Quails’ Gate Winery’s 30th-anniversary year is, indeed, turning into a banner one.
At the recent Greater Westside Board of Trade Key Business Awards at 19 Okanagan Grill at Two Eagles Golf Course, the winery picked up trophies for business of the year and large business of the year.
In May, Quails’ Gate kicked off its 30th-birthday year with a special tasting and lunch to toast the past three decades and look forward to the future.
When Quails’ Gate officially became a winery in 1989, it was one of only 14 in the province, along with other Okanagan pioneers such as Gray Monk, Sumac Ridge, CedarCreek and Gehringer Brothers.
“We’ve come a long way in the 30 years since,” said Quails’ Gate president Tony Stewart.
“We definitely started as an underdog, and while we are still humble, we make flagship Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays and we’re part of North America’s leading culinary destination.”
Quails’ Gate has a year-round restaurant, Old Vines, with a view of Okanagan Lake that has helped put the Okanagan on the map as a wine-and-food tourist destination.
The Stewart family has been farming the 81 hectares in West Kelowna that the winery is on since 1956.
Tony’s father, Richard Jr., started with apples, pears, peaches and table grapes, but eventually saw the potential for wine grapes.
Initially, he sold the grapes to Mission Hill Winery across the road.
But when his oldest son, Ben, who is now the Liberal MLA for Kelowna West, joined the business, they decided to make their own wine and Quails’ Gate was born.
Besides producing award-winning wines in West Kelowna, the family has branched out to California to own Lake Sonoma and Valley of the Moon wineries.
The family has also bought out other branches of the family to acquire the Stewart Brothers Nursery property in South Kelowna to plant more wine grapes and start another winery.
The Key Business Awards also recognized Marjolein Lloyd, a contract worker with Accelerate Communications and B.C. Vital Statistics, as the Geoffrey Paynter Citizen of the Year.
During her time as president of Westbank Rotary, she led the club’s drive to build the West Kelowna Children’s Spray Park.
She served as assistant governor for the nine Rotary clubs in the Okanagan.
Lloyd is an ambassador for ShelterBox Canada, a charity that delivers emergency shelters to people all over the world who are affected by disaster.
Westbank Rotary recently sent a ShelterBox to a family in the Bahamas made homeless by hurricane Dorian.
The award is named after the late Geoffrey Paynter, a grape grower and property developer, who served as a director with the local irrigation district and on the Regional District of Central Okanagan board.
The other winners at the Key Business Awards included:
— Small business of the year: Vertical Edge Window Cleaning
— Indigenous business of the year: Country Pawn
— Sustainable green business of the year: Off The Grid Winery
— New business of the year: 9 Round Fitness
— Platinum service provider: Snap Commercial Photography
— Young entrepreneur of the year: Environmental Towing
— Tourism and hospitality business of the year: Westside Celebration Society
— Community and public service: Prospera Credit Union
— Performing arts: Creative Okanagan.