A French winemaker who has worked for years in the South Okanagan region has been awarded the honourary title of Chevalier (Knight) in the Ordre du Mérite Agricole.
Caroline Schaller, who is currently the winemaker at Rainmaker Wines in Oliver, was given the prestigious recognition by the Ministry of Agriculture of the French Republic, which highlights the unique place that agriculture, food and the culinary arts play in the history, economy and culture of France.
"The award honours distinguished members of the agricultural community and Ms Schaller is being distinguished for her special merits in that field and for her contribution to the dissemination of French culinary culture at large," the press release states.
She joins just four other members of the order from the province : three restaurateurs and a wine expert in Vancouver.
A medal was presented to her in Kelowna by the Consul General, Nicolas Baudouin, who is in Vancouver representing the French government in Western Canada.
During her time as a winemaker at Osoyoos Larose, Schaller contributed to the development of French wine-growing traditions with North American marketing techniques, building on the presence of wine types from Bordeaux in the Okanagan Valley.
"Schaller has been bringing her expertise for about six years to the development of British Columbia vines with a special focus on organic farming. She also contributed to the tourism rise in the region, with the opening of her guest house at Osoyoos Larose as well as the training of young French winemakers doing a co-op at the domain," Baudouin said in the press release.
"She has therefore remarkably contributed to date to the production and French savoir-faire visibility in the wine industry of Canada."
Originally from Toulouse in the South of France, Schaller went to oenology school and started working in domains with very specific varietals, with temporary experiences in Napa Valley, California and Chile.
She also worked for 13 years at Domaine d’En Segur, internationally reputed before moving to BC in 2017 where she was hired at Osoyoos Larose domain as winemaker- oenologist.
In January of 2022, Schaller made her move to Rainmaker Wines to develop higher quality productions.