Announcing the Winery of the Year 2018

Road 13 is Canada’s Winery of the Year

By Anthony Gismondi

The Road 13 journey to the top of the National Wine Awards of Canada finally came to fruition sixteen years after the winery opened its doors 2002. Owners Pam and Mick Luckhurst were looking for a more peaceful and natural lifestyle, forsaking the lumber industry and building supply business for the bucolic south Okanagan. We are guessing it was more frenetic than they were hoping for but equally satisfying after besting some 257 wineries from across the country to take home the ultimate accolade as Canada’s Winery of the Year.

It’s been a decade since the winery relinquished its original name, the “Golden Mile Cellars,” choosing to give back the geographic locator used by several wineries that stretch across the eastern slopes of Mount Kobau from Fairview to Road 18. Since then a well-define portion of alluvial fans on the Golden Mile Bench have become the Okanagan Valley’s first sub-region, or sub-geographical indications (sub-GI) an obvious vindication of the hard fought for sub-GI of which so many questioned throughout the process.

Name change aside, the Luckhurst family carried on with business as usual, farming a site first cultivated in the early 1920s when BC premier, ‘Honest’ John Oliver, catapulted the region into prime farmland by instigating an irrigation canal originating to the north at Okanagan Falls. The wine comes as no surprise to insiders who have noted the south Oliver winery’s constant climb in the national rankings for a decade finally making the breakthrough at what turned out to be the largest ever national wine competition.

Mick and Pam Luckhurst

Mick and Pam Luckhurst

Neither Pam or Mick are winemakers, so they have seen a few come and go over the years. They opened under the guidance of the now deceased Californian-trained Lawrence Herder. Michael Bartier moved in from 2005 to 2009 instilling an Okanagan ethos throughout the winery. When Bartier moved across the valley to open Bartier Bros. the Luckhursts snagged the highly celebrated J-M Bouchard out of Ontario who focused the winery on terroir through 2016.

The last two years winemaker Jeff Del Nin, formerly of Church and State has quietly polished all that was available to him resulting in the coveted Winery of the Year award. The winery’s calling card is “It’s all about the dirt,” but we may argue it’s all about the pristine fruit and clarity the judges found in the Road 13 wines. This year’s performance was something special. 

It begins with a platinum medal for the Road 13 Vineyards 2016 Roussanne. This is one of many wines that validates the Road 13 move into making “Rhone-ish” wines although truth be told, the south Okanagan doesn’t need a lot of help from the Rhone to tell its story. Chenin blanc is another strength of the winery where plus 40-year-old vines fuelled a still and sparkling programme that is second to none in the country.

Joe Luckhurst

Joe Luckhurst

Today a new generation oversees running the day-to day-operation of Road 13, general manager Joe Luckhurst and his wife Lara, and young daughter have brought a renewed energy to the property. When I called Joe in late July to let him know they had captured the winery of the year he was both ebullient and humble saying “We are so delighted with this win. Our team’s tireless dedication to excellence has really paid off, as has following our passion for Rhone-style wines. A platinum medal for the 2016 Roussanne is proof of our understanding of the best way to express our terroir in the glass.”

In all the winery took home 15 medals including 1 platinum, 8 gold, 2 silver, and 4 bronze wowing judges over multiple flights in a blind tasting environment. Former winemaker Michael Bartier once said, “These wines are the Okanagan in a glass,” and its hard to argue less. Lest you think its only the quirky wines that get the judges attention these days, Road 13 is nailing select bottlings of petit verdot, cabernet franc, the aforementioned chenin blanc and several Bordeaux-style red blends. It’s really a complete lineup. 

The winery has invested large sums of money in its infrastructure both inside the winery and out. In particular, it runs one of the swankiest Wine Club programs in the country and they have legions of fans.

Road 13

Sadly, there can only be one winner a year but the top 25 list at The Nationals has never been better and the scores have never been closer than they were this year. There is so much to celebrate in Canadian wine we salute every winery with the courage and gumption to put their wines up for consideration. And as always, we can’t wait for next year.

Road 13’s Medal Winning Wines


Road 13 Vineyards Roussanne 2016

Road 13 Vineyards 2016 Roussanne


Blind Creek Collective 2016 Cabernet Franc
Road 13 Vineyards 2017 Chip off the Old Block Chenin Blanc
Road 13 Vineyards 2016 Syrah
Blind Creek Collective 2016 Petit Verdot

Blind Creek Collective Cabernet Franc 2016Road 13 Vineyards Chip Off The Old Block Chenin Blanc 2017Road 13 Vineyards Syrah 2016 

Road 13 Vineyards 2013 5th Element
Road 13 Vineyards 2014 Jackpot Petit Verdot
Blind Creek Collective 2015 Consensus
Blind Creek Collective 2017 Viognier

Road 13 Vineyards 5th Element 2013Road 13 Vineyards Jackpot Petit Verdot 2014Blind Creek Collective Consensus 2015Road 13 Blind Creek Viognier 2017


Blind Creek Collective 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon
Road 13 Vineyards 2016 GSM

Blind Creek Collective Cabernet Sauvignon 2016Road 13 Vineyards GSM 2016


Blind Creek Collective 2016 Chardonnay
Road 13 Vineyards 2016 Seventy-Four K
Road 13 Vineyards 2016 Jackpot Syrah
Road 13 Vineyards 2016 Cabernet Merlot

Blind Creek Collective Chardonnay 2016Road 13 Vineyards Seventy Four K 2016Road 13 Vineyards Jackpot Syrah 2016

If you have missed our far more detailed commentary on the various categories – with a few being rolled out each day over the past several days – see the complete list of winners here.


We would like to acknowledge the following sponsors: Zwilling for the glassware used throughout the judging, Eska Water for providing refreshing sparkling water to cleanse the judges’ palates, and Container World for shipping and logistics. Each and every awards bottle image appearing our site as well as photos of the backroom and judging was done by Jason Dziver. You can see more of his work at Jason Dziver Photography.