How an Award-Winning Lover of BC Wine Fell For Local Grapes

Celebrated sommelier Jason Yamasaki of Joey Restaurant Group is the first to answer our new Q & A series, Picking Grapes.
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How an Award-Winning Lover of BC Wine Fell For Local Grapes

Picking Grapes is a new series that asks wine professionals to map out their complex relationships with British Columbian wines by citing the ignition point of their interest and some of their favourite wineries.

We begin this new column with award-winning sommelier Jason Yamasaki, who won the 2015 “Best Sommelier in BC” title when he was running the wine program at Chambar. He is now the Group Sommelier for Joey Restaurant Group.

What was the BC wine that you first fell in love with? Do you remember where you were? What was the circumstance?

Blue Mountain Pinot Blanc…eating a solo lunch at Feenie’s…just getting into wine so it was a shot in the dark. I remember it being totally quenching and acid-driven. Something my palate was not used to! [ed. note: see more on Feenies in Vancouver’s Restaurant Graveyard]

Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars 2385 Allendale Road, Okanagan Falls MAP
Feenie's 2563 West Broadway MAP

What are three local wineries that fly somewhat under the radar?

Daydreamer, Rust Wine Co., and Skaha Vineyard.

Daydreamer Wines 1305 Smethurst Road, Naramata MAP
Rust Wine Co. 4444 Goldenmile Dr. MAP
Skaha Vineyard 141 Fir Ave., Kaleden BC MAP

If you could work in just one local winery for just one harvest, which would it be and why?

Orofino. For so many reasons: The chance to work with a ton of different wines and styles (How do they do every wine so damn well!?); The chance to live in the remoteness and stillness of the Similkameen Valley; The chance to work with the brilliant talents of John and Virginia Weber.

Orofino Strawbale Winery 2152 Barcelo Road, Cawston MAP

Can you recommend one local, emblematic-of-BC red wine for someone who didn’t even know wine was made here? What would it be and why?

Nichol Vineyard’s ‘Old Vine’ Syrah. The oldest Syrah in the country. Grown on granite. All the smoky, rocky and meaty complexity that is emblematic of Syrah from the best sites in the world.

Nichol Vineyard 1285 Smethurst Rd., Naramata, BC MAP

What about a white?

Tantalus ‘Old Vines’ Riesling. A completely inimitable wine that has tons of aging potential. It introduces a new flavour and texture to the already vast Riesling library.

Tantalus Vineyards 1670 DeHart Road, Kelowna MAP

And finally, a rose?

Unsworth Pinot Noir Rosé. It’s bright – it’s chilly – it’s absolutely crushable. The flavours are a veil of delicate and pure Pinot character. It introduces people to the fact that BC is not just the Okanagan Valley.

Unsworth Winery 2915 Cameron Taggart Rd #1, Mill Bay, BC MAP

There is 1 comment

  1. I will definitely keep these in mind when next home for a visit. I like supporting my home wineries. International wines are good but home is where the heart is and these sound so enticing. Thank you.