Food & Wine Photo Credit: Fort Berens

The Best Way to Start a New Winery

Start small, dream big and go easy on the price tag.

I get stressed out just thinking about starting a winery.

The land is expensive (especially here in B.C.), the equipment is expensive, you have to wait years after your investment before you see dollar one. And on top of it all, at heart you’re a farmer like someone with three quarter sections near Estevan, SK—subject to the often painful whims of Mother Nature. So why does it irk me so to see so many new wineries starting out of the gate pricing the wines at or above those wineries who’ve been doing this for decades and have a track record for excellence?

Seriously, Stoneboat’s revelatory Pinot Gris is $19 and you’re going to charge $25 Johnny-Come-Lately?

All of which makes me love Fort Berens even more. Not only did they have all the above listed hardships, but on top of it they’ve established themselves in an entirely new growing region near Lillooet, two hours north of Whistler. They have a few vintages under their belt and the wines they make are good: a light, well balanced Riesling, a Cabernet Franc with surprising heft, a slightly retro oaky Chardonnay. One thing they have in common? Easy on the wallet. Their Riesling is $17, ditto their Pinot Gris and the only way you can spend more than $30 on any of their bottles is by buying two of them. And all this when they have a beautiful new building to pay off.

I feel the pain of a new venture, but when that new venture feels the pain of the average consumer, that’s when you make a fan for life.

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