Westham Island Estate Winery came to fruition in the Spring of 2003 when Lorraine and Tamara Bissett opened the doors to the winery, and to a lifetime family dream.
Andy Bissett worked as a farmer all of his life, as a young man he helped his mother manage the family blueberry farm in Richmond. After the family sold the farm, Andy purchased his own farm on Westham Island bringing the immense knowledge he had acquired over the years to grow a variety of berry types. His success in the business led to his nickname as the “Berry King”.
Based on the experiments of John Harper in Cloverdale and the results from the Agriculture Research Station in Saanichton on Vancouver Island, the Berry King knew he could produce fruit that would make high quality wines. Five years before Andy’s sudden death, Andy started collecting equipment for the farm-based winery to make use of leftover berries each season.
Andy's dream to establish a winery at his Westham Island farm was a dream he almost achieved. Sadly, Andy passed away suddenly just before receiving the final government approval for the winery. His wife Lorraine and daughter Tammy amazingly opened the winery in early 2003. Ron Taylor joined the winery as winemaker. The first batch of wine began fermenting in September 2002 resulting in 10,000 bottles.
Andy would certainly be full of pride knowing that the first
vintage was entered into the Northwest Wines Summit in Oregon State
and awarded three medals, and that the wines continue to increase in
quality. The winery continues to expand its variety of wines and is
known for the superior vintages it produces.
Westham Island, in Delta, British Columbia is renowned for its rich, pastoral farmlands and its dyke. The only access onto the island, other than by boat is the Westham Island Bridge, which spans Canoe Pass. The bridge is a single lane structure, constructed between 1909 and 1912.
Many farms on Westham Island feature fresh fruit, vegetables, and flowers. Visitors to the area can hand-pick berries, or purchase vegetables and fresh flowers from a number of roadside stands. Westham Island Estate Winery is nestled in the heart of this picturesque islet, on its own fruit and berry orchard.
It is possible to follow the winding main road all around the island, then cross by bridge to Reifel Island, home of the Reifel Bird Sanctuary is a favourite for bird-watchers, being on the major north-south migration route along the Pacific. The Fraser River estuary here is a rich food source that attracts 1.5 million migratory birds a year. Up to 30,000 snow geese return each fall from their breeding grounds in Siberia at the sanctuary, thousands of people flock to the area each November for the annual Snow Geese Festival.
Big Blue barn on Westham Island starting with Strawberries, then Gooseberries, Black Currants, Red Currants and White Currants. Early to mid July Tayberries, Marion berries, Blueberries then ending with Boysen Berries. All available for UPICK and some will be available for Ready picked. Bring your own containers as only have a limited supply of bucket and baskets for sale.
Like many exceptional winemakers, Ron Taylor has walked a long winding road to get where he is today. With a degree in microbiology from the University of British Columbia, his journey has taken him from Quality Control at Andres Wines in Port Moody, where he quickly advanced to the position of Assistant Wine Maker before becoming the coveted Chief Winemaker. Ron spent 22 years at Andres Wines as an integral part of a team that produced over 5 million litres of wine annually. While at Andres, Ron honed his winemaking skills and grew to know what made the difference between good wine and great wine.
After leaving Andres in 1992, Ron has focused on working with small wineries in British Columbia and Washington State with several trips to Mainland China to consult on cider and other winemaking projects. Ron has been involved with the start up of wineries that are reviving the art of making fruit wines produced from superior quality fruit and berries grown on the wineries farms. Ron has played a fundamental role with the planting of Vinifera Grapes in the Okanagan, and truly, to the evolution of British Columbia as a world class wine growing region.
When Andy Bissett suddenly passed away in 2002, Ron generously worked with the Bissett family through the difficult transition. Ron shares in the Bissett family philosophy, with his high standards and commitment to perfecting his trade. Ron’s tremendous efforts have won awards and acknowledgement from his peers, as well as praise from visitors to the winery. Ron has crafted wines that draw attention to detail, to produce a wide range of varietals that are distinctive and exemplary.
In addition to her full time job with the City of Richmond, Lorraine Bissett also runs the daily operation of Bissett Farms Ltd and Westham Island Estate Winery. Under her guidance the winery has evolved into an estate philosophy that blends the viticultural diversity of fruit cultivated in its own farm estates into a proprietor of award winning fruit wines.
Lorraine is the devoted Mother of her three children; Clinton 32,
Tammy 29, and Russell 25, all who spend time working at the family
winery and farm. She has also spent over 30 years breeding and
showing English Springer Spaniels and Labrador Retrievers and has
many Champions and Obedience titled dogs to her credit.
The Westham Island Estate Winery and facilities is available year-round for private group tours and for other special events including custom wine and food pairing evenings, fund raisers, company picnics, your wedding, anniversary party, or almost any other event. To arrange a function please call the winery at (604) 940-9755 and allow us to assist you with your arrangements.
Our winery hosts many events that are open to the public, including daily wine tasting, and tours by appointment. The winery looks forward to welcoming you to one of our occasions in the near future.