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Mission Hill Winery

The award-winning Okanagan estate is Canada's must-visit destination that combines an artistic atmosphere with serious wine knowledge

by Karen Day in Travel on 01 August 2014

Canada, Okanagan, Vineyards, Wine, Wineries, Grapes, Mission Hill, Sustainable Farming

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As the world's second largest country in geographical area, Canada's vast terrain varies greatly. But as a nation stereotypically synonymous with ice hockey and year-round winter, it's hard to imagine that in British Columbia there's the Okanagan Valley, which includes the Osoyoos Desert—complete with rattlesnakes and prickly cacti. Nestled between the Coast Mountains to the west and the Monashee Mountains to the east is the valley's 75-mile long lake, and sprinkling its edges are impeccably cared-for vineyards that benefit from the rain shadow covering the area. The Okanagan's unique meso-climate lends itself to nuanced winemaking, and a community of highly skilled grape-growers and obsessive winemakers are demonstrating just how special the region really is.

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One of the wineries leading the way is Mission Hill Family Estate in Kelowna, owned by Canadian entrepreneur Anthony von Mandl and helmed by Kiwi winemaker John Simes. The winery's architecturally stunning grounds and sophisticated restaurant are reason enough to pay it a visit, but wine enthusiasts will revel in Mission Hill's portfolio of terroir-driven wines, which includes their award-winning chardonnay that started it all, as well as merlot, riesling, pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, viognier and more. The burgeoning region is garnering increasing international acclaim, but as Mission Hill's Director of Wine Education Ingo Grady points out, Okanagan wines are still relatively unknown, which gives them a huge opportunity to strategically experiment and ultimately create a distinct appellation.

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"We're judged by what's in the bottle, not by the label that says burgundy, bordeaux, Napa or Marlborough, where there's an implication of quality. We have to prove it every vintage, especially when we have people who've never been here. I find that really challenging—but it's a challenge we welcome because it gives us a chance to tell our story," Grady explains.

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Mission Hill owns 28 vineyards within the 125 miles that span Okanagan's five growing districts, starting from Kelowna in the north of the province down to Osoyoos near the Canada-US border (or the 49th parallel as it's often referred to). They use the land, and subsequent variation in temperature and soil particle size, to focus on creating truly distinctive wines with a character idiosyncratic of that district.

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Mission Hill's Director of Viticulture, Australian James Hopper, continually refines the way they cultivate the vines on a daily and annual basis, from implementing a sustainable drip irrigation system that works in favor of their short growing season to determining which varietals should have a bigger canopy and which should be more neatly manicured. We spoke with Hopper standing between viognier vines (a saggy variety) on one side and sauvignon blanc (an upright variety) on the other, which were trimmed differently despite being so close in proximity.

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"Sunlight at a certain period in the season is important for the reproductive stage of the grapevine in terms of the fruitfulness of the buds. What we were finding with the sauvignon blanc is when you tuck it all up and it's all shaded in there, the next year we weren't getting the fruitfulness because the buds weren't getting sunlight. We were having this biannual kind of cycle where you'd have one good crop year, one low crop year. So I opened up the canopy and we were getting a consistent crop, the sunlight when we wanted it and the flavor profile changed so we've kept with it. Before, the fruit was more shaded and greener, almost one-dimensional. It was fruity and green, but this gives us a more tropical component."

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Hopper also obsessively monitors and adjusts the crop load, in which he drops perfectly good fruit to allow the vines to concentrate their energy on a smaller amount of grapes. He tells us of the mentally distressing task, "It's always the hardest thing to do because you pay to drop money on the ground, but do you want to make a quality wine or weak grape juice that nobody wants to drink? I know which I would prefer personally."

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In addition to his interest in building a legacy through wine, von Mandl also ensured the Mission Hill estate was designed to last for generations to come. His detailed approach is evident throughout the 120,000-square-foot winery, which was accomplished by architect Tom Kundig and his team. From the 12-story bell tower to the wine cellar (where there's a display of vessels dating back to 5,000 years) to the tasting rooms, every piece of material has physical longevity and a timeless aesthetic. Currently Mission Hill is home to a sculpture exhibition by Icelandic artist Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir, whose 42 life-size figures cast in iron and aluminum fit in naturally with the serene surroundings. Von Mandle decided to showcase her works after seeing them on a trip to Iceland, because "her art promotes self-reflection and connectivity to nature through their quiet intrusion into our everyday lives." For a winery that seemingly wears its heart on its sleeve, Thórarinsdóttir's sculptures feel very congruent with both the landscape and the business philosophy.

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Executive Winery Chef Chris Stewart at the tranquil Terrace Restaurant uses local ingredients to prepare carefully considered dishes that pair perfectly with wines. It's clear Stewart is influenced by his time spent working at Thomas Keller's esteemed French Laundry restaurant in Napa and the Michelin-starred Fat Duck in the UK. The ingredients are hyper-fresh and sustainably sourced, and culminate in his understanding of how they relate to each other as well as the wine.

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With a portfolio of wines that are as profoundly delicious as they are unique, and a winery that is as friendly as it is serious, Mission Hill is an incredible place to visit—which you should plan on doing, because they're keeping their wines close to home. Some wines can be found at select shops in Canada, and choice restaurants in the US, but their exports are extremely limited and they don't ship outside of Canada. The best way to experience the fruits of their labor is with a trip to the Okanagan, which will provide a full understanding of this magical region.

Images by Karen Day

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XXBC + Marcus Paul Limited Edition Sweatshirts for Storm

The famed stylist lends his eye to the concept store's 20th anniversary design

by David Graver in Style on 01 August 2014

Concept Shops, Collaborations, Apparel, Denmark, Sweatshirts, Marcus Paul, XXBC

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For two decades, Denmark's fashion and lifestyle shop Storm has pioneered conceptual retail—ultimately defining style crazes and building a strong international reputation. To celebrate their anniversary, Storm has united NYC streetwear brand XXBC and celebrated stylist Marcus Paul. The result is a high-quality collection of 24 unique sweatshirts crafted from vintage textiles. Meticulously thought out, unlike anything else around and complete with hand-embroidered antique fabric boxes, they are as much a reflection of artistry as they are functional, comfy sweaters.

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On his involvement with the project, Paul—the project's creative director—explains to CH that it all began from a friendship with Storm's owner Rasmus Storm. "[Storm] has always been on the forefront of fashion for breaking labels and having a well-curated selection. As for XXBC, I'm good friends with Will (one of the co-founders) who later introduced me to his partner Alex. They have great unique products that definitely caught my eye. I wanted to create something special for Storm's 20th anniversary—and here we are."

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I seek a timeless and lasting approach where things can be appreciated 10 to 20 years from now. I think that's missing in the fast times we are currently living in.

In many ways, entering the world of apparel is a natural extension of Paul's other work, including styling Jay-Z and LeBron James. "I'm extremely passionate when it comes to my craft and I love designing; whether it is clothing or interior design. In addition, when I approach any project, I seek a timeless and lasting approach where things can be appreciated 10 to 20 years from now. I think that's missing in the fast times we are currently living in."

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At the core of the design, one-of-a-kind vintage materials inject floral patterning into swathes of lush gray—all of which the team sourced, and Paul maintains secretive about. "We can't reveal all our formulas, but I will say that Alex and Will are specialist when it comes to sourcing vintage. We searched high and low for the best vintage fabrications from the '40s, '50s, '60s and '70s. It took time to curate the selection, but we believe the result was worth the effort." No two pieces in the collection are the same, though all of them are bound by the masterful team and their vision of something beyond the usual sweatshirt. It's an appropriate anniversary line for an organization that's strayed from the norm for 20 years now.

XXBC + Marcus Paul collaborative sweatshirts are available online at Storm, on 6 August 2014, where they will retail for $525.

Images courtesy of Marcus Paul

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Tentipi Shelters

Quick set-up and weather-tested construction make these Swedish tents fit for the extremes or garden parties

by Hans Aschim in Travel on 31 July 2014

Camping, Outdoor Furniture, Summer, Sweden, Tents

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A basic need like shelter is often best met by a simple design. Enter the nordic vibes of Tentipi, a Swedish tent company inspired by the nomadic, indigenous Sámi people's katas—structures that can withstand the worst weather the Arctic can muster, allow for socialization and are easily set up and broken down. Founder Bengt Grahn was inspired during one memorable canoeing trip in the Lapland region of northern Sweden: the mosquitoes were out in full force and Grahn and his crew were in need of some group bonding. Unfortunately, their technical tents weren't exactly suited for having company. With little sewing experience, Grahn set out to make shelters that could withstand the cold and create an amenable atmosphere for hanging out.

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With a range of sizes and materials to suit different budgets and needs, Tentipi's made-in-Sweden products have a continuous core theme: unyielding quality, durability and quick set-up. The standout tent is the Safir. With just a single pole and stakes for set-up, estimated time from rucksack to shelter is about five minutes. Adults can easily stand upright in the tent and the vented peak is compatibly with stoves or open fires—making this more of a portable home than a mere shelter from the elements. While each of Tentipi's models are built for the wilderness, they're equally suited for backyards, parties and would make for an enviable office space in milder climes.

In the US, shop Tentipi shelters online from Mansfield Outdoors, where an entry level tent starts at $864. For more information on the brand, the tents and their conservation efforts in the Arctic, check out Tentipi's website.

Images courtesy of Tentipi

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