Directors

Mason Spink

Growing up in Victoria BC, Mason was bitten by the wine bug early in life and decided to move to Ontario to study winemaking. After successfully completing his Bachelor of Science degree in Oenology and Viticulture, with honors, at the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario Mason moved back to British Columbia. During Mason’s time a Brock university he completed and undergraduate thesis on the study of Lady Bug taint in wine. After returning to BC, Mason joined the winemaking team at See Ya Later Ranch, as the assistant winemaker and was quickly promoted to winemaker where he held that position for six vintages. During this time Mason also work with Okanagan College as an instructor of both winemaking and viticulture classes. Just before the start of the 2013 vintage Mason joined the Dirty Laundry Vineyard team.

As the winemaker at Dirty Laundry Vineyards Mason oversees a small but effective team that carries out all viticulture and winemaking practices.

Valerie Tait

Val Tait’s analytical and technical skills were developed from a B.Sc. in Plant Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. While working with grape vine viruses, Val discovered wine and the connection between the expression of wines and viticulture, which motivated her to go on to study Oenology and Viticulture at UC Davis in California. Val has considerable experience with over 1,000 acres planted and 25 vintages, working with some of the most iconic producers in the Okanagan and as an owner of Calliope Wines. Her philosophy in winemaking is to capture the personality and full expression of wines in the vineyard, with minimal intervention in the cellar.

Wilbert Borren

Born in the Netherlands. After finishing Agricultural college immigrated to Canada to work on a dairy farm. Five years after settling in Canada he and his wife purchased a small hog farm that they expanded over the years.

Getting tired of the cold winters in Alberta and it being time for a career change Wilbert, his wife and their four boys sold the farm and purchased a vineyard in Penticton. They now grow 12 acres of grapes with a vacation rental in the vineyard – Four Shadows Vineyard ltd.

Wilbert served as a Director on a marketing organization, the Western Hog Exchange. He was co-founder of the Progressive Pork Producers, a farmer study group and served on a Church board.

Being a new comer to the grape industry, Wilbert will bring a new look to the BC Grapegrower Association board.  He hopes to serve on the board, bringing his experiences from other agricultural sectors to this exciting industry.

Manfred (Fred) Freese

After retiring in 1996 from a 30-year career in government and industry R&D and management, Manfred decided to return to his early interests in farming and wine. He and his wife Barbara have operated a small 5-acre vineyard that they planted in 2000 on a steep hillside on the east bench overlooking Lake Osoyoos which they recently leased. He joined the BCGA in 2001 and became a director in 2003. Besides growing grapes, Manfred enjoyed studying the various technical aspects of modern viticulture and customizing some of the vineyard instrumentation and equipment designs. In the off-season Manfred & Barbara like to go skiing and curling. They also enjoy traveling and performing various volunteer activities in the community.

Jarnail Gill

Jarnail came to the Okanagan Valley in 1985 and started working for one of the private apple packinghouses in the area. This experience proved profitable for him, and he was able to start his own packinghouse in 1996 with some other partners. In 2001, he branched into a ‘cherry-only’ concept, installing the largest cherry packing plant in the south Okanagan that can pack nearly two million lbs of cherries a season.

During this time, he also bought 10 acres of apple & cherry farmland and, in 2008, Jarnail leased another 35 acres of raw land and put in a vineyard. He sold his business in 2012, and purchased another 40 acres of organic apple and cherry farms beside his vineyard, where he now now packs and markets his own fruit.

David Kozuki

In 2008 David was working for a land developer in Vancouver when his family was faced with the decision of selling the apple orchard that had been in the Matsu family for the past hundred years. Six months later he enrolled in a viticulture program, started Golden Retreat Vineyard Ltd., and found himself knee deep in dirt planting two vineyards totaling 11 acres of vines in Summerland which he has managed for the past 8 years. Reconnecting with the land that his grandfather farmed, David readily embraced the vineyard lifestyle and it ignited his passion for viticulture.  He has since taken viticulture, winery assistant and winemaking courses at UBCO. David continues to enjoy learning about new developments in viticulture and enology, and looks forward to taking part in the wine industry as it continues to evolve. David’s additional credentials/experience includes a Bachelor of Science degree, a Bachelor’s degree in Jazz music studies and 3 years’ research experience in parental neuro pathology.

Graham O’Rourke

Graham and his wife Lyndsay moved to the Okanagan Valley in 2007 after completing degrees in Viticulture and Oenology from Lincoln University in New Zealand. Together with their two boys, Ethan and Garen, they manage a seven-acre vineyard on the Naramata Bench. In October of 2012, Graham left a Viticulturist position of six years with Mission Hill to start Tightrope, a new and emerging winery. Graham is also an active viticulture consultant throughout British Columbia, helping other vineyard and winery owners achieve their dreams of producing top quality sustainably grown wines.

Ken Sapsford, P.Ag.

Ken received his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture degree in 1979 from the University of Saskatchewan. From 2000 to March, 2015, he was employed as a Research Assistant in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Saskatchewan managing the field research program for weed control in the major and minor crops grown in the prairies. Prior to working at the U of S, he was a Conservation Agronomist with the Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Association promoting direct seeding.

Ken has also been involved in a 3,000-acre family farm with his brother. The family farm was sold in 2012, and he and his wife Joy purchased a small vineyard in Kaleden and also started a private agriculture consulting business. One of the projects he was involved with in 2015 was a research trial for the Okanagan and Similkameen Invasive Species Society, to find a control option for Puncturevine in the South Okanagan. They had a couple of products show promising results and there are plans to continue the project for another year.

In 2008, Ken was the recipient of the “Distinguished Agrologist” Award from the Saskatchewan Institute of Agrologists, and in 2014, received the “Excellence in Weed Extension Award” from the Canadian Society of Weed Science.

Ken has been involved with numerous boards in the past including the Saskatchewan Institute of Agrologist and the Canadian Weed Science Society. He is very interested in the science and art of growing grapes and believes his prairie agriculture and research background can bring a different prospective to the issues that come before the British Columbia Grapegrowers Association.

Skip Stothert

Skip has been married to Judy for over 47 years and they have two boys. Skip graduated from High School at Brentwood College on Vancouver Island. He has a degree in sales and marketing from the University of British Columbia. He started Green Roads Recycling Ltd in 1989 and semi-retired in 2010.  He currently only advises his sons who now run the business. Judy and Skip moved from North Vancouver to Naramata in 2003 and started their vineyard on a 52-acre property. They have planted Chardonnay on 7 acres and Pinot Noir on 2.5 acres. Skip is currently planting some test sites using a bush-style farming on more Pinot Noir plants. Their grapes are produced for them under the license of the Okanagan Crush Pad and their label is Coolshanagh Vineyards.

Ralph Suremann

After working in the marketing and graphic design industry, Ralph & his wife Beatrice decided at age 32 to change their lives and emigrated from Switzerland to beautiful British Columbia. Growing grapes, managing, and establishing vineyards as a viticulturist on the Naramata Bench became Ralph’s passion. After operating successfully as Pegasus Enterprises for 7 years, he decided to expand his viticulture company with 2 partners, and in 2006 they founded Vinifera Custom Viticulture Service Ltd. Today, Ralph has moved more to the background and focuses mainly on consulting for Vinifera. This gives him more time to look after his own farmland in Naramata, which includes 2 vineyards and pastures for their horses.