A second surprise has emerged from the Naramata Bench’s Hillside Estate Winery. The new winemaker is Kathy Malone, recruited from the cellars of Mission Hill Family Estate Winery.
She takes the place of Kelly Symonds. As I reported in this blog last month, Kelly is moving to California Cult Classics in North Vancouver, a super-premium U-Vin that works with California grapes.
Kathy is a long-time Mission Hill veteran and has had substantial responsibility for making many of Mission Hill’s best-selling wines. Her move to Hillside is said to be prompted by a desire to work a small winery environment.
How good is Kathy? Put it this way: John Simes, Mission Hill’s senior winemaker, is advertising for two winemakers to replace her. One position is for a “commercial” winemaker to deal with the non-VQA wines that are made with imported wines.
The other is for a winemaker to take over production of Mission Hill’s growing range of small lot wines, such as the just released Quatrain (red blend) and the Perpetua Chardonnay.
Wade Stark, who has worked with Kathy for the last 10 years, looks after the bulk of the VQA portfolio, including the Prospect Winery products.
In the week that Mission Hill has advertised the positions, the winery has received more than 50 resumes, including applications from France, from Italy, from Napa and Australia.
According to Simes, some of the resumes are quite impressive.
“I think we are going to get someone who will bring some serious experience,” he says. “It has absolutely blown me away. People are noticing that there is real winemaking going on in the Okanagan.”