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A tribute to the grape farmers behind the Riesling

2016 Den's Block Riesling
2016 Den's Block Riesling

Tantalus Vineyards is one of B.C.’s most iconic wineries and has become a benchmark for Riesling and winemaking excellence.

Behind those award-winning labels is the winemaker, also the GM at Tantalus, the celebrated David Paterson. And behind him is the vineyard. Tantalus is paying tribute to the man behind the vines and the vineyard’s original owner, Den Dulik, who has recently passed away. In his honour, they have released a beautiful 2016 vintage christened Den’s Block Riesling.

“Our Den’s Block Riesling is a special wine for our entire team, and made to honour our dear friend and B.C. wine industry pioneer, Daniel Martin Dulik - affectionately known to his friends and peers as Den. After Den’s passing in 2016, we knew we needed to make a wine to celebrate his contribution - not only to Tantalus, but to our industry as a whole. Having owned and operated Pioneer Vineyards in South East Kelowna for several decades (where Tantalus now sits), Den established some of the earliest vinifera in Canada, planting Riesling sourced from the Weis family of Mosel's St. Urban-Hofs winery back in 1978. He then went on to plant parcels of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier in the mid-80’s, bucking the trend towards hybrids and experimenting with riskier, noble varieties at the time.”

Pat Dulik toasts Den and their special Riesling
Pat Dulik toasts Den and their special Riesling

This is a beautiful tribute to a deserving pioneer in our wine industry, and I would like to share the spotlight with another person who contributed her blood, sweat and tears into this vineyard as well.

Pat Dulik, Den’s beloved wife, helped build that vineyard literally from the ground up. In 1978 she helped plant the entire vineyard. On her knees planting all day and then coming in to make meals for her family and taking care of the general house chores. If you know Pat, you know of her unbelievable energy.

Pat jokes that she could work twice as fast as any vineyard worker hired, so they decided that she would just tie the grapes herself. That is 45 acres, she methodically worked her way through each vine. She held this job for five years and I’ll bet her loving touch is what helped make these Riesling vines some of the best to ever grow in our Okanagan soil.

Pat also has an entrepreneurial spirit and started her own company called The Old Walnut Candy Company in 2001. Using walnuts from her old tree in the backyard, she created delicious chocolates and other delicious treats that were for sale at many wineries. She had to leave that behind to take care of Den when he became ill. With all of the hard work, Den’s illness, and before that, let’s say Den’s sense of adventure, she did with a smile and a laugh. She is grace under fire.

Pat has been taking a bottle of this special Riesling around to all of their friends and family to raise a glass to her dearly departed husband.

Cheers to Den, and to the unstoppable, Pat Dulik!

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