Subterranean vino

A new vineyard is being built in Lake Country, but the accompanying wineries are a little out of the ordinary.

There has been much mystery surrounding the O’Rourke Family Vineyard since work started on the property located between Barkley Road and Carrs Landing Road.

Owner Dennis O’Rourke and winemaker Adrian Baker have been chasing a dream of building the two wineries, one of which is built into the granite rock on the side of the mountain.

“Building this… no one would have dreamt it,” said Baker. “And because no one dreamt it, that’s why Dennis built it.”

It took five months to blast through the granite rock, resulting in 300 metres of winding tunnels and almost 12,000 square feet of cave space. The space, almost 11 metres in height, is a network of tunnels designed to store wine barrels.

“It was a very organic process, the direction of the cave, the scale of the cave, while very carefully engineered, was evolving and changing almost every day,” said Baker.

Before drilling started on the $2.5 million project done by JDS Energy & Mining Inc., a huge network of diagonal core samples were put through the mountain. Baker said the miners were told there was no specific plan and that they should let the rocks tell them where the caves should be.

“I knew taking on this project it was going to be very challenging, I had no idea the level of excitement that was going to come out of it.”

Baker, formerly the winemaker for 50th Parallel Estate Winery, said the location couldn’t be better for him.

“As a grape growing site its very, very hard to beat, fantastic soil, great exposure to the lake, we are very happy with the early wines we’ve made,” he said.

While the underground O’Rourke Family Vineyard will be quite exclusive, it’s sister winery, Chase Wines will be open to the public and is set to open May long weekend.

The family has had property in Lake Country since the 70s and call it home. According to Baker, the name for Chase Wines came from O’Rourke’s approach to life.

“It is not about the goal at the end, it is about the chase to get there. It’s about fighting the good fight and being defiant and doing what you need to do to get where you need to be,” said Baker.

Residents had expressed concerns over the winery, but Baker said they have been working with the District of Lake Country to change the land from rural residential to agricultural land.

“Everybody is always chasing something. The reason we built these caves is because everyone told him he couldn’t do it, so that made him chase the idea even harder and harder,” said Baker.

“If you are not chasing something in life you are probably dead.”

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