As you approach the Tranquille Winery the sound of children playing in the Cooney Bay Park breaks the stillness of a hot summer afternoon. Against the entrancing backdrop of Mara Mountain, the shadow of the Tranquille Winery bell tower with its massive bells invites visitors into the coolness of the tasting room. A place where the richness of Tranquille’s natural landscape is expressed through its wines. Enjoy a chilled Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc with your friends from the winery’s rooftop patio as you revel in the breathtaking views that surround you in all directions and realize the wine you are drinking was made from grapes harvested from the vineyards beneath you. Does this sound appealing?
Did you know the oldest remnants of a winery were found in Armenia? The wine press, fermentation vats, jars, and cups were dated 4100 BC. Evidence of the importance of wine in ancient societies has been found around the world. Its presence at Tranquille will simply be another thread in this tapestry.
Wine grapes were introduced to BC in 1859 by the Oblate Mission situated not far from where Summerhill Wines is located today. The wine industry in BC grew very slowly over the next 131 years until a provincial government initiative in 1990 resulted in approximately 2/3 of BC’s vineyards being ripped up and replanted with high quality, proven rootstock more suited to our climate and soils. This initiative led to the introduction of BC VQA (BC Vintners Quality Alliance) wine. As the saying goes, the rest is history. BC wines have won and continue to win international recognition for their excellence.
The Wine Grape Project in 2004 was a research project initiated to determine if wine grapes could be grown north of the Okanogan Valley in the Lillooet/Lytton region of BC. The results of this project laid the groundwork for the introduction of varietals which would thrive in the harsher growing conditions of the interior. Based on the findings of this study and others, four wineries opened in the Kamloops region with a combined acreage of 125 acres between 2012 and 2015. Since inception these operations combined have captured 43 awards for their wine quality and encouraged by their success, more vineyards have been established.
The unexpected discovery of 200 wild grape vines thriving on the Tranquille Farm in 2008 gave birth to the notion that wine grapes could be farmed at Tranquille. Adding to this narrative was a local legend that recounted the visit of a famous BC vintner to the site years before who had declared the northwest corner of the property with its stony soil structure as being the perfect spot to establish a vineyard. In 2019 we invited one of BC’s foremost wine grape experts to visit Tranquille and advise on the potential for growing wine grapes on the site. After examining climate data, soils, site aspect, and air drainage patterns among other things, we were advised that Tranquille had great potential to grow varietals suited to the conditions of the site. And the physical starting point for this was identified as the northwest corner of the property – just as the legend had said.
Further work on the Tranquille Farm Plan will distill the vineyard and Tranquille Winery vision into a cohesive yet complimentary farm wide management plan that includes orchards, market gardens, flower gardens, pasture lands, and the Tranquille Farm Market. Our farm planning team will flesh out the myriad details modern farmers must contend with as they research farm assets, identify sustainable cropping options, and determine market demand for farm product. As vision becomes reality remember, you and your family could one day soon call this place – HOME.