The Summerland region is home to some amazing wines, rich with flavour from the Okanagan soil and summer sun. But behind those wines – and the Summerland community itself – is some equally amazing history.
The two come together beautifully at Back Door Winery.
Inspired by the stories of Prohibition era “allurements,” the winery “takes you back to a time when your favourite wine was a wanted criminal. Locked up and prohibited from enjoyment, except for a few covert locations.”
One such location was on Jones Flat Road, where an entrepreneurial farmer used a peach orchard to hide barrels of wine. A rare few were trusted with the secret knock that allowed entry through the back door and to a cellar lined with a seemingly never-ending collection of wine casks – the perfect setting to mingle with others while having a secret sip or two.
Today, Jones Flat Road grows grapes that infuse Back Door wines with flavour, from the expertly balanced pinot gris, with its hints of green apple and kiwi accented with a burst of citrus, to the exotic pinotage, whose flavours of blackberry, dark cherry and fig accompany a smooth body with soft tannins and a creamy vanilla finish.
While the Back Door’s wines are remarkable, the atmosphere at this family-run winery are infinitely approachable – and that’s entirely by design, says owner Jesse Gill, who hails from a farming family with deep roots in southern British Columbia agriculture.
A former commercial and agricultural banker, in 2008 those roots led him to the 42-acre Double Barrel Vineyards, nestled between Oliver and Osoyoos, and then in 2020 to a 10-acre vineyard in Summerland, where he was happy to open the Back Door to friends new and old.
“I always like to say we’re the unpretentious winery – we produce wines that people like to drink,” Gill says with a smile.
Ready to take the winery to the next level with award-winning winemaker Lee Holland, Back Door today bottles 20,000 cases annually, including whites, reds, a rosé and dessert wines. New at the winery is a box wine, Secret Stash, available in a white and rosé.
Welcome to the Back Door
While guests are welcome daily for tastings, Sunday afternoons throughout spring and summer bring the added enjoyment of live local music on the patio, backdropped by rolling vineyards and accompanied with delicious wine.
The winery is also sharing its support for local history-keepers with a fundraiser: for non-members, the $5 tasting fee for a flight of six wines will be donated to the Summerland Museum. (Tastings are free for members.)