Don and Elaine Triggs: busy planting their Golden Mile vineyards – Tim Pawsey photo

Newest vineyard above Golden Mile is one of the South Okanagan’s highest yet

It’s just over four years since then Vincor CEO Don Triggs concluded the deal that saw the company sold to global wine giant Constellation. While Triggs helped shape Vincor into one of the wine world’s most successful players, he and his wife Elaine (a chartered accountant) had also established their own Delaine Vineyard, in Niagara, which was included as part of the sale.



Following the sale of Vincor, the couple eventually relocated to the Okanagan, where they had purchased an existing property on the celebrated Golden Mile Bench on the western slopes of the south valley.

Plans are moving ahead with extensive new plantings and a development permit is in process (under the name Arise Ventures) for a gravity-feed winery, with an anticipated opening in late summer 2011. Heading the winemaking team is Jean-Martin (JM) Bouchard, the respected former Hidden Bench (Niagara) winemaker. The hand weeded vineyard is sustainably farmed and the existing buildings are already equipped with a Brac Grey Water Recycling System.

“It’s the right thing to do—especially for our grandchildren,” says Don.

Outline shows new planting in relation to main winery and vineyard on the Golden Mile bench, Tim Pawsey photo

Even though they prefer to stay ‘under the radar’ (at least, as Don says, ‘Until we have something to show for it in the bottle’) it’s pretty hard not to miss the latest part of the plan, which the pair were kind enough to show us last week.

Upper bench vineyard in relation to Hester Creek and Tinhorn Creek (lower rt), Tim Pawsey photo

‘Show’ would be an understatement, as the adventure involved a precipitous four wheel drive trek up to the almost 600 metre level where, in recent weeks, an entirely new bench has been sculpted out of the hillside. It ranks as the highest vineyard in this part of the valley, matched only by the See Ya Later Ranch property, above Okanagan Falls.

Elaine and Don Triggs at their new upper bench site—on a very windy day! Tim Pawsey photo

As Don says, “This time we really went over the top!”

This east facing, seriously elevated, well drained six ha. site (where the couple have carried out extensive soil and temperature tests) is markedly cooler than the lower benches (which will see mainly Bordeaux varieties), and dramatically more so than the now famous Black Sage bench on the valley’s east side.

It should be perfect for Riesling—which just happens to be the Triggs’ passion. Or, at least, one of them.

Donald Triggs shows vine destined for lower bench planting, Tim Pawsey photo

© Tim Pawsey, 2010