How did Columbia Gardens Vineyard & Winery Start?
In 2006, after Ben, an Electrical and Mining Engineer in South Africa, received a job offer from a mining house in Canada, the family decided to lift their roots in South Africa and move to Canada. On September 13, 2006 Ben and his wife Tersia together with their three kids Werner, Leandri and Darin, touched ground in Timmins, Ontario where they lived for a year before moving to Northern Manitoba. Being an Engineer working on projects means moving quite often and the family ended up in Flin Flon, Manitoba where they lived for almost 4 years on the beautiful Douglas Lake and learned to deal with the freezing and long Northern winters. Ben ended up flying back and forth between Flin Flon, Toronto and Saskatoon and that is when the thought of moving to the warmer climate of British Columbia was born. “We realized that I will always be traveling for my work, and that we could basically live anywhere we want,” said Ben.
Early in the search for the perfect property they “stumbled” across the Columbia Gardens Vineyard and Winery (located in Trail, BC), but decided to investigate options in the Okanagan Valley first. After visiting the Okanagan area and viewing close to twenty-five farm properties, Tersia, determined to avoid another winter in Manitoba, booked tickets to Trail and on a moment’s notice they were on their way to visit their “first find property." They quickly realized that this was everything they ever wanted and became the new proud owners of Columbia Gardens Vineyard and Winery in August, 2013!
Ben completed his studies at Marlow Agricultural School in Cradock, South Africa and wanted to move to a farm again. Ben worked on various vineyards when attending Marlow Agricultural School. “I learned my winemaking skills by trial and error in my home basement lab,” said Ben. He always wanted a winery and has big plans for the future which includes planting more vines and making port wine. Tersia has her own dreams and with her love for entertaining is converting the second house on the property into a guesthouse with an outdoor wedding venue.
“We realize every day how fortunate we are to be here,” they say. “We love Trail and its people and will be here for many years to come. We finally found the place that makes Canada home for us!”
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