The GOODS from Fort Berens Winery
Lillooet, BC | The Fort Berens Estate Winery team is back from their recent adventure to Whistler with some great news. Their 2012 Chardonnay picked up the distinguished title of “White Wine of the Year” at Cornucopia, an annual celebration of food and wine, which was held in Whistler Nov. 7-17th.
Winery co-owner Heleen Pannekoek, who accepted the award on behalf of the Fort Berens team, is absolutely thrilled. Pannekoek explained, “Winning White Wine of the Year at Cornucopia is a huge honour for our team. We founded the winery in 2009, and to win such an important award so early on in our winemaking career shows us we are on the right path. We were so pleased to learn that our Chardonnay won amongst so many other amazing white wines.”
Pannekoek continued, “This award is very special for us for another reason as well. Our 2012 Chardonnay is our first 100% estate grown Chardonnay. This award is confirmation that the terroir in Lillooet is well suited to growing top-quality Chardonnay. Our vineyard team has done a fantastic job of nurturing the vines to maturity and that care is reflected in the 2012 vintage.” For more information on the wine and award, visit here and keep reading after the jump… Read more
The GOODS from Tinhorn Creek
Oliver, BC | It’s been a busy time at Tinhorn Creek Vineyards with the grape picking wrapping up for the year and Winemaker and CEO Sandra Oldfield celebrating the winery’s 20th harvest with a special year that saw two types of vintage emerge.
The Okanagan’s hot summer leading up to September meant that the Tinhorn Creek team was tracking the maturity of the grapes two weeks earlier than usual, a promising sign for the first vintage. Variable weather in September that ranged from hot sun to hail, wind and drizzle, lasted well into October and created the second vintage.
The good news from September’s mixed weather was that it slowed down the ripening of the grapes enough to help the flavours catch up with the rapidly rising sugars – giving an incredible intensity of flavour to the grapes at harvest, this slow down in ripening simultaneously caused some initial concern about attaining the proper ripeness for harvest, as it has done for the past three years, but ultimately the quality was attained in enough quantity to produce the full range of high-quality reds.
“This year we’ve expanded on the popularity of our Pinot Gris and our Gewürztraminer,” says Winemaker and CEO Sandra Oldfield, adding “both are pretty exceptional in the tanks right now. Variety-wise one of the stand-outs of this vintage is the Merlot – the grapes loved the hot summer and its flavours are going to knock peoples’ collective socks off when the wines are released.” Read more
The GOODS from Fort Berens Winery
Lillooet, BC | The Fort Berens Winery team furthered their plans to pioneer a new frontier by officially breaking ground for the building of the first winery in Lillooet. Rolf de Bruin, founder and one of the owners of Fort Berens, recalls the early days in 2009 when they first decided to plant vines on the property. “We hoped that day marked the first in a series of milestones for Fort Berens and Lillooet. We are pleased to be here together today to mark another major milestone.”
Rolf continued, “We are excited to break ground on this new building. It’s been a 3-year process. We needed to first prove the viability of the grape-growing from our vineyard, assemble our ownership team, get our financial and strategic plans in place, and consult with experts in the industry. The design of the building went through a number of iterations over the 3-year process. We talked to experts in this field to help us design the layout and to maximize space and efficiency.”
The new 9,500 square foot building will include a 1,100 square foot tasting room, overlooking the vineyards with a gorgeous view of the mountains in the background. It has been designed to allow visitors to watch the winemaking process and see the internal workings of the winery through the windows as they approach the tasting room. It will also feature a gravity fed fermentation room, barrel chambers, crush pad, wine bar and bistro.
Rolf’s wife and winery co-founder Heleen Pannekoek continued, “Each year, we have seen increased demand for our wine. We produced 4,000 cases in 2012, we estimate 5,000 cases this year and we are planning for 6,000 cases in 2014. Once the new building opens, we will have capability to fully process up to 12,000 cases onsite. This additional capacity will allow for our own future growth in coming years. We also very purposefully built in extra capacity to help facilitate the custom crushing of grapes from other growers in our area. We are very committed to working with others in Lillooet and facilitating more grape and wine production in this area.”
The new winery takes the committed investment into Fort Berens to $7.5 million. It was designed by collaborating architects David Agro from Toronto and Richard Newell from Vancouver and is being built by Okanagan-based Greyback Construction.
We’ve invited Lillooet’s Fort Berens Estate Winery to join our GOODS section as a recommended BC winery. They are now a proud member of Scout, and as such we will be posting their news in addition to hosting a page for them on our curated list of independent goodnesses. We would like to thank them for their support of Scout, and for making our province a more delicious place to be.
Owners, from left: Rolf de Bruin, Hugh Agro, John McConnell, Jason Neal, Heleen Pannekoek, Sean Harvey.
About Fort Berens Estate Winery
Fort Berens Estate Winery is the first winery in Lillooet, BC. It is located on a sage-brush covered bench at the base of the Fraser Canyon’s snow-capped mountains. It was established by Dutch immigrants, Rolf de Bruin and Heleen Pannekoek. Rolf and Heleen embarked on the venture in 2005, when they left the Netherlands and shifted from corporate careers to living and working on a farm. With the founding of Fort Berens, Rolf and Heleen turned their lifelong dream of running a vineyard and winery into a reality.
In 2010 and 2011, the team was further strengthened when ownership of the winery was expanded by way of a major investment from Toronto and Vancouver-based mining and investment banking executives, Hugh Agro, Sean Harvey, John McConnell and Jason Neal.
Fort Berens is currently in the process of building a new 9,500 square foot winery, which will include a 1,100 square foot tasting room overlooking the vineyards with a gorgeous view of the mountains in the background. It has been designed to allow visitors to watch the winemaking process and see the internal workings of the winery through the windows as they approach the tasting room. The anticipated opening date is summer, 2014.
Our Vineyard and Wines
Our vineyard is located in the Fraser Canyon across the Fraser River from the town of Lillooet. While Lillooet is one of the “Hot Spots” in Canada, our average summer temperatures are slightly lower than the South Okanagan, because our night-time temperatures are lower. These cool nights are ideal as they allow the vines to rest before another hot day in the summer sunshine. The Cascade Mountains to the west keep rain and clouds away, ensuring that the vines receive plenty of sunshine.
In May 2009 we planted 20 acres with six varietals: Riesling, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. After careful consideration, we have chosen various rootstocks and clones to ensure early ripening and increase the complexity of our wines. We strive to craft a portfolio of balanced and distinctive wines that are pure and reflect the unique terroir of this new region and the spirit of our winemaker.
We are pioneers and explorers. We are helping to break ground for the growing wine region in Lillooet. We invite our guests to join us and explore the land with us and experience the thrill of discovery. From the first taste of a new vintage to walking the vineyard with the winemaker, we invite our guests to be a part of the discovery. In every journey there are many explorations, but only one first step.
Reviews and Accolades
“At just over 50 degrees latitude, Fort Berens, in Lillooet, sits at the northern limit of the wine-grape belt. But it’s blessed with clearer skies and drier air than pretty much any other wine district at that boundary. Owners Rolf de Bruin and Heleen Pannekoek had been sourcing chardonnay from the Okanagan to supplement their estate fruit because it takes time for vines to yield much quality fruit. This is their first 100-per-cent all-estate chardonnay. Remarkable, too. Full-bodied and mellow, it shows surprisingly ripe pineapple and stone-fruit flavours, with a buttery texture enlivened by bright acidity. If this were made in California, it would easily fetch twice the price. 90 points.” – Beppi Crosariol, The Globe and Mail, September 17, 2013 on our 2012 Chardonnay
“The latest FB Meritage is another step up the notch for winemaker Rolf de Bruin and puts a spotlight on the Lillooet meso-climate. There is a freshness and balance to this wine that I like and with 65 percent merlot some built in drinkability and softness that has appeal. The nose and palate mix black fruits, with a savoury edge but all in all a ripeness plus acidity and smoothness that makes it food friendly. Well done and fair value. 88 points.” – Anthony Gismondi, Gismondi on Wine, January 12, 2013 on our 2010 Meritage.
“This is a blend of Lillooet grapes and fruit from the Sundial Vineyard on Black Sage Road. The wine is 47% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon and 19% Cabernet Franc. It was aged 12 months in French and American oak barrels and another six months in bottle before release. Dark in colour, it begins with an appealing aroma of black cherry, black currant and vanilla. On the palate, the wine’s long ripe tannins give it a generous richness. The flavours echo the aroma with added touches of chocolate and spice. 91 points.” – John Schreiner, John Schreiner on Wine, October 19, 2013 on our 2011 Meritage.
The GOODS from Mission Hill Family Estate
West Kelowna, BC | Mission Hill Family Estate is the winner of the coveted ‘Canadian Winery of the Year’ at the WineAlign National Wine Awards with 150 wineries and 1200 wines entered in 2013. The competition’s rigorous judging process is led by the most respected Master Sommeliers and Masters of Wine in Canada.
“The ‘Canadian Winery of the Year’ designation is as big as it gets in Canadian wine,” said Anthony Gismondi, Chairman of the National Wine Awards. “We are proud and delighted that the performance of Mission Hill Family Estate led all others in 2013.”
Being relentless in the pursuit of quality is why this family-owned winery farms 85% of the grapes for its wines in its own vineyards. This enables Mission Hill to optimize growing conditions each year toward the objective of producing the highest quality wines possible. This award is particularly gratifying given the award-winning wines were produced in the most challenging growing seasons ever experienced in the Okanagan Valley.
“We continue to make significant investments in our family’s sustainable vineyards to perfect the art of precision-farming that enables us to achieve incredible results,” said Proprietor Anthony von Mandl, O.B.C. “It is extremely satisfying to consistently produce wines of incredible depth and character, even when faced with the challenging weather conditions characteristic of the Okanagan Valley. With this level of commitment to the land you can literally taste the difference with each vintage.” Read more
The GOODS from Lake Breeze
Naramata, BC | Garron Elmes, President and Winemaker at Lake Breeze Vineyards, is pleased to announce their first fortified wine, a Fortified Muscat, as part of their first wine releases this fall. As well they have released their wildly popular 2011 Meritage and their premium red wine, the 2010 Tempest.
Garron comments on the new fortified wine, “It is extremely exciting for us at Lake Breeze to finally release the Fortified Muscat which started as an idea and an experiment 5 years ago. It was a great experience to taste the barrels and realize that we had achieved exactly what it was that we set out to do, which was create a wonderfully complex dessert wine that would complement all sorts of desserts as well as stand on it’s own.”
Regarding the 2010 Tempest and 2011 Meritage releases, Garron continues, “The Tempest is exciting this year as it is Cabernet Sauvignon based rather than Merlot based as in previous years. Also, with the inclusion of Malbec we are one step closer to our ultimate goal of having all 5 Bordeaux varieties in the Tempest blend. With the 2011 Meritage, we have reached our goal this year as the blend now contains Petit Verdot, so the wine has the five varietals we envisioned when we started to make it.”
Owner – Curt Garland
General Manager – Mark Sheridan
Winemaker – Robert Summers
About Hester Creek Estate Winery
Hester Creek Estate Winery is situated within some of British Columbia’s oldest vineyards in the bountiful Golden Mile region. The 95-acre, Mediterranean-influenced grounds, winery, and guest Villa evoke an old-world sense of tranquility. Discover winemaker Rob Summers’ fresh, lively wines that truly convey the extraordinary place where they were grown. Relax on the patio among the vines, browse in the wine shop or dine at Tuscan inspired, Terrafina. The Hester Creek guest centre offers tutored tastings, food and wine pairings, live music and BBQ lunches in the summer and cooking classes throughout the year. Having a private dining room, a private Tuscan patio and a demonstration kitchen all built for 12-14 guests, this is the perfect place for you next intimate gathering. Visit one of the world’s most recent and exciting wine discoveries. The South Okanagan Valley’s Golden Mile Bench and Hester Creek await guests’ arrival.
The GOODS from JoieFarm
Vancouver, BC | JoieFarm Winery is proud to announce that we have won 70 medals in international competitions in 2013, so far. Perhaps the most gratifying feeling for us has been that highest accolades have been spread across our almost entire spectrum of wines. Highlights have included:
“Canadian Winery of the Year” – 2013 New York International Wine Competition
Sweepstakes Rosé – Best in Show – 2012 Rosé – 2013 Riverside International Wine Competition
Double Gold Medal – Best in Show – 2012 Pinot Blanc – 2013 San Francisco International Wine
Gold Medal – Best in Class – 2011 Gamay – 2013 Riverside International Wine Competition
Gold Medal – Best in Class – 2011 PTG – 2013 Riverside International Wine Competition
Gold Medal – Best in Class – 2011 “En Famille” Reserve Gewurztraminer – 2013 LA International Wine Competition
Gold Medal – 2011 “En Famille” Reserve Chardonnay – 2013 Decanter World Wine Awards
Gold Medal – 2012 A Noble Blend – 2013 Great Northwest Wine Competition
Gold Medal – 2012 Riesling – 2013 Great Northwest Wine Competition
Gold Medal – 2011 Gamay – 2013 Great Northwest Wine Competition
Gold Medal – 2011 Pinot Noir – 2013 Great Northwest Wine Competition
News from Scout supporters Le Vieux Pin & Lastella
Oliver, BC | Sister wineries LaStella and Le Vieux Pin have opened their cellar doors to welcome wine lovers and give them the inside scoop with an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of their craft. This new tour offers a unique opportunity to discover more about the wineries low input and sustainable practices, taste their special vintages and enjoy a few surprises amongst the barrels.
“However great the finished wine might be, it’s not just about what’s in the bottle, but the journey of how it got there. These special visits are run by expert members of the vineyard team from Severine Pinte, our Winemaker, Lee Baker our Assistant Winemaker, to myself and Jody Subotin our Vineyard Manager,” says Managing Partner Rasoul Salehi. “The private tour includes a tasting in our cellar, access to the inner workings of the vineyard and it gives guests a deeper understanding of our philosophy.”
Roam the vineyard of the Provencal-style Le Vieux Pin winery and enjoy a Cellar Chaperone tour of the finest block of vines, where the low-yield viticulture and warm climate ensures that the grapes thrive in the sunshine. Head out of the heat and step in the cool cellar to taste Le Vieux Pin’s latest vintages and learn more about the ancient art of winemaking in the classic French tradition. Read more
The GOODS from JoieFarm
Vancouver, BC | JoieFarm Winery is proud to announce that we have been named “Canadian Winery of the Year” at the 2013 New York International Wine Competition. The competition is the only major international wine competition to be judged solely by trade buyers. Each wine is judged by its category and retail price. All participating judges have purchasing power through their stores, restaurants, distribution networks, which results in their ability to have a direct impact on brand sales. The complete results can be found at this link. To order our wines please click here. Read more
The GOODS from Okanagan Crush Pad
Kelowna, BC | BC’s Okanagan Crush Pad, producer of Haywire and Bartier Scholefield, announces the release of Owen ($25.90) — 100 cases of BC VQA Cabernet Franc, made by 2011 Vancouver Sommelier of the Year and West wine director Owen Knowlton.
‘Owen’ is the second wine release from the winery’s Okanagan Wine Campus program. Okanagan Wine Campus is a two-part mentorship program. Each year Okanagan Crush Pad provides the person named Vancouver’s Sommelier of the Year a chance to make 100 cases of wine using the grape variety and style of wine they wish.
The proceeds from the sale of the wine are then given to the BC Hospitality Foundation wine scholarship fund to support students who are pursuing their higher level wine education certification. To date, $10,000 has been awarded to 11 individuals.
Okanagan Wine Campus participants to date include Kurtis Kolt (2010), Owen Knowlton (2011), Terry Threlfall (2012), and Samantha Rahn (2013). Learn more after the jump… Read more
The GOODS from Bella Wines
Vancouver, BC | Bella Wines is pleased to announce the release of their 2012 Vintage sparkling wines. The vision of Bella sparkling wine is to showcase the micro-climates of British Columbia through two varietals, Gamay and Chardonnay, sourced from unique vineyards and made identically so you can taste the difference in typicity. We are excited to be able to offer a vineyard comparison this vintage highlighting the different benches of Oliver BC. The Oliver West Side sparkling Chardonnay represents a vineyard site of pure silt with a gravel seam and small amounts of water enhancing the citrus fruit profile while the Oliver East Side sparkling Chardonnay displays the concentration of calcium carbonate in the soil of this vineyard site lending a beautiful minerality to the wine. Made identically – it’s fruit versus flint (to learn more about the differences thirteen kilometers can make, visit the Bella website).
In addition to the regular bottle format Bella is also introducing a half bottle this vintage for the Gamay sparkling rosé and the West Side sparkling Chardonnay. An under appreciated bottle format, Bella believes the 375ml half bottle is an ideal size when only two glasses are required for your celebration. Read more