Announcing the 2022 Best Performing Small Winery of the Year

SpearHead Winery

By Co-Head Judge David Lawrason

The National Wine Awards of Canada is delighted to announce that SpearHead Winery in the Okanagan Valley is the 2022 Best Performing Small Winery of the Year. 

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SpearHead Wine Shop with SWOTY logo

This award goes to the winery with a production of 10,000 cases or less that chalked up the highest aggregate score for its five top-scoring wines. Spearhead 2019 Coyote Vineyard Pinot Noir took a coveted Platinum Medal, but incredibly, the next seven wines also struck Gold, followed by three Silver medals and five Bronze. Sixteen medals overall are the kind of consistency that is tough to beat, and consistency is what The Nationals are built to measure. 


Bill Knutson, a Vancouver lawyer, and Marina Knutson are the majority owners of SpearHead. “When we embarked on this project by planting our initial vineyard in 2008,” Knutson explains, “our ambition was to create a small winery that would become known for quality. With that in mind, we were proud to be named Best New Winery in 2012 at the B.C. Wine Awards, and now, ten years later, we are ecstatic to be named The Best Performing Small Winery at The Nationals. 

“We have a hard-working team, led by winemaker Grant Stanley, that contributes every day to the pursuit of SpearHead’s goal to be recognized as an important part of Canada’s emerging wine industry. We are very proud to be associated with the previous winners of this award, and we are now more determined than ever to secure a reputation for producing premium wines that deserve a place on the world stage.”

Grant Stanley

Winemaker Grant Stanley

Although focused on pinot noir, SpearHead bottles many different versions based on individual vineyard sites and clones. Eighty percent of the 15-acre Home Vineyard in East Kelowna is planted to pinot noir, with four French Dijon clones, the Pommard clone and two California clones. They also draw fruit from sites like Coyote Vineyard in West Kelowna and the Golden Retreat Vineyard in Summerland. 

It is this kind of detail that defines the mission of winemaker Grant Stanley to explore Okanagan terroir. Stanley, a dual citizen of Canada and New Zealand, began his career making pinot noir in Martinborough — a small region that spawned pinot noir as a significant variety in that country. He is now a 20-year veteran of Okanagan winemaking with important stops at Quails’ Gate and 50th Parallel

“My first vintage in the Okanagan was in 2003,” Stanley says. “That vintage [with hail damage to the vineyard] taught me a lot about the power of mother nature. Every vintage since then has confirmed at every stage that, no matter what you do, the best grapes always come from the best vineyard sites, managed impeccably. Every year the great combination of experienced, dedicated growers and minimalist winemaking techniques makes the best wine in the cellar.” 

Stanley says: “The viticulture management component of what we do is critical. There is simply no substitute for hard work at the right moments. Human nature is an important part of terroir. We capture this beautiful collaboration at its best by making single vineyard wines. With unequalled clarity and breadth, pinot noir is the ultimate vehicle for conveying the aroma, flavour and texture of the location where it is grown.” 

SpearHead Vineyard

SpearHead makes three single-vineyard pinot noirs, a Pinot Noir Cuvee that combines fruit from the three, and a Club Consensus pinot blend assembled by wine club members each year after a barrel tasting. There is also a Pinot Noir Rosé on the docket and a rare White Pinot Noir or blanc de noir.  

But it was not only pinot noir that contributed to Spearhead’s medal success. The SpearHead 2020 Saddle Block Chardonnay and SpearHead 2019 Botrytis Affected Late Harvest Riesling carted off Gold medals. The winery also makes excellent dry riesling and pinot gris. 

When the winery opened on Spier Road in East Kelowna, it was named SpierHead, changing its name to SpearHead after a trademark contest with an international winery. The winery is open for tastings, but appointments are strongly recommended. There is some patio seating with small bites served. 

Here are a few of SpearHead’s top scoring wines:


Spearhead Coyote Vineyard Pinot Noir 2019

Spearhead Coyote Vineyard Pinot Noir 2019


Spearhead Botrytis Affected Late Harvest Riesling 2019

Spearhead Botrytis Affected Late Harvest Riesling 2019

Spearhead Pinot Noir Cuvée 2019

Spearhead Pinot Noir Cuvée 2019