Vern Rose, the founder of House of Rose Winery, retired as a teacher from Edmonton, Alberta in 1983. He played at making wine over the years and had a dream of growing his own grapes, and making his own wine, when he moved to Kelowna, British Columbia that year.
Vern purchased the 6.7 acres that are now home to House of Rose Winery in 1983, shortly after the property was converted from an apple orchard to a vineyard.
Vern studied vineyard management and grape growing and over the next years sold his grapes to Calona Wines.
Growing grapes was not enough to satisfy Vern’s drive and curiosity and in the early 1990’s Vern dedicated himself to in-depth learning about the magical process that changes grape juice into a cherished wine. His hobby turned into passion, a passion for wine and the whole winemaking process. Taking courses from University of California – Davis and working with a wine consultant, Vern set himself to getting educated about wine making.
He applied for a winery license and in 1993 became one of the first 25 wineries in the Okanagan valley. House of Rose Winery was born.
A growing winery
Vern’s passion was clear to the many customers coming to the small wine shop. He spent countless hours talking with customers about wine, the different varieties he was growing, including Marechal Foch, Verdelet, De Chaunac, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Okanagan Riesling.
To this day we have customers and old friends come to the winery, or approach us anywhere we go and ask “How is Vern? I enjoyed his company so much, we spent hours listening to him, what a character!”
With the help of son Russell and, with the mounds of paperwork, daughter Aura, Vern made wines that appealed to a wide variety of customers. He respected the differences of taste between people to the fullest, though he was not shy of helping people expand their tastes and palates by offering a variety from dry whites all the way to deeply sweet Icewines.
House of Rose wines have won many prizes over the years and at the turn of the millennium, Vern was known as the ‘King of Foch’ in the valley.
A turning point – 2007
Working 10-14 hours a day until he was 75 years old and then slowing down to 8-10 was slowly having an impact on Vern. The wheels of change were set in motion as the years started to count for Vern.
In the early summer of 2007, shortly before his 80th birthday, Vern suffered a significant stroke. His focus shifted to healing and with the full dedication of all his stubbornness and energy, he started working himself back to health.
The winery was in a kind of limbo, with staff keeping the operation going, but missing Vern’s leadership. Russell had moved on to other adventures, but made sure he was there for Vern and moved back into the house to care for him as his siblings came and went to help with the 24 hour care Vern needed at that point.
After a period, Aura assumed an interim management role, still living in Salmon Arm, as the winery was offered for sale, Vern now clearly unable to maintain his role as founder and leader of the winery but was still involved in the decision making. Aura’s focus was to offer potential buyers the best insight possible into the gem with great potential that House of Rose Winery has.
2009 New Ownership
Aura Rose and her husband Wouter van der Hall, offered Vern to take over running the winery from him completely in April 2009 to help him out, while still living in Salmon Arm. Within a month it was clear to them that they had to make a decision. The winery needed their full attention, not two days a week. Involving all siblings in the decision, they reached an agreement and in July 2009, after appraisals and agreements, bought the winery from Vern.
After all the shifts over the last few years, Vern had reached much of his dream. He had once hoped that all his children would live at the winery and that it would stay in the family for generations.
Organic and sustainable
In 2009 Aura and Wouter also decided to turn to organic practices in maintaining the vineyard and are increasingly shifting from traditional to more sustainable practices in the overall winery operations.
In 2010 House of Rose Winery launches a few new favourites alongside heritage wines like the Marechal Foch, Okanagan Riesling and De Chaunac.
Hot Flash and Sweet Mystery come on the shelves and are instant hits with customers.
Aura and Wouter also add some seasonal fun to the existing wines with fun labels like Vampire’s Vines, Witches’ Delight and the Christmas wines, Santa’s Kiss and Rudolph’s Red.
Aura (wine maker) and Wouter (vineyard manager) have spent countless hours studying the ins and outs of the whole process, just like Vern did many years ago and with support from wine consultant Gary Strachan – who has been involved with the winery since its conception- have found their new roots in proudly growing grapes and making wines. And tasting the products of their work is not a bad perk either!
2011 – 2012
We expanded the wine shop from 400 to 750 square feet in 2020. Still small but cozy and warm.
These years brought a few new wines, as well as a replant in some areas in the vineyard. The Picnic area was planted with roses. ‘Grapes with Benefits’ as well as the funky Fifty Shades of Grapes hit the shelves to the delight of customers and store owners.
In the mean time Vern is getting older, turned 85 this year and Shamylla (Aura and Wouter’s daughter) graduated from High School.
The 20th anniversary of the winery this year and Vern was still around to be part of it. We enjoyed creating some festive moments this summer for old and new customers. Aura and Wouter also celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary (in Paris, why not!), so it is truly 20/20 both in looking back and dreaming ahead.
This included the spring unveiling of a 20 feet high rose being crafted by Roland Derks, who has done the other 7 feet metal roses and the House of Rose Bench for us.
We hope to create a true festival of light for the Christmas/New Year’s season, and aim to turn the “front lawn”, our picnic area in to a festive delight for young and old for those darker weeks of the year.
We continued to invite artists to share their craft this summer and will be diligent in creating a wonderful friendly atmosphere for your to enjoy your visit (and some wine!)
At the end of 2013 and after five years being cared for by Aura and Wouter, Vern Rose moved off the property after 30 years, as his dementia was taking its toll and he moved in with son Russell who will be paid to care for him full time.
2014 to 2017
After 2013’a full 20th anniversary calendar we had another couple of great years at BC friendliest winery. We kept some of the very appreciated events from the last few years, like our Summer Music Series, along with already traditional events like Moms are Fabulous, the grape stomps at wine fest and more. We started with our Father’s Day event to the enjoyment of many.
Long wonderful summers and great fall seasons ensured a great quality harvest across the board for all of us in the BC wine industry.
Some sad news started the year, as Vern Rose, the winery’s founder, passed away in January. He lived a great life to the ripe age of 91, as a teacher, father, principal, landlord, vineyard owner and wine maker.
House of Rose turns 25! With another wonderful vintage in the barrels, tanks and bottles we look forward to a year of celebrating our 25th anniversary with a party this summer, sharing wine, stories and events with you. You will recognize a number of events, like our Mother’s day celebration or Summer Music series, Grape Stomping parties and more.
In 2019 we built our wedding area – an private area set right in the vineyard.
2020 – 2021
A couple of years of challenge and change. They will be remembered first by COVID – 19 in 2020 (and 21) and then by the smoke and fires in the summer of 2021. But still, many positives! By turning our Thursday Music Nights (live bands) into ticketed events we were able to provide music to 50 people every Thursday all summer in 2020. In 2021 we increased this number to 100 once PHO’s allowed.
Because we were so limited to just 50, in 2020 we started our Smooth Sunday Sounds series – a single or duo playing in our picnic area all afternoon every Sunday. This became very popular, enough to bring it back in 2021. One loss has been the inability for us to do our infamous Grape Stomping Parties, normally held on the Saturdays of the Fall Wine Festival. We are unsure if we will hold these again.