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New GM Mark Beringer looks hopefully to the future

Vitis Wine Culture Magazine – Spring/Summer 2024

Mark Beringer has been around the wine industry long enough to feel hopeful even in a bad year, knowing that he can always find a way forward. And so, despite being hit with the same devastating winter freeze as everyone else in the South Okanagan Valley, the newly minted general manager of Phantom Creek Estates is excited for the year ahead.

Then again, he’s got a lot to be excited about.

He’s only been in his new role for a few weeks, but already he has a vision for where he wants to take the winery. “It’s really getting it more centred around the wine because that’s what has to come first,” says Beringer, who is also continuing in his role as director of winemaking, focusing on reds.

“We’re looking at doing a GSM for the future. Syrah does so well here and we thought we would try the Grenache and Mourvèdre and see how it goes. And if the Grenache doesn’t work for red, it would still work for rosé,” he adds, noting that it will help “future-proof” against events like January’s cold snap.

If anyone can make it work, Beringer can. For one thing, Phantom Creek grows its grapes on three of the most famous, historic and sun-soaked vineyards in B:C.: Becker, Phantom Creek and Kobau. For another, Beringer himself comes with epic expertise, renowned for his work at Napa Valley’s iconic Duckhorn and Beringer Vineyards.

Phantom Creek has also invested heavily in its beautiful, art-filled facility, its winemaking technology and equipment, and its people.

Among them is the uber-talented Alessa Valdez, executive chef of The Restaurant at Phantom Creek, which has re-opened for the season, offering a high tea for lunch and, for the first time, a regular dinner service in its airy space overlooking the entire South Okanagan Valley.

Phantom Creek is also opening a tasting room and event space in Richmond, where they plan to hold winemakers’ dinners and connect more easily with wine club members in the Lower Mainland.

Meanwhile, the team is still planning to hold a signature summer event at the property on the Black Sage Bench—maybe a repeat of the glam Soirée en Rouge from the last couple of years, or maybe something entirely new.

“It will evolve a little, but I know they’re having a lot of meetings and it’s fun to have a theme around it,” says Beringer, who dazzled last year in a red-sequined dinner jacket.
The party is scheduled for July 20, the same day the winery will release its first ultra-premium-tier Halo wine, the Baoshan.

The name means “golden mountain” or “treasure hill” in Cantonese. “It’s very symbolic of wealth and such,” Beringer says, noting that the wine itself will be a 2020 vintage Bordeaux-style red blend, with only two barrels made. “We really did it with complete intent. It really is the best of the best.”

He adds, happily: “Now that I’ve been here for three years, it’s great getting something like this out.”

To read the full article with images: Centred on wine at Phantom Creek – VITIS

Join us for Soirée en Rouge on July 20, 4:00 PM - 9:30 PM, at Phantom Creek Estates.