Hester Creek has a 95-acre estate, of which 70 acres is planted. Hester Creek’s 70-acre vineyard on the South Okanagan’s “Golden Mile Bench” boasts some of the oldest vinifera vines in BC, dating back to 1968. The fact that these vines are still thriving today and producing fruit with great depth and character is a testimony to how well-suited this site is for super premium wine grape production. Hester Creek, from which the winery takes its name, forms the southern border of the vineyard.
Hester Creek’s vineyards are planted exclusively in premium vinifera varietals: Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc to name a few. The Hester Creek Vineyard also contains the largest single planting of Trebbiano in Canada. The vineyard is situated on an ancient alluvial fan. These fans were formed when soil moved down from the mountains to the valley and overlaid the glacial deposits that were left during de-glaciation more than 10,000 years ago. These soils are generally deep and well drained, allowing the vine roots to explore and utilize the total root zone. The soil is predominantly coarse-to-medium in texture, comprising of sandy loam and loam. As the name suggests, the alluvial fan is fan shaped, with the aprons around the edges having the lighter textured soils. Closer to the apex of the fan the soil changes - textures are heavier (with more loam content) and they contain more rocks as these were “dropped” first when the soil from the mountains moved down into the valley. The boundaries of the soil changes have been mapped, and the individual soil characteristics within these boundaries identified - these form the individual blocks within the vineyard. Grape varieties have then been chosen that are best suited to the soil characteristics present in that block.
The vineyard slopes gently to the east which is ideal in allowing the vines to receive the early morning sun, yet they are not exposed to the searing afternoon heat which can cause vine stress and cessation of photosynthesis. The hot days and cool nights, which are characteristic of the site, yield fruit flavours and balance which are generally not found in the warmer southern regions of the World. The gentle slope also assists in preventing damaging spring and fall frosts because the cold air drains off the benches and pools lower in the valley. The vineyard is located in arguably one of the warmest regions of Canada. Heat units exceed 1600 degree days per year which ensures the grapes achieve full physiological ripeness. Due to its northern latitude, the site receives more sunshine hours during the growing season than California. The site averages only 7 to 8 inches of rainfall annually and therefore supplemental irrigation is required. The lack of rainfall combined with the well-drained soils enable the vines’ growth (and therefore fruit quality) to be controlled via irrigation. The total vineyard is drip irrigated which uses approximately 40% less water than conventional overhead irrigation.
These components of soil, temperature, and rainfall are unique to the “Golden Mile Bench” and are key components of the specific terroir in which our grapes of grown. This is what makes the wines of Hester Creek unique - our “sense of place”, our character.
This stretch of the South Okanagan Valley just north of the Canada/USA border is the northern reach of the Great Basin Desert.