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Fort Berens Estate Winery

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Rolf de Bruin
 
March 30, 2015 | Rolf de Bruin

100% Lillooet at Fort Berens Estate Winery

March 30, 2015

For immediate release

LILLOOET, BC – This week, Fort Berens Estate Winery in Lillooet is releasing their 2015 spring line-up which includes their 2014 Pinot Gris, 2014 Riesling, 2014 Pinot Noir Rosé, 2014 23 Camels White and 2013 White Gold. Rolf de Bruin, founder and one of the owners of Fort Berens explained, “We are thrilled to announce that for the first time in our history, every single wine in our spring release is 100% Lillooet: 100% estate-grown, 100% produced on our own onsite facility and 100% bottled in Lillooet.”

Rolf continued, “These five new releases join our other 100% estate-grown whites, including our 2013 Chardonnay and our 2013 Late Harvest Riesling. These will be followed later this spring with the release of our 2014 Chardonnay and 2014 Late Harvest Riesling, which are also 100% Lillooet. We can’t even begin to express how much pride we feel now that our entire white wine list is 100% Lillooet.”

To commemorate this new milestone, Fort Berens will be running a 100% Lillooet contest from April 17th through to May 31st. Rolf explained, “When we realized that all of our white wines would be 100% Lillooet, we decided this milestone deserved to be celebrated! We will be giving away an exclusive Fort Berens prize package valued at over $1000 plus weekly prizes throughout the 6-week contest. The grand prize includes a one-year membership in our Discovery Club Wine Club and a private multi-course, wine-paired dinner for four people in our wine cellar with our winemaker. In addition, we’ll be doing a random draw each Friday for a Fort Berens prize package.” For your chance to win, enter the contest at FortBerens.ca or on the Fort Berens Facebook page between April 17th and May 31st.

As Lillooet’s first winery, in the heart of this emerging wine region, it’s important to the team at Fort Berens that they focus on producing wines that showcase Lillooet. Heleen Pannekoek, co-founder and co-owner of Fort Berens continued, ”Last year we won the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in British Columbia Wines for our 2012 Riesling. Winning this prestigious award for a wine made with 100% estate-grown grapes really proved that not only could we grow grapes in Lillooet, but that we could grow premium-quality grapes here. Now that we have our new winery built, a maturing vineyard, and our full vineyard and winemaking team in place, our focus has turned to truly understanding what we can produce with grapes grown in Lillooet. Our intention is to keep improving the quality of our wines and continuing to express the distinct flavours of Lillooet.”

Heleen summarized, “Releasing our new vintages and showcasing 100% Lillooet is a major milestone for our team.  In addition to that, we are absolutely thrilled with how our new releases are tasting. Our vineyard is in great shape going into the key growing period and we have exciting plans coming up for the upcoming season.”

While 2014 may have been a major milestone year for the team at Fort Berens Estate Winery, all indicators point to another banner year in 2015.

Fort Berens Estate Winery is a culmination of the dreams, vision and pioneering spirit of several entrepreneurs – Heleen Pannekoek, Rolf de Bruin, Hugh Agro, Sean Harvey, Jason Neal, John McConnell, Dan Barnholden and Patrick Downey. The eight owners of Fort Berens share a common belief in the incredible winemaking potential of the area and a shared vision to make Fort Berens into one of Canada’s leading producers of fine wine. With its vineyards on sagebrush-covered benchland along the Fraser River at the base of towering mountains, Fort Berens embraces the spirit of Lillooet. Alpine breezes, lingering summer sunlight and moderate winters provide a unique terroir ideal for growing premium grapes. Discover Fort Berens Estate Winery, Lillooet’s first winery, in BC’s newest wine region and explore 150 years of pioneering spirit. For more information, call 1.877.956.7768, visit www.FortBerens.ca, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

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High resolution images and technical data sheets are available at http://www.fortberens.ca/About/Trade--Media.

For further information, please contact:

Kim Lawton
DogLeg Marketing & Business Solutions
250.488.0878
klawton@DogLegMarketing.ca

Time Posted: Mar 30, 2015 at 4:15 PM
Rolf de Bruin
 
July 30, 2014 | Rolf de Bruin

PRESS RELEASE: Fort Berens Receives Prestigious Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in BC Wines!

July 30, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

LILLOOET, BC.  Saturday marked a momentous day for Lillooet’s Fort Berens Estate Winery. The dry, hot sun shone brightly in Lillooet as Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon presented Fort Berens the prestigious 2014 Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in British Columbia Wines for their 2012 Estate Riesling.

In addition to the Lieutenant Governor, there were close to 40 members of the Vancouver Consul Corps, local dignitaries including Mark Strahl, Member of Parliament for Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon, Jacquie Rasmussen, Electoral Area B Alternate Director, Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, Lillooet Mayor and Councillors Dennis Bontron, Marg Lampman and Wendy Parker, media, staff and local residents in attendance at the awards presentation.

The Fort Berens team and a crowd of steadfast supporters all choked back feelings of pride and gratitude as Her Honour presented the award. Rolf de Bruin and Heleen Pannekoek, founders of Fort Berens, accepted the award on behalf of the entire team. Rolf first expressed his heartfelt appreciation for this recognition. “One hundred and fifty years ago, early pioneers came to Lillooet to realize their dreams, and with this award, today we realize one of our own dreams. As we look into the future, we see a landscape with the potential to help achieve many more dreams.”

Heleen continued, “Today we are celebrating a Riesling made exclusively with grapes grown in Lillooet. A Riesling deemed to be among the best wines in British Columbia. The viability of grapes in Lillooet was a key milestone, and this marks a new milestone that proves grapes from Lillooet can be of exceptional quality. We are thrilled to be a part of this growing wine region and we are excited to explore all that this region will produce in the coming years.”

The awards ceremony took place outside on the deck of the gorgeous, new winery that opened up earlier this month. Talk about a special way to commemorate the opening! “We have come a long way, and today’s milestone is another important marker on our journey that still has many exciting times to come,” Heleen explained. At the end of the day, Rolf, Heleen and the team raised a glass to celebrate this milestone. It was a very special day where special memories were created for the Fort Berens team.

Fort Berens Estate Winery is the first winery in Lillooet, BC. It is located on a sage-brush covered bench at the base of the Fraser Canyon’s snow-capped mountains. For more information, call 1.877.956.7768, visit www.FortBerens.ca, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

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For further information, please contact:

Kim Lawton

DogLeg Marketing & Business Solutions

250.488.0878

klawton@DogLegMarketing.ca

Time Posted: Jul 30, 2014 at 9:05 AM
Rolf de Bruin
 
October 25, 2013 | Rolf de Bruin

PRESS RELEASE: Groundbreaking at Fort Berens Estate Winery

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 22, 2013

Reaching a New Milestone!

A groundbreaking event at Fort Berens Estate Winery

LILLOOET, BC.  The Fort Berens Winery team furthered their plans to pioneer a new frontier by officially breaking ground for the building of the first winery in Lillooet. Rolf de Bruin, founder and one of the owners of Fort Berens, recalls the early days in 2009 when they first decided to plant vines on the property. “We hoped that day marked the first in a series of milestones for Fort Berens and Lillooet. We are pleased to be here together today to mark another major milestone.”

Rolf continued, “We are excited to break ground on this new building. It’s been a 3-year process. We needed to first prove the viability of the grape-growing from our vineyard, assemble our ownership team, get our financial and strategic plans in place, and consult with experts in the industry. The design of the building went through a number of iterations over the 3-year process. We talked to experts in this field to help us design the layout and to maximize space and efficiency.”

The new 9,500 square foot building will include a 1,100 square foot tasting room, overlooking the vineyards with a gorgeous view of the mountains in the background. It has been designed to allow visitors to watch the winemaking process and see the internal workings of the winery through the windows as they approach the tasting room. It will also feature a gravity fed fermentation room, barrel chambers, crush pad, wine bar and bistro.

Rolf’s wife and winery co-founder Heleen Pannekoek continued, “Each year, we have seen increased demand for our wine. We produced 4,000 cases in 2012, we estimate 5,000 cases this year and we are planning for 6,000 cases in 2014. Once the new building opens, we will have capability to fully process up to 12,000 cases onsite. This additional capacity will allow for our own future growth in coming years. We also very purposefully built in extra capacity to help facilitate the custom crushing of grapes from other growers in our area. We are very committed to working with others in Lillooet and facilitating more grape and wine production in this area.”

The new winery takes the committed investment into Fort Berens to $7.5 million. It was designed by collaborating architects David Agro from Toronto and Richard Newell from Vancouver and is being built by Okanagan-based Greyback Construction.

Like the importance of understanding the unique terroir in determining which grape varietals to plant, the architects leveraged locally sourced materials to reflect the local terroir. Agro explained, “We are using concrete manufactured in Lillooet and rough-cut Douglas Fir milled across the road from the new winery as primary structural materials.  This combination of elemental materials and a spectacular view of Lillooet will provide a functional, warm and welcoming atmosphere in the tasting room. The concrete lower floor of the building will be sunk into the ground to help mitigate swings in temperature and humidity in the barrel rooms.  The use of materials, the orientation of the building, and an overhanging roof will help make the building as efficient as possible and help manage ongoing energy costs.”

On hand at the milestone groundbreaking event were Fort Berens’ Toronto and Vancouver based co-owners, Hugh Agro, Sean Harvey and John McConnell. Hugh Agro, a pioneer spirit himself with a background in mining and exploration, first started visiting Lillooet in 1993 and immediately took a shine to the area.

In 2010, Hugh joined Rolf and Heleen and shortly after brought on fellow mining colleagues Sean Harvey, John McConnell and Jason Neal to round out the ownership team. “We believe in the long term prospects for agricultural land in British Columbia and we think that there is a bright future growing grapes and making quality wines in the Fraser Canyon”, said Agro.  We’re committed to building a viable business of which the community of Lillooet, our peers in the British Columbia wine industry and we as owners can be proud”, he added. 

Wine industry expert Harry McWatters has been a consultant to the Fort Berens team since the beginning. The thing that has inspired Harry the most about the growth of the winery is the way the local Lillooet community has embraced Fort Berens. “People in the community talk about this being ‘Lillooet’s winery’”, he said. “The way the land is situated in the valley, about 80% of Lillooet’s residents can see the vineyard, so the community is very supportive and interested in this project. It’s that very support that will help Fort Berens continue to make milestone moves like this for their community.”

Christ’l Roshard, former Mayor of Lillooet, was also on hand for the groundbreaking event. She has been championing Lillooet as a viable grape growing region for many years and is thrilled to see the evolution and growth of Fort Berens. She proclaimed, “It’s been a long time since we have had this kind of private capital investment in Lillooet. This investment will help provide sustainable employment for our region and provide a big boost to Lillooet’s growing wine and agri-tourism industry.”

Rolf, who wrapped up the ceremony with a tour of the site, laid out the timeline for the building plans, targeting a goal of the summer of 2014 to open the new tasting room. 

Fort Berens Estate Winery is the first winery in Lillooet, BC. It is located on a sage-brush covered bench at the base of the Fraser Canyon’s snow-capped mountains. For more information, call 1.877.956.7768, visit www.FortBerens.ca, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Time Posted: Oct 25, 2013 at 10:05 PM