JUDIE STEEVES Just some of the preserves produced at Vista D’oro.
our trip to Paris in 2002,” Lee explains. “I was intrigued by all the different flavour combinations.”
It’s a hectic household, with two teenagers, a couple of dogs and the farm, but both their 16-year-old son Hunter and their daughter Morgan, who just graduated, help out. In fact, Morgan and two of her friends helped out this year with the strawberries, and plans are for her to take a year off from her studies to help Lee with the jamming. Both youngsters are proud of the farm. They opened a farmgate shop in the tasting room at the winery, where visitors can purchase a bottle of wine to enjoy in the shade of the trees nearby, or on the rustic deck, along with a loaf of bread and fresh, local cheeses, available from the shop, alongside Lee's salsas and pickles. They also sell products wholesale to businesses at the Granville Island Market, Okanagan wineries, Whole Foods and Thrifty’s.
They employ six or seven part-time during the busy season, but plans are to hire more this fall when the new equipment gets up and running.
That will help with the tedious, time-consuming aspects of the business, such as chopping and mixing, while allowing Lee to concentrate on creation of new recipes and ensuring every batch of jam meets her standards. She does hope to expand exports as well as sales locally, but she no longer sells at the farmers’ market. There is just not time.
“I’m doing what I love,” she says.
Generally Lee creates products using what’s in season, such as salsas from tomatoes, pickled beets and asparagus in spring and summer; then she uses mangoes to make salsa in winter and preserves such as chutneys. Imagine rhubarb and vanilla, strawberry and Grand Marnier, strawberry with balsamic and pink peppercorns, blueberry and bourbon in spring; apricot, tarragon and riesling, peach and lemon verbena with champagne, wild blackberry, black cherry and pinot noir, or plum with vanilla and star anise in summer; spiced apple and gewurztraminer, orchard pear and pinot noir or vanilla, green tomato with garam masala, heirloom tomato and chili, spiced cranberry with icewine, or curried apple with almonds in fall; and Turkish fig with walnut wine, pink grapefruit with champagne, chestnuts, dates and brandy, blood orange with campari and vanilla, mango, passionfruit and kirsch in winter.
Then there are the salsas and pickles.
And jam master Lee has more ideas percolating in her head for new flavour combinations.
8 British Columbia Berry Grower • Fall 2012
Patrick Murphy of Vista D'oro, setting up the new jam- making equipment purchased with the help of an interest-free federal loan.
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