"A Nose for Great Wines" - Julianna Hayes
As consulting winemaker for six B.C. vineyards, some people might think Eric von Krosigk has too many bosses. But most days, the 36-year-old Summerland resident says it's more like having six good friends.
That's a good thing considering von Krosigk has traded the security of a senior vintner's post with a large and prestigious wine house to help fledgling wineries make their mark in a highly competitive industry.
He certainly hasn't lightened his load any in the process. This is no nine-to-five job. Von Krosigk admits to six-day work weeks, 12 to 16 hour days and spending a lot of his free time in transit. He tries to spread himself evenly between the six wineries located in Kelowna, Naramata and Vancouver, Bowen and Saturna Islands.
While his father Buko, a German immigrant, focused on the micro beers - co-founding Okanagan Spring Brewery in 1985 - Eric saw potential in the developing wine industry. In 1983, he obtained an apprenticeship position in Germany, working at the federal grape research station. When he returned to Canada permanently several years later he'd gathered a wealth of experience and knowledge.
He saw tremendous potential in the growing conditions in the Okanagan for bubblies and collaborated with Stephen Cipes of Summerhill Winery to establish the first "Champagne house" in B.C. His next move was to LeCompte Winery in Okanagan Falls where he worked to narrow the winery's focus and improve its products and reputation. Eventually the operation was purchased by a conglomerate who changed the name to Hawthorne Mountain Vineyards and sought to produce premium, higher end wines with von Krosigk leading the way. Indeed some releases such as the red and white Meritage, Pinot Noir, Gewurtztraminer, Methode Classique and ice wines have wooed critics.
Despite such a strong showing, a long-term relationship with Hawthorne was not to be. In 1997, Von Krosigk bid the winery adieu after he and the conglomerate of owners agreed to disagree on certain matters. Then he started his own business, establishing EVK Winery Consulting which offers part-time services to small wineries which might not otherwise be able to afford a top-notch winemaker.
Pinot Reach and the Naramata wineries of Red Rooster and Hillside Cellars knew a good opportunity when they saw one and hired von Krosigk almost immediately. Early results suggest they made the right move. Wines that have been released so far are fruity and flavorful and have received excellent reviews from critics and consumers.
As his business expands, so does the opportunity for great wine to be produced. New clients bring new challenges and assisting the winemaker at Vigneti Zanatta Vineyards on Vancouver Island as well as breaking ground on Saturna Island Vineyards and keeps von Krosigk excited about the future.