The FarmGate Wineries

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In 1989 Hillside Cellars , together with Lang Vineyards and Wild Goose, lobbied the Provincial Government to bring about the Farmgate Winery Policy that was instrumental in changing the B.C. Wine Industry. The new policy allowed small vineyards of five acres or less to not only produce wine but also to sell it directly from their premises. The MLA at that time was  Cliff Serwa. He represented Okanagan South from 1986 to 1991 and Okanagan West from 1991 to 1996. He was also co-founder of Big White Ski Resort in the early 1960’s. He supported the wineries and introduced legislation to establish Farmgate Wineries. the legislation passed allowing the farm wineries to produce and sell their wines on site.  Premier Bill Vander Zalm was, also, a key figure as he was open to and supportive of the idea of the farmgate wineries and he made it happen.

Klokocka, Bohumir (1935-1995) and Vera (1942-):
The founders of Hillside Cellars, the Klokockas both worked for the Czech state airline (he as a mechanic, she as a ticket clerk) until they defected in 1968, coming to Canada that fall after several months as refugees in Austria. Skiing enthusiasts, they moved to the Okanagan to work at the Big White resort near Kelowna. Bohumir ultimately resumed his trade as a sheet metal worker in the Western Star truck plant in Kelowna. In 1979 they purchased an orchard on Naramata Road and after converting it to grapes in 1984, Vera Klokocka taught herself to become a winemaker. After she had become a skilled amateur vintner, she emerged as a leader of the band of farm winemakers that successfully pressed the provincial government in 1989 to create the farmgate winery license for ambitious producers with vineyards too small for the estate winery category. (Others included Adolf Kruger and Gunther Lang.)

As one of very few female winemakers in the Okanagan, at the time,Vera was incredibly influential and highly respected for producing exceptional wines.  She and her husband Bohumir were instrumental to the wine industry in the Okanagan as the original owners, operators, and creators of Hillside Estate. Hillside’s signature white wine, the Muscat Ottonel, was a variety planted here in the mid-1980s. One of Hillside’s best reds, the Old Vine Gamay, is from vines planted in 1984.

Vera sold the winery in 1996

Below is from Wine Country Magazine Premier 1993 Edition

 

 

In late 1989, the ‘Farm Gate Winery’ license was created permitting smaller growers to start their own operations. Lang Vineyards was the first in B.C. to receive such a license, opening in the spring of 1990. One of the winery’s very first releases was the 1989 Marechal Foch, which proved as popular then as it is today, winning a gold medal at the Atlanta International Wine Festival

Lang Vineyards was founded by German entrepreneur Guenther Lang in 1990 and became known as the first "Farm Gate" Winery in all of BC. It began it's humble beginning by selling out of the garage from Guenther & his wife Kristina's home. After a few years an actual warehouse and wine-shop was built on the property and Langs slowly grew from there.  Langs slowly gained popularity in the wine community for it's high quality and reasonably priced wines over the years. The main wines that they became known for were their Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Marechal Foch, Riesling Ice-Wine & a very unique Maple Wine.

Guenthertook the opportunity to attend a visit of the Premier Vander Zalm at the time. He came to Penticton for a business breakfast at the Penticton Lakeside Resort. At the end of the meeting business people could get up and talk to the Premier, that's when Guenther approached the Premier about Farm Wineries in BC with a request for his help in the matter. Guenther left him a bottle of his amateur wine as well. Mr. VanderZalm agreed to the idea and promised he would help to get this new concept approved.

In 2005 Guenther Lang sold the winery to Holman Farms which at the time had about 6 other wineries also. Holman Farms unfortunately dissolved in 2010 and a new owner took over Langs at that time. The new owner immediately approached Guenther Lang the original owner in hopes of bringing him back as a consultant. Guenther agreed and is now working to bring back Langs image and reputation to it's original fine form. Guenther was renown for his Riesling and Marechal Foch wines.

In 1983 Adolf Kruger purchased 10 acres on a stony slope in Okanagan Fall. He planted 5 acres each of Riesling and Gewürztraminer, becoming one of the first growers of such classic varieties in the Okanagan. He travelled from his job in Calgary to the Okanagan for a year before finding work in Pendicton. Adolf first planted Riesling and Gewurztraminer; he quickly secured a contract to sell the grapes to Mission Hill Winery. He opened the winery Wild Goose in 1990.

Vera Klokockas

The Pioneers

Resources

Nancy Klokockas
Vera Klokockas
Guenther Lang
John Schreiner
winesofcanada.com
Wild Goose Winery
Lange Winery
BC Wine Institute

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