Jul 1, 2014 | Marmot, Summer 2014

Beaufort Winery now in the hands of the Comox Valley’s most famous landowner.

When James Cameron... yes, THE James Cameron, and his wife Suzy Amis purchased Beaufort Vineyard and Estate Winery in February, they became the Comox Valley’s most famous landowners.

“It’s been a positive news story,” said Mark Timmermans, who has been hired to run the winery located just north of Courtenay. “A lot of excitement.”

Cameron bought the winery from Jeff and Susan Vandermolen, who opened Beaufort, Courtenay’s first winery, in 2006.

The Vandermolens continue to be the winemakers at Beaufort, which has garnered dozens of awards for its wines since 2008 and which operates under an environmental farm plan that focuses on long-term health and sustainability of the land.

Timmermans doesn’t see much changing at the winery now that there are new owners.­­­­ “We’re following the same business model they’ve [Vandermolens] been following the last seven or eight years. We’re really glad they can continue on as winemakers.

As far as day to day changes at the winery, besides new people running it we’d like to keep Jeff and Susan on as long as they want to stay,” he said. “We’ll have a lot more to report on in the fall once we’ve had a season. We’re carrying on business as usual this season.”

Timmermans is looking forward to the season’s opening, his first in the Comox Valley. He moved to Beaufort Winery from Duncan, where he was involved in farming for the past 12 years.

He appreciates the Camerons’ commitment to biodynamic farming, which they achieve on their 100-acre spread called Hollister Ranch in Santa Barbara, California.

Cameron, who announced in October 2012 that he has gone vegan, has also transformed a dairy farm he purchased in New Zealand to a crop-based operation.

He said in a 2012 interview that since he grew up working on his grandfather’s farm in Ontario, and his wife’s family owned a farm in Oklahoma, they want to raise their children close to the land, with the values they have “and with a strong work ethic.”

“There is a bigger vision around sustainable organic farming and I find that exciting,” Timmermans said. “How that is going to play out isn’t determined yet.”

Timmermans couldn’t confirm that Cameron has also purchased other agricultural property in the Comox Valley. “My role is around running the winery,” he said. “I’m not involved in those other projects.”

While the winery will be operating as normal, don’t expect to see the new owners spending much time in the Comox Valley this summer.

While James Cameron was spotted at a local liquor store perusing B.C. and California wines prior to buying the winery, appearances have been fleeting. Rumour has it he is almost as elusive as Sasquatch.

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