“Fort Berens Estate Winery is the first of its kind in Lillooet. We saw the potential for the wine industry to take root in this area – just like prospecting for gold, sometimes you have to take a chance,” said Pannekoek. “Our new investors share our vision and our excitement in creating quality wines in this beautiful part of the province.”
Proprietors Heleen Pannekoek and Rolf de Bruin, newly arrived from Holland with their young family are pleased to welcome the gold company executives into their ambitious and exciting new business.
LILLOOET, BC (May 30, 2010) – Fort Berens Estate Winery (Fort Berens), today announced that it has attracted the venture capital necessary to accelerate its business plans and build a new winery facility located in Lillooet, British Columbia. With the new funding, Fort Berens will commence construction of a new wine making operation and shop on its property to produce and sell wines from grapes grown on the winery’s initial twenty acre vineyard. The first crop of grapes is expected in the fall of 2011.
Fort Berens is located in historic Lillooet, at Mile 0 of the Cariboo Trail and rallying point for the Cariboo Gold Rush. The winery was established on the east side of the Fraser River at Lillooet in early 2009, exactly one hundred and fifty years after the Hudson Bay Company started construction of a trading post in the same location under the same name. The fort had been designed to serve the thousands of prospectors who flocked to the Lillooet region in the mid-1800’s in search of gold. However, it was never completed and the fertile river bench was instead used for the growing of melons, tomatoes and alfalfa.
Located in the magnificent Fraser Canyon, this historic site is now home to Fort Berens Estate Winery, Lillooet’s first commercial vineyard and winery. In keeping with the pioneering spirit of the Gold Rush era, the proprietors of Fort Berens Estate Winery are forging a new and unique wine experience in British Columbia, offering superb, distinct, hand-crafted wines.
The investors in Lillooet’s newest venture are no strangers to the pursuit of pioneering. Hugh Agro, Sean Harvey and John McConnell are Toronto and Vancouver-based mining executives and members of the Board of Directors of a TSX-listed gold exploration and development company. As investors in Fort Berens Estate Winery they have come to Lillooet looking for a different kind of gold, of a liquid variety.
Agro has had his eye on Lillooet for years and now, with a project that suits his sense of adventure and his desire to establish a presence in south-central British Columbia, he looks forward to assisting the fledgling winery. “I’ve kept a subscription to the local newspaper for years and when I heard about the Lillooet grape project, my interest was piqued,” Agro said. “Then I read that this young couple from Holland was actually planting a vineyard and building a winery and I got in touch with them. When Rolf and Heleen said that they were looking for investors to grow their business, I came out to see them and I was very impressed with their vision and business plan. Two of my business partners, Sean Harvey and John McConnell, became interested and together we agreed to get involved.”
Fort Berens Estate Winery currently offers five select wines under their label, made from grapes sourced in the Okanagan. They are available for sale in the existing on-site winery and tasting room and also in a number of specialty wine stores in Vancouver, Whistler, Kamloops and Lillooet.
For further information: Fort Berens Estate Winery, (250) 256-7788, www.fortberens.ca