After spending time wine regions around the world and loving wine, it was ultimately the family aspect of the wine industry that drew John Skinner to it. It was seeing the enduring generational family businesses in France in particular that sparked the idea. He is passionate about building a legacy for himself and his family. Since the release of its first wine in the fall of 2009, Painted Rock Estate Winery Ltd. has been raking in accolades and awards.
Painted Rock Estate Winery, envisioned as a family
legacy by Proprietors John and Trish Skinner, began
in 2004 with the purchase of a 56-acre bench in
Canada’s Okanagan Valley. They chose to plant and
build their winery on a unique west sloping bench in
Penticton, British Columbia because it offered the
perfect combination of elements to realize their
vision for an ultra-premium Okanagan winery, worthy
of the international stage. The estate is dedicated to
producing terroir expressive wines from their single
vineyard estate and is known for their bold single
varietal reds and flagship blend Red Icon.
The Son of a Canadian Forces fighter pilot John spent the majority of his youth in Comox BC moving to Vancouver in 1979 to attend SFU. In 1983 John embarked on a successful career in Vancouver's brokerage in industry, retiring from Yorkton Securities in 1998 and later Canaccord Capital in 2009.
John was a stockbroker in Vancouver for more than 25 years, during which time he became an avid wine enthusiast. John and his wife Trish dreamed of having their own vineyard after spending time visiting wineries in the South of France with their family. After watching the Okanaganís emerging wine industry, in 2001 John decided to explore entering the industry and set out to find a winery or property to purchase. The more he looked the more he learned about the valley and the unique opportunities and challenges each property offered. He quickly resolved that if he could not find a property with the potential to make world-class wines, he would move on. After three years of searching he was introduced to the renowned 56 acre "BlackHawk" property on Skaha Lake in Penticton. Once the largest apricot orchard in the British Commonwealth, the estate had lain fallow for seventeen years. It was immediately clear that this was a raw prospect with unlimited potential with the right mandate. From soil type to aspect to heat units to site influences this property was a jewel that would require patience, expertise and capital to bring it to deliver on itís promise.
John and his team spent 2004 preparing and analyzing the site and devising a planting strategy which was implemented in 2005. Renamed for the 500 year old pictographs bordering the property the Painted Rock property was immediately validated for its potential with its first vintage winning two coveted BC Lieutenant Governors Awards. John Skinner was named entrepreneur of the year in 2013 by Ernst and Young. Painted Rock has gone on to win numerous awards for the their wines as well as InterVin International Wine Awards Winery of the Year twice in both 2014/2015 and 2018/2019. Their flagship Red Icon was most recently named Decanterís Canadian Wine of the Year 2020.
John has passionately remained involved in every aspect of the winery since itís first release in late 2009. He was the sole representative, introducing the wines personally to restaurateurs, sommeliers and retailers in the Lower Mainland while continually travelling to the Okanagan to meet with the vineyard and winery teams.
In 2016, John and Trish moved full time to Penticton where John spends his summers touring guests and through the property and offering tastings to his Wine Club Members. John has always seen the potential in not just Painted Rock, but the entire BC wine industry. He has passionately advocated for small businesses to local, provincial and federal government on a range of issues most notably including truth in labelling and interprovincial trade barriers. John has worked tirelessly over the past 10 years to help build the international profile and brand awareness of Canadian wines through attending international trade events such as Canada Calling at Londonís Canada House and ProWein in Dusseldorf, Germany. He was a founding member of The Okanagan Wine Initiative, a group of wineries who aim to bring international attention to the wines of the Okanagan Valley. Most recently, OWI arranged for Steven Spurrier (Decanter) and Dave McIntyre (Washington Post) to visit the Okanagan Valley and in collaboration with the Okanagan College put on a townhall event for the industry to attend. Currently, John is working alongside UBC and local and provincial government to develop a BC Wine Centre of Excellence to Penticton which proposes to offer educational opportunities and resources to the industry.
John remains committed to tapping into the full potential of both the Painted Rock property and the BC wine industry. Considering himself a steward of a legacy family business he's determined that generations of his family will grow with, and benefit from, this amazing opportunity.
John is a strong supporter of cross boarder trade for the wine industry., John is going to continue to advocate to all levels of government. It is one of his primary concerns for the industry.
The name Painted Rock:
As a child, John remembers digging for artifacts with his father near their home on Vancouver Island. John's father had a passion for archaeology and when he passed away, John wanted to find a way to honour his memory. Recently, John came across an article from 1972 that featured his father after finding Indian artifacts buried in the Comox Valley. For John, this symbolized the relevance of history and the importance of place, and it has played a significant role in the philosophy, as well as the naming, of Painted Rock. Painted Rock refers to the ancient pictographs that were found painted on the rocks behind the vineyard bluffs. When John discovered the pictographs, he knew that they were significant not only for his family, but also for the community. John contacted the local First Nations band to understand their meaning, and when he learned that they were symbolic of a spirit walk, or a coming of age, he knew that he had found the name for his winery.