B.C. wine pioneer Bill Eggert sells Fairview Cellars to Hutton family

Winery's 11-acre site is at northern tip of the Okanagan's Golden Mile

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Danielle Hutton stands between her husband, Dermott Hutton (right) and Bill Eggert (left) | submitted

B.C. wine pioneer Bill Eggert has sold his Fairview Cellars winery to Danielle and Dermott Hutton for an undisclosed amount.

The sale includes a 11-acre site in the Okanagan's Golden Mile sub-appellation that includes the winery, a log-cabin tasting room, an older house and about nine acres of planted vineyards.

Eggert had owned the property for more than 30 years and has been making wine on the site for 25 years. He plans to help the Huttons with this year's harvest and operations, and will live on the property for another year.

He continues to own a separate three-acre parcel of land that Fairview has farmed, and which produced grapes for the winery's Crooked Post Pinot Noir wine, Danielle Hutton told BIV

She and her husband had worked for years in Vancouver's hospitality sector, at restaurants such as Blue Water Cafe and West. They have three children and moved to the Okanagan in 2016, in part because they found that real estate was more affordable for a family, Hutton said. 

The duo worked and invested in the Firehall Brewery in Oliver – a stake that they sold in 2019.

"We were looking for businesses to buy or to partner in, and we came up and we loved it up here," Hutton said of the Fairview Cellars site.

The Huttons will live in Oliver and commute to the winery site.

Hutton started working with Eggert as Fairview's general manager in 2020, and she learned from him how to make wine. The pandemic reduced public visits to the winery so she was able to focus on winemaking techniques, she said.

Her husband, Dermott, took over as the winery's vineyard manager earlier this month. 

Most of Fairview's wines have gone through the process to become certified with the British Columbia Vintner's Quality Alliance (BC VQA) standard. Some wines are not certified as BC VQA because Eggert and Hutton have wanted to sell them soon after bottling and did not want to go through the BC VQA process.

The winery produces about 5,000 cases of wine per year. Hutton said she has no big changes planned for the winery but that she will likely introduce newer technology in the winemaking process.

Wine-guide author John Schreiner praised Eggert as being a B.C. wine pioneer.

"He was one of the early ones to start charging what the what the wines were worth, which is aggressive pricing," Schreiner said. 

"I always liked his his honesty, frankness, and his willingness to to listen to other people."

Schreiner remembers a time when he was in the Fairview Cellars tasting room and the price for a wine was $50 on the blackboard, and $35 on a printed price list. He asked Eggert which was the actual price. Eggert poured Schreiner a glass and asked him how much he was willing to pay. 

Sometimes, Schreiner said, he would tell Eggert that his wines were priced below what they were worth. 

An 11-acre property is small by B.C. winery standards, Schreiner said – small enough that it could be a challenge to make a living.  The answer to making the winery viable is to buy grapes from others, but that involves uncertainty because "you're never sure of how long you're going to have access to the fruit," Schreiner said.

Hutton told BIV that Fairview makes about 70% of its wines from fruit grown on its land, and that the rest is made from grapes bought from other growers. 

There are 41 Canadian wineries set to pour wines at the Vancouver International Wine Festival, which is set for May 16 through 22. Hutton said she will be at the festival but her winery is not one of the ones that are officially part of the festival.

gkorstrom@biv.com

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