B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks on pandemic response at the B.C. legislature, May 6, 2020. (B.C. government photo)

Similkameen winery co-owned by Dr. Bonnie Henry

B.C.’s provincial health officer is part of the original ownership group of Clos du Soleil in Keremeos

British Columbians have grown accustomed to the daily presence of provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry as she charts the province’s course throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. But for the ownership group of a Similkameen winery, her calm demeanour is an old comfort.

That’s because the widely-beloved Henry is herself a co-owner of Clos du Soleil, a winery in Keremeos she helped found with a group of friends in 2006.

Also among the current ownership group is Michael Clark, who serves as Clos du Soleil’s winemaker and general manager. Like himself and the rest of the owners, Clark says Henry has a love for quality wine, food and travel.

“She’s told me a million times—and she could be speaking for any of us—that it’s a lot more than just a business, it’s a passion,” Clark said. “We’re all involved in it because of the passion for wine and the passion for the valley.”

While she hasn’t been directly involved with the winery since assuming her role as the province’s top doctor, Clark says Henry is very much a fan of all the wines Clos du Soleil has to offer.

Her personal favourites are Signature—the winery’s flagship reds blend—and Fumé Blanc, a wine that’s predominantly Sauvignon Blanc, Clark said.

READ MORE: Province streamlines patio applications for B.C. restaurants, wineries, pubs

The pandemic has thrust Henry into the spotlight, but having known her well before the crisis started, Clark says he’s not surprised to see the number of British Columbians who have received her positively in her critical role.

“I think the reason people have bonded to her so much when she’s on the TV or the news is because she’s being her real self in front of the cameras,” Clark said. “That’s what she’s like in person, too. She’s soft-spoken, very friendly, warm and genuine.”

Before the rest of B.C. knew her as the soft-spoken voice of calm amid times of upheaval, Clark knew Henry as a voice of reason no matter the circumstance.

“I knew that she had a very important role for our province, and so I already knew that if there was ever a health crisis in B.C., she would be in a central leadership position to deal with it,” Clark added.

“But I certainly didn’t expect what’s going on now.”

A long list of industries are up against severe financial strain as a result of the pandemic, and with its reliance on tourism and restaurants, the wine industry is no exception.

“The restaurant industry is going through a horrendous time and that’s closely tied with the provincial wine industry. So it’s a challenging time is the bottom line,” Clark said.

Fortunately, many British Columbians are steadfast in both their love of wine and their willingness to support those who produce it in their local areas.

“The B.C. public is extremely supportive of the B.C. wine industry, and so we’re really lucky to have that intense support from the people of British Columbia—and people across Canada for that matter,” Clark said.

The timeline towards a return to normalcy is uncertain, a reality Henry has affirmed every step of the way. Today, May 30, Henry took to the podium to remind residents to remain cautious and “proceed with care” as the province enters the third week of its reopening plan.

Uncertainty prevails in these times, but Clark says he’s glad to have a friend like Henry leading the charge.

“We’re really proud of the great work that she’s been doing for our province. These are definitely unique times that we’re in right now and we’re all really thankful for everything that she’s doing.”

Clos du Soleil, which translates to ‘enclosed vineyard in the sun,’ is located at 2568 Upper Bench Road in Keremeos.

READ MORE: Penticton may soon allow drinking alcohol in some public places


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

BC Wine

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vernon shutterbugs capture rainbow

A rain event July 9 made way for a glorious sight

Fundraiser kicks off for Lake Country families displaced by house fire

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to raise $5K for those who lost everything in early morning blaze

Liberals push NDP for fall school reopening plan

Local Liberal MLA says NDP government committed to plan being unveiled before Aug. 4

Okanagan and Shuswap MPs want federal funds to help stop invasive species

Concerns raised that spending favours Eastern Canada.

YMCA of Okanagan summer camps start up

Registration for July is now open

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Pooch abandoned at Penticton doggy daycare suffered from oral disease

A fundraiser for Okie held by the BC SPCA surpassed its goal of $1,700

Couple shaken up after homophobic encounter at Kelowna mall

‘We’re not in the States; we’re not in some little hick town; we’re in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. And it still happens’

Summerland to allow in-person attendance at July 13 council meetings

Two meetings will be held at Summerland Arena Banquet Room to accommodate public

Rescued hawk returned to Lumby skies

A rehabilitated Swainson’s hawk was returned to its Rawlings Lake habitat

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

Dog locks out Kelowna couple on 4th floor patio

Kelowna firefighters were called in to rescue the two people

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

Shuswap resident calls RCMP about vehicle with U.S. licence plates

Police summoned on July 4 regarding car parked with California plates

Most Read