The Villa suites, accommodations at Hester Creek.

Hester Creek Estate Winery

Redefined wine.  

For years, Hester Creek was a winery operating below the radar, attracting relatively little attention. It’s not that they hadn’t been doing a good job; they neither excited nor disappointed. But now Hester Creek wants to be noticed. Some incredible changes have taken place over the last five years, changes that should have oenophiles taking another look.
The Hester Creek property has a long history by Okanagan standards. The first vines on the property were planted in 1968, including the only trebbiano in British Columbia, a grape prolific throughout Italy and France. But it was the purchase of the winery by Prince George businessman Curt Garland in 2004 that gave Hester Creek its new lease on life.

Garland had his work cut out for him. As a successful businessman, he understood, at the very least, that good grapes and a quality winemaker are needed to survive in the wine world. And so he made a few wise personnel changes to ensure that Hester Creek continued to evolve. In 2006, Rob Summers became winemaker, bringing with him a strong pedigree of wine-making experience in Ontario, and he’s been lifting the quality of the wines ever since. Mark Sheridan was hired as general manager four years later, bringing both viticultural experience and a good head for the wine business. Sheridan’s appointment took pressure off Garland’s long-time friends Robin and Lee Ann Openshaw, who had happily come out of retirement to help him get the winery back up and running. In 2011, veteran Okanagan wine man Rob Smith was brought aboard as sales director.

In spite of it having history, old vines, a gifted site on the Golden Mile Bench and now the right team, the vineyard was nonetheless a tricky one. Twelve-foot rows and wide vine spacing might have been the method of the day 40 years ago, but it hardly suited modern viticulture and the quest to make high-quality wine. Prior to Garland purchasing the property, additional rows of vines had mostly already been interplanted, but still he and Summers found that the new plants weren’t getting quite the needed care and attention. They invested in a drip irrigation system, which, in addition to the existing sprinklers, allows them the ability to micromanage each block for the desired fruit quality.


Hester Creek was among the first in the South Okanagan to add some high-end accommodation options to the property. Their Mediterranean-inspired Villa suites, which opened in 2007, have filled the need for a luxurious place to stay. Shortly thereafter, Hester Creek also started work on a new winery, a beautiful 35,000-case facility built into the side of the hill, taking advantage of the earth’s natural temperature control. The wine shop moved into the new facility once it was completed in 2009, leaving the characterful old shop vacant and begging to be converted into a restaurant. Terrafina welcomed its first group of diners in June 2011.

As for the wines themselves, a couple of classy new excellent value blends have been produced under the “Character” series. There is both a red and a white, and at $20 they are a great buy. A more serious red blend has also been launched; bottle-aged before release and with small case production, “The Judge” is made from whatever the best varietals are each year. Not content to rest on its laurels even at this point, Hester Creek is still evolving and transitioning a significant portion of their portfolio to screw-cap closures.

So if you still perceive Hester Creek as a middle-of-the-road winery, a trip to the Golden Mile Bench will surely change that view. After experiencing some delicious wine, an exciting restaurant and a luxurious place to lay your head, you might just find you never want to leave.

Post Date:

September 19, 2011