Curtis Krouzel and Sheri-Lee Turner-Krouzel along with their highly skilled team have created a world-class wine destination only 15 minutes from the Kelowna airport by crafting international award winning wines while hosting five-star events and unique catered dining experiences. In 2018, they opened the next phase of the estate which includes a new events space, fine dining restaurant, extensive wine cave system and a glass ‘Transparent’ tasting room.
The 50th Parallel Estate Story
The Proprietors: Curtis Krouzel and Sheri-Lee Turner-Krouzel
Curtis is a first generation Canadian who was born in Winnipeg to Czech and Slovak parents with a scarce blue bloodline to some great Austrian winemaking families. Curtis was raised in Edmonton before coming to Calgary in 1997 and starting an oil and gas design engineering company, similar but very different to building a vineyard.
“As I was creating businesses in Calgary, at night, in my spare time, I was always researching creating a world class winery here in the Okanagan. My bedtime reading is grapevine physiology and that is really dry reading. It has been almost a 18-year-long vision trying to create something awesome, and to find the right place to do it. I have and always will be a creator, and with creation in this business we have also found a beauty in the art of nurturing. Nurturing the vineyard and wines, nurturing the people that come to see the place.”
Curtis met Sheri-Lee in 2000 on, of all places, a house-boating trip. They often travelled together to the Okanagan as Curtis intently researched his vision first-hand. Sheri-Lee is also a highly successful entrepreneur with a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in marketing, and a history of building great businesses in media, marketing, and fitness. In 2004, the couple had a property investment company convince them to buy a revenue property in the Fintry area of Lake Okanagan. Two years later, once Sheri-Lee and Curtis completed a summer vacation cottage, they sat on the deck and took a good long look across the lake during a textbook Okanagan sunset, Curtis’ eyes peeled open.
“I could not believe what I was looking at, it seemed too good to be true especially after so many years of exploring the Okanagan.”
Curtis quickly made a trip across the lake. The sun, the lake reflectivity, the slope of the land was perfect. After many exploratory trips to the site, careful placement of a stealth weather station, and numerous soil tests, the couple realized this was the place to build the perfect enclave for Pinot Noir.
50th Parallel Estate has been built from scratch to create a wine destination experience that is second to none.
The project is being built in stages. In 2009, the couple hand-planted the first 10 acres of vines. Curtis then engineered a planting machine tuned to the needs of the steep rocky property and now planting is compete with an impressive 50 acres now under vine. They are now sourcing additional new properties to expand their vineyards. In 2011, the first wines were released from 50th Parallel; a modest 700 cases. In 2016, the winery produced close to 14,000 cases of wine. The first portion of the main winery building opened for harvest in 2014 and the expansion, including the restaurant and new tasting center was opened in the Spring of 2018.
Glamour Farming at 50th Parallel Estate
Viticulturally, the stunning 61 acre property boasts more ‘Grand Cru’ vineyard qualities found in one place than many of the top vineyards in the world. Internationally, the world is waking up to the growing number of award winning wines coming from this place and the development honors the praise. Everything you see, feel, and taste is focused on the wine and the special place it comes from. The name '50th Parallel' was chosen to represent a unique and real physical location, a meeting place that people will understand the minute they see the property.
This is a sanctuary where you can immerse yourself in the place; to just get away from everything except the endless views of vineyards and Lake Okanagan. The property has it all including a nearby public waterfront at popular Coral Beach, named for its pink granite shoreline generously shared from 50th Parallel’s rocky outcrops above.
50th Parallel Winemaker, Matthew Fortuna
Winemaker Matthew Fortuna has been with 50th Parallel since 2013 and shares the same infectious passion for Pinot Noir. Prior to this tenure, he worked in an assistant role at another fabulous Pinot house in the Okanagan valley. In addition Matt worked overseas in the Mornington Peninsula for another legendary producer Moorooduc Estates learning more about southern hemisphere wine making. Matt has set his sights on taking the vineyards to another level of quality production with the help of his experienced vineyard team. With parts of the vineyard at the estate now entering into the tenth year of maturity, Matt is is dialed in to using his new state-of-the-art gravity flow winery to produce some of the world’s finest Pinot Noir.
Curtis and Sheri-Lee are proudly excited about the entire team that they have assembled over the years. As the Estate continues to grow, they are now most excited about the people that are drawn to the place and the vision.
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