At the centre of Phantom Creek Estates, inside a room within a room, hangs a magnificent, glowing, glass sculpture. Its writhing spokes of fins, shells, and undulating marine life seem to pulse from within a silvery and golden chandelier-of-a-sort, brought to life by remote light sources scattered around the barrel-filled chamber.
Composed of 100 pieces of mouth-blown glass and crafted by renowned Seattle-based sculptor Dale Chihuly, the installation was delivered to the Okanagan in pieces and then assembled on site. It’s certainly a testament to the new winery’s ambition—and its affinity for beauty.
Founded by China-born Richmond entrepreneur Richter Bai, Phantom Creek Estates has been generating significant buzz in British Columbia’s wine country for the past three years—since Bai purchased two neighbouring vineyards and joined them under one banner.
Phantom Creek Vineyards—originally a seven-acre parcel developed by viticulturist Richard Cleave and recognized for its red wines, sits just across the road from Becker Vineyards. In combining the two parcels of land, Bai hopes to leverage the difference in their elevation and terroir to produce a complex and dynamic range of wine.
The new Phantom Creek’s massive estate now includes a multi-level, 45,000-square-foot winery and hospitality centre with a 270-degree panoramic view of the valley, an indoor/outdoor lounge, and a 526-seat amphitheatre planned for outdoor concerts. As it enters its second and final construction phase, Phantom Creek will put the finishing touches on its hospitality centre and its tasting bar in preparation for its launch early next year.
To access the main building, guests follow the “Phantom Creek” pathway—a tribute to the ancient dry creek bed that runs beneath the estate—where two angels by Chinese sculptor Wu Ching Ju hover, meant to reflect the gentle spirit of mother nature and the winery’s mission to be conscious guardians of that nature as they strive to be certified organic by 2021.
Olivier Humbrecht, a French Master of Wine and president of Europe’s certifying body of biodynamic wine Biodyvin, has been working with the winery to guide its conversion to organic and biodynamic practices. His approach is rooted in wild fermentation, from manually hoeing the soil to promoting the growth of Indigenous plants between the vine rows.
Phantom Creek’s in-house team of CEO Santiago Cilley, native New Zealand winemaker Francis Hutt, and assistant winemaker Karin Grosstessner-Hain have also been hard at work developing a comprehensive portfolio of single vineyard Bordeaux reds, Alsatian whites, and Okanagan varieties of viognier and syrah.
The grand opening of Phantom Creek Estates is set for April 2020.
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