Richter Bai, founder of Phantom Creek Estates, a highly anticipated new winery located on the Black Sage Bench of British Columbia's Okanagan Valley, is pleased to announce the appointment of Santiago Cilley as chief executive officer and Francis Hutt as winemaker.
To celebrate the completion of the winery’s first phase of construction ahead of the 2019 harvest, Phantom Creek Estates will offer a preview Estate Tour and Tasting guided experience by appointment beginning September The winery will complete its second and final phase of construction early next year, with a grand opening scheduled for April 2020.
Amenities include a modern, multi-level hospitality center; an onsite, indoor/outdoor restaurant; and a 500-seat amphitheater for outdoor concerts. Guests will have the opportunity to taste the estate’s acclaimed wines, which celebrate and speak their storied vineyard sites.
“We conducted a lengthy, global search for these key positions. I’m confident Santiago and Francis are the right individuals to build Phantom Creek Estates into a world-class, legacy winery,” said Bai.
Santiago Cilley brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his role of chief executive officer at Phantom Creek Estates. He started his wine career working for Jackson Family Wines in California, where he spent nine years spearheading strategic projects in close collaboration with late founder Jess Jackson. After leaving Jackson Family Wines, Santiago relocated to Chile to lead the renaissance of certified sustainable, export-oriented Via Wines. While in South America, Santiago met businessman and wine entrepreneur Alejandro Bulgheroni, who asked him to return to California to be president of Alejandro Bulgheroni Family Vineyards USA. Cilley launched the exclusive Alejandro Bulgheroni Estate in St. Helena, Napa and oversaw Zinfandel pioneer Renwood Winery in the Sierra Nevada Foothills along with other wine related businesses, including Bounty Hunter Rare Wines & Spirits. Santiago holds a Master in Business Administration from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley.
“Phantom Creek Estates combines heritage vineyard sites with an outstanding winemaking team and a thoughtfully crafted hospitality program,” said Cilley. “We want our guests to discover this special place and taste the dedication and precision that has gone into producing our wines while immersed in an unparalleled experience.”
Francis Hutt has made wine on both the north and south islands of his native New Zealand – in addition to participating in harvests in Oregon, Burgundy and Australia’s Hunter Valley – developing a deep knowledge of organic and biodynamic winegrowing. As general manager and head winemaker at Carrick Winery & Vineyards in New Zealand, he led the transformation of the vineyards to organic certification. He also oversaw winemaking at Kennedy Point Vineyard, Waiheke Island’s only certified organic vineyard and a highly regarded producer of Bordeaux varieties. Hutt holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Otago and a bachelor’s degree in viticulture and enology from Lincoln University in Christchurch, New Zealand. Looking for the micro expressions in every vineyard block, Hutt weaves together the full story of Phantom Creek Estates with a winemaking style that favors balance and identifying the nuances of each vineyard.
“I’m thrilled to join Phantom Creek Estates as it was obvious from the beginning that the team is passionate about creating something special, from back-of-house to winemaking, the energy here is really great,” said Hutt. “I couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity to steward these distinctive sites, especially as we continue our transition to organic and biodynamic certification.”