- Our Town
Fire destroys Shuswap winery
An early-morning fire at Granite Creek Estate Wines in Tappen has destroyed the winery and thousands of dollars worth of wine.
Firefighters from the Tappen-Sunnybrae Volunteer Fire Department responded at 5:30 a.m. Jan. 15 to find the winery fully engulfed.
Heather Kennedy, who owns the winery in partnership with her husband Gary and son and daughter-in-law Doug and Mayka Kennedy, says all the wine that was being aged in oak barrels was destroyed.
“We have no wine, all our stuff for the next few years is gone, all the wine that was being aged in oak for three to four years is gone,” she said, admitting the Kennedys were in a state of shock.
Heather says the two-storey winery that specialized in red wines, had six different varieties on the go, with a supply of port just ready for bottling.
Not only were the wines destroyed, but the downstairs bottling line as well.
And while insurance adjusters were on the scene by mid-morning yesterday, Heather says it won’t give the family back what they have put into Granite Creek over the past 10 years.
“You never get what you put into it,” she said.
The Kennedys have no idea where or how the fire started.
Heather says Gary got up at around 4:30 a.m. and, surprised by the fact the water was not running, thought perhaps the cold temperature had frozen the lines.
When he looked out the window to check the thermometer, he saw the winery in full blaze and called 911.
“It’s just a shock, just the shock of it all,” Heather said, expressing gratitude to the Tappen-Sunnybrae firefighters. “Thank God it didn’t get the house.”
The wine shop located in the Kennedy’s nearby home has a small inventory of bottled wine. Some of their wines are also currently available in local stores.
Columbia Shuswap Regional District fire services co-ordinator Kenn Mount says the structure was fully engulfed when the 14 Tappen-Sunnybrae firefighters arrived at the winery.
“The crews arrived quickly and approached the fire defensively; they were able to handle the situation very well. I am impressed with how well the fire officers did commanding this incident,” says Mount.
“The Tappen-Sunnybrae Volunteer Fire Department has a large number of new recruits, who still have less than one-year service and they performed very well at this incident.”
Mount was helping with the investigation Tuesday morning. He says the source of the fire was in the basement and is not considered suspicious. The investigation was ongoing yesterday afternoon.
While the vineyards were untouched by the blaze, Heather says the future of Granite Creek remains to be seen.
“I don’t know what we’re gonna do, would we rebuild? I don’t know,” she said, noting that a wedding booked for the summer might be able to take place at the house. “We’ll just have to see what happens.”
The Kennedys will continue to sell what is left of their stock. Customers are asked to call 250-835-0049 before visiting the winery.