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Whistler Sommelier Steps Off the Mountain to Make Okanagan Wine for Charity

Whistler Sommelier Steps Off the Mountain to Make Okanagan Wine for Charity

Whistler's Samantha Rahn, wine director at Araxi Restaurant and Sommelier of the Year 2013, releases Samantha Syrah, a wine she made at Okanagan Crush Pad winery through their Okanagan Wine Campus program, with proceeds to the BC Hospitality Foundation.

The Syrah is a lot like Samantha Rahn - medium bodied and robust, yet fairly soft and feminine.


"I believe in the quality and distinctiveness of Syrah in the Okanagan, and the wine turned out just as I had envisioned," says Rahn. "I wanted the spice/savoury character to display, and also show people that bigger isn't always better when it comes to red wine."

Okanagan Crush Pad winery in Summerland, BC introduced the Okanagan Wine Campus series in 2011, in an effort to further B.C.'s already rich wine and food culture. This philanthropic program aims to foster the education of professionals in the industry by connecting all facets of the wine industry, from budding professionals to industry leaders.

samatha-rahn-syrah-bc-wineEach year, the winery opens its doors to the recipient of the British Columbia Sommelier of the Year award, and invites that person to create his or her own wine label. The Sommelier of the Year award has long been regarded as an industry nod to an individual who is recognized by their peers to be top in their field.

The winners of this coveted Okanagan Wine Campus award takes part in the full decision-making process that is involved in creating a wine label, from viticulture, grape selection and winemaking, to the final blending, labeling, marketing, and bottling process. The result is a unique 100-case production from which profits are redirected.

The proceeds from the sale of Wine Campus projects are donated annually to the BC Hospitality Foundation. These funds are put toward scholarships for students enrolled in recognized, accredited wine programs in British Columbia. To date, $15,000 has been awarded to 16 individuals with further scholarships.

Samantha Rahn, winner of Sommelier of the Year in 2013, balances her time between Araxi, the renowned restaurant where she has worked since 2007, and biking on the local mountains. An accomplished musician, Samantha is also a former snowboard cross racer, certified snowboard coach, and avid downhill mountain bike competitor. She selected a Syrah for her project, and the bottle presents an image of her biking on the label.

The Samantha Syrah ($24.90) is from the beautiful Cerqueira Vineyard in Oliver and is a lot like Samantha Rahn - medium bodied and robust, yet fairly soft and feminine. Layered and complex with fruity notes and a hint of spice, this wine is sure to continue improving with age.

Okanagan Wine Campus projects to date are Kurtis Kolt (2010), Owen Knowlton (2011), Terry Threlfall (2012), and Samantha Rahn (2013).


Okanagan Crush Pad winery is a unique purpose-built custom crush facility that specializes in crafting small lot, vineyard-driven 100% BC wines. From its ponderosa-surrounded location in beautiful Summerland, BC, the winery is home to Haywire and Narrative wines, as well as the Okanagan Wine Campus program. Owners Christine Coletta and Steve Lornie have amassed a talented team of British Columbia-born and international consultants. For more information visit:

The BC Hospitality Foundation provides support for individuals within the hospitality community who are coping with a financial crisis arising from a health or medical condition. As well, it is committed to supporting the industry's next generation by providing scholarships to selected students enrolled in hospitality, culinary and sommelier programs in British Columbia. Learn more at

Top Photo: Winemaker, Michael Bartier, with Vancouver Sommelier of the Year 2013, Samantha Rahn

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Okanagan Life captures the essence of life in the Okanagan Valley with informative and entertaining features on issues that matter to people who live or vacation in this great region, plus stories on Okanagan destinations, personalities, wine, food, history, outdoor recreation and more. We're now in our 30th year of publishing. Subscribe

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