Rhys Pender MW – Wine Grower
A passionate educator, wine lover, judge, writer, and grape grower/farmer, Rhys has worked in the wine industry since he was a teenager, back in Australia. His interest in food and wine really peaked by travelling through Europe and then a summer spent immersed in food, wine and language in the South of France with Alishan.
After following his wife-to-be back to Canada, Rhys pursued his food and wine passion by completing a Professional Culinary Diploma and working in a top Vancouver restaurant. At the same time he took his first wine course, something that gave him an insatiable appetite for learning about wine. Rhys and Alishan moved to the Okanagan in 1999 to pursue the food and wine culture. Rhys spent time working in the vineyard, the cellar, wine shops and catering events before moving back to Vancouver for a two-year stint to manage a specialty retail wine store. Back in the Okanagan in 2003 Rhys and Alishan started a catering company and Okanagan Grocery Artisan Breads, and Rhys started his Wine Plus+ business doing wine education, consulting, writing and judging. Rhys then took on the the gruelling Master of Wine program of study all while running Okanagan Grocery and Wine Plus+ and with two baby daughters and one sleep deprived mother-baker in the house. Yes, they thought he was crazy.
This culminated in Rhys becoming Canada’s youngest Master of Wine (the wine world’s highest level of achievement) in 2010, one of only 300 in the world. Through his studies, Rhys knew every reason why they shouldn’t jump into the vineyard and winemaking dream but couldn’t help doing it anyway. Instead he used his training to design and plant the 4 acre Mulberry Tree Vineyard at the property Rhys and Alishan purchased in Cawston in 2008.
Rhys looks after the vineyard, farming it organically and sustainably, to produce intensely flavoured grapes from the calcium carbonate rich soils. Having studied the world of wine he brings a global perspective to the project and an understanding of the world’s wine regions and wine styles. He continues to run his Wine Plus+ business including a wine school, consultancy, writing for a number of publications and judging wine competitions around the world.