Richard and Jitske Kamphuys are the owners of Ancient Hill Estate Winery.
Tiring of big city life in the Netherlands, we decided to ‘go west’ and seek out a lifestyle more in tune with nature. In 1992 we ended up in Kelowna and decided to make it our home.
Buying a property that had an orchard on it, we set about to try our hand at orcharding. The same property had been a vineyard in the 1940’s and early 1950’s, but had been converted to an orchard after a severe winter killed off most of the vines. When it became clear that the returns from orcharding were too volatile, the decision was made to replant a vineyard on the property and eventually build a winery.
The Rittich brothers, after whom a local road is named, were one of the viticulture pioneers of the Okanagan. In the 1930’s they imported various vinifera varieties from Europe, with the goal of seeing which ones would grow well in the Okanagan. Based on their trials, various vineyards were planted in the 1940’s. The hillside across from the Kelowna Airport, the current location of Ancient Hill Estate Winery, was one of their test areas. Several abandoned vines, part of the vineyard planted in the 1940’s, still survive on the property to this day.
In 2005, the vineyard at Ancient Hill was planted. The varieties planted were: Baco Noir, Pinot Noir, Lemberger, Zweigelt, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris. All varieties were selected because they would grow and ripen well at Ancient Hill. In fact, Lemberger was the number one choice of the Rittich brothers. An excellent red grape variety, currently neglected in the Okanagan due to its unfortunate name.
In 2008, Robert Mackenzie, the well-known architect from Penticton, was asked to design a winery building that fit the name and concept of Ancient Hill. The result is superb. And in 2009, accomplished consulting winemaker Christine Leroux took on the task of creating Ancient Hill’s first vintage. The results are equally superb.
The name ‘Ancient Hill’ was chosen as an acknowledgement of the natural forces that created the terroir of our vineyard. Around 25,000 years ago, the site of Ancient Hill was covered by glaciers. These eventually started melting and in the process deposited large amounts of sand and gravel. Gradually, a massive glacial lake called ‘Lake Penticton’ was formed. About 10,000 years ago, the site of Ancient Hill was under water, being a part of the shores of ‘Lake Penticton’.
Our logo symbolizes the interconnectedness of the various elements of Nature that are needed to create wine. Earth, Air and Water are inextricably combined. They provide the platform for the eternal circle of life to play out. In our case, the growth of the grape vine and the fruit it produces.