Oh Canada: Mission Hill Winery--The North's Rising Star

It may seem impossible, but there are, as yet, vast, undiscovered areas where wines are produced that few people seem to know about. More specifically, there are few wineries that excel at a level of winemaking which belies the inherent strength of the specific region. Case in point: Mission Hill Winery in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada.

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Though most Americans have a hard time getting ahold of Canadian wines due to export laws and case production, Canada has a thriving wine industry. This is clearly evident in the Okanagan Valley, just across the border from Washington State. There, amongst 100 or so other wineries sits Mission Hill, near the city of Kelowna, one of the largest and certainly the most well known wineries in the area. Mission Hill turns out 100,000 cases of wine per year, and receives 120,000 visitors from all parts of the globe. A commitment to producing the finest wines and a stunningly rich architectural winery have made Mission Hill a destination for wine, food and travel lovers. But even that might be too limiting. It’s been less than 15 years since this region has begun to fully express itself.

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Check out their latest sale items:

- Refrigerated Wine Cabinets

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- Wine Furniture (Cellars, Racks, etc)

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“Our pursuit of quality only began in the late 1990s,” says Mission Hill’s resident sommelier, Jesse Harnden. And the vision belongs to one man, Anthony Von Mandl who started the winery in 1980. “What Robert Mondavi did for the Napa Valley, Anthony Von Mandl is doing for the Okanagan.” Harnden says. “We don’t want to compete on a provincial (state) level. We want to compete on a global level,” he adds.  To do that they have implemented a hard line of technology: Computerized drip irrigation systems, thermal mapping of specific blocks to determine the heat units associated with various vineyards and the ripeness of the fruit, weather stations to monitor climate changes, and an attention to detail that is impressive. It’s no secret that owner Von Mandl has poured an estimated 50 million dollars into creating Okanagan’s showpiece. Architecturally the place feels more compound-like, similar to the Getty in Los Angeles, a mammoth board formed concrete structure that harkens to the tones and colors of the surrounding mountains.

For more than 25 years, The California Wine Club founders Bruce and Pam Boring have explored all corners of California’s wine country to find award-winning, handcrafted wine to share with the world. Each month, the club features a different small family winery and hand selects two of their best wines for members.
Mission Hill Winery's Bell Tower
Mission Hill Winery's Perpetua Chardonnay
View from the terrace at Mission Hill Winery