Mission Hill Family Estate Winery
Mission Hill Family Estate
Located in the heart of British Columbia's Okanagan Valley, Mission Hill Family Estate is world renowned for its award winning wines, stunning setting and architecture, and Terrace Restaurant. Majestic mountains, scenic lakes and lush orchards encase the winery's dramatic architecture and culminate in a setting that celebrates wine, food and the arts. With sustainable practices that ensure care for the environment, and a timelessness that respects the family's European heritage, guests experience the height of winemaking in an incomparable lakeside mountaintop winery.
Located in the heart of British Columbia's Okanagan Valley.
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John Simes' vision is clear: the best wine, and a commitment to protect and nurture the land.
Born and raised in New Zealand, his love affair with the wine business began during a three-year journey that took him around the world as he sought to discover all there is to know about making wine.
He returned home in 1978 and became the newest member of Montana Wines, New Zealand's best known winery. In 1990, as the winemaker responsible for Montana's benchmark Sauvignon Blanc, John received his first trophy from London's influential International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC).
By 1991, he was promoted to Chief Winemaker of Montana's four wineries, but he was getting restless and began searching for a new challenge. He met Anthony von Mandl during a visit to British Columbia and it was soon apparent that both men shared a philosophy based on quality. During that trip, he walked the vineyards and tasted the fruit and immediately understood the region's potential. He joined Mission Hill in 1992 partway through harvest and went to work on the Grand Reserve Barrel Select Chardonnay.
As the leader of the viticulture and winemaking teams at Mission Hill Family Estate, John's obsession with quality has resulted in a host of significant accomplishments and international recognition. The highlights of which include: winning the prestigious Avery Trophy in 1994 for 'Best Chardonnay in the World' at the International Wine & Spirit Competition in the United Kingdom, bringing home North America's only Gold Medal from the 2001 Chardonnay du Monde Competition in France and earning the distinction of being named 'Winery of the Year' at the 2011 InterVin International Wine Awards and 'Canadian Wine Producer of the Year' at the 2011 International Wine & Spirit Competition in the United Kingdom.
John Simes is a true pioneer ideally suited to the emerging Canadian industry. He and his team believe the proof is in every bottle of Mission Hill Family Estate wine, a philosophy shared by Proprietor Anthony von Mandl.
DIRECTOR OF VITICULTURE
An Australian native of Wodonga, a small town in Victoria, James Hopper has been with Mission Hill Family Estate since 2006. Hopper was an early adopter of the BC Wine Grape Council's "BC Sustainable Winegrowing Program" created in 2011. As the current Vice Chair of the Council, he is a big believer in sharing research information and education with a broader audience to raise the stature of wine quality throughout the Okanagan Valley.
Originally, Hopper earned a Metallurgical Engineering degree before receiving his Viticulture degree from Charles Sturt University in Australia in 2002. The university's curriculum is designed for vineyard management with extensive studies on viticulture, vine physiology, vine pests and diseases, and water and soil management. That knowledge, combined with his engineering background and natural approach to problem-solving, made him an attractive candidate for Proprietor Anthony von Mandl and Winemaker John Simes. In order to take Mission Hill to the next level, outside-thinking and pushing the boundaries are encouraged. Exactly what Hopper brings to the table.
Based at the Black Sage Bench Vineyard in southeast Oliver, the best part of James' job, besides being outdoors, is the winery's focus on innovation at every level and how interactive vineyard management is with winemaking and production. He is exposed to the full spectrum - deciding what to plant and where, growing the best quality grapes, and being part of the winemaking decision process. Because Mission Hill has five distinct vineyard holdings in the Okanagan Valley with a variety of soil, climates, and elevation, nothing is ever stagnant. The challenge, in fact, is for constant improvement in an ever-changing environment and ensuring that grape quality advances with each vintage.
One aspect of this is the winery's overall commitment to sustainability. Hopper is a major proponent of that and views sustainable farming as one that conserves energy, resources, and finances while delivering a positive impact on the fruit's quality. In Hopper's view, being a good steward of the land and propelling business forward is the perfect combination.
He is passionate about sailing and owns four boats in various states of repair. He met his wife while they were sailing on a tall ship circumnavigating Australia. For now, the Okanagan Valley's beautiful landscape is his sanctuary.
For the future, Hopper will continue to take calculated risks in the vineyards with an eye to continual quality improvement for the vineyards and the grapes.
EXECUTIVE WINERY CHEF
Chris Stewart joined Mission Hill Family Estate in 2012. As Executive Winery Chef, he oversees the winery's entire culinary program; including mentorship for the brigade at the Terrace Restaurant, hosting fine dining events, and designing the curriculum for Mission Hill's culinary education program.
Chef Stewart works hand in hand with local farmers and purveyors who grow organic produce and fruit specifically for the winery kitchens, all of which are complemented by herbs and vegetables from the winery's organic varietal gardens. He is committed to and believes in environmentally friendly sources of food and practices such as Ocean Wise Program™ to ensure the winery's seafood ingredients are not only the freshest, but are the best for the long-term sustainability of our communities.
Education is a significant element of the food and wine experience at Mission Hill. Chef Stewart enjoys demonstrating the affinities between food components and Mission Hill's Estate produced wines. Highly popular culinary classes are offered in the winery's Demonstration Kitchen throughout the fall, winter and spring.
Chris graduated from Holland College in Prince Edward Island, which is recognized as one of Canada's most esteemed cooking school. After performing stages at the Auberge du Pommier in Toronto, and Thomas Keller's French Laundry and Bouchon Bistro in California, Chris was Chef de Cuisine at the highly respected, Rimrock Resort Hotel's Five Diamond Eden Restaurant in Banff.
In 2009 he relocated to the United Kingdom to begin his tenure at The Fat Duck, complete with its three Michelin stars. Named 'Best Restaurant in the World' for two consecutive years, Heston Blumenthal's innovative pursuit of culinary perfection provided a fantastic experience for Chris, as Pastry Chef de Partie for Chocolate as well as Restaurant Chef de Partie. A highlight of his tenure at The Fat Duck was his selection as a member of the culinary team that cooked for Queen Elizabeth II at a private dinner at Windsor Castle.
DIRECTOR OF WINE EDUCATION
By his own admission, Ingo Grady has the best job in the Canadian wine business. As the Director of Wine Education for Mission Hill Family Estate, he has the enviable task of introducing premium wines to eager audiences both at the winery and at special events around the province. His passion for fine wine is evident in the way he shares his knowledge of and appreciation for particular vintages.
His current position as Director of Wine Education represents the second time he has worked with Anthony von Mandl, the proprietor of Mission Hill Family Estate. von Mandl first approached Grady in 1981, when Grady was a young restaurateur. Grady gained knowledge and experience during a three-year apprenticeship in von Mandl's fine wine import business. Subsequently he worked for other domestic and international wineries, culminating in a year at Napa's renowned Clos du Val. Returning to Canada in 1989, he founded Grady Wine Marketing, an agency that imported fine wines from around the globe. He has been a fixture on the BC wine scene ever since. One of the factors behind his success is his belief in relationship marketing: he values personal connections with his clients, many of whom have become friends over the years.
A desire to raise his young family in the Okanagan led Grady to contact von Mandl about the possibility of becoming part of the Mission Hill Family Estate team. Shortly thereafter, in October 1999, he assumed the role of Director of Wine Education. As a member of the senior management team, Grady plays a pivotal role in ensuring that guests have a memorable experience at the winery.
After spending over 25 years in the wine business, Grady remains passionate about his chosen career: he claims, in fact, that wine runs in his veins. This is not surprising, as he was raised near Germany's Moselle River. von Mandl himself apprenticed in the wine trade in this region. As a teenager Grady moved to Kelowna, the heart of BC's wine country, which further influenced his life path. He is a graduate of Simon Fraser University, and the proud father of three children.
Practices & Techniques
Sustainability is critical to that long-term success. As a family-owned winery with strict control over our operations, vineyards, and quality, we are able to infuse sustainability into a variety of stages both in the vineyards and at the winery.
We have taken several steps to keep that promise.
LONG-TERM VINEYARD VIEW
Viticulturists on Staff
In-depth Knowledge of Microclimates
Advanced Weather Station Network
Intense Vine Devotion
SUSTAINABILITY IN ACTION AT THE WINERY
Viticulturists on Staff