Wine Culture Magazine

In response to Covid-19, Mission Hill eliminated tasting bars and now offers tastings by reservation only. Photo courtesy of Mission Hill Estate Winery

Mission Hill President Darryl Brooker wears many hats. But he’s still very much a winemaker at heart. Which means he’s pretty pumped about the 2020 vintage.

“It’s been the best I’ve seen hands down,” he says. “I was a bit nervous at the start, a cool, wet spring, then it turned in July. It was going to be good anyway. But September was incredible—and the fall makes or breaks the harvest. It came through on the fruit, but all year we had cool nights and warm days to give us that freshness and acidity—and really, really exciting wines!”

The Mission Hill barrel room. Photo courtesy of Mission Hill Estate Winery

Higher acids and longer hang times in the north Okanagan bode especially well for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, says Brooker, who’s particular happy with those varieties—and adds (from down south) this year’s Cabernet Franc promises to be “amazing”—while “Merlot is good every year.” That’s good news also for the reserve Meritage, which is Cabernet Franc dominant.

His current personal favourites? “Our 2019 Terroir Sauv. Blanc Semillon—It takes six to eight months for those bees wax and oily notes from the Sem to come through; and we’re just starting to see it. Classic white Bordeaux character! And the Reserve Meritage ’18 is beautiful right now, still young but showing well.”

In the winery, Mission Hill’s response to Covid-19 was rapid and effective. But it also allowed the winery to elevate its tasting experience across the board, including eliminating tasting bars and offer tasting by reservation only. Whether 45 minutes or three hours, every visit is now a private, curated experience with a full gamut of options from vineyard to cellar and tasting menu from which to choose.

Photo courtesy of Mission Hill Estate Winery

“It’s exciting. The property has a real life and a buzz to it,” says Brooker.

Coming up fast, the winery’s popular Festival of Trees (Nov. 30-Jan3) has also been tweaked to be a more on property experience, also by appointment only. The winery donates $5 for each guest attending to BC Children’s Hospital. Sommelier guided with tastes from the Legacy collection, it includes a walk-around past the brilliantly decorated trees, with roasted chestnuts, mulled wine and more. Groups of up to six may reserve their time online at

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