The red carpet was rolled out at Phantom Creek Estates last weekend at the winery’s Soirée en Rouge. The many shades, styles and fashions of the guests’ red dresses — not to forget the sparkles and dazzle of a few men’s suits — were worthy of the Hollywoodesque welcome. 

The event featured culinary stations with delectable creations by renowned Chef Alessa Valdez, with an extensive offering of Phantom Creek’s wine portfolio being poured.

Welcoming guest with charm and enthusiasm, and new to his role as managing director of the estate, was François Mateo. 

With experience working with leading estates worldwide, Mateo brings a fresh perspective and an aspirational new vision: for Phantom Creek Estates to join other B.C. wineries in furthering Canada as the next frontier in the global wine industry.

“I believe this region has all the necessary elements to be the next frontier: we are very proud of what we are doing and inspired by world-class wineries, and in fact, some of the wines produced here are already world-class,” said Mateo.

“I was drawn to this place for several reasons,” he said. “Obviously, it’s spectacular — there’s a very special energy here.” 

The winery’s prime location on the storied bench on the valley’s south end was on display at the evening event, with guests enjoying views from the amphitheatre, expansive patio, and the balconies of the upper-level tasting rooms.  

The estate has taken ownership of several historic vineyards, all producing incredible, organically grown fruit. 

“The terroir is unique, and thanks to the geography there’s natural scarcity,” said Mateo. 

“There is only one way forward toward quality and desirability. And that’s where we are heading. 

That quality was evident in their small lots wines they were pouring during the event, including the yummy Carménère, which thrives in the Becker vineyard on the Black Sage bench. The wine showcases classic notes such as supple flavours of red and black berries and a hint of pepper and fennel. The refined tannins and incredible structure offers an incredible elegance.

“It’s a young wine region; with time and collaboration, the world is going to take notice,” said Mateo. 

It’s a bold declaration, but with stints in several Old World and New World wine regions, he has the expertise to back it up.

Mateo first joined Phantom Creek in February, having worked previously with fine wines from the famed French region of Bordeaux. His career also included a role in Burgundy, as managing director of Château de la Crée; in Oregon, with Domaine Serene; in Chile, for Seña and Errazuriz; and in France, with Krug, at the historic house of Champagne. 

“The Phantom Creek philosophy of traditional methods paired with modern technology resonated with me, and it’s backed up with incredible investments in leading-edge facilities. This really captured my attention — I’ve worked with several world-class estates, but I’ve rarely come across such state-of-the-art winemaking infrastructure.” 

The real draw for Mateo, however, is the chance to be part of the next big thing in wine: Canada. 

Phantom Creek aims to be instrumental in developing a collective mission, which is to put B.C. on the world wine map. “It will take the participation of different stakeholders in order to achieve this goal.”

Red dress photos by Yvonne Turgeon

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