Bonamici is a partnership of two old friends (hence the name): consulting winemaker Philip Soo and veteran marketing executive Mario Rodi. Bonamici Cellars was created in 2012. Bonamici is an Italian word meaning "Good Friends"
They started as a virtual winery with a vineyard in the South Okanagan before (2018) finding a home in Okanagan Falls.
Mario, who was born in 1957 in northern Ontario, was just 12 when he started helping his immigrant Italian father crush grapes for the family’s wine. Philip was born in Vancouver in 1969, the son of immigrants from Hong Kong. “We had family celebrations but they never encouraged kids to drink,” Philip remembers. “I was 12 or 13 when my first sip of alcohol, Baby Duck, was at a Christmas party.”
That was more than enough to get Philip interested. After getting degrees in microbiology and food engineering, he was offered jobs at a pharmaceutical firm and a company that produced gourmet salads but, having been a good amateur beer maker while in college, he took a job with a manufacturer of beer kits “because it was in line with my hobby.”
Subsequently, Andrew Peller Ltd. bought this company along with a wine kit company. Philip was then promoted to Peller ’s winery in Port Moody in 2000. When the winery closed five years later, he moved to the Okanagan to become a consulting winemaker.
Philip was very successful his clients included Dirty Laundry Vineyard, Noble Ridge Vineyard & Winery, Gold Hill Winery, Adega on 45th Estate Winery and Cassini Cellars.
Mario spent about 20 years in food and soft drinks sales before joining Peller in 1995 as general manager of Wine Experts, as the kit company was called. He and Philip, who reported to him, became close friends. Mario left Peller in 2009. Deciding to stay in the wine business, he proposed Bonamici to Philip. “He is a great winemaker,” Mario says. “I focused on sales and marketing for my entire career. I thought this might be an opportunity for us to get together and build something great.”
Philip ’s experience as a consultant enables him to identify the vineyards and growers needed to make wines at Bonamici.
In 2014 their 2012 Merlot - Cabernet Franc won the Lieutenant Governor Award for Excellence in Wine. Marking the first time a virtuall winery has one this award.
Bonamici Belviaggio 2014 ($30.50). This is 60% Cabernet Franc, 30% Syrah and 10% Malbec, aged in oak for 15 months. Is an excellent wine.
John Schreiner - wine writer & columnist wrote This is the most charming new wine label from an Okanagan winery in some time. The charm triggered a spontaneous smile when I first saw it. And I kept smiling when I tasted the two wines.