Photo: James Cameron (courtesy Wikipedia)
Filmmaker James Cameron’s purchase of Beaufort Vineyard
& Estate Winery near Courtenay, which was confirmed this week, should prove
a big boost for all Vancouver Island wineries.
Indeed, it is a win for the entire B.C. wine industry to
have attracted someone with Cameron’s global status.
Vancouver Island’s low
profile and largely insular wineries will find they have suddenly acquired
international recognition on Cameron’s coat tails.
Perhaps the first beneficiary is a new winery and vineyard
consulting firm called First Leaf which did the due diligence on the purchase
for Cameron. First Leaf has been set up by Tilman Hainle, a former Okanagan
winemaker, and architect Marilyn Palmer.
“We’re thrilled to have Cameron as our first client, and hope
to be involved in the further planning activities for this project,” Hainle
said in an email.
Cameron plans to release a statement within a few weeks on
his plans for Beaufort, a 34-hectare (84-acre) property currently growing 3.2
hectares (eight acres) of grapes. It is believed that Cameron is planning
agricultural development in addition to viticulture.
In 2012, Cameron spent NZ$20 million to buy two large rural
properties, comprising more that 1,000 hectares. The properties are at
Wairarapa, not far from the New Zealand
capital of Wellington.
The Cameron film, Avatar, was made in New Zealand and he is working on a
sequel there. The properties include a dairy farm. He is also planting 650
In December, he told
the National Post: “There’ll also be tree crops, grains, produce; it will be
quite a mixed bag. But really, I think of it as an experimental station to look
at various sustainable agriculture approaches.”
The Beaufort winery was
opened in 2008 by Susan and Jeff Vandermolen. They had purchased the Comox Valley
property in 2005 after leaving careers in the oil industry.
“We look forward to
working with the Camerons to carry on with the Beaufort Vineyard & Winery,
and will do what we can to assist them in integrating with other local agri and
culinary businesses in the Comox Valley and on Vancouver Island,” Jeff and
Susan said on their Facebook site. “We are committed to staying on through the
transition period and the next harvest and vintage, and then we'll see where it
goes from there.”
Mark Timmermans, the new general manager at Beaufort, says: “Our plans are to
keep on with the work that Jeff and Susan have started. I think James was
really impressed with the way things have been running here, and he loved this
piece of land. We’re going to be carrying on business as usual with the winery.
If there are going to be plans for change, it will be after a decent period of
time once we have got everything figured out. Jeff and Susan have done a
Cameron is the subject
of a long and occasionally edgy profile on Wikipedia. Apparently, he can be
hot-tempered. “Sam Worthington, who worked with Cameron, stated
on The Jay Leno Show that Cameron had very
high expectations from everyone: he would use a nail gun to
nail the film crew's cell phones to a wall above an exit door in retaliation
for unwanted ringing during production,” according to Wikipedia.
Cameron was born in Kapuskasing, Ontario,
in 1954. When he was 17, his family moved to California, where he developed his interest
in filmmaking. He made his first film in 1978 and was soon working as a special
effects director. He established his reputation for making successful films
with the Terminator films that starred Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is better known
for his film about the Titanic and, of course, Avatar, two of the highest
grossing films of all time.
He is well known for
his environmentalism and, since 2012, his advocacy of vegan diets. “In October 2013, a new
species of frog Pristimantis jamescameroni from Venezuela was named after him in
recognition of his efforts in environmental awareness, in addition to his public
promotion of vegetarianism,”
according to Wikipedia.