Mark Wendenburg is a household name in the Canadian wine industry for the nearly two-decade role he played as winemaker at Sumac Ridge Estate Winery. However, Mark Wendenburg’s career in the wine industry began in 1980 when he and his father, Chris Wendenburg, planted their first vineyard on their Penticton property. Their Pinot Blanc vineyard is still a strong producer today, 30 years later. This first foray into the wine industry awoke Mark’s lifelong passion for viticulture and oenology.

After Wendenburg’s introduction to viticulture with his father in their vineyard, he began an apprenticeship in West Germany in the Rheinhessen region in 1982, working and studying at Weingut Geil and later in south Baden, at Schlossgut Istein.

Following his apprenticeship program, Wendenburg attended the Bavarian State Institute for Viticulture and Oenology in Franconia, Germany, earning his Diploma in 1987.

That year, Wendenburg returned to the Okanagan and began working at Brights Wines, now Vincor, in Oliver, British Columbia, to work in the cellars and laboratory alongside Lynn Stark and Frank Supernak.

In early 1988, Wendenburg shifted focus and moved to New Zealand for a southern hemisphere vintage to work for Nobilo Wines, a relatively small but fast growing family enterprise. He returned to Canada in time for the 1988 northern hemisphere vintage, this time working for Brights and the newly founded Blue Mountain Vineyards and Cellars. Alternating between hemispheres, Wendenburg decided on Australia  for the 1989 vintage, where he worked at S. Smith and Son, the Yalumba facility in the Barossa Valley, South Australia. He returned to Canada in the summer of 1989 to work with Schramsberg Vineyards and Cellars of California in conjunction with Inkameep Vineyards, working on making hundreds of batches of small scale sparkling wine. This project began Wendenburg’s career-long venture into creating superior sparkling wine. He continued crafting small batches for this project through the 1991 vintage.

In the late spring of 1992, Harry McWatters and Bob Wareham asked Wendenburg to join Sumac Ridge Estate Winery in Summerland. During his tenure at Sumac Ridge Mark was responsible for creating 24 wines annually, including two of Canada’s largest VQA brands, the Sumac Ridge Private Reserve Gewürztraminer and the Steller’s Jay Brut sparkling wine.

Wendenburg stayed with Sumac Ridge for nearly 18 years, acting as both winemaker and senior winemaker until May 2010.