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It is truly the end of an era on Okanagan wine country.

According to Castanet, the Kelowna-based news service, on Friday Arterra Wines announced that Sumac Ridge Family Estate in Summerland had closed both its retail and winemaking operations.

This is no ordinary closure. Sumac Ridge is one of the most ground-breaking wineries in B.C..

It was founded in 1979 by the late, great “Godfather of B.C. Wine,” Harry McWatters, who died in 2019.

Among its many firsts: Sumac Ridge was the province’s first estate winery, the first to make a commercially successful sparkling wine, the first to have a winery restaurant, the first in Canada to begin using the Meritage designation on its Bordeaux blends and the first Okanagan winery to release a $50 bottle.

At one point, it also produced B.C.’s biggest selling homegrown white, the Sumac Ridge Private Reserve Gewürz.

Sumac Ridge was purchased in 2000 by Vincor Canada, now Arterra Wines. Arterra has said that it will continue producing the Sumac Ridge, Steller’s Jay sparkling and Black Sage brands from its production facility in Oliver, and will move employees to other parts of the company.

Arterra also told Castanet there are “no immediate plans” for the winery property.

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