Robert Bell's

Wines of Canada

Since 1992

Elias Phiniotis


Dr. Elias Phiniots is one of the early winemakers and consultants that took B.C. wines in late 70's and early 80]s from mediocre to respectable world quality wines. Born and raised inPera-Pedhi, Cyprus. He graduated from Technical University of Budapest with a Doctor of Technology. He soon found himself working Limassol Cyprus.

In 1977 he found his way to Canada working in Vancouver before joining the Okanagan Golden Valley Wines (Uncle Ben's) in Westbank as Director and winemaker. In 1989 He opened his own successful Consulting business Phiniotis Consulting Services.

After I decided that things were not right for me in Cyprus I wanted to move to Australia were I had family and wanted me to go there, but my ex-wife’s family wanted us to come here so to keep them visiting each other also ! So I decided to make everybody happy even if I had no idea if I am going to be making pulp and paper on Vancouver Island or Aluminum in Smithers or packaging ketchup for the White-Spot chain ! Or the pine-cone wine…All I knew is that Canada had plenty of pines !

Upon arriving in Vancouver his first job was driving a Volkswagen beetle for a dental lab in Richmond picking up and delivering the pieces to the dentist outlets around the lower mainland for $3.25/hr. The dental lab was surprised I called because they never put an add, but as it was their driver quit that morning !

His second job was with Wine Art. T first they thought he was using Canada as a stepping stone to get into California, Elias had to persuade them that it was not my intention to do that, I came here to stay because of family reasons !

He moved to Kelowna having obtained his first winery job at Uncle Ben’s, owned Ben Ginger. He said “ but I have a winemaker “ Yes, Mr. Ginter, I tasted your wines and I think they can be improved ! “ You think so ? “… Let’s talk….That’s how it happened. My first vintage was 12 wines and the first Pear Cider in Canada/ Perry ! Most of them sold out by next September ! Then we doubled up !

After two years with Ben Ginter, Casabello Wines (Owned by Labbats then) in Penticton sent Lloyd Schmidt to ask me if I want to work for them. Elias met with their Austrian chief winemaker who hired him on the spot. At this time Elias made the wines that Lloyd Schmidt and Harry MacWaters used to open their Sumac Ridge winery.

Following a ministerial meeting at the Empress Hotel in Victoria called Grapes for the 80's Elias was sitting next to Alan Tiabji and he hired him to move to Calona Wines (Owned by NABISCO) to start a research project, run the quality control lab and the distillery. Six months later a lot of changes happened and Elias took over the Winemaking moving the previous winemaker to the lab ! Nine years later NABISCO sold Calona. Elias left to start his own consulting business.

Calona  Sovereign Opa 1988

A wine that helped put Canada on the world map. - winemaker Elias Phiniotis

At Calona, Elias Phiniotis was a one-person winemaking revolution. Calona owned a number of large oak  vats which had been in use for many years and had become totally encrusted internally with tartaric acids and other deposits. The vats still softened the wine during storage but had long since ceased giving any oak complexity to the wines. Phiniotis had them scraped and shaved; it refreshed the vats and, starting with the 1981 vintage, Calona began producing better reds than it had ever made. He also permitted the red wines to go through malolactic fermentation,  an established winemaking technique elsewhere but almost unheard of then in the Okanagan. With this technique, Phiniotis softened the Okanagan's naturally tart acids and also added some flavor complexity to his wines. The varietals included chancellor, maréchal foch and rougeon, all of them hybrids. Most acreage of foch and rougeon was pulled out after the 1988 harvest but Calona had such substantial quantities in its vats, particularly of rougeon, that the vintages of the late 1980s  stayed on the market, won several awards and became so  popular  that Calona subsequently urged some growers to replant the variety.

Nine years later NABISCO sold Calona. Elias left to start his own consulting business.

Phiniotis Consulting services provides project by project, or ongoing services in the above mentioned areas covering:
Complete Feasibility studies, Facility Design/Planning, Wine Making, Quality Control,
Laboratory Services, Trouble Shooting, Inventory and Equipment Evaluation Assessments etc.

I prepare Facility and Inventory Audits for Company Shareholders and Financial Institutions as well.

His personal objective been to :

One: To provide consulting and other assistance to Entrepreneurs in developing New Production Units or Products.
Evaluate situations and assist in solving any existing problems.
Assist Buyers in appraising/evaluating products and facilities of their interest.


Two: To provide Managerial and/or hands-on technical services in the field of Industrial production, Research and Development, or Business Administration in the area of Wines/Grapes, Ciders, Spirits and Non-alcoholic Beverages.


1: Okanagan Vineyards Winery ( Oliver, B.C.  Winemaking ),
2: Cedar Creek Estate Winery ( Kelowna, B.C.  Winemaking ),
3: Dunwoody Limited (Financial Institution (Kelowna, B.C. Audit),
4: T.W.Humphries & Co.(Chartered Accountants, Vancouver, B.C. Audit),
5: Quails’ Gate Vineyards Estate Winery (Westbank, B.C. Start up, Winemaking. ). Custom made the Nordic Blanc for Summerhill Est. Winery),
6: Domaine De Chaberton Estate Winery (Langley, B.C. Start up and ongoing Winemaking ),
7: Chateau Ste. Claire Estate Winery (Peachland, B.C. Consulting),
 8: Blue Grouse Farm Winery (Duncan, B.C. Consulting),
9: Pearl Imports Inc. (Food Supplies, Toronto Ontario, Research Project),
10: Sumac Ridge Estate Winery (Summerland, B.C. Assets Evaluation),
11: Lyonn’s Distillers (Develop Alcohol Free Coolers),
12: Kelowna Green Orchards (Developers, Kelowna, B.C. Feasibility Study),
13: Bavarian Brauhaus (U-Brew Operation start up and personnel training, Summerland, B,
14: Okanagan University College. Winemaking Instuction.
15: Vinoka (U-Brew kits manufacturer/distribution ( Materials resourcing and product development),
16: Steven D. Marcel Appraisals (Kelowna, B.C. Appraisal),
17: PricewaterhouseCoopers (Assurance and Business Advisory Services/Auditors, Assets Evaluation),
18: Glenugie Winery (Langley B.C. Help Design, Winemaking, Consulting),
19: Desert Hills Winery: (Oliver B.C.) Help Design, Winemaking/Consulting.

Elias Phiniots was the consultant that helped open the very first winery in the Fraser Valley. The first of the Fraser Valley wineries, Domaine de Chaberton was opened (1975) by founder's Claude and Inge Violet. This very successful winery was named after the vineyard they had owned in France. The Fraser Valley location was selected for its proximity to Vancouver, the micro climate, south facing slope, and quality of soil and low rain fall. The winery was sold in 2005 to Anthony Cheng and Eugene Kwan, business partners In 2014 the name was changed to Chaberton Estate Winery. One of the best decisions they made was to grow Bacchus. Dr Phiniotis remains their consulting winemaker today.


1: Business Administration Certificate (1989)
Okanagan University College ( Kelowna, B.C. )

2: Doctor of Technology (1974)
Technical University of Budapest, Hungrey

3: Ph.D.
Academy of Science/ Hungary
( Chemical Sciences/Food Chemistry and Industrial Microbiology)
Working on Grape juices and wines.

4: M.Sc.
Technical University of Budapest
(Food Science and Technology – Fermentation Kinetics/Batch and Continues Fermentations).
Microbiological Production of gluconic acid.



POPEYE FOODS- Limassol, Cyprus. 1974-75

I provided consulting for production of dry fruits, nuts, preserves, jams, cheeses etc.

LOEL LTD. Limassol, Cyprus 1975-76
One of the four biggest wineries/Distilleries in Cyprus


Winemaking, Distillation and blending of wine brandies and other spirits ( OUZO ).
Production of table wines, Dessert/Fortified wines (Muscats, Sherries, Ports), Concentrates etc.

WINE ART SALES LTD. -1977 – 1978
Vancouver, B.C.

Director / Quality Control Manager.
Introduced Home Winemaking to North America. It was the biggest outfit of the day.

1978 – 1980
Westbank British Columbia

Plant Manager/Winemaker.
Introduced 14 new products ( Wines, apple and pear ciders ).
Custom made wines for the first two Estate Wineries of British Columbia. (See above ).

Penticton B.C..

Responsibilities included:
All winemaking and Quality Control.
Started some varietal wines ( Chancellor, Verdelet, Okanagan Riesling, that were the opening wines for  B.C.’s third Estate Winery, after Marion Jonn in Peachland and Joe Poturica in Oliver.



Responsibilities included:
Hire, train, supervise and evaluate performance of production, quality control and research
And development employees  (Approx. 30 – 45 people).
Prepare plans and monitor all grape and wine supplies/depletion and related budgets in accordance with Company’s strategic plans.
Implemented fully integrated bulk wine tracking system ( IBM 36 ).
Directed all winemaking (5,000,000 imp. Gallons ) and all research and development projects.
Introduced Malo-Lactic fermentations to the B.C. wine industry for complexity and acid reduction.
Made the first wine out of the first “ B.C. “ grapes the Sovereign Opal, Developed at the research station in Summerland B.C.


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