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Gray Monk 304050

On a perfect spring evening in June, Trudy and George Heiss, founders of Gray Monk Estate Winery, celebrated their manifold milestones in style, with family, friends and long time industry colleagues. The stars lined up for a trio of anniversaries – 50 years of marriage; 40 years since they started planting vines in their 20 acre vineyard in Okanagan Centre; and 30 years since Gray Monk opened in 1982. A modest operation in the beginning, it has evolved into an 80,000 case a year winery based in grand Rhine castle look-a-like digs.
In the courtyard, between the main building and Grapevine Patio Restaurant, key political and industry personalities offered George and Trudy words of congratulations, beginning with Lake Country mayor, James Baker. Returning from a marathon vote in Ottawa the previous day, MP Ron Cannan presented the couple with certificates signed by the Prime Minister for their wedding anniversary and winery business achievements. Representing industry, Harry McWatters handed them a handsome photograph showing George and Trudy walking in the vineyards in the early days of their journey. It was crammed with expressions of congratulations from industry colleagues. He praised them for their efforts as industry pioneers who continue to work toward the future.
Among 120 guests, four generations of the Heiss clan were on hand, including Trudy’s 95 year old mother, Anna Liese Peter. The only remaining family winery of the original estate wineries licensed in the early 1980s, their three sons play key roles – George, Jr. as winemaker, while eldest son Robert is director of operations and Steve oversees sales and logistics. Of the many grandchildren celebrating the occasion, Bob’s eldest son Kieran works in the vineyard as a qualified viticulturist.
Highlighting the evening, the B.C. Culinary Team, young chefs competing at the World Culinary Olympics at Erfurt, Germany, prepared a sumptuous, 5 course dinner paired with Gray Monk’s best wines from the Odyssey series. “They are taking this opportunity to practice their skills and to thank us for supporting the team’s journey for gold,” Trudy says. After an incredible evening, guests left with gift from their hosts – a bottle of 2009 Celebration Edition of Gray Monk Odyssey Traditional Brut.

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