Robert's Report

Looking Back

Looking back I can recall my adventure into the wonderful world of wine began in 1992. My wife and I were married in Lake Tahoe on our honeymoon we traveled to  Yosemite National Park. After touring the park our plan was to head back on the same road we arrived on, however that did not happen. But luckily this road led us to the Napa Valley of California. Here is where we spend the remainder of our honeymoon. What an exciting time it was!

Prior to our stay in Napa we were not huge wine drinks. In fact we seldom had alcohol in the house. But boy those wines were good. Back home I began to teach myself to create a website. It was just a fun site no special topic. However one day we decided to buy some wine at the local store. Barbara came to me with a pamphlet about BC wineries. She said "Why don't you do a website on Wine".

My wife is a good influence I took her advise and began to build a site on a free hosting service, popular at the time.
I called my site Wines of the World. Here based on a book Wine by Andre Domaine I listed all the wine regions around the world. Canada was not listed in the book.

Once that was done I started to list all the BC wineries in the Pamphlet. Little did I know it had a number of errors. For example it listed Sandra Oldfield as winemaker at Crowsnest. Sandra began and finished her Winemaking career at Tinhorn Creek. Thankfully the winery notified me of the error.

There were no websites to google back then. I found two books to help me, one by Tony Adler and the other by John Schreiner. I realized just how little I knew about the Canadian wine Industry. There were more wineries and more wine regions all across Canada, there was work to be done

This meant a change in my website. The Wines of the World was too big a subject to cover and we changed to Wines of Canada. I was amazed to find the domaine name was available. Our tag line Wines of Canada Challenging the World.

There was only one other website covering Canada's wine industry. I was more of a chat room than an information site. It soon disappeared. I was the only website dedicated to our wines and wineries. This last for a few years before other regional sites popped up. In 1994 I was quite excited to get thirty hits a day. Today thats a disappointing number for just one hour.

In 94 we took our first trip to the Okanagan based mostly upon the wine route in a Pamphlet . Our first stop was Crownest Winery in the Similkameen Valley. We found the lane with a chain across it and the driveway covered in vegetation. It had been closed for sometime. The winery did re-open with new owners and are doing quite well.

Our next stop was St. Laszlo Vineyards Estate Winery our first experience with Fruit wines. Here we were warmly greed by Joe Ritlop and enjoyed a wonderful tasting experience.

We were now off to Kelowna. Our first winery we visited in Kelowna was Mission Hill. It was perhaps the most talked about winery of the day. Although this was before its rebuild and architecture it is know for today. We took the tour. It was not the greatest experience too many people in a small space with a guide hired for the summer. I do not remember the tasting room experience.

In 1994 Mission Hill Family Estate put the Okanagan Valley on the map by winning the International Wine & Spirit Competition in London for 'Best Chardonnay in the World' and at the time the Master of Wine Judges were in such disbelief they re-tasted all of the wines and Mission Hill won a second time.

From Mission hill we went to Quails' Gate Estate Winery in Kelowna, in which had opened in 1989. We were impressed b the winery, the staff and the wines.

The following day we visited Summerhill Pyramid Winery. The organic winery was opened in 1987. I do not recall if the restaurant was open on that trip. However we never miss having lunch at the winery on all our Okanagan trips.

From there we visited St Hubertus and Oak Bay Vineyards which originally planted in 1928 by J.W. Hughes during a time when good agricultural land was plentiful. Since 1984, the Gebert Family use sustainable farming practices on their 76 acre vineyard. By chance I came across Leo Gebert who gave me a tour of the winery and vineyards. Barbara was in the gift shop.

Finally we spend the evening at the Okanagan Wine Festval event in Kelowna. I remember it been crowed and the room been rather small. Here is where I first met John Schreiner who was there signing his book. It was also here we met the owners of Hainle estate winery. I was very excited about that since they were known for Ice Wine. The winery dates back to 1988 with the real story beginning in 1972, when the winery's original founder, Walter Hainle, produced North America's first icewine.

They invited us to visit the winery which we did the next day on our way home. We had a most enjoyable time there.

So now we were home with new insights and new information. On that trip no one knew about Winesofcanada.com. But that would change by 2004 we were close to three million hits a year. By 2010 the blogger began to arrive.

We have been blessed to be Canada's number one wine website. It was a hobby perused mostly during the winter months. As we went from a handful of wineries to over 800 (counting Meaderies and Cideries) now its a daily task often without much reward.

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