2021 Hester Creek Character Red

Hester Creek Character Red

Wine: Hester Creek 2021 Character Red

Winery: Hester Creek Estate Winery

Why drink it? Named British Columbia Winery of the Year in 2023 by Great Northwest Wine Magazine, Hester Creek has roots dating back to 1968 when an Italian-Canadian named Joe Busnardo began experimenting with growing grapes, including some of the earliest vinifera vines in the valley.

Things have changed considerably since then, of course. Curt Garland bought it in 2004, and Okanagan native Mark Hopley is now the winemaker.

The year 2021 wasn’t easy for any Okanagan winery. Who remembers the “heat dome” that blanked western Canada early that summer? Despite the challenges, Character is an easy-drinking red, one of those bottles that pairs with all kinds of dishes and, best, pleases pretty much every red wine lover. Especially considering the price, it’s a great bottle to have on hand as the house red. A blend of Merlot (from an old Italian clone), Syrah, Petit Verdot and Malbec, it touches all the red bases: juicy, spicy, savoury, with a medium-long finish.

Pair with: Burgers, pizza, steak, hard cheeses such as Parmigiano Reggiano or aged cheddar.

Price: $23

Music pairing: Carefree Highway by Gordon Lightfoot

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About the Author

As a kid, Shelley Boettcher often found herself in the back seat of a pick-up, exploring the back roads of the Okanagan Valley with her parents. They’d occasionally leave her and her brother in the car while they stopped at mysterious addresses to buy wine. They would emerge, clearly happy, as they stuck a box or a few bottles in the vehicle. Then they would continue on their journey.

But it wasn’t until a trip to Spain in 2000 that Shelley herself fell in love with wine. She came home from the holiday and promptly told her editor she wanted to become a wine writer.

And she did. 

An award-winning food and wine writer and editor, Shelley holds her master’s degree in journalism and her advanced WSET certification, as well as her level 2 International Sommelier Guild certification. A wine columnist for the Calgary Herald, she spent a decade as CBC Radio’s national syndicated wine columnist and she has written three books about wine, including two that were Canadian bestsellers. Her byline has appeared in magazines and newspapers around the world, including the New York Times, The Guardian, The Globe and Mail and Postmedia newspapers across Canada. 

Shelley has travelled throughout many of the world’s wine regions and countries, including Niagara, Oregon, Washington, California, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Australia, Germany, Argentina and the Republic of Georgia. A few years ago, she even tracked down and visited a winery in Denmark. 

Shelley has also served as a professional wine judge regionally and internationally, including the Okanagan Wine Festivals, Vinitaly and the Chianti Classico Consortium. For more than a decade, she has been a restaurant wine list judge for the Vancouver International Wine Festival, too. She still teases her parents for sparking her love for wine, especially BC wine.

And her favourite? Whatever she's drinking at the moment.

You can follow Shelley on Instagram @shelleyboettcher or Twitter at @shelley_wine. 

If you have a BC wine you’d like to suggest, email Shelley at [email protected] with the name of the wine and a short note about why you enjoyed it.