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iNwine Delicious Adventures: Lillooet

Rolf de Bruin & Heleen Pannekoek in the vineyard.
Rolf de Bruin & Heleen Pannekoek in the vineyard.

Road trip! Go explore the province’s many wine regions this summer.

Did you know that the BC wine country extends north into the Squamish-Lillooet mountain region? The town of Lillooet is located on the Fraser River two hours southwest of Kamloops and is offering a whole new world for winemakers like Fort Berens Winery.

Excellent growing conditions and a stunning mountain scape is what first drew winery owners Heleen Pannekoek and Rolf de Bruin from their homeland in the Netherlands in 2005. They researched and discovered that the climate and soil conditions in Lillooet are similar to those of the South Okanagan: retreating glaciers have left gravelly soil with a thin loamy, sandy cap, which results in excellent drainage and great conditions for vines.

They are pioneers in this new world wine region, but there are more to come. Another new winery in the area will be opening this summer.

Fort Berens Winery.
Fort Berens Winery.

The road trip to visit the winery is beyond stunning and the wee town as a lot of history to offer. During the Gold Rush days in the 1860s, Lillooet was the largest North American centre west of Chicago and north of San Francisco. Prospectors struck gold in Lillooet in the 1830s and they tried to keep it a secret, but word got out. Gold fever set in, and 10-15,000 people travelled by boat through Victoria and onward to Lillooet.

A much quieter town now, its newest claim to fame is the Fort Berens Winery, the only winery in the area. Set against a dramatic mountainscape, the spectacular glass walled winery is a frequent venue for events, and the outdoor patio is home to a seasonal restaurant.

If you are coming from Vancouver, it is a stunning three hour journey through Whistler and beautiful Pemberton and then down the Duffy Lake Road (plan to pull over and have a picnic by the lake).

From the Okanagan, you will travel either through the Shuswap and Kamloops where you can pencil in a couple more winery visits in those growing wine areas. An overnighter is a good idea.
Go visit!

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