The big question seems to be “how did you come up with the name of your winery?” In one sentence it could be summed up as, it’s a tribute to how our country was founded and where our estate vineyard is located. But most people still seem confused after hearing that, so we will divulge the full story.
Explorers came, to what is now Canada, looking for gold. But they didn’t find that much of it, at least initially, instead they found something they called ‘soft gold’ which was beaver, this was driven by the top hat industry of the day. Historians believe that without this industry our land may not have been founded as a country or at least not as soon as it was, which is why Canada recognizes this noble creature as the emblem of national sovereignty. At the same time the beavers, one of nature’s most intelligent creatures, built dams, flooding and ultimately creating rich agricultural soil. The beaver’s ability to make changes to the landscape is secondary only to man and they had a large impact on the land in the Okanagan Valley. Our estate vineyard and winery is located in the “Golden Mile” grape-growing region of Oliver, BC. Oro – gold, or in full, de Oro – golden, for the Golden Mile and the gold explorers came looking for. Castoro – beaver for their contribution to the founding of Canada and help making our vineyard a terrific place to grow grapes. Our winery name, Castoro de Oro Estate Winery, is a blend of Latin based languages; translated into English it is Golden Beaver.
The handcrafted Castoro de Oro Estate Wines reflect the natural flavours of our terroir and are a tribute to our country. Cheers!
Our Vineyard and Wine Shop is located in the Golden Mile grape-growing region of Oliver. The town and rural district of Oliver is the ‘Wine Capital of Canada’ because it has the most concentration of vineyard and wineries. Oliver is in the southern part of the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. The reason there is such a concentration of wineries and vineyards is, you guessed it; it’s the best place to grow grapes, though of course other regions might debate that!
Our Vineyard was planted in 1980-1981, which makes it one of the oldest in the area. Our vineyard’s location in the famed “Golden Mile” alluvial soil deposit and southeast aspect with excellent exposure to sunshine, results in full flavour and aroma development. The vineyard slope keeps the vines safe from late spring or early fall frost problems, allowing the grapes to ripen fully. The vines are planted to the foot of a mountain, which provides evening shade, resulting in a rapid cool-off during summer, which prevents the grape acids from dropping and results in a fine balance between ripe, sweet fruit and firm, clean acidity. White and red grapes grow equally well in our terroir so we are able to produce terrific wines of both types and in a range of styles.
We produce approximately 2000 cases a year total, of a fine selection of wine styles: unoaked and oaked, pure varieties and blends.
Grape varieties include Merlot, Pinot Noir, Viognier, Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Vidal, Muscat, Siegfried, Furmint and Auxerrois, from which we produce about 12 small-batch handcrafted wines each year. All of the grapes are hand harvested and hand sorted for the best quality.
Consumers often ask, “what is your signature wine?” to which the response is always, “wow, that’s hard to say”. Because we produce handcrafted small batch wines and have a beautiful selection of grape varieties grown in our vineyard, most of our wines (according to many wine writers) “are wonderfully unique and creative.” We like to blend and believe it is the best showcase of the art of winemaking. Each year we produce five blends; Heartbreaker®, Heart of Gold®, Muscat Madness, Pinot Duetto and a red blend we are currently in the idea process of a name change for.
We are a hands-on, family run, estate farm gate winery; we “grow it, make it, package it and sell it.” Our wines are only available in BC, and then only in select restaurants, private liquor stores and at our on-site wine shop. We do not choose to sell into BC Government Liquor Stores or BC VQA stores simply because we do not have enough production. So we have a list of retailers on our website for your information and of course we hope you’ll also come visit us soon.
We have a lovely little picnic area available where you can enjoy sharing a bottle of our wine with friends, or you may purchase a glass of wine for a very reasonable price.
LEASHED (at all times) PETS are welcome here at Castoro de Oro and are encouraged to enjoy the Picnic Area with their humans, or we have a safe space where your dogs leash can be tied to a large walnut tree, it’s nice, grassy and shady and visible from inside the wine shop. Ask for a fresh bowl of water and they’ll be all set.
If you are planning a summer birthday party or other small event, we have outdoor seating for 50, but if it’s a casual event (without sit down food service) 80 people can be accommodated. Inquire about our Special Event Area via our website or phone: www.castorodeoro.com or 250-495-4991.
We are active facebook and twitter users and we often have specials only available to our ‘fans’ so give us a LIKE or FOLLOW and stay tuned! http://www.facebook.com/castorodeoro and @CastoroWinery.
At Castoro de Oro Estate Winery we like to say that we are a “two and a half staff winery”. Though we do hire, very occasionally, temporary – job specific vineyard help and a single seasonal part-time wine shop attendant, the majority of the time it’s just us.
Bruno Kelle, proprietor and winemaker was born in Tillsonburg, Ontario and was raised on a tobacco farm there. Bruno grew up farming ‘driving a tractor’ but he started a career in high tech sales and ended up living in Calgary. He is an amateur guitar player and can sometimes be heard around our winery playing classic rock n’ roll on his acoustic guitar. If you want to coax him into playing for you, the best way is to volunteer to sing along or ask Bruno for one of our assorted percussion instruments or guitars to accompany him. Bruno can most often be found out in the vineyard; often driving his beautiful, fully restored 1962 Massey Ferguson 35, which is just like the first tractor he drove when he was young.
Stella Schmidt, proprietor and assistant winemaker was born in Calgary, Alberta and was raised on land, which included a dog kennel where her father bred, trained, field trial campaigned, showed and boarded dogs. Stella spent the majority of her life in and around Calgary, and was in the bookkeeping business before the winery. Stella is often found in the wine shop telling jokes, happily answering winemaking questions or being ‘the music audience’ for Bruno or Kurtis. Stella is the personality behind the winery facebook and twitter accounts and handles most of the business/marketing of Castoro de Oro Estate Winery so has to spend a lot of time in the office. If you bring a dog, and the wine shop isn’t insanely busy, don’t be surprised to find that she will want some snuggle time with your 4-legged, best friend.
Kurtis Kelle, vineyard worker and cellar hand is our ‘half’ staff member. He is Bruno’s son and Stella’s stepson. He graduated from high school in 2012 and is working towards a career in winemaking. He only works half time at Castoro de Oro Estate Winery because he is busy getting experience at other wineries too! Kurtis is, like his Dad, an avid music lover and is a guitar and harmonica player, but he is quite shy and can usually only be coaxed to play for guests if his Dad is playing. His pride and joy is his Kawasaki Vulcan 800 motorcycle (which is an easy rider style of bike) so in other words… wine, wind & song make up the majority of his life, right now at least.
Cashew is a purebred Welsh Terrier. She was born March 29, 2003, so she’s getting a bit older but not grouchy! If you’re missing your dog because you left yours at home you can get some of that one of kind dog affection from our resident greeter, Cashew. She adores children and is very calm and patient with them. However Cashew is “Dog Territorial” so please keep your dogs on leash and away from Cashew.
So if you haven’t figured it out yet, we make spectacular wines in the best grape growing area in Canada, but we are unpretentious, fun, casual people and our winery has a comfortable atmosphere – we remember that we are regular people – we just have a passion for wine and are lucky to be doing what we love. Oh and if all of that doesn’t make you want to stop in at our place or pick up a bottle of our wine at one of our retailers…. Perhaps the fact that all of our wines sell for less than $25 a bottle including tax and bottles deposit, might help you decide!
PHOTO CREDIT: Gripping Images ~ Calgary, AB