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History

1977, Becker Project Begins

Led by renowned viticulturist Helmut Becker, over 30 different grape varieties were specifically planted at (what’s now) Becker Vineyard as a demonstration that traditional European vines could survive in British Columbia. And not only did they survive—they thrived.

1993, Bordeaux Varieties Introduced

Becker Vineyard was one of the first in the South Okanagan to showcase the potential for late ripening Bordeaux reds, putting it at the forefront of the shift that would soon take place in the region’s winegrowing philosophies.

1996, Phantom Creek Vineyard

Phantom Creek Vineyard was planted by leading Okanagan viticulturist Richard Cleave to Cabernet family varieties and Syrah. Today, our namesake vineyard is recognized as one of the best in the country, and has produced the “Best Red Wine in Canada” on three separate occasions.

2005, Kobau Vineyard

Kobau Vineyard was originally planted as an apple orchard in 1929, shortly after irrigation was introduced to the South Okanagan. Located on the Golden Mile Bench, the acclaimed vineyard was planted to Cabernet family varieties, Viognier, and Syrah in 2005.

2016, Bai Family Founds Phantom Creek Estates

Driven by a love of Bordeaux-style wine, Richter Bai purchases Becker and Phantom Creek Vineyards, where his dream of starting a winery in the famed Okanagan Valley begins.

Today, Phantom Creek Estates

With the aim of setting the benchmark in Canadian viticulture and winemaking, Phantom Creek's estate vineyards are now in transition to organic and biodynamic farming practices. We’ve got a foot firmly rooted in the past with our vision to the future.

Winemaking

Viticulture

Our winemaking truly begins in the vineyard. We farm our estate grapes with the aim of expressing the character of each vineyard in the final wine. And then we get out of the way.

Harvest

From sampling each individual block to meticulously hand-harvesting each cluster, our goal is to ensure fruit is brought into the winery at optimal ripeness. We pick earlier than most, a crucial step to retaining freshness and achieving balance once bottled.

Winery

Our red wines are first hand sorted, then optically sorted; each berry must meet our standards before it’s pressed and fermented in Rousseau oak casks and small French oak barriques. Our whites are pressed whole cluster, wild fermented in custom Stockinger oak casks. Our goal with every one of our wines is to achieve optimal texture, layers of complexity, and integration with oak.

Our Team

Santiago Cilley

Chief Executive Officer

Santiago started his wine career working for Jackson Family Wines in California, where he spent nine years spearheading strategic projects in close collaboration with late founder Jess Jackson. Santiago subsequently relocated to Chile to lead the renaissance of Via Wines before returning to California as president of Alejandro Bulgheroni Family Vineyards USA and launching Alejandro Bulgheroni Estate in Napa Valley. Santiago holds an MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley.

Francis Hutt

Winemaker

Francis has made wine on both the north and south islands of his native New Zealand—in addition to harvests in Hunter Valley, Australia, Oregon and Burgundy—developing a deep knowledge of organic and biodynamic winegrowing. At Carrick Winery & Vineyards in New Zealand, he 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 and a highly regarded producer of Bordeaux varieties.

Olivier Humbrecht MW

Consulting Winemaker

Olivier, France’s first Master of Wine, is the owner and winemaker of Domaine Zind-Humbrecht. The renowned estate has been in his family since 1620, and today is one of the world’s leading Pinot Gris and Riesling producers. Olivier has an integral role in our white winemaking program, and also guides our transition to organic and biodynamic practices.

Philippe Melka

Consulting Winemaker

Philippe Melka is an internationally renowned consulting winemaker. His first position was at Bordeaux’s legendary Château Haut-Brion. From there, he took a role with the venerated Moueix Company and was sent to Dominus Estate in Napa’s Yountville in 1991. Philippe has worked with the most notable personalities in the wine business and continues to consult for some of the worlds top wineries. Philippe will serve as the consulting winemaker for Phantom Creek’s red wine program working closely with winemaker Francis Hutt.

George James, CPA CA

Vice President Finance

Prior to joining Phantom Creek Estates, George was the Chief Financial Officer of Black Hills Estate Winery, where he spent four years focused on the strategic growth and ultimately positioning the winery for sale in 2017. Prior to his work in the wine industry, George was Controller for Bellstar Hotels and Resorts, overseeing the financial management of 10 hotels in both Alberta and British Columbia, while also being involved in the acquisition of several hotel properties. George has a Bachelor of Arts in Hispanic Studies and holds a Chartered Accountant designation (CPA CA).

Ryan Prouty

Sales and Marketing Director

Ryan started his wine career with Andrew Peller Limited in Vancouver BC, where he worked in both Retail and Hospitality. Ryan joined the Fosters Group as the Key Account Manager for Western Canada before leading teams as the Manager/Director of Sales at Authentic Wine and Spirits and Lifford Wine and Spirits. A passion for wine, family and brand development led Ryan to relocate to the Okanagan, where he joined the team at Phantom Creek Estates. Ryan studied Media and Communications and holds a Diploma from the School of Business BCIT.

Richter Bai

Chairman

Having discovered wine’s complex appeal in his youth, Richter Bai retained an interest in wine throughout his career in China. Born within an agricultural community, he has always been close to the land, and Phantom Creek Estates marries his passion for great wine, appreciation of agriculture, and pursuit of excellence in a thrilling new venture.

Faye Yao

Executive Director

Born and raised in China, Faye graduated from the University of British Columbia before developing a successful career in real estate. In 2014, she transitioned to the wine industry and worked closely with Richter Bai to begin to realize his dream of building one of the leading wineries in Canada. Since day one, she has been involved with every facet of the project.