A visit to the Monte Creek Ranch winery in central British Columbia’s sunny South Thompson Valley takes you deep into a fertile green region anchored by the Thompson River which runs wild and cold.
High above sits Lions Head mountain that some believe guards the valley and its citizens. For friendly travellers however, the Lion poses no threat; the Thompson Valley welcomes visitors with old fashioned warm hospitality and the winery is no exception.
The Monte Creek Ranch winery is located high above the Thompson river on its south side across from the Lions Head bluff and was built to resemble a late 19th century cow town.
The winery is situated on century old ranch grounds which is deep in cowboy country and, in case you were in any doubt, a large wooden arch featuring a metal silhouette of three cowboys on horseback above the Monte Creek Ranch sign welcomes you as you enter the winery off Highway 1.
Campanile for gathering
The winery, which includes a tasting room with terrace dining, is barn shaped, reflecting the site’s rural and utilitarian past. Imagine horse stalls, gathering spaces for farm folk, andstorage for the harvest and you’ve got a pretty good idea of the architectural touchstones of the space.
In one corner of the main winery building stands a modern take on a Campanile or bell tower – perhaps a nod to the famous Campanile of St Mark’s Square in Venice?
While the inspiration for the property is rooted in the past, the primary building materials are weathered zinc, concrete, glass, and steel, putting this example of “barn architecture” firmly in the modern era.
Monte Creek Ranch winery has two vineyards which can be viewed from their tasting room inside of which, a large aluminum chandelier, inspired by swirling lassos, incorporates the design theme of the ranch into the interiors.
Twenty acres of the 300-acre Lions Head vineyard, on the north side of the Thompson River, are planted with varieties of Riesling, Frontenac Gris, Frontenac Blanc, Chardonnay and Marquette. Lion’s Head buff faces the rear of the property above the vineyard and reflects heat onto the grapes, making for some lovely grapes and some excellent wines.
The winery itself is located on a 900-acre ranch property, with 55 acres planted with grapes, plus land dedicated to haskap berries, beehives, grass fed cattle, and hay. Wander this vineyard and you will discover varieties such as Marquette, Foch, Pinot, Noir, Riesling, Chardonnay, and La Crescent.
The Monte Creek ranch winery opened to the public in 2015 and their winemaking philosophy is all about the fruit, using subtle oak in reds, and allowing natural acidity in the whites.
Al fresco patio dining
After my wine tasting, I reserved a table at the Terrace restaurant for a light lunch. The menu offers up soups and salads, sharable local meat and cheese boards, and a variety of mains, including turkey club panini, tuna poke, and steak salad.
If you wish to dine in a less formal setting, there is the option of sitting at outdoor picnic tables under the big trees or laying out your picnic blanket on the grassy areas around the winery; some people sat with their dogs, enjoying the food, the wine, and presumably, their four-legged company.
At Monte Creek Ranch winery, the delightful fruit flavoured wines speak for themselves but the setting provides the perfect backdrop against which to enjoy them.
The quality of the wine shines through with every sip and the location, nestled in the beautiful Thompson Valley just east of Kamloops is hard to beat.
For discriminating travellers, it’s well worth a visit; just don’t disturb the Lions Head!