Hailing from five generations of farmers, there’s no question that Bordertown Vineyards and Estate Winery owner Mohan Gill has farming in his blood. His family came to Canada in 1993 and very quickly became respected fruit growers in the Okanagan. It wasn’t long before Mohan himself was working on a farm, before purchasing his own acreage, on which to grow cherries, apples and other orchard fruits—and wine grapes.
By 2007 he owned 20 acres of desirable vineyard on the outskirts of Osoyoos and was selling premium grapes to leading wineries. That total has now grown to around 100 estate owned acres in the South Okanagan.
Along every step of the way Gill has been a hands-on grower, learning the wine industry literally from the ground up and developing a natural intuition for nurturing a wide range of varieties.
After selling to others for several years, Gill and his family decided the time was right to take complete control and launch their own winery. In May 2015, aptly named Bordertown opened its own well-equipped 6,500 sq. ft. winery and spacious tasting room close to the junction of highways 97 and 3A in Osoyoos.
More specifically, it’s right across from well known Husky station and its huge Canada flag, there at the top of Osoyoos town. The tasting room and winery are easily seen from the road. But viewing eastward from the winery site reveals the beautiful vineyards sloping down the hill behind, down towards the lake, with breathtaking views across the valley.
Bordertown produces several varieties both red and white, with all wines being estate grown and VQA certified. Its signature grape is Cabernet Franc. It was among the first in B.C. to see the variety’s potential and early on produced a high quality wine. However, says Gill, the turning point came when noted UK wine critic Jamie Goode discovered Bordertown Cabernet Franc at Germany’s Pro Wein trade show and alerted other wine writers to taste it.
Another mainstay, Bordertown Living Desert Red (a Cab Franc dominant blend with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) also receives regular accolades. The 2013 vintage was a recipient of the much coveted BC Lieutenant Governor’s Award, at the time bestowed on only 12 wines in the province in any given year.
While reds proved to have been an early forté, the winery’s offerings span a broad range of both white and red varieties, and a Rosé made from, yes, Cabernet Franc. These other items include the recently introduced, easy drinking Desert Sage red and white blends, a top tier Limited Production Series (Malbec, Petit Verdot and Syrah), as well as Happy Hour focused, wine-on-tap keg selections.
Meanwhile, Gill still grows fruits other than wine grapes and recently launched his own brand of dry apple cider, Hard Pressed, which has quickly proved popular.
However, grapes remain his passion, in particular the trusted Cabernet Franc, which now accounts for about half his production.
Bordertown wines are available in private stores and select restaurants, and all Save On Foods wine locations, with the Cabernet Franc listed in LDB government stores. These wines, and the visit to the winery in Osoyoos if you’re in the area, are highly recommended.
—by Tim Pawsey
@ Vitis Magazine