B.C. Wine Culture

Photo courtesy of C.C. Jentsch Cellars

Chris Jentsch was born and raised in the Okanagan Valley. In fact he remembers the early days, when colourful pioneer Joe Busnardo (Divino Winery) first planted what’s now Hester Creek with the first vinifera grapes.

“I was in high school then, and friends with Joe’s son,” says Jentsch, who notes that 40 years later “the reds have come a long way.”

In fact C.C. Jentsch Cellars has built its reputation on well made, fruit forward, mainly Bordeaux varieties that consistently win top medals at major competitions. They include: International Wine and Spirits Competition, All Canadian Wine Championships, Decanter World Wine Awards, National Wine Awards of Canada and Okanagan Wine Festival.

Ironically, these days Chris Jentsch is busy quelling rumours that the winery was recently sold. Nothing could be further from the truth, he says, as he and his wife, Betty, continue to oversee all operations. However, they did recently sell the Golden Mile Bench vineyard, as part of an overall plan that will allow Jentsch to return to its original raison d’etre: to be a small family winery producing around 5,000 cases of premium wines each year from vineyards in Oliver and Summerland.

Chris and Betty Jentsch. Photo courtesy of C.C. Jentsch Cellars

While their first vineyard was planted in 2004 and the couple established the winery in 2012, the challenge (explains Jentsch) was that within five years it was producing some 14,000 cases annually and was a lot to handle.

“We decided in 2017 it was time to free up our time and resources to refocus on what we do best: make even better quality wines in smaller quantities,” he adds. As part of that plan C.C. Jentsch has recently purchased an additional 10 acres of land located next door to the chardonnay vineyard in Summerland—”Where Chards and Pinots excel .”

Jentsch has recontoured the land, installed an irrigation system and seeded a cover crop, in preparation for planting Pinot Noir in spring 2020.

In time the Pinot will be a logical addition to the portfolio that includes a Small Lot Series 2018 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay and Small Lot Series 2018 Blanc de Noir Rosé, which enjoy a loyal following, available only at the winery or online at www.ccjentschcellars.com

The biggest gift is to be able to enhance whatever the grape comes in with, through fermentation and maturation and (a light touch) of oak. But I’m not the winemaker. It’s all a learning experience,” says Jentsch humbly.

“At the end of the day, basically, I’m a farmer. It excites me when we produce a product from the earth that people enjoy and keep coming back for.”

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