B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks on pandemic response at the B.C. legislature, May 6, 2020. (B.C. government photo)

Similkameen winery co-owned by Dr. Bonnie Henry

B.C.’s provincial health officer is part of the original ownership group of Clos du Soleil in Keremeos

British Columbians have grown accustomed to the daily presence of provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry as she charts the province’s course throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. But for the ownership group of a Similkameen winery, her calm demeanour is an old comfort.

That’s because the widely-beloved Henry is herself a co-owner of Clos du Soleil, a winery in Keremeos she helped found with a group of friends in 2006.

Also among the current ownership group is Michael Clark, who serves as Clos du Soleil’s winemaker and general manager. Like himself and the rest of the owners, Clark says Henry has a love for quality wine, food and travel.

“She’s told me a million times—and she could be speaking for any of us—that it’s a lot more than just a business, it’s a passion,” Clark said. “We’re all involved in it because of the passion for wine and the passion for the valley.”

While she hasn’t been directly involved with the winery since assuming her role as the province’s top doctor, Clark says Henry is very much a fan of all the wines Clos du Soleil has to offer.

Her personal favourites are Signature—the winery’s flagship reds blend—and Fumé Blanc, a wine that’s predominantly Sauvignon Blanc, Clark said.

READ MORE: Province streamlines patio applications for B.C. restaurants, wineries, pubs

The pandemic has thrust Henry into the spotlight, but having known her well before the crisis started, Clark says he’s not surprised to see the number of British Columbians who have received her positively in her critical role.

“I think the reason people have bonded to her so much when she’s on the TV or the news is because she’s being her real self in front of the cameras,” Clark said. “That’s what she’s like in person, too. She’s soft-spoken, very friendly, warm and genuine.”

Before the rest of B.C. knew her as the soft-spoken voice of calm amid times of upheaval, Clark knew Henry as a voice of reason no matter the circumstance.

“I knew that she had a very important role for our province, and so I already knew that if there was ever a health crisis in B.C., she would be in a central leadership position to deal with it,” Clark added.

“But I certainly didn’t expect what’s going on now.”

A long list of industries are up against severe financial strain as a result of the pandemic, and with its reliance on tourism and restaurants, the wine industry is no exception.

“The restaurant industry is going through a horrendous time and that’s closely tied with the provincial wine industry. So it’s a challenging time is the bottom line,” Clark said.

Fortunately, many British Columbians are steadfast in both their love of wine and their willingness to support those who produce it in their local areas.

“The B.C. public is extremely supportive of the B.C. wine industry, and so we’re really lucky to have that intense support from the people of British Columbia—and people across Canada for that matter,” Clark said.

The timeline towards a return to normalcy is uncertain, a reality Henry has affirmed every step of the way. Today, May 30, Henry took to the podium to remind residents to remain cautious and “proceed with care” as the province enters the third week of its reopening plan.

Uncertainty prevails in these times, but Clark says he’s glad to have a friend like Henry leading the charge.

“We’re really proud of the great work that she’s been doing for our province. These are definitely unique times that we’re in right now and we’re all really thankful for everything that she’s doing.”

Clos du Soleil, which translates to ‘enclosed vineyard in the sun,’ is located at 2568 Upper Bench Road in Keremeos.

READ MORE: Penticton may soon allow drinking alcohol in some public places


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

BC Wine

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dozens of fish die at popular lake near Chase

A few natural phenomena are possible causes for their deaths.

Transport truck driver ticketed after rear-ending semi, closing Highway 1 in Shuswap

Truck catches fire, Chase RCMP ticket man for following too closely

Automated phone scam targets Shuswap residents

Scammers may be spoofing a local number and claiming they are with the CRA

Okanagan and Shuswap MPs want federal funds to help stop invasive species

Concerns raised that spending favours Eastern Canada.

COVID-19: Homeless to be relocated from temporary Okanagan shelter

Homeless shelters in Vernon have been combined into one site at the curling rink since April

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

‘Made in the Cowichan Valley’ coming to a wine bottle near you

Cowichan Valley has the honour of being the first sub-GI outside of the Okanagan

Most Read