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News / News / Celebrating Women In Wine

March 7, 2022

Celebrating Women In Wine

This International Women’s Day we take the time to honour and celebrate the passionate, talented, industrious women at Quails’ Gate who are truly dedicated to their craft.  

Situated in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Quails’ Gate Estate Winery is located on the shore of Okanagan Lake in West Kelowna, British Columbia. Through decades of research, careful crafting, and an unwavering dedication to consistency, they have cultivated a reputation for delivering quality wines that pair perfectly anytime, anywhere.

Three generations have helped to build Quails’ Gate into the award-winning winery that exists today. The pursuit of viticultural and winemaking excellence has remained the driving force behind everything they do. As one of Canada’s foremost family-owned estate wineries, they have shaped the development of the wine industry for more than six decades, focusing on making the Okanagan Valley a true premium wine and culinary destination. With more than 200 acres of vineyards that provide the perfect elements for wine production, Quails’ Gate consistently produces high-quality premium wine products year after year.

Meet four women at Quails’ Gate Estate Winery who are experts in their field, are passionate about the future of Canadian VQA wine and bring inspiration and innovation to the forefront. 

We asked each of these wonderful women to answer a few questions so we could all get to know them better as we share in their journeys, their passion and as they share advice.

Meet Llane Dobbener 

Quails’ Gate Human Resources Coordinator & 3rd Generation Stewart Family Member (4th generation Stewart Family farming member)
Raised on the Quails’ Gate Property, she has held such positions in her younger years as gopher trap checker, coyote chaser, baby mouse foster mother and starling patrol. She has a passion for understanding how the business works in every one of its aspects and it has led her to work in almost every department at Quails’ Gate Estate Winery. Earning a degree in Business and specializing in Hospitality Management she spent a lot of time working in restaurants and hotels outside of the family business. Most recently, she studied Human Resource Management through Simon Fraser University – which is now where she is currently applying her expertise at Quails’ Gate. 

She currently lives in West Kelowna in a house bordering the Quails’ Gate vineyard property with her husband, three daughters, one dog and two cats. The family all loves to stay active, camp, ski, hike and bike. 

What is it about the Okanagan that inspires you?
I love the Okanagan. I have done a fair amount of global wandering in life and, although I wouldn’t go as far to say that I can’t imagine living anywhere else, returning to the Okanagan reminds me that if I were to come across the same landscape elsewhere in the world I would want to stay. I am happiest when I am outdoors, and the Okanagan has so much to offer in such close proximity. Being able to work and play here is such a blessing. 

What part of your job brings you the most joy?
Hands down, it is the people. They are the number one reason that I come to work every day and without them we wouldn’t be who and what we are today.   

Tell us about one of the most interesting parts of your wine journey.
I don’t think of my journey to where I am now in the industry as a “wine journey” per se. My personal journey is more accurately described as a journey of the family business, legacy and love. If my family worked in another industry other than wine, would I still work in wine and hospitality? I ask myself that often.  

If you had one piece of life advice what would it be?
You can have everything; you just can’t have it all at once.

What are three things you’re passionate about?

  1. The environment –  I am passionate about sustainability and work very hard at reducing my family’s negative impact on the earth through such things as the Zero Waste Movement and making sustainable food choices
  2. My family – they make my life so incredibly interesting!
  3. Living in the “now” – it isn’t an easy thing for me and takes constant dedication on my part to take advantage of the present for the most important things in life such as time with friends, family and self. I often find myself “5 minuting” the most important things in life away.  

Which Quails’ Gate wine do you love to share and why?
One of my favourite wines to share coming into spring is the Lucy’s Block Rosé. It is the perfect gourmet picnic wine. It is bright, delicate and downright delicious just like my Great Gram, Lucy Mary Whitworth.
My Great Gram loved to host family and friends and put incredible stress on the younger generations of our family on the importance of being a good host.  


Image caption: Lucy Mary Whitworth (centre) picnicking with girlfriends at Kelowna’s City Park. 

Meet Judy Wanbon

Quails’ Gate Vineyard Manager
Born and raised in the Kootenays, Judy moved to the Okanagan in 1986 to pursue her dreams. After raising her children and working in various industries, she began her career in the wine industry when she joined the Quails’ Gate Vineyard team in 2006. Judy started as part of the field crew and worked in the fields for a few years before she moved up into the position of Tractor Driver in 2013. During this time Judy was given opportunities to work within the organization in areas such as Health and Safety and First Aid where she demonstrated leadership and commitment to the Quails’ Gate operations. In 2014, Judy was promoted to the position of Vineyard Supervisor and while in this role she completed her Viticulture Certificate through Okanagan College. 

In 2019, Judy moved into the Role of Assistant Vineyard Manager, and then in 2022 she became the Quails’ Gate Vineyard Manager. 

What is it about the Okanagan that inspires you?
What inspires me about the Okanagan is the wide-open spaces and large expanses of agricultural land. Also, the fact that we have a desert climate in some areas, mountains in others, and beautiful lakes surrounding us. This diversity provides opportunities to enjoy an outdoor lifestyle as well as grow strong healthy crops. From the early morning sunrises in the vineyard to work the vines, to the harvest of the grapes in late fall; I find appreciation for this beautiful land.

For our wine industry, the people here are friendly and appreciative of the wine we create. I am proud to be a part of the creation of award-winning wines from the vines we grow.

What part of your job brings you the most joy?
The part of my job that brings me the most joy is my role in leading the vineyard team. Over the years I have worked with amazing strong people that have provided mentorship and friendship as I grew into my role as Vineyard Manager. In this role I truly enjoy supporting my team to be the best they can be both out in the fields, and in our larger Quails’ Gate family. I believe in building strong healthy relationships amongst our team and supporting everyone to be successful. 

Tell us about one of the most interesting parts of your wine journey.
One of the most interesting parts of my wine journey was when I received the Ed Jeffery Work Ethic Award in 2016. This award honoured me for my strong work ethic and dedication to Quails’ Gate. It made me realize that my role here is so much more. I came to the realization that my role in mentoring, role modeling and leading the staff team was appreciated. It was an honour for me to be recognized for my hard work in the vineyard. 

If you had one piece of life advice what would it be?
My one piece of advice would be to work hard, listen and learn as much as you can – and never give up! 

What are three things you’re passionate about? 

  1.  My family at home and at Quails’ Gate Estate Winery
  2. The community and nature around me –  I am an avid outdoors person which makes working out in the fields such a lovely fit for me. I love to camp, hike, fish and paddle and spend time outdoors in my true happy place. 
  3. Our wine grapes –  At the end of the day seeing the grapes going into the winery ready for processing is a great feeling that I am proud of. 

Which Quails’ Gate wine do you love to share and why?
My favourite Quails’ Gate wine to share is the Chenin Blanc. The Chenin Blanc is a crisp, fresh wine that reminds me of the spring days in the vineyard. It is those early mornings in the Spring, when we are out in the vineyard before the sun rises, and the buds are just emerging, that I feel truly blessed to be a part of the Quails’ Gate Team.   

Meet Angela Lyons

Quails’ Gate Vice President, Sales and Marketing
With international marketing experience in beverage alcohol spanning more than 25 years, Angela is a respected industry leader, passionate about building great brands. Following an honours Commerce degree and early work in spirits and beer, she quickly navigated to wine and never looked back. Angela has built and executed strategies for some of the largest luxury brands in the global wine industry and is a true expert in her craft.

What is it about the Okanagan that inspires you?
Adventurous lifestyle, natural beauty of the land and a farm-to-table culinary scene that includes world-class wines. That I get to live here inspires me. That I get to be part of an amazing community who chooses to live here also inspires me.

What part of your job brings you the most joy?
Every part brings me joy – consequently, it never feels like a job. That said, if I had to choose one aspect it would be the people. The wine industry is known for talented, passionate individuals and this place is no exception. The family ownership and stewardship of the land makes a difference. Working with viticulturists, winemakers and chefs who are so dedicated to their craft makes a difference. Being part of a team who have a genuine love for what they do brings me joy. 

If you had one piece of life advice what would it be?
Be bold, take risks and do it now. It’s the only way we grow. 

What are three things you’re passionate about? 

  1. Learning – I love to explore and discover new ideas, new philosophies and of course new wines.  
  2.  Helping build the self esteem and confidence of young adults so they take more risks than I ever allowed myself to at their age. 
  3. Mentoring – There have been a number of individuals that have mentored me over the years – willingly and unselfishly sharing their knowledge and expertise and so every opportunity I get, I try to pay it forward.   

Which Quails’ Gate wine do you love to share and why?
I personally truly love the Quails’ Gate Estate Pinot Noir and I know anyone that opens this bottle will love it too!

Meet Kailee Frasch

Quails’ Gate Associate Winemaker
Born and raised in Kelowna, British Columbia, Kailee Frasch graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology from the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus. She then went on to study Oenology and Viticulture at Brock University, graduating with a certificate in grape and wine technology.

Kailee started her wine career at Quails’ Gate Winery in 2016 as a harvest cellar hand and lab technician. She was quickly promoted to Oenologist in 2018, to Assistant Winemaker in 2019 and to Associate Winemaker in 2021. She also honed her skills making premium cool-climate Pinot Noir in Central Otago, New Zealand in 2020.

What is it about the Okanagan that inspires you?
The beauty of the Okanagan is truly inspiring. We are so lucky to be able to live in a place that people choose to visit on a vacation. There is also an element of being relatively unknown to the rest of the world, so when travelling abroad I often find myself sharing pictures of the Okanagan when explaining where I’m from. People are consistently shocked to find out that this place exists in Canada.   

What part of your job brings you the most joy?
Being able to create wines that are enjoyed by so many people.

Tell us about one of the most interesting parts of your wine journey.
Making wine in New Zealand during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic was an interesting moment. There was a period where I was considering flying back to Canada, but the flights were around $13,000. Luckily, I ended up staying and we had a safe and very interesting “lockdown” harvest that none of us will forget. 

If you had one piece of life advice what would it be?
It sounds cliché, but it would be to choose a career that you love. I couldn’t imagine dreading going to work every day or being indifferent about the work I am doing.    

What are three things you’re passionate about? 

  1. Wine
  2. Food 
  3. Travelling….Ideally all three at once. 

Which Quails’ Gate wine do you love to share and why?
Rosemary’s Block Chardonnay. It is such a complex and beautiful wine and such an interesting style of Chardonnay. It always excites me to be able to share it with people in hopes that they will love it as much as I do. 

This International Women’s Day celebrate the women in your life with a bottle of Quails’ Gate Wine. Wine is available at our online shop here and can be delivered direct to your doorstep. Enjoy 15% off all our wines when you become a Wine Club member here. Receive exclusive benefits and access to events, promotions, and our club-only wine, The Connemara.

Follow Quails’ Gate winery on Instagram, Facebook and Instagram 

Words/Interview by Angela Aiello, @SuperWineGirl