Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Two more female winemakers in the Okanagan




Photo: Blasted Church's Mark Wendenburg  promotes his assistant

Two more female winemakers have been named by Okanagan wineries – one by a promotion and one by recruitment.

Blasted Church Vineyards of Okanagan Falls has elevated assistant winemaker Elaine Vickers to winemaker. She will continue to work with mentor Mark Wendenburg, the winery’s other winemaker.

Township 7 Vineyards and Winery of Penticton has lured winemaker Mary McDermott from Andrew Peller Ltd.’s Trius Winery in the Niagara Peninsula. She takes over from Brad Cooper who has moved further up Naramata Road to Serendipity Winery.

In a news release, Blasted Church co-owner Evelyn Campbell said this of Elaine Vickers (below):

“A well versed winemaker, Elaine's career began in the vineyards of Vincor's Jackson Triggs project. Elaine joined Blasted Church in 2010, and shortly thereafter started her diligent apprenticeship training with Mark. Together, they helped recruit, train and build an accomplished winery team.

“Elaine is a Masters of Science graduate from the University of Victoria. She also holds a Graduate Diploma in Oenology from the University of Adelaide. While some might poke fun at Elaine's methodical, calibrated, and always nerdy scientific mannerisms, everyone tips their hats to her crafty, strategic, take-no-survivors kind of hyper-competitiveness. Elaine's the type of competitor who'll break a bone in a game of Ultimate Frisbee. We kid not.”

Township 7 general manager Mike Raffan calls Mary McDermott (below) “a rising star with impeccable credentials and extensive expertise in premium wines.”

She is a graduate of Ryerson University who acquired an interest in wine during several years of exploring world wine regions with her husband, a chef. That led her to work as a sommelier in Monk McQueen’s Fresh Seafood and Oyster Bar in Vancouver. Returning to Ontario, she worked as a sommelier at the at Cave Spring Cellars restaurant at Jordan while finishing her Bachelor of Science in Oenology and Viticulture at Brock University.

She started her winemaking career at Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Stratus Vineyards as cellarhand and then became assistant cellarmaster at Cave Spring Cellars. In 2010, Mary joined the Andrew Peller premium winery group in Niagara - Trius Winery at Hillebrand, and Thirty Bench.  Her Chardonnay wines in recent vintages have won major national and international awards.

She says that her real labour of love turned out to be the sparkling wine. Trius has a major sparkling wine program. She will use those skills in a significant expansion of the sparkling wine program at Township 7.

Township 7 was acquired earlier this year by a major silent investor. The winery’s news release about Mary’s appointment suggests that the new owner intends to plough new capital into the winery.

The release says: “At Township 7, Mary’s vision for the winery entails boosting the sparkling wine production and expanding the small lot, fine wine program with additional single vineyard designate offerings, where she will be working closely with the viticulture team on the estate vineyards and with their long time growers on the Black Sage Bench, in Okanagan Falls, and in the Similkameen Valley. In the cellar she will augment the premium oak barrel program with upgrades to large oak barrique fermenters for the 2014 harvest, with more improvements planned in the vineyard and winery on the horizon.”








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