Phantom Creek Estates announces CEO and winemaker

Phantom Creek Estates announces CEO and winemaker

A new highly anticipated winery (Phantom Creek Estates) on Black Sage Road is offering tours and tastings by appointment. (Photo contributed)
Santiago Cilley is the CEO of Phantom Creek Estates. (Photo by Lionel Trudel)

New winery Phantom Creek Estates on the Black Sage bench has announced 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, Phantom Creek is offering a preview tour and tasting experience by appointment.

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 centre, an onsite, indoor/outdoor restaurant, and a 500-seat amphitheater for outdoor concerts.

“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 founder Richter Bai. 

Cilley brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his role. 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, Cilley relocated to Chile to lead the renaissance of certified sustainable, export-oriented Via Wines.

While in South America, he 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. Cilley 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 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.” 

Located at 4315 Black Sage Road, Phantom Creek Estates will be open for preview guided tastings by appointment Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Phantom Creek can be reached by calling 250-498-8367 or by emailing

Phantom Creek Estates is a highly anticipated new winery specializing in single vineyard Bordeaux reds, Alsatian whites and the Okanagan’s benchmark varieties of Viognier and Syrah.

Francis Hutt is the winemaker at Phantom Creek Estates. (Photo by Lionel Trudel)