Once you visit a couple of Anthony von Mandl’s half dozen wineries, your expectations rise quickly in anticipation of the next. His portfolio includes Flagship Mission Hill Family Estate, Checkmate Artisanal Winery (producer of Canada’s first 100-pt wine) and the ultra-premium Martin’s Lane. Right next door to the latter is CedarCreek Estate Winery, one of the Okanagan Valley’s ‘original 8’, and an excellent stop in its own right for any wine enthusiast.
In 2014, von Mandl purchased CedarCreek from fellow Canadian and founder, Senator Ross Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick established the winery in 1987 on a 50-acre property in Kelowna just across Okanagan Lake from von Mandl’s Mission Hill.
While it doesn’t get as much critical acclaim as some of its sister wineries, it has been named ‘Canadian Winery of the Year’ twice and is a favourite amongst local and international visitors alike. Our host Alex told us that one of the biggest priorities at CedarCreek is the guest experience which was evident the moment we arrived.
The buildings onsite consist of the winery production facility, their farm-to-table restaurant, the tasting room, and the exclusive wine club member only area. Each building is designed to represent the modern farmhouse and has been constructed with fieldstones and century old, reclaimed barn wood. The architects clearly understood their assignment and the result is a striking blend of old and new that wisely ensures the stunning view is the primary point of focus.
‘Home Block’ is the name of the estate vineyard and also the name bestowed to the winery restaurant. Here the food is proudly local, entirely seasonal, and the dishes are intentionally created to pair with their wines. The dining room is large and modern with a long wraparound bar, an open kitchen, and a private dining room separated by a wall of wine. The sizeable deck extends seamlessly from the main room, and we suspect is easily filled on a beautiful day.
We did a walkthrough as the culinary team was preparing for the dinner seating and our only disappointment (particularly based on the smells emanating from the kitchen) is that we weren’t able to stay and enjoy a meal—we’ll definitely remedy that on our next trip to the region.
Like the restaurant, the tasting room is large, open, and very welcoming. Floor-to-ceiling windows, comfortable seating that ranges from couches to small tables, and not one but two outdoor courtyards complete with firepit, await. We highly recommend making CedarCreek the last stop of the day so you can stay and enjoy the relaxed setting for as long as possible.
The tasting experience is both professional and informal. As we have found with all von Mandl’s wineries, the staff are very well-trained, finding the perfect balance of providing educational information on the wines in a personable way, without the need of intimidating visitors (a complaint we hear all too often about other wineries from less experienced wine lovers).
At CedarCreek, depending on your level of interest, you can opt for a standard wine tasting of the winemaker’s daily choices or do the tasting with a guided tour. We highly recommend the tour as the architectural design alone is enough to warrant a closer look. Wine Club members (Aspect Club) benefit from both a more individual and more elevated experience that includes private seated tastings paired with food.
We were guided through a tasting that sampled wines from each of their three collections (see tasting notes below). Their Estate Collection is exactly that—wines made solely from their estate vineyards.
The Platinum Collection is focused on wines made from single vineyard sites that express a particularly unique terroir. The last tier is the Aspect Collection, named after one of the key components that make CedarCreek’s vineyard’s distinct, and the winery’s highest quality offering produced.
What we discovered with CedarCreek’s offerings were very enjoyable, approachable wines that were well priced and particularly good value for the level of quality. The consistency of the wines produced is a credit to winemaker Taylor Whelan who has been with CedarCreek for more than a decade.
Adjacent to the tasting room is the Aspect House. This facility is for exclusive use by club members to enjoy for private tastings or special events. The 2-level building has a variety of rooms ranging from conference size to small and intimate, any of which can be booked through the dedicated concierge.
Across the driveway tucked a little lower into the hillside sits the Pavilion, also available exclusively for club members.
Complete with an unobstructed view of Okanagan Lake, even on the damp and cloudy day we visited, it barely took a moment to visualize what a truly perfect setting it would make for a wedding or other special celebration. If you happen to be visiting the winery in the summer, it’s also where their ‘Summer Concert Nights’ series is hosted, no doubt one of the best venues to experience live music anywhere in the province.
Over the span of its 35-year existence, CedarCreek has managed to continually raise the bar with both its wines and its visitor experience without alienating the locals who are at the very core of their loyal patrons. Their focus on quality, consistency, and value combined with a first-rate experience, will ensure continued success for many years to come.
2021 Cedar Creek Pinot Gris
Done more in the Alsatian style than the Italian style of Pint Gris, this medium bodied wine has admirable texture beneath the layer of apple and peach fruit notes. The nose shows hints of flowers and the finish is long and mineral infused. Very refreshing.
Very Good+ ($24 at the winery)
2020 Cedar Creek Chardonnay
Medium– body, showing a lithe and refreshing profile of apple, mineral notes and hints of almond. In sync with the current trend toward lighter and less barrel-focused Chardonnay, this refreshes the palate and would be a good partner to a plate of appetizers or a light seafood dish. Citrus notes show their presence on the finish, which is nicely punctuated with acidity.
Very Good+ ($24 at the winery)
2021 Cedar Creek Border Vista Sauvignon Blanc
One of the winery’s platinum series wines, this wine was dominated by grapefruit notes, very characteristic of the variety. Citrus flavours join in as well creating a slight tartness to the profile. Serve cold on a hot deck, this wine is focused on freshness.
Very Good ($35 at the winery)
2020 Cedar Creek Pinot Noir Simes Vineyard (Natural)
Here the winemaker has decided to make a “natural” wine (in quotes as there really is not a set of generally accepted criteria that distinguishes a natural wine from one that is not) as an experiment with the concept. This is accomplished through “no additions, no yeasts, no preservatives and no oak”. The result is for the most part a success, in our view. Slightly feral in character but showing varietal character and a nice dark charry fruit profile. None of the funky or weird flavours found in many natural wines, this had good depth and was a pleasure to drink.
Very Good+ ($60 at the winery)
2020 Cedar Creek Pinot Noir Simes Vineyard
Stablemate to the above Pinot, this wine was made in their regular process. We found more similarities than differences between the two, which we think is a kudo to the natural bottle. Again, a good depth of cherry fruit, but this regular version comes across as slightly more polished. Medium+ tannin, medium body and a slight earth component.
Very Good+ ($60 at the winery)
Kelowna, British Columbia
Canada, V1W 4S5
Sunday – Wednesday: 11am – 6pm
Thursday – Saturday: 11am – 7pm