Trudy and George Heiss own Gray Monk Estates winery in Lake Country.

Trudy and George Heiss own Gray Monk Estates winery in Lake Country.

Winery founders honoured

George and Trudy Heiss, of Gray Monk Estates, have received the award of distinction

The Canadian Vintners Association has announced the results of the inaugural Canadian Wine Industry Awards and Lake Country’s Gray Monk Estates is the recipient of the award of distinction for outstanding leadership, commitment and passion for the advancement of the Canadian wine industry.

“It is a great honour to recognize George and Trudy Heiss, of Gray Monk Estates, B.C.’s oldest family owned and operated winery, with the award of distinction,” said Tony Stewart, CVA chairperson.

“The Heiss’ are trail blazers and can be credited with bringing many high quality vinifera vines to Canada, as well as helping to establish the Vintners Quality Alliance.”

The Canadian Vintner’s Association awards recognize individuals, organizations and businesses that have gone above and beyond to support and enhance the wine industry in Canada, celebrating the success, leadership and outstanding commitment in Canada’s grape wine industry.

The award of distinction is the preeminent award for the Canadian wine industry and regarded as the highest form of peer recognition and appreciation.

The Heiss family moved to the Okanagan from Edmonton in 1972 and in 1982, they opened a winery with a production of 175 cases. Four decades of grape growing and three decades of winemaking have passed for this couple, filled with national and international recognition for their wines.

Today, Gray Monk has exceeded 80,000 cases per year of wine production.

Among many accomplishments, the couple introduced high quality vinifera vines to Canada. In 1976, they imported and planted 50 vines of pinot gris from France.

These were the first plantings of pinot gris in Canada, which today is recognized as not only the signature grape of Gray Monk, but as the top planted white varietal in the Okanagan, with a growing presence across Canada.

They were trail blazers in the creation of the B.C. Wine Institute and founding members in the creation of the Vintners Quality Alliance, with George serving as a board member of VQA Canada.