Little Farm Winery is the result of years of hard work for owners Alishan Driediger and Rhys Pender MW. Back in 1998 Alishan and Rhys had to decide whether to pursue a “real job” or jump in the deep end and scratch out a living following their passion for food and wine. They never looked back and since then life has been one adventure after another taking them from professional culinary training to tasting rooms, vineyards and cellars in the Okanagan Valley to wine retail in Vancouver, through owning and operating a catering company and the creation of Okanagan Grocery Artisan Breads in Kelowna before purchasing a five acre property in Cawston in the stunning Similkameen Valley. Then the real hard work began.
Throughout this adventure Rhys fueled his insatiable passion for wine knowledge by taking all the courses of the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) culminating in becoming Canada’s youngest Master of Wine (MW) in 2010. Since 2005 through his company Wine Plus+he has operated a WSET wine school in the Okanagan Valley. Alishan during this time not only became a highly accomplished and recognized baker and built Okanagan Grocery but also completed a winemaking Diploma while raising their young daughters Madeleine and Elodie.
There is something about a passion for wine that drives those caught by the bug to want, or perhaps need, to create their own wine from scratch. The opportunity presented itself in 2008 when Rhys and Alishan sold their tiny 800 square foot house in Peachland and due to the luck of selling at the peak of the market before the bust, were able to convert their good fortune to a five acre mixed hay field and orchard and nearly 100 year old, characterful but slightly run down, house.
The dream was always to make wines with minimal manipulation and intervention to really capture the vineyard site and the growing season.
There is something very personal about preparing a site, planting the vines by hand and then nurturing the young plants through the dangers of heat, cold, wind, pest and disease. Then comes the opportunity to turn those precious grapes into wine and after three years spending hundreds of hours in the vineyard it seems wrong to do anything but let the flavours and character of the vineyard and the vintage show through. That first vintage, and the whopping 56 cases of wine produced in 2011, becomes a treasure of four years of hard work and commitment. The on-site winery at Mulberry Tree Vineyard was completed in 2013, just in time for harvest.
Little Farm Winery will never be big and will always focus on making small batches of single-vineyard wine that reflect each site’s unique characteristics. The goal is to make interesting, characterful, natural-ish wines and look after our little farm.
The Name Little Farm Winery
The name Little Farm Winery was inspired by the French term paysan. Whilst reading an article about some of the natural wine producers of France, one wine grower preferred to be called a paysan, or small farmer, as he translated it. It struck us that we are small farmers too and that we were the paysan’s of our little farm.