Fort Berens Estate Winery
#3 Small Winery in Canada
The good news for Lillooet’s Fort Berens Estate Winery came in over several days, as the results from the prestigious 2022 WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada were announced.
The 21 st annual wine competition, often referred to as “The Nationals”, featured approximately 1,890 wines from more than 250 wineries across Canada. The results from this wine competition were rolled out over the last two weeks.
Rolf de Bruin, co-founder and co-owner of Fort Berens explained, “We are incredibly honoured and proud to share that Fort Berens Estate Winery was named #3 in the list of ‘Top 10 Small Wineries in Canada’ in the 2022 WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada. This achievement is a result of the hard work, dedication, determination, and passion of an incredible team of winemakers and grape growers. We are so proud of our team.”
Rolf continued, “This award is a great encouragement for our winemaking and viticultural team. Alessandro (Alex) Nel joined the Fort Berens team as Winemaker & Viticulturist in January 2021 to lead our vineyard and winemaking team. He worked on our 2021 vintage from the start of pruning to the last press load of grapes on November 10th.”
An accomplished and award-winning winemaker, Alex completed his degree in Viticulture and Oenology at Elsenburg University. He spent 10 years as winemaker at Cederberg Winery in the Western Cape of South Africa. While at Cederberg Winery, Alex produced one of the Top 50 wines in the 2021 Decanter World Wine Awards. Alex also worked at wineries in California, France, and New Zealand, giving him a depth of experience working in a range of vineyards and wineries in different regions and preparing him for his time at Fort Berens and this new wine region in Lillooet.
Alex is particularly pleased with the early success at Fort Berens and explains: “When I joined Fort Berens, we tasted through a lot of prior vintages with several standout wines. The wines expressed bright fruit and fresh acidity that naturally develops in this unique area, with big diurnal temperature differences. Being isolated from other vineyards, we have a virus free and minimal disease area, leading to exceptional quality grapes, which is where great wine starts. I believe in each variety being treated with respect to show its true Lillooet terroir. White wines are made with no oxygen exposure and extended lees contact for added mouthfeel, resulting in wines that are aromatic and fresh.
Further refining of the extraction process on reds with increased skin maceration and barrel maturation adds finesse and elegance. We will continue to work towards world class recognition with the incredible team we have here at Fort Berens Estate Winery.”
In addition to this outstanding recognition as the #3 small winery in Canada, the team from Fort Berens also received a number of other awards. Fort Berens’ full list of awards from The Nationals include:
#3 – Top 10 Small Wineries in Canada
#6 – Top 10 BC Wineries
#8 – Top 25 Wineries in Canada
1 Platinum Medal and 94 points for the Pinot Noir 2020
3 Gold Medals and 92 points for the Merlot Reserve 2019, Merlot 2019, and Small Lot
Grüner Veltliner 2021
2 Silver Medals and 90 points for the Cabernet Franc Reserve 2019 and the Pinot Gris 2021
Rolf continued, “In 2009, when we first pioneered this new wine region and planted our first vines in the ground in Lillooet, we set out with a goal of making world-class wines. After just a few years, our 100% estate grown Fort Berens Riesling 2012 was awarded the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in BC Wines. It was a sign of encouragement, and we continued to work incredibly hard to prove that grapes and wine from Lillooet could find a spot in the world of wine. Over the years, we explored uncharted territory and amazed ourselves and others with the capacity and growth of this emerging wine region. This incredible recognition further validates the potential of Lillooet as a grape growing and winemaking region.”
Lillooet is a new and emerging wine region in BC’s growing wine industry. Fort Berens is the first winery in Lillooet and features close to 40 planted acres of vineyards. The latest awards from the 2022 WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada will join a cabinet filled with other regional, national, and international wine awards for this pioneering winery.
The judging for this prestigious wine competition was completed by an esteemed panel of judges including Canada’s leading wine writers, journalists, sommeliers, buyers, and industry professionals. For a look behind the scenes of the judging and the competition, visit: https://www.winealign.com/articles/2022/07/08/canadian-wine-insider-july-2022/
Rolf concluded, “We are deeply honoured to share these results. To be named the number 3 small winery in Canada is incredibly exciting. We are so grateful to everyone that joined us along the way and shared this journey with us.”
If you are looking to purchase any of these award-winning wines, you can visit the winery tasting room, which is open daily in Lillooet, or visit their online store at www.fortberens.ca.
Their wines are also available at select Government and private liquor stores, select grocery stores, and restaurants around BC.
Fort Berens Estate Winery is a culmination of the dreams, vision, and pioneering spirit of a group of entrepreneurs that share a common belief in the incredible winemaking potential of the Lillooet area and a shared vision to make Fort Berens into one of Canada’s leading producers of fine wine. With its vineyards on sagebrush covered benchland along the Fraser River at the base of towering mountains, Fort Berens embraces the spirit of Lillooet.
Discover Fort Berens Estate Winery, Lillooet’s first winery, in BC’s newest wine region and explore 150 years of pioneering spirit. For more information, call 1.877.956.7768, visit www.fortberens.ca, or follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Media release and image provided by Kim Lawton, Dog Leg Marketing.