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Sandhill: Back in time with Kelowna’s urban winery

by Sipping through the Okanagan, Wine & Food

1932
Kelowna

Another revamp is underway for British Columbia’s original winery (established in 1932), including the soft fade to black for its oldest label, Calona Vineyards. Its signature varietal table wine, Sovereign Opal, will be presented under the Sandhill label. 

The urban winery in downtown Kelowna has welcomed not only the wines of Wayne Gretzky Estates but will transform its tasting room, adding a craft brewery and a rooftop patio. 

For Sandhill, a smaller intimate tasting room will honour the boutique winery’s immigrant roots, focusing on small lots including Italian varietals of Sangiovese and Barbera.  

It was the early 1930s when Giuseppe Ghezzi reached out to investors Cap Capozzi and W.A.C. Bennett to invest in Calona Vineyards. In the 1960s, they developed one of the first large vineyards in Kelowna. The conglomerate Cascadia Brands bought Calona in 1971, sold its vineyard investment and opted to simply buy grapes.

The roots of the current parent company also run deep. Peller Estates, which acquired Cascadia Brands in 2005, was founded by Hungarian immigrant and entrepreneur Andrew Peller.

“My grandfather started our business in the Okanagan nearly 60 years ago, and we have always been inspired by the Valley’s promise to make wines that rival the very best in the world,” says current president and CEO John Peller. John took the reins from his father Joseph in 1995.

Originally named Andrés Wines, Peller Estates started with a plant in Port Moody in 1961 (producing the infamous Baby Duck) and quickly expanded across the country. In 2020, its expansive wine and spirits portfolio earned over $382 million in sales.

Sandhill Sangiovese

Sandhill Sangiovese 2016

Sandhill Winery, Kelowna

Single vineyard grapes and the first Sangiovese planted in Canada. Twenty months in French oak gives firm tannins. Cherry, pomegranate, soft spice. Full bodied, high acidity, will pair well with tomato-based food. – Helene Scott

Hester-creek-trebbianno-wine

Feature: 30 Years of BC VQA

About The Author

Yvonne Turgeon

This communications consultant loves writing, wine and all things Okanagan (but hasn't given up her Rider green). A published columnist, features contributor and established editor, she's our founder at Thompson Okanagan Trends Magazine.

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