Wine Culture Magazine

The winery rises above the many challenges of producing this classic Rhône blend

Hester Creek is one of the Okanagan Valley’s most historic wineries. Photo courtesy of Hester Creek

Nestled within the serene landscapes of Oliver, B.C., Hester Creek Estate Winery is one of the Okanagan Valley’s most historic—its site is one of the first in this province where vitis vinifera grapes were planted half a century ago. Now the winery has marked another significant milestone in the region’s viticultural narrative: It has just unveiled its inaugural GSM (Grenache-Syrah-Mourvèdre) blend, a culmination of Hester Creek’s meticulous craftsmanship and unparalleled terroir expression.

It’s part of the winery’s “Storied Series” of small lot wines, each of which tell a unique story that comprises sustainable viticulture, distinctive terroir and innovative winemaking.

Hester Creek president Mark Sheridan stands with vineyard manager Iqbal Gill and the Sukwinder and Balwinder Dhaliwal in one of the winery’s vineyards.

Few wineries in this province produce the classic Southern Rhône GSM blend; indeed, there is only a tiny amount of Grenache and Mourvèdre even planted here. These late-ripening grapes are grown at Hester Creek’s Vineyard Eleven in Osoyoos, in one of Canada’s warmest vineyard sites. It sits on Locatee Land, which was given to the family of Sam Baptiste, the former elected chief of the Osoyoos Indian Band and one of the valley’s most renowned grape growers. In the words of Hester Creek’s president Mark Sheridan, Baptiste “is a viticulturist who knows the absolute value of the land.” Baptiste, in turn, wanted the land to be cared for by the best growers he knew and leased the land to the Dhaliwal brothers.

Adding to the difficulty of ripening the grapes in the blend, the 2022 season was a challenging one in the South Okanagan, with a late start and heavier than usual rain in spring, followed by a long warm summer that lasted well into fall, with the warmest September and October on record. Despite the uncertain start to the year, it became one of the most productive for Hester Creek, allowing colours and flavours to concentrate in the grapes.

Hester Creek winemakers Brooke Jesus (left) and Mark Hopley.

In the end, the year was exceptional and Vineyard Eleven lived up to its name by delivering 11/10 quality.

In the blend, the Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre harmonize to create a wine of exceptional character and finesse. Each variety contributes distinct qualities: Grenache (45%) infuses bright red fruit aromas; Syrah (38%) imparts richness and depth; and Mourvèdre (17%) adds structure and complexity. The wine is balanced, finessed and exhibits a seamless integration of fruit, tannins and acidity—a testament to the expertise and passion of the team at Hester Creek Estate Winery.

The GSM will officially be released on June 5, and guests are invited to attend the winery’s release party on July 20.

Tasting Notes:

Hester Creek GSM 2022
(Okanagan Valley, B.C., $35)
Bright. Food-friendly. Juicy cherry, plum, pepper, floral. Restrained oak. Elegant and refined.

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