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Saluting BC Wine Dads

British Columbia’s winemakers share the grit, experience and refinement to make wines that are a lasting expression of the place they were grown and crafted.

Father’s Day is June 20, and we are celebrating with a salute to BC wine Dads!

We caught up with some hardworking Dads behind BC wine to talk to them about what inspires them and how they balance life in the vineyard with fatherhood. From winemaking to their hopes for the future, we covered it all.


Sukh Bajwa, President, Eau Vivre Winery

What led you to become a wine farmer, and what inspires you?
This has been a dream come true for me. I yearned to learn more about making wine and viticulture. It fascinates me to see how the plants grow, and then you nurture them, take care of them like you would your kids. Then to see those grapes turn into a good bottle of wine is very satisfying.

What traits are needed to make a good wine farmer?
Every year is different; you should be able to work with what mother nature throws at you. You have to be hardworking, adaptive and attentive to the needs of the plants.

Tell us about the distinctiveness of your wine region?
The inception of all the wines is in the vineyard. The Similkameen Valley terroir has all the traits, i.e., geography, geology and climate. Geographically, we are the southernmost part of BC, surrounded by the Interior plateau and the Cascade Range. The climate is hot and dry like a desert. The cool night breeze gives the vineyards the daily fluctuation in temperature that wine grapes need.

What makes your wines unique to the area?
Our wines reflect the terroir with low intervention and sustainable winemaking practices.

Describe what you love about your favourite glass of BC Wine?
My favourite is our Riesling; it has intense, bright aromatics and crisp acidity. It’s a well-balanced and easy sipping patio wine.

Why should people come to visit BC wine country?
The BC wine industry is the new kid on the block. Even though it is a few decades old, it is relatively new on the world stage. Our Okanagan Valley is very diverse in climate and geology from the north to the south. The weather is suitable for producing fresh and crisp whites and juicy and high acidity reds.

How do you balance being a parent and winemaking?
Winemaking is a year-round process. I take every opportunity I get to spend time with my kids. I like to go hiking, watch a movie or a soccer game, or spend time with them around the house doing little chores in the garden or on the patio.

What is your favourite thing to do with your kid(s)?
Now that my kids are old enough working with them in the cellar and the vineyard is so much fun. They are hardworking and quick learners, which makes it very satisfying.

Do you hope your kids follow in your footsteps?
Every parent’s dream is to have their kids follow in their footsteps, and I am lucky enough to say that my kids are planning to follow me into the wine industry!


Walter Makepeace, Proprietor, Hugging Tree Winery

What led you to become a wine farmer, and what inspires you?
I was drawn to the positive attitude of everyone I saw in the wine industry. After retiring from the police force, I wanted to work in that environment and was drawn to watch plants grow and tending to that part of farming.

What traits are needed to make a good wine farmer?
Patience, endurance, positive attitude, stamina and never-ending energy!!

Tell us about the distinctiveness of your wine region?
Excellent airflow through the plants, volcanic ash throughout the valley, rocky soils, great drainage all adds to the unique minerality of this region’s wines.

What makes your wines unique to the area?
Unique minerality!

Describe what you love about your favourite glass of BC wine?
I love the Meritage blends, deep, rich and nicely layered.

Why should people come to visit BC wine country?
Because this truly is a stunning area, the people, the place and the amazing wines.

How do you balance being a parent and winemaking/farming?
Working alongside my adult children really helps, and this has been a huge bonus of doing what we are doing, a “LOT” of family dinners.

How does it feel to be part of a multi-generational family involved in the winemaking industry?
Working alongside my sons and my daughter has been a wonderful opportunity to get to know each other as adults; we have learned to work with and value each other’s opinions.

What is your favourite thing to do with your kids?
Family dinners.

Do you hope your kids follow in your footsteps?
I sure hope so; this is really what it is all about. Everyone has learned a lot about farming and all that it has to offer, mainly the lifestyle!


Brad Makepeace, Winemaker, Hugging Tree Winery

What led you to become a winemaker, and what inspires you?
To live with a purpose grander than acquiring. I find inspiration in having a deep connection to the land, nature, and enjoyment of each individually experienced season.

What traits are needed to make a good wine farmer?
Forward-thinking /adaptability, rolling with the punches. There is no reason to beat your head against the wall over the will of our Mother Nature. I end up joking with my dad that there is no such thing as a good year, only years that help prepare you for the challenging ones coming.

Tell us about the distinctiveness of your wine region?
Hundreds of thousands of years ago, our neighbouring Okanagan Valley was a river that turned into a lake, hence the clay deposits in Naramata and sandy soils of the southern Oliver, Osoyoos area. Rocky soils in the Similkameen leave a distinguished fingerprint on wines from the region. Minerality on the whites, and deep, rich flavours in the reds, from these harsh stemwinder soils, result in our wine palates delight.

What makes your wines unique to the area?
Big, robust, yet approachable.

Describe what you love most about your favourite glass of BC wine?
You don’t know what you will get; there is no overwhelming style or approach that blankets the BC wine industry. There is still a pioneering spirit and experimentation going on.

Why should people come to visit BC wine country?
World-class wines. You have to come here to experience them. From Marionette Winery’s Pinot Noir in Salmon Arm to Lariana Cellars’ Carménère, both are absolutely fantastic. All within three hours of each other and all the hidden gems in between.

How do you balance being a parent and winemaking?
I can hustle or work late or earlier to ease up my schedule for family time. Having the ability to be pliable helps a lot……. I think!

How does it feel to be part of a multi-generational family involved in the winemaking process?
Working and getting to know my father in farming (in the trenches) with him has been one of the grandest gifts of my life. I hope I get to experience that with my children; it’s bonding in adulthood magnified.

What is your favourite thing to do with your kids?
I love changing the irrigation with them, sometimes my son will walk instead of using the ATV, and I get to walk barefoot in the grass with him. Riding beach cruiser bicycles with my daughter, and anytime we go swimming in the Similkameen River.

Do you hope your kids follow in your footsteps?
I hope that at least one of them follows in my footsteps, if that is what they choose, either in winemaking or running the business, so I can leave it all to them. Hopefully, I can pass on a nugget or two of wisdom like my father has so generously done with me.


Matthew Mikulic, Owner, President and Winemaker, Three Sisters Winery

What led you to become a wine farmer, and what inspires you?
I always loved drinking good wine and eating great food. It led me to the industry, and after working in beautiful places around the world with great people, I knew I was where I was supposed to be. Landing here in the Okanagan was a bonus.

What traits are needed to make a good wine farmer?
You truly have to be passionate about wine. You need to be patient and hardworking. But if you love what you do, it will show up in the glass.

Tell us about the distinctiveness of your wine region?
Well, BC is a hidden gem. It’s a place that hasn’t really been recognized in the wine world, but it is a beautiful place with unlimited potential. The bonus is it is a great place to raise a family.

What makes your wines unique to the area?
The acid. Wines from the Okanagan have this unbelievable acid yet produce such balanced wines that always invite another sip!

Describe what you love about your favourite glass of BC Wine?
Well, I think I just touched on it with the balance of acidity and the setting we are in. I also love sharing our wines and drinking a glass with all our friends and fans!

Why should people come to visit BC wine country?
Pretty simple. It is gorgeous here. The ability to sit on a patio in our ideal climate and sip a refreshing wine overlooking any one of the numerous lakes. Why would you want to be anywhere else?

How do you balance being a parent and winemaking?
That is a good question. The one great benefit of being a winemaker is our schedules are pretty wide open. This allows me to spend time with my girls Mara and Madelyn. That is until harvest comes. But we make up for the lost time during harvest during the rest of the year.

How is your family involved in the winemaking process?
My wife Rebecca plays a pivotal role in making sure the business runs smoothly. She also has an incredible palate. She can be my biggest fan when I need one; she can also be my biggest critic. Without her as a partner, the end product would not be what it is. My kids are my inspiration. Making a go at it in this business is not easy. I work hard to provide a future for them.

What is your favourite thing to do with your kid(s)?
Get away from the winery and business, whether going fishing, travelling or even going to a park to watch them run around. Spending time with my kids is my favourite thing to do.

Do you hope your kids follow in your footsteps?
We want to build this business for them to have in the future if they want it. I am not going to lie; I would appreciate the free wine when I’m older; however, whatever they choose to be or do is fine with me.