An amateur skiing competition among professional winemakers and winery staff drew record numbers at Big White last weekend.
About 70 wine industry staff skied or snowboarded the slalom course at the 10th annual Cellar-Tek Winemaker’s Cup located at Big White’s Lower Speculation run. Penticton’s Pentậge Winery Proprietor and Winemaker Paul Gardner completed the course in the fastest combined time of 45.19 seconds.
It was a startling upset in a race won in three out of the last four years by Winemaker Charlie Baessler of Corcelettes Estate Winery. Graeme Duncan of Deep Roots Winery, who took home the title in 2015, took second podium spot in a tie with Paul Embgrets of Quails Gate Winery. Third place went to Glenn Fawcett, president of Black Hills Estate Winery.
The 2017 fastest female skier on the course was JoieFarm Winery’s Diane Fox in a combined time of 53.02, followed by Claudia Embgrets of Quails Gate Winery and Caley Fraser of Hester Creek Estate Winery who placed second and third respectively.
The best snowboarder on the day was Richard Charnock of Bartier Bros at 58.35, just slightly ahead of top female snowboarder Amy Kinnear of JoieFarm Winery.
The excellent race times were made even more remarkable as many of the competitors were racing following a long night – dressed in 1980s costumes – sabring and tasting sparkling wine at the Hot Tub Time Machine/Sabre Fest at the Globe Café & Tapas Bar.
On Saturday the celebration continued into the night after the race as wineries enjoyed an awards dinner and silent disco party.
“Our 10th year was significant because of the amazing turnout – a record – the fierceness of the competition and the strong relationships developed throughout the weekend,” said Cup Co-Founder Glenn Fawcett, president of Black Hills Estate Winery, a key sponsor. “The wine business is very competitive and can be political at times. This race gives the industry a chance to forget all of that for a weekend and just have fun together.”
Fawcett said the success of the event in bringing the industry together is evidenced by the ongoing support from long time sponsors like Cellar-Tek, ATS Healthcare and Big White Ski Resort, as well as the many new sponsors who came on board in the 10th year.
“It’s a necessary industry event that helps us remember we are all in this together,” Fawcett added.
In its first 10 years, the Winemaker’s Cup has had 500 participants from 77 wineries.