B.C.’s WINE INDUSTRY GREW UP WITH US.
Sumac Ridge was the very first operating estate winery in British Columbia and we’re proudly celebrating 33 years in 2014. Our winery was founded by Harry McWatters in 1979 in the aptly named town of Summerland in the Okanagan Valley. Since the 1800s, the area’s combination of sparkling water, brilliant sun and fertile land has made it ideal for growing grapes.
Sumac Ridge Estate Winery has been dedicated to producing wine from 100% BC grown grapes since its inception, and have set the standard for high quality in fine wines. There were only 17 operating wineries in BC in 1990, when the BC VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) was established. Today, there are over 227 wineries, growing more than 60 different grape varieties.
Grapes grown in our vineyards include Gewürztraminer, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. We also source additional grapes from other respected vineyards throughout the South Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys.
JASON JAMES FEELS AT HOME MAKING WINE.
From tasting barrel samples to the organized chaos of crush, Jason James, our Winemaker at Sumac Ridge Estate Winery, Steller’s Jay and Black Sage Vineyard, enjoys the entire process.
Jason discovered his passion for the grape after receiving an Honours degree in Biology at the University of Guelph in his home province of Ontario. He joined the cellar team at Thomas & Vaughan Estate Winery in the Niagara wine region, and received his Certificate in Oenology and Viticulture in 2001 from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario.
After spending the 2002 season working the crush for Villa Maria Estates in Marlborough, New Zealand, he took on the role of winemaker at Thomas & Vaughan Winery, which focused on Meritage blends and Bordeaux varieties.
With the sale of Thomas & Vaughan Winery to the Niagara Cellars group in 2004, James became winemaker for both Thomas & Vaughan and Eastdell Estates, with a production of 12,000 cases. He was featured in the Liquor Control Board of Ontario's Young Winemakers Program, winning two Cuveé Awards (the "Oscars" of the Ontario wine industry), and in 2004 received Best Icewine in Canada at the Canadian Wine Awards for the Thomas and Vaughn 2002 Vidal Icewine.
The West was calling though. “I was keen to experience winemaking in British Columbia,” he explains. “I knew about the climate and growing conditions. Sumac Ridge’s reputation is known throughout Canada, so I jumped at the chance to join the team in 2005.”
Since heading up the cellar, James has worked to improve upon every vintage. “It’s still a thrill, every year; the promise of a vintage even better than the last: to improve from last year’s triumphs.” In addition to the wines of Sumac Ridge, James also oversees the winemaking for Steller’s Jay Sparkling and Black Sage Vineyard wines.
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