the vines, then back at the bottle, and said out loud… “this comes from that”. I became totally obsessed.

Years later, I visited the Okanagan again, this time to Kelowna. We decided to visit one winery – the obvious choice being Mission Hill Family Estate. We took the drive from downtown Kelowna to West Kelowna and as we entered the winery it became apparent that this was an incredibly special place. One month later, my bags were packed, and I was moving up to Kelowna to work at Mission Hill Family Estate. This is the place is where I fell in love with wine, and specifically with 2007 Oculus (the first wine I had on day one of my now almost 6-year tenure with Mission Hill/Mark Anthony).

There are other great stories of drinking international wines from my friend parents cellar (only drink the old ones – they will go bad soon…) but that’s for another time.

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards 537 Tinhorn Creek Road, Oliver MAP

What are three local wineries that fly somewhat under the radar?

Martins Lane Winery; Riesling & Pinot Noir only (East Kelowna). CheckMate Artisanal Winery; small production; Chardonnay & Merlot only (Oliver). Sea Star Winery, Pender island.

Martin's Lane Winery 5437 Lakeshore Rd, Kelowna, BC MAP
CheckMate Artisanal Winery 4799 Wild Rose St, Oliver, BC MAP
Sea Star Vineyards 6621 Harbour Hill Drive, Pender Island, BC MAP

If you could work in just one local winery for just one harvest, which would it be and why?

Working for Mark Anthony Wine & Spirits, we have access to some of the most incredible wineries/vineyards in Canada. Who wouldn’t want to participate in harvest for Oculus, Martins Lane Rieslings/Pinot, CheckMate Chardonnay/Merlot, and CedarCreek Platinum wines – it is almost too hard to choose!

Outside of our properties, Blue Mountain would offer something unique and exciting in terms of traditional method sparkling! I absolutely love bubbles and believe that we don’t drink enough!

Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars 2385 Allendale Road, Okanagan Falls MAP

Please recommend one local, emblematic-of-BC red wine for someone who didn’t even know wine was made here. What would it be and why?

I have participated in the exercise before and it is always a thrill to see the reaction of visitors when they first taste BC wines. Given the opportunity to only select one red, I would choose 2014 Oculus from Mission Hill Family Estate. This vintage was awarded 94 points from Wine Spectator and as a result of this impressive score, Mission Hill is the only winery in Canada to receive an invitation to participate and showcase BC wine at Wine Spectator’s New York Wine Experience. With stunning accolades and ever-gaining recognition on the global stage, this is the red I would select to represent what is proving to be an incredible year for the Okanagan!

Mission Hill Family Estate 1730 Mission Hill Road, West Kelowna MAP

What about a white?

CedarCreek Platinum Chardonnay. Single block/vineyard chardonnay – delicious!

CedarCreek Estate Winery 5445 Lakeshore Road, Kelowna MAP

And lastly, a rose?

Quails Gate Lucy’s Block Rose. Gotta love rose.

Quails' Gate Winery 3303 Boucherie Road, West Kelowna MAP

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