It’s a tale about an epic journey, of scratching a living from the land the best way you know how.
The Thompson Valley is steeped in history. Frontiersmen and prospectors – even infamous train robbers like Billy Miner – sought their fortunes in this area as the West was being built. The site of the Monte Creek Ranch winery echoes with the whispers of the past.
Generations back, the small community of Monte Creek (situated east of Kamloops along the South Thompson River and into the rolling hills) was known as “Ducks”, after the British settler Jacob Ducks, who ranched the area extensively. The town became a hub when Ducks opened a hotel to room railway workers, miners and other ranchers. In 1888 Hewitt Bostock purchased 3,380 acres near Kamloops from Ducks. Many years passed, yet locals continued to call it Ducks Ranch long after Bostock and his wife made it their home. The area achieved fame in 1906 as the site of the last train robbery by the notorious “Gentleman Bandit” Bill Miner.
Today’s Monte Creek is a tiny community where farming and ranching is still the mainstay. While the world has advanced in ways the inhabitants of the area could not have imagined a century ago, Monte Creek Ranch still maintains the ruggedly beautiful rolling plains, and natural surroundings that drew early settlers to the area.
Creating a New Legend
In 2009, the property was purchased by a family who were searching for new viable land. They came across the Monte Creek area and were excited about its potential, but it was the prospect of vineyards that caught their attention as these arid lands with ample sunlight looked promising for grapes. And the prospect of carrying on the tradition of the ranchers and farmers who came before the family was an adventure they could not resist. The family assembled an experienced team to bring their ranch to fruition.
Our Unique Diversity
Now, livestock share the ranch with grape vines and wildlife. Within the sweeping 1,200-acre ranch sits 75 acres of planted vineyards on either side of the Thompson River (with plenty of room to expand), a Tasting Room guest centre, horse trails, Black Angus cattle, rippling creeks, hay fields which are share cropped with neighbouring ranches, and views of the South Thompson River.
A particularly interesting non-grape crop on the ranch is 2.8 acres of Haskap berries, a berry in the honeysuckle family that is native to Siberia. These berries are very winter hardy and produce a cylindrical blue berry that is higher in antioxidants than blueberries.
To help pollinate these berries and more, the ranch also hosts several beehives, which produce delicious honey.
A New Kind of Wine Country
The ranch’s surroundings also include parcels of range land leased out to other ranchers and located just above Monte Creek Ranch (Rio Vista Range) and further south at Robbins Range. It is beautiful, wild, unspoiled land that has potential for horseback riding, hiking, fishing and cross-country skiing in winter.
Quite unlike wine country anywhere else, the ranch’s unique beauty and hospitality are a welcome stop where visitors can enjoy a wine tasting and shop for local products.
When it came time to give the land a new name, Monte Creek Ranch came to be; and the winery pays homage to the former frontier home site. This is a new era of exploration for Monte Creek Ranch, as the winery joins the small and emerging new frontier of British Columbia’s wine country.