The Hillside Story

Grow the best quality fruit possible, pick at optimum physiological ripeness, ferment cool, and intervene with nature only when necessary…simple, elegant. Simple, elegant, yes, but easy? Definitely not. The temptation to constantly “fiddle” and “improve upon” Mother Nature is really more about manufacturing. Natural, beautiful wine is not manufactured—rather, it is carefully guided through natural phases to become the glorious essence of the effects of sun and soil on specific grape varieties.

Digital stack of two images, the visible image on top showing a black and white photo of Kathy Malone wearing the Hillside Winery merchandise.

Our Winemaking Philosophy

It is our belief that great wines start in the vineyard, and to this end, we use only the best quality fruit available from our twenty acres of grapes densely planted on hillside terraces surrounding the winery. We also have partnerships with select vineyards along the Naramata Bench.

It has been our commitment since our inception to produce hand-crafted, naturally fruit-forward, well-balanced wines that represent the true character of the grapes. Our uniquely designed winery allows us to ferment and age the wine in many small batches to maintain the varietal character and integrity of each grape type and vineyard.

Cool temperature fermentations for the whites using state of the art steel fermentors allows us to produce intensely aromatic and flavourful wines that captivate the senses. More traditional techniques are applied to the reds involving open top fermentors, French and American oak barrels, and a very hands-on winemaking team, resulting in rich, classic style wines that have consistently won accolades from both consumers and wine judges alike.

Farm to table at the bistro

Since joining Hillside, Chef Evan Robertson has shifted focus of the menu to local, sustainable, and seasonal ingredients that highlight the incredible diversity of the Okanagan Valley. He recently planted a vegetable garden at our Hidden Valley vineyard which he plans on being a focus in his ever-evolving menu.

Biodiversity in the vineyards

Hillside Winery is teeming with life. Bees from local beehives protect and repair damaged grapes, while wild horses, bears, and coyotes are regularly seen roaming the vineyards. The wildlife complements the native plants to create a thriving ecosystem, which greatly benefit the quality of fruit and other local fauna.

Sustainable Winegrowing BC

SWBC certification is a significant milestone for the wine industry, as it allows the industry to clearly demonstrate their commitment to the environment, biodiversity, sustainability, and climate change initiatives. Hillside has begun the process of being certified.

Founders Bohumir and Vera Klococka standing in front of a mosaic spelling out

45 years and counting…

In the early 1900s this site was owned by the Riddle family who operated an apricot orchard. Their property stretched about 100 yards north to what is now Riddle Road; the original farmhouse stood on what is now the site of our tasting room. The cherry trees, which were on the Riddles’ front lawn, were planted in 1926.

In 1979, the property was purchased by Bohumir and Vera Klokocka who had recently immigrated to the Okanagan Valley from Czechoslovakia. Vera had a dream. In her mind’s eye she saw the sloping land carpeted by orderly rows of grapes – grapes that she would turn into luscious wines, even though she had no experience at either growing grapes or fermenting them. In 1984 she and Bohumir pulled out the apricot trees and planted 3.5 acres of vineyards. The last surviving apricot tree from the Riddles’ orchard remains on the bank just below the Kettle Valley Railway (on the northeast side of the building). The grapevines thrived in the gravelly soil and warm Okanagan sunshine and Vera’s dream took shape.

In 1989 Hillside, together with Lang Vineyards and Wild Goose, lobbied the Provincial Government to bring about the Farmgate Winery Policy that was instrumental in changing the B.C. Wine Industry. The new policy allowed small vineyards of five acres or less to not only produce wine but also to sell it directly from their premises.

See the people that make Hillside Winery great.