Robert Bell's Wines of Canada
The Stewart Family
Quails Gate Winery
The Stewart family planted our first vines in 1961, but our love affair with the soil goes back to 1908, when Richard Stewart Sr. (affectionately known as “Poppa Dick”) settled in the area. From working the land, he would go on to establish one of the valley’s most successful nurseries. Six decades later, his son, Dick, switched over to growing grapes.
In the early ’60s, he invested in Kelowna Builder’s Supply, which led to a long interest in land development and residential and commercial construction. Projects built by Stewart’s company include Guisachan Village shopping centre and Sunrise Village retirement community.
In 1959, Dick purchased the property now known as Quails’ Gate and planted his first grapes in 1961. As well, he formed a partnership with Calona Wines to establish Pacific Vineyards, which leased land from the Westbank Indian Band for a vineyard and bought land south of Oliver for a second vineyard. "We believed there was room for growth in the wine industry," Stewart recalled later. Initially he planted what were then considered the established varieties -- such North American labrusca grapes as Diamond, Campbell's Early, Sheridan and Patricia. A nursery in Seattle, one of his suppliers, misidentified a shipment of what should have been 10,000 Diamond vines. Stewart discovered when the vines were growing that he had been shipped Chasselas, a vinifera vine that produces far superior fruit than Diamond. "We left them in," Stewart chuckled.
“Never afraid of new ideas, Dick believed in putting his nose to the ‘grindstone and his shoulder to the wheel’. He was intensely proud that all his children became a part of making the winery successful. He loved to wander the vineyards, wineshop and offices at Quails’ Gate visiting with guests and he fondly referred to the staff at Quails’ Gate as his extended family.”
Politically, he served two terms as a Kelowna alderman, and was a campaign manager for former B.C. premier Bill Bennett.
Along with his business and political interests, Stewart has been an active volunteer, serving with diverse groups that included the Black Mountain Ski Club, chairing the 1980 B.C. Summer Games that were held in Kelowna, and serving on UBC’s board of governors.
Stewart’s family was one of 14 that in 1977 established the Central Okanagan Foundation, a charitable organization, and he was president of the society for its first nine years of existence.
He and his wife Rosemary have four children, 11 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Although he is long since retired, Dick still comes to visit the vineyards with Ben and Tony and, earlier this year, celebrated his 92nd birthday.
Ben Stewart was elected MLA for Westside-Kelowna in 2009 and 2013. In October of 2013, Stewart was appointed British Columbia’s Special Representative in Asia to act as the province’s official on-the-ground representative in Asia to further strengthen BC’s government-to-government relationships in China, Japan, Korea, India and Southeast Asia.
He was re-elected in a by-election in 2018 in the riding of Kelowna-West. Ben is currently the Official Opposition Co-Critic for Citizen Services. Mr. Stewart previously served as Minister of Citizens' Services, Minister of Community and Rural Development, Minister of Agriculture, and as Government Whip. He served on the Special Committees on Cosmetic Pesticides and Timber Supply, and as the Ministerial representative on Treasury Board, the Priorities and Planning, and the Legislative Review Committees.
Tony Stewart is the CEO of Quails’ Gate Estate Winery, Tony directs much of his energy in creating an environment that enables Quails’ Gate to succeed as one of the world’s best wine houses. He’s passionate about ensuring that Quails’ Gate visitors receive exceptional product and service. Tony and the rest of his team are confident and excited about leading the way in winery culinary tourism. He also devotes significant time to several local, industry, provincial and national associations.
Front: Left to Right:Tony Stewart, Dick Stewart, Rosemary Stewart, Ruther Stewart, Ben Stewart, Andrea McFadden (née Stewart), Dave McFadden ~ Back: Scott Walker, Llane Dobbener (née Stewart – Ben’s daughter), Cynthia Walker (née Stewart)
Quails Gate Estate winery is one of British Columbia's most popular winery. Quails' Gate is internationally recognized as a top quality producer of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It is located in West Kelowna over looking the lake.
John and Susan Allison.were one of the first European settlers to live in the Okanagan valley. They built the Sunnyside Ranch (which is now Quails’ Gate’s location) and lived in the ranch house now known as “Allison House” that still stands on the Quail’s Gate property today. This home was the first permanent structure on the west side of Okanagan Lake. Quail's Gate for many years used the log cabin as its tasting room. It is now used as Quails’ Gate’s gift shop. Susan is considered the first person to record a sighting of Ogopogo in 1873
Dick Stewart passed away May 12 2020 at the age of 94.