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Monthly Archives: June 2020

Chapter 9: Experience

On June 12th, 2020, a wine experience like no other opened its doors.

Experience the immersive magic where Wine, Art, Architecture and Cuisine all intersect to create a sensory experience like no other in the wine world.

It took three years to build. But it will only take you three seconds to appreciate why. Created without compromise to stand beside the finest estates in the world, it is the realization of a dream that is destined to set a new standard for winemaking in Canada.

Our world-class team is committed to ensuring your experience in wine country is one – that lasts a lifetime. Choose between a seated premium tasting in our beautifully appointed tasting room or bask in the sunshine and taste alfresco from our stunning vineyard terrace. Your dedicated associate will guide you through a step by step tasting of our most exclusive and premium wines.

Are you ready to experience the extraordinary? Welcome to Phantom Creek Estates!

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Chapter 8: Expression

When you arrive at the Estate, you are greeted with marvelous and one-of-a-kind art installations that reflect the philosophies and the passion of Phantom Creek Estates.

Set at the Eastern edge of the Estate, and carved in golden Siena marble from Italy, Helios represents the Greek God of Sun— the quintessential element in the ripening of fruit and grapes for harvest. Helios was created by British sculptor Emily Young, whose work has been collected and exhibited around the world, including such prestigious museums as the Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Travelling West, you will discover a narrow strip of stone set into the pathway that runs the entire length of the Estate grounds.   The texture and pattern in the stone changes at different points along the path, from rough stone at the East to a fine mosaic stone at the West.  This “phantom creek” is a reflection of the geology of the Valley itself, from the Monashee mountains, through rough gravel creeks, to the Okanagan River on the valley floor

Pro Terra et Natura, (For Earth and Nature), is an expressive figure group that represents the gentle spirits of Mother Earth and nature.  This soaring piece, created by contemporary Chinese sculptor Wu Ching Ju, greets every visitor at the entrance to our winery.

Wu merges Eastern and Western culture to create powerful yet delicate works that capture serenity, hope and harmony, drawing on the artist’s lifetime love of nature and conveying purity, innocence and vulnerability.  Wu has held over 40 exhibitions in Europe and Asia and continues to enjoy an impressive global presence in temporary and permanent collections. 

Venturing inside the Hospitality wing, you will discover “Bocci 84”, designed by Omer Arbel, suspended from individual steel cables, the handcrafted glass globes illuminate an expansive four-story staircase bringing light and balance throughout the space.

Our most exclusive experience culminates with a wine tasting in the elegant and peaceful Founder’s Cellar.  Prepare to have your breath taken away as the cellar doors open to reveal the “Imperial Topaz”.  This iconic chandelier was commissioned from famed sculptor Dale Chihuly. Considered by many to be the world’s most celebrated living glass sculptor, this delicate masterpiece is a testament to his artistry and passion. Assembled onsite by a member of the Chihuly Studio, Imperial Topaz is comprised of hundreds of hand-blown glass filaments and stands as the centerpiece of our Founder’s Cellar.

Immerse yourself in art and design. Welcome to Phantom Creek Estates!

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Chapter 7: Discovery

John Taft of Backen & Gillam Architects in California was the lead designer behind the Phantom Creek Estates Winery, a premier destination for wine, food and music in the Southern Okanagan.  John’s one word to describe Phantom Creek is“ephemeral”, in reference to the creeks that ran through the valley during the glacial age and inspired many of the design elements.

It was essential that the winery felt grounded in its environment. The materials used in the exterior are imported Egyptian limestone, mirroring the grasses and warm colours of the desert landscape. The bronze and natural components on the Estate complement and blend seamlessly into the surrounding countryside.

Upon arrival, you’ll discover the Phantom Creek feature that runs through the centre axis of the Estate, and represents the transition of the rough mountainous terrain through to the smooth sands of the Black Sage Bench and valley floor.

Our tasting room is the centre of the winery, and the guest experience itself.  Framed by two towers of limestone, it forms a stunning frame for both our vineyards and the South Okanagan Valley. The interior features warm bronze and golden wood tones, Italian plaster, limestone, rich leather, and Calcutta marble. Floor-to-ceiling glass walls slide open, bringing the outside in, and allowing guests to enjoy the view on our terrace.

Phantom Creek guests will experience our winemaking philosophy and methods brought to life on one of our winery tours.  The story starts in our History Room, which demonstrates the unique geography and terroir of our estate vineyards on display through custom soil monoliths. 

The journey continues outside, with a walkthrough of our biodynamic garden and art installations before proceeding to the crush pad.  Here, all the fruit is received and sorted before it continues through the winemaking process.

The guided tour descends underground into the white wine fermentation area, where our white wine ages in neutral oak, Austrian casks.  You’ll immediately feel the change in temperature as the brick cladded walls work to regulate temperature and humidity naturally.

Next on tour is the spectacular red wine fermentation area, where our red wines begin the fermentation process, followed by the barrel fermentation area to view our most prized parcels of grapes start their transformation into the wines you love.  From here, guests travel the grand staircase to the lower cellar, featuring the crown jewel of the Phantom Creek winery—the Founders Cellar, where our premium red wines are aged. In the centre of this stunning rotunda is our most treasured space reserved for the most exclusive of experiences.

Are you ready to see everything for yourself? Welcome to Phantom Creek Estates!

Watch Chapter 7: Discovery

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Chapter 6: Balance

“To live a long life, balance is key.” Philippe Melka

Philippe Melka started his career in Bordeaux working for some of the world-renowned Château Pétrus and Château Haut-Brion.  For the past 25 years, Philippe has been a winemaking consultant for some of Napa’s most highly regarded properties, producing multiple 100-point wines. In 2019, Phantom Creek welcomed Melka as the consulting winemaker for Phantom Creek’s red wine program working closely with winemaker Francis Hutt.

While travelling on Black Sage Road in Oliver, British Columbia, Phantom Creek Estates reveals itself atop the Becker Vineyard. You feel the commitment to excellence right away, and realize that you’re in an extraordinary place.

There is a shared passion and energy when you work with the people who have a love for what they’re doing. That passion is essential as there are no overnight successes in the wine business. The wine industry is challenging, and there is a ton of expertise and many hours of brainstorming to create a glass of wine. “So when I look at a glass of wine, I see all the hard work behind it.”

The hallmark for great red wines is the potential of ageing over the long term. The foundation of great wine is based on a few factors: the acidity, the alcohol, and the tannin structure—these three elements, when blended seamlessly, create an extremely stable wine that will showcase the purity of terroir for years to come.

Wine is a living product; the energy flowing out of the glass is inspiring and has driven Melka throughout his career to continue pushing the boundaries while exploring the art of winemaking and viticulture. Making wines of distinction and sophistication is the goal of the entire Phantom Creek Estates team, and we cannot wait to share that passion with every guest visiting the Estate.

As the consulting winemaker for the red wine program, Melka joins an elite team of wine legends, including Alsace superstar and Master of Wine, Olivier Humbrecht, the consulting winemaker for the white wine program and wine industry veteran Santiago Cilley as CEO.

Welcome to Phantom Creek Estates – – winemaking at its finest.

Chapter 6: Balance

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Chapter 5: Focus

Olivier Humbrecht, France’s first Master of Wine, is the owner and winemaker of Domaine Zind-Humbrecht in Alsace, France. The renowned Estate has been in his family since the early 17th century, and today is one of the world’s leading Pinot Gris and Riesling producers. Currently, he also presides Biodyvin, a prestigious biodynamic certifying body based in Europe.

Phantom Creek Estates white wine program is decidedly Alsatian inspired and includes principal varieties Pinot Gris and Riesling. Both varietals are widely produced in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley and come in an expressive range of styles from many producers. Olivier and the team at Phantom Creek are making Alsatian inspired white wines from grapes that are naturally farmed and cared for through every step of the winemaking process. Parcels of selected fruit are gently pressed over many hours to bring out the subtle nuances and complexities from the grape’s skin. The resulting juice is then wild fermented over a period of months and aged in neutral oak Stockinger foudres. Our white wines are balanced, elegant and ready to enjoy now or in the future with proper aging.

It may sound like a simple process; however, As Olivier Humbrecht says, “when you get fantastic grapes from good vineyards, you want to try to use them as much as possible. It needs to be done right from the beginning.”

A great wine, regardless of its colour, concentration or age, should not shrink the palate when you drink, it but rather open it. First and foremost, a wine’s destination is not to be smelled, it’s to be enjoyed. There needs to be a specific structure on the palate, a salinity, and you want to salivate when you drink these wines – you want to feel a certain length. At the core, you want to understand the culture of the wine alongside the beautiful aromatics, which for anyone, is truly the cherry on top of the cake!

Phantom Creek uses casks or “foudres” from the famous Stockinger family to gently age their white wines. If the ultimate goal is to produce a wine that has the right characteristics, taste and all the personality of the vineyard, it requires the perfect container to do so. The cask allows the wine to take the energy from the Earth and the environment. The wine, yeast and the bacterias within it need that influence inevitably providing structure and quality that is very important for white wine.

What’s truly important when you taste wines from the tasting room at Phantom Creek Winery is to focus on the wine. How do you feel about it? Which wines do you remember the most, and why? Even if just one wine resonates and sticks with an individual, it likely hit them where it should, and they’ll remember that wine for a long time. Wine tasting is like listening to great music. It requires training the taste buds and brain to remember what you taste. Enjoy the ride!

Sip and savour at Phantom Creek Estates!

Chapter 5: Focus

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Chapter 4: Creation

Some might make assumptions about what winemakers see when they look at a glass of wine. For Francis Hutt, it’s the same as everyone else… “I look at it and think, is this going to be delicious?

Francis Hutt, Winemaker at Phantom Creek Estates, has travelled the world making wine on both the north and south islands of his native New Zealand as well as working harvests in Oregon, Burgundy and Australia’s Hunter Valley. Honing his skills in organic and biodynamic winemaking at Carrick Winery & Vineyards in New Zealand, Francis led the transformation of the vineyards to organic certification as Head Winemaker and subsequently General Manager. In this role, he also oversaw winemaking for Kennedy Point Vineyard, Waiheke Island’s only certified organic vineyard.

A winemakers’ journey has to start somewhere, and for Francic Hutt, a seminal moment while on a hiking trip with family opened the eyes of a young winemaker to be and started him on that wine journey. The family was visiting a winery in New Zealand, where they encountered a gentleman in the vineyard. He spoke so freely to a young and enthusiastic Hutt and shared his thoughts and philosophies on honest winemaking. Now an established winemaker, the goal continues to be making honest wine that speaks uniquely to the place it’s grown.

A passion for organic and biodynamic winemaking led Francis to Phantom Creek Estates in Oliver, B.C, where we focus on single-vineyard Bordeaux reds, Alsatian whites and the Okanagan’s benchmark varieties of Viognier and Syrah all from naturally farmed Estate vineyards.

We’re fortunate to work with world-renowned consultants Olivier Humbrecht and Philippe Melka. Between all individuals, the level of depth and knowledge behind them is incomparable. It allows us to create wines that are expressive and unique.

Welcome to Phantom Creek Estates – where the magic is about to start!

Chapter 4: Creation

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Chapter 3: Character

The tradition of winemaking has been passed down through the Humbrecht family from father to son since the late 1700s. Olivier Humbrecht, France’s first Master of Wine, is the current owner and winemaker of Domaine Zind-Humbrecht in Alsace, France.  Phantom Creek Estates marks the first and only winery consulting project for the famed winemaker

Olivier is the President of Biodyvin, the prestigious biodynamic certifying body based in Europe. Biodynamics is a philosophy and method of sustainable farming that requires meticulous attention to detail, in turn, yielding exceptional, energetic wine. By farming biodynamically, we minimize off-farm inputs while developing integrated solutions for pest and weed management, maximizing vine nutrition and site biodiversity.

Understanding the energy of a grape-growing region is so important; this especially rings true for the South Okanagan, where the environment is bold, big, intense, beautiful, and vastly extreme. The landscape of the Okanagan embodies power and energy with its dramatic mountain ranges giving way to vast lake districts.

The goal for every vineyard, which is well taken care of, is to produce high-quality grapes on a regular basis, revealing the true character of the place. Setting up a vineyard so it can produce for the long term comes down to how well the site is built-up to produce something remarkable. You are the caretaker of the vineyard for your children or whoever will look after it in the future. So, you try to give it to them in a better state then you received it.

When you make wine, you’re making a cultural product. It is not just a beverage with alcohol in it. Wine must show the characteristics of a place. It’s in the way the vine explores the soil, getting every inch of the environmental aspects through the climate and vineyard composition that showcases the authentic taste and flavour of the wine. It can take hundreds if not thousands of years to build up good soil. If done correctly and well, it can truly make a winery or vineyard last the test of time and produce something remarkable.

Making great wine is the result of a team effort and is also a reflection of the culture and the people who work the land. The team at Phantom Creek is doing something that has never been done before. It can’t be understated how hard it is to develop a new vineyard. “In France, we know where all the great vineyards are. In a new region, you don’t know yet where all the great vineyards are – you have to discover by yourself.”

“My goal for Phantom Creek is to see the vineyards grow into a beautiful environment that is alive with a great ecosystem paired alongside great people working on it.” Olivier Humbrecht

Welcome to Phantom Creek Estates!

Chapter 3: Character

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Chapter 2: Natural

Phantom Creek Estates is rooted on vineyards with a deep history. Led by the vision of the Bai family and the tireless efforts of the vineyard team, our Estate vineyards are farmed organically and biodynamically.

On the lower terrace of the Black Sage Bench, the historic 10-acre Phantom Creek Vineyard (est. 1996) is planted primarily to Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Malbec as well as late-ripening Bordeaux variety Petit Verdot.  In 2017, we extended this heritage with new plantings immediately North and South totaling 33 acres.

The 51-acre Becker Vineyard (est. 1977) that surrounds the winery is planted to Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Sauvignon, with small blocks allocated to Syrah, Carménère, Chardonnay and Semillon.

The 45-acre Kobau Vineyard (est. 2005) on the Golden Mile Bench is planted to Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Viognier and is historically known for producing world-class Syrah.

Evernden Springs Vineyard in the Similkameen Valley has been in development for two years. Consulting white winemaker, Olivier Humbrecht Master of Wine and owner of Zind-Humbrecht, says, “This site shows incredible potential to grow expressive single vineyard Pinot Gris and Riesling.”

Amy Richards, Director of Farming at Phantom Creek Estates, has been fortunate enough to work in many different wine regions around the world in her 20 years as a viticulturist. To her, nothing compares to the Okanagan Valley. With a high latitude, long days, warm to cold climate changes, the Okanagan has proved to show many different aspects of viticulture, making it a truly unique wine region. 

Our vineyard team is fascinated by the diversity of soils throughout all our vineyard sites. By analyzing the soil, you see the story of the farming process and how the vines grow and react to their environment. Each of the estate vineyards has a unique combination of local climate infused with the sites micro-climate, vineyard soil type, layered with the varieties that are planted. Through these natural elements and irrigation, we are supporting a unique set of circumstances – called terroir. At Phantom Creek Estates, farming is done naturally to express that terroir as purely as possible.

We farm all our vineyards following organic and biodynamic principles, eliminating the use of synthetic herbicides, pesticides, fungicides and fertilizers, rather relying on traditional methods using organic compost and cover crops for weed control and soil health.

These measures support a balanced and healthy ecosystem in each of the estate vineyards, allowing our team the opportunity to get the best grapes possible while taking care of the land. Integrated pest management is a critical part of managing the vineyards. We use heritage breed chickens in our vineyards as they consume cutworms and other pests that are great for chickens but harmful to vine health. Our chickens are part of the ecosystem and do their part to support healthy vineyards, all while naturally fertilizing their workplace.

Amy’s one message to the Phantom Creek Estates visitor is that we farm naturally. Natural farming is a choice you make when you decide to be stewards of the land and commit to purely expressing the terroir of your vineyards. At Phantom Creek Estates, we believe, “What goes into the land, goes into your glass.”

Welcome to Phantom Creek Estates.

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