Is five-peat a word?
If it is, then it's completely apt to describe Mission Hill Family Estate being named winery of the year for the fifth time at the 2019 Wine Align National Wine Awards of Canada.
"It feels amazing," said Mission Hill president Darryl Brooker.
"This award is special because it truly is a national competition with 259 wineries from across Canada entering. To be named winery of the year any year is an honour. To win five times is incredible."
The top award is based on the number and colour of medals the winery wins with the vintages it entered in the competition.
West Kelowna's Mission Hill hauled in an unprecedented 18 medals – two platinum, six gold, seven silver and three bronze.
The winery had entered 21 wines for judging, so having 18 of them place is considered phenomenal.
Snagging platinum were the 2017 Terroir Collection Jagged Rock Vineyard Chardonnay ($45) and 2017 Perpetua Chardonnay ($50).
Both Chards are an elegant balance of bright grapefruit and peach fruit from partial aging in stainless steel tanks, texture and minerality from some aging in concrete vessels and smooth vanilla and caramel from partial aging in oak barrels.
Winning gold was:
– 2016 Quatrain (Bordeaux-style red blend) ($75)
– 2016 Reserve Shiraz ($27)
– 2017 Terroir Collection Border Vista Cabernet Sauvignon ($50)
– 2016 Terrior Collection No. 43 Reflection Point Pinot Noir ($50)
– 2016 Terroir Collection No. 23 Crosswinds Syrah ($50)
– 2018 Terroir Collection Jagged Rock Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon
– 2016 Compendium ($80)
– 2016 Prospectus Pinot Noir ($65)
– 2016 Reserve Merlot ($50)
– 2016 Terroir Collection No. 32 Vista's Edge Cabernet Franc ($50)
– 2018 Terroir Collection Brigadier's Bluff Rose ($30)
– 2018 Reserve Riesling ($22)
– 2018 Reserve White Meritage ($22)
– 2018 Reserve Pinot Blanc ($22)
– 2018 Terroir Collection Bluebird Passage Viognier ($30)
– 2018 Reserve Pinot Gris ($22)
Brooker's favourite award winners depend on his mood, time of day and what he is or isn't eating.
Currently, that includes the Sauvignon Blanc-Semillion, Shiraz and Perpetua Chardonnay.
What makes Mission Hill's wines so award-winning?
"I know it's a cliche, but good winemaking starts in the vineyard and we own all our own vineyards, so we have that quality control, and we are also going completely organic in every vineyard," said Brooker.
"That allows us to use only the very best grapes in our wine, crafted by the best winemakers."
That team is headed up by chief winemaker Ben Bryant, who moved here last year from Jacob's Creek Winery in Australia.
"Ben has definitely made his mark on our wines and will continue to do so," said Brooker.
"He's so talented and sees the immense opportunity in the Okanagan."
In addition to the winery of the year accolade, the Wine Align National Wine Awards of Canada also generated a top 10 list of B.C. wineries based on number and colour of medals won.
1. Mission Hill Family Estate, West Kelowna
2. Moon Curser, Osoyoos, one platinum, six gold, two silver and two bronze (also named best-performing small winery of 2019)
3. Desert Hills, Oliver, one platinum, two gold, two silver and one bronze
4. Nk'Mip, Osoyoos, one platinum, two gold, three silver and five bronze
5. CedarCreek, Kelowna, four gold, two silver and five bronze
6. Arrowleaf, Lake Country, four gold, two silver and four bronze
7. Blasted Church, Okanagan Falls, one platinum, two gold, one silver and five bronze
8. Corcelettes, Keremeos, four gold and one bronze
9. Road 13, Oliver, one platinum, one gold, four silver and nine bronze
10. Painted Rock, Penticton, three gold, four silver and four bronze
Sixteen B.C. wines earned coveted platinum medals at the 2019 Wine Align National Wine Awards.
– Harper's Trail 2018 Silver Mane Block Riesling ($20) (Kamloops)
– Meyer 2017 Joannie Rochette Chardonnay ($31) (Okanagan Falls)
– Mission Hill 2017 Perpetua Chardonnay ($50) (West Kelowna)
– Mission Hill 2017 Terroir Collection Jagged Rock Vineyard Chardonnay ($45) (West Kelowna)
– Nk'Mip 2017 White Meritage ($30) (Osoyoos)
– Quails' Gate 2017 Stewart Family Reserve Chardonnay ($40) (West Kelowna)
– Road 13 2017 Marsanne ($21) (Oliver)
– Black Sage 2016 Merlot ($27) (Oliver)
– The Hatch 2016 Dynasty Red ($47) (West Kelowna)
– Ursa Major 2016 Syrah Eagle's Nest Vineyard ($40) (Oliver)
– Blasted Church 2017 Pinot Noir ($32) (Okanagan Falls)
– Daydreamer 2017 Amelia ($35) (Naramata Bench)
– Hester Creek 2017 Syrah-Viognier ($26) (Oliver)
– Howling Bluff 2016 Pinot Noir Century Block ($35) (Naramata Bench)
– Moon Curser 2017 Touriga Nacional ($40) (Osoyoos)
– Noble Ridge 2016 Meritage Reserve ($35) (Okanagan Falls)
Ricco Bambino was an urban-only winery when it opened last year at 1630 Pandosy St. in downtown Kelowna.
That location will remain open with its tasting bar, lounge, patio and shop, but Ricco has expanded to open a new tasting room and shop at 8977 Highway 97 between Okanagan Falls and Oliver.
At the beginning, Ricco sourced grapes from independent growers to make its low-intervention, natural wines.
But it felt it needed its own vineyards going forward.
Thus, the purchase of the 12-acre Crooked Crown Vineyard and the start of a land-based winery, production facility and tasting room.
Nine acres have been planted in Pinot Noir, Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Syrah and Grenache.
Ricco's founder is Jason Alton and the winemaker is Sebastien Hotte.
The new tasting room at Crooked Crown is open daily, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Steve MacNaull is a reporter at The Okanagan Weekend. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Listen to my Okanagan Wine & Dine podcast exclusively on Saturday mornings at 11:15 a.m. on OkanaganValleyRadio.com.