Mission Hill Family Estate Winery – Patron of Farmers – Salutes Unearthed Farm
By Roslyne Buchanan.
You have only to catch a glimpse of its iconic bell tower as you approach Mission Hill Family Estate Winery in West Kelowna to confirm that Proprietor Anthony von Mandl is a patron of architecture.
This sense of place is reinforced as you negotiate the massive entry gates into the wine fortress and drive the treelined street to park. As you stroll your way to the rose garden and vineyards at the entrance with Okanagan Lake shining beyond, it becomes apparent that landscape holds a sacred place. Your route is peppered with stunning sculptures, and folks making Instagram memories as they pose with the art amid vineyards. To enter the main winery grounds, you pass under curved arches punctuated by a Keystone that takes elements from the von Mandl family crest as inspiration.
The announcement of the summer concert series and fanfare in opening its Terrace Restaurant each year provides clues, too, of the von Mandl family’s attitude about music and cuisine. Yes, it is clear to see Mission Hill is proudly a patron of wine, vineyards and garden settings, art and architecture, music and culinary adventures. What may require more peeling of the onion, so to speak, is Mission Hill’s patronship of farmers and other suppliers.
Thanks to talented writer and social media phenomenon Allison Markin (follow her on Twitter and Instagram @allisonmmarkin), I got to join her for Mission Hill’s ‘Spring Farm-to-Table Market & Lunch’ on the May long weekend. The invitation said: “Join us for an al fresco lunch featuring an outdoor market from ‘Unearthed Farm‘. Sample our new spring releases as you browse through the enchanting bounty of the season’s harvest. Then enjoy a three-course meal featuring these fresh local ingredients, paired perfectly with our spring releases.”
As we were warmly greeted by the hospitality team, I was delighted to see Jordan Marr, proprietor of Unearthed Farm. As we chatted with him, Mission Hill’s Director of Visitor Experience Craig Pingle and President Darryl Brooker, we sipped on selections of sparkling and rosé wines.
Appetizers were presented as we wandered the gorgeous grounds. We were particularly in awe of the fresh produce on display that was already thriving at Unearthed Farm.
Honestly, we could have lingered for hours had we not been called to the long table for a three-course luncheon. Executive Chef Patrick Gayler popped by to say hello, praise Marr’s produce and give credit to Private Event Chef Adam Vaughan for creating the menu. Each dish was paired exquisitely with a Mission Hill wine and was a celebration of the bounty from Unearthed Farm.
First: 2018 Terroir Collection No. 26 Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon with Burrata, radish, cardoon and pea shoots.
Second: 2017 Reserve Meritage with Chicken, black kale, gem lettuce and nave.
Third: 2013 Quatrain with Manjari Chocolate, rhubarb, burnt marshmallow and coffee.
While Mission Hill also maintains a culinary garden, we learned how the relationship with suppliers such as Unearthed Farm are valued. In fact, Marr shared the inside secret that Mission Hill understands the cashflow struggle of a farmer in the off-season. Mission Hill actually advances Unearthed Farm some of the payment for produce that will be received once the gardens give forth.
That enables Marr to steward his leased lands and give the gardens the attention required. Such action show that Mission Hill doesn’t just give lip service to sustainability. It demonstrates sustainability in a broad sense.
President Brooker introduced the wines and educated us on the winemaking process for each of them. Chef Vaughan led us through the palate of each and how the dishes complemented those features. He, too, spoke warmly of Unearthed Farm and its relationship with Mission Hill’s culinary team.
For more details on Mission Hill, its wines, setting, and events, see missionhillwinery.com
Unearthed Farm is certified organic and is tucked away down Mayer Road, Kelowna. Growing a large variety of vegetables and herbs for local restaurants, it also has a weekly online ‘farmers market’ for residents between Kelowna and Penticton. For details on how to sign up, see unearthedfarm.com
For Jordan, wife Vanessa and family, it goes beyond making a living to a way of life. Part of his passion for farming spills over to a podcast he maintains, when his farming schedule allows, called The Ruminant. Via the podcast and photograph-based blog, ideas for farmers and gardeners are shared. “Each week small-scale farmers, food experts, and innovative thinkers weigh in on a range of topics relating to your garden,” notes Marr. “Submissions welcome!”
Next time you are visiting Mission Hill to experience its fine vintages, cuisine and events pause for a moment to be grateful that this family-owned enterprise is both big and beautiful through to its patronships.
As we departed reluctantly, Mission Hill gave each guest possibly the best gift ever – a basket of fresh, local and delicious produce from Unearthed Farm. Marr, too, went above and beyond in preparing the packages. He inserted a family favourite rhubarb and sorrel crisp recipe as a suggestion of how we might use some of the items.
Featured photo: Mission Hill’s ‘Spring Farm-to-Table Market & Lunch’ with Unearthed Farm. Photo credit: Roslyne Buchanan.