GOODS | “Fort Berens Estate Winery” Welcomes South African Wine-Making Pair

April 15, 2014 

Fort Berens Estate Winery is located at 1881 Highway 99 North in Lillooet, BC | 250-256-7788 | fortberens.ca

Fort Berens Estate Winery is located at 1881 Highway 99 North in Lillooet, BC | 250-256-7788 | fortberens.ca

The GOODS from Fort Berens Winery

Lillooet, BC | The weather is heating up, the sun is shining and the season is off to a great start for Fort Berens Estate Winery in Lillooet. With some major milestones behind them, including the groundbreaking of their new winery in the fall and winning White Wine of the Year at Cornucopia in November, the team is bursting with excitement as spring blossoms. For Fort Berens, this spring brings new growth to their team, the blossoming of their winery construction project and a bountiful spring release of their favourite and new varietals.

Rolf de Bruin, founder and one of the owners of Fort Berens, announced, “We are absolutely delighted to welcome Megan de Villiers and Danny Hattingh to the Fort Berens team. Megan is our new Vineyard Manager and Danny is our new Winemaker. They are a couple in real life and also in the vineyard and cellar. They have worked together as a winery team for a number of years and join our team with experience from South Africa, the Southern Gulf Islands and the Okanagan. When Heleen and I met with Danny and Megan, we felt an immediate connection with them as we discovered that their journey was not unlike ours. We have all enjoyed many great adventures along the way. While our paths were different, those paths led all of us to Lillooet, and we are so pleased that Megan and Danny are joining us here.” Read more

Awesome Thing We Drank #675 | Domaine Baumard Clos Saint-Yves Savennières 2009

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by Treve Ring | In my line of work I get to drink taste a boatload of wines, many good, most average, a lot of plonk, and a slight few, awesome

Domaine Baumard | Clos Saint-Yves Savennières 2009 | AC Savennières | Loire, France | $35 

Old Vine Chenin Blanc. That’s enough to get my attention. Throw in this small, specialized Savennières, a sub-appellation of the Anjou AOC, and highly regarded for long-lived, dry chenin blanc and you’ve got enough for me to queue, screw in one hand and glass in the other. Domaine des Baumards is run by Florent and his recently retired father, Jean. The property has been in the Baumard family since 1634; let’s just say the Baumards know their land. The Domaine is regarded as one of the greatest producers in the Loire Valley and has been called one of the greatest producers of white wine in the world. Yields are low and the grapes are sustainably and organically harvested. In The World’s Greatest Wine Estates, Robert Parker pens “For decades Jean Baumard’s wines have been benchmarks for Savennières, Côteaux du Layon, and Quarts de Chaume – his wines have every component in place, so technically perfect and so polished they seem to be the product of a scientist. Florent, who is taking over from his recently retired father, has added some soul. There is no doubt in my mind that Florent Baumard is one of the shining lights in France’s winemaking present and future.”

The Clos de Saint-Yves is a bone dry Savennières, considered as the entry point of the house, and what an entrance. Chenin is a terroir-transmitting grape, and it’s signaling clearly the schist, sandstone and sand that these 35+ year old vines were grown on. This is not an easy wine, but it’s worth the effort. Expressive and wily temperamental, every few minutes you get something new in the glass.

Savoury schisty minerality, sea salt, wild honey, yellow pear, dried quince, citrus, chamomile and redux apple skin notes all jockey for position atop an oily, full and vibrant palate. I recommend decanting for a few hours before launching in. This is a complex wine – one that deserves contemplation, possibly grilled scallops or a fresh briny oyster. And definitely deserves awesome.

EVERY AWESOME THING WE DRANK 

GOODS | Extraordinary Chateau Margaux Vintages To Be Poured At “Market” Supper

Market by Jean-Georges is located in the Shangri-La at 1128 W. Georgia | 604-695-1115 | marketbyjgvancouver.com

Market by Jean-Georges is located in the Shangri-La at 1128 W. Georgia | 604-695-1115 | marketbyjgvancouver.com

The GOODS from Market by Jean-Georges

Vancouver, BC | MARKET by Jean-Georges will host an unprecedented evening of exquisite food and wine. A host from Château Margaux in the Bordeaux region of France together with MARKET Chef de Cuisine Montgomery Lau, have partnered together to showcase some of the house’s rarest and most admirable wines.

Aurélien Valance, Senior VP Commercial Director of Château Margaux, will be on hand throughout the evening to offer his consummate insight and depth of knowledge about wine. The seven-course dinner will feature the 1985, 1989, 1990 and 1996 vintages of the Grand Vin alongside the esteemed Pavillon Blanc 2011 and Pavillon Rouge 2004. The highlight of the evening however will be the 1983 vintage of the Chateau Margaux, hailed as one of the finest vintages from the last century. Recognized for its quality since the 18th century and world renowned for its seductive silkiness, subtlety and finesse, Château Margaux represents the pinnacle of winemaking achievement.

To complement the outstanding wines, Chef Lau has prepared a special menu that reflects Jean-Georges’ signature ‘vibrant cuisine’ with its intense flavours and textures that speak to his philosophy of ‘global in reach, local in content.’

CHAMPAGNE
British Columbia Seafood Canapé Reception

PAVILLON BLANC 2011
Foie Gras Terrine, Rhubarb, Rose Water Gellee, Pistachio crumble

PAVILLON ROUGE 2004
Chilled Octopus, Artichokes, Celery, Barigoule Dressing

CHATEAU MARGAUX 2004 & 2003
Crispy Port Hock Terrine, Confit Egg yolk, Truffle Sweetbread Sausage, Coffee Gastrique

CHATEAU MARGAUX 1990 & 1996
Roasted Squab, Mushroom Cavatelli, Buckwheat crackers, Brown Butter Emulsion

CHATEAU MARGAUX 1983 & 1985 & 1989
Beef Tenderloin, Oxtail Croquette, Cauliflower, Sauce Bordelaise

SAUTERNES
Crispy Chocolate Ganache Tart, Toffee Sorbet

The dinner will start at 7:30 pm on April 29, 2014. Tickets are available for $1900 per person. Space is limited and those interested should call immediately to avoid missing out on this rare opportunity. Read more

MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE | No Savage Beasts In The Stoneboat Vineyards 2010 Pinotage

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by Treve Ring | Black Sage Bench Pinotage. Who knew? This is no wild and savage beast (in the South African wildebeest vein), but rather a lush, ripe dark plum, wild raspberry, and black cherry example with massive structure, tobacco leaf vegetation, cedar earthiness and powdery-shaded tannins. Alluring baking spice and exotic flowered aromas add intrigue.

Stoneboat Vineyards Pinotage 2010 | Oliver, Okanagan Valley | $25

April Fools is coming up. Here’s how you own it, wine geek style: Pour this blind for someone, and then tell them to guess what it is. Kapow! Right? Ok – so perhaps not everyone has the same sense of humour as I do, but you don’t need a corkscrew license to realize that pinotage is not as common here as, say, merlot.

South Africa’s flagship red grape is a long way from home in Stoneboat’s Oliver vineyards. The grape was originally propagated by Lanny Martiniuk for the original South African owners of nearby Lake Breeze Vineyards. 35 years ago, Lanny and his wife Julie left the bustle of Vancouver to set up shop in the bucolic Okanagan Valley. They settled on a 15 acre orchard on Black Sage Bench, buying it on a handshake in 1979. During the formative years of the BC wine industry, Lanny served as director of the BC Grape Growers Association for a decade and was chair of the Grape Marketing Board. He was also a founding director of the BC Wine Institute and a pioneer in revitalizing the industry after free trade and the grape pullout of 1988. Lanny is well known as a successful grapevine propagator and has grown millions of vines for vineyards all over BC – including the 2 pinotage plants he kept for himself, which have now multiplied into 7 acres worth. 35 years and three wine-industry-working children later (Jay, Tim & Chris), the Martiniuks now practice “thoughtful farming” on nearly 50 acres of vines.

I posed my stack of 5 questions to their winemaker, Alison Moyes…

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Straight up – why did you make this wine? Pinotage is an exciting grape to work with. It was an opportunity to work with a varietal rarely seen in the Okanagan and create a wine that is distinctly our own. The possibilities on the nose are endless! Tropical notes often come through, which I love, and find to be rare in red wines in general. Luckily for me, Lanny had the foresight to plant the pinotage in 1998 because of how well it is suited to the site and rocky soils.

Where are the grapes from? All Stoneboat wines are made from estate grown grapes, including the pinotage. The vineyards are located south of Oliver on the lower Black Sage bench. It is a unique site in that it rests on a gravel bar, rather than the sandy soils that surround us in both directions. These growing conditions are made for pinotage with large diurnal shifts from the hot summer days to cool nights.

Your ideal pairing with this wine? I’ve been doing some experimenting with pinotage pairings lately. Traditionally my choice has been rack of lamb with a cocoa rub. However, after trying a few vegetarian options my eyes have been opened to just how versatile this wine can be. Pasta with caramelized onions, kale and gorgonzola was an absolute winner!

What do you drink when you’re not drinking BC wine? Considering how delicious a nice lager tastes at the end of a long day on the crush pad and how many great craft breweries there are in BC, beer is the obvious choice. I’ve been enjoying taste testing to find my favourites. Occasionally a gin & tonic hits the spot, too.

Favourite BC wine, other than yours? Tough to pick just one. There are so many great options to choose from. The Origin blend from Maverick really caught my attention this past year; an interesting combination of Sauvignon Blanc and Gewürztraminer. I’m expecting to see great things from them.

Burrowing Owl Estate Winery

March 20, 2014 

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DETAILS

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Burrowing Owl Estate Winery
500 Burrowing Owl Place
Oliver, British Columbia, V0H 1T1
Toll Free: 877.498.0620 | Local: 250.498.0620
Web: www.bovwine.ca | Facebook | Twitter

GALLERY

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The People Who Make It Happen

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Jim Wyse, Founder & Proprietor
Chris Wyse, President
Kerri Wyse-McNolty, Marketing Director
Tom DiBello, Winemaker
Brock Bowes, Executive Chef, The Sonora Room Restaurant
Dave Keeler, Operator, The Sonora Room Restaurant
Lynn Coulthard, Manager, The Sonora Room Restaurant

About Burrowing Owl Estate Winery

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Located near the north end of Osoyoos Lake in BC’s fabled Okanagan Valley, Burrowing Owl Estate Winery is devoted to crafting world-class wines in an environmentally-sustainable manner. Founder Jim Wyse has always had a strong commitment to striving for balance in all things, and this philosophy infuses everything that’s done at Burrowing Owl, from viticulture to winemaking. In the vineyard, the natural balance is maintained by recruiting bluebirds and bats to help control harmful insects; at the winemaking facilities, state-of-the-art technology is employed along with traditional winemaking methods. Remarkable for its strikingly beautiful setting as well as its environmental leadership, the winery has become a destination for wine lovers around the globe: every year Burrowing Owl welcomes over 100,000 visitors at its Wine Shop, Sonora Room Restaurant, and Guest House. Burrowing Owl’s success has also benefited our feathered friends, as the winery supports conservation work that is helping its namesake, the endangered burrowing owl, make a comeback in British Columbia.

The Sonora Room Restaurant

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Burrowing Owl’s Sonora Room restaurant showcases the best of the Okanagan in both food and wine. We serve creative Pacific Northwest cuisine featuring local ingredients and products, including fresh fruit and vegetables and artisanal breads and cheeses. Sonora Room staff are always happy to recommend the perfect pairing from our exclusive wine list, which includes Burrowing Owl library wines no longer available for public sale. Feast your eyes on spectacular views of the Burrowing Owl vineyards as you enjoy lunch or dinner in our warm, inviting dining room or on our patio. The Sonora Room is open daily throughout the season; reservations are recommended.

The Burrowing Owl Guest House

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Offering stunning views of the Burrowing Owl vineyards, our Guest House features ten spacious south-facing rooms, each with a fireplace and private deck. Amenities include an outdoor pool, an all-season hot tub, and our Fireside Lounge. We also offer Wine Country breakfasts and in-room spa treatments. Those wishing to combine business with pleasure will find our Board Room and AV presentation facilities ideal for corporate retreats.

DRINKER | A Wine-Soaked Doc Series From The Same People Who Brought Us “SOMM”

March 11, 2014 

by Treve Ring | From the folks who brought us SOMM comes a series of short, evocative vine vignettes, produced in conjunction with The Guild of Sommeliers. Others in the series include Piedmonte and Tuscany, but I was taken by the above profile of Alto Adige, a lesser-appreciated wine region in northeast Italy (a hop-skip from Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Slovenia and Liechtenstein). The wines are distinctly Germanic and Austrian in approach due to Alto Adige’s long history under the Austria-Hungarian and Holy Roman Empires, and further evidenced by the predominance of German-speaking Italian winemakers. As the clip illustrates, the dramatic backdrop of the southern Alps and Dolomites makes for alluring, fresh and exotic wines from grapes not often associated with Italy. Think Müller-Thurgau, Schiava, Lagrein, Sylvaner, Riesling and Gewürztraminer. If the short documentary entices just one person to try Lagrein, eine Traube, die ich liebe, it deserves an Oscar.

GOODS | Burdock & Co. And Sedimentary Wines Pair Up For Night Of “Orange” Wines

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Burdock & Co. is located at 2702 Main Street in Mt. Pleasant | Vancouver, BC | 604-879-0077 | www.burdockandco.com

The GOODS from Burdock & Co.

Vancouver, BC | Chef Andrea Carlson and Matt Sherlock of Sedimentary Wines guide guests off the well-worn path of red and white to explore the world of orange wines. In a four-course tasting experience, guests are introduced to these quirky, funky, zingy Italian wines paired with flavourful dishes that bring out the best in each intriguing bottle.

Orange wines are created using ancient traditional techniques not commonly used in modern times; in a method usually reserved for red wines, white grapes are macerated and allowed to sit in their skins for a fortnight or more, resulting in wines with complex flavour, rich texture and glowing with a warm copper hue.

Only 20 seats are available for this extraordinary evening. Interested parties are encouraged to act quickly to reserve a seat. Tickets are $130 per person including tax and gratuity. Get all the tickets and menu details (with wine pairings) after the jump… Read more

DRINKER | On The Last Of The Whisky And Bidding Good Evening To The Wine Festival

by Treve Ring | While most of Vancouver was making snow tracks, watching an outdoor-indoor hockey game or getting a membership card for Vancouver’s Gin Society, I was taking on 1,750 different wines at the Vancouver International Wine Festival. Though I gave it my best college try, I didn’t get around to every booth. However, I did sample nearly all of the 110 sparkling wines on the tasting room floor – and most Champagnes a few times each. Bubbly was the theme after all. I’m just doing my job. France has now passed the sabre to Australia for the 2015 instalment, so listen for even more Aussie twang out Vancouver/Whistler way next February (if that’s even possible).

I spent some quality time with the infamous enological iconoclast, Michel Chapoutier. Now forever interred in my databank: “High acidity in wine is like love with a condom. You sacrifice pleasure for security.” And “You don’t need to be a gynecologist to make love. You don’t need to be a winemaker to enjoy wine.” And quite poetically, “Anyone who creates wines must be generous and festive. Without such qualities the creative act is doomed, sterile and vain.”

If you weren’t among 20,000 like-minded drinkers/tasters crushing 30,000 bottles of wine – ka-ching bottle depot – at wine fest (if you were, you might be in the gallery above), hopefully you were stocking up on good whisky before the barrels run dry.

Chalk one up for the little guys. Craft beer production is snatching up market share, while the big boys are sliding in sales. And that’s not even considering Vancouver’s newest source of brews, The Drug Users Resource Centre.

With the west coast’s love affair with fragrant, green crops (hops, naturally), what are we going to do about the upcoming hops shortfall? I may have pinpointed the exact cause; Driftwood Brewery’s spectacular Fat Tug IPA taking Best BC Beer in the 2014 CAMRA Vancouver Awards.

Oh well, if we run out of hops, there’s always kegged SakeOne Momokawa Organic Junmai Gingo saké on tap.

The Scots and their inventions. First bagpipes, and now this. Scottish punk craft brewers BrewDog has teamed up with UK restaurant chain Honest Burger to birth the Brew Burger – a beef burger infused with so much beer it requires ID.

And if you didn’t have enough to occupy yourself now, what with worrying about high acidity and condoms and running out of Fat Tug, you might want to do some reorganizing of records, recycling and your storage locker, seeing as its illegal in some states to use milk crates for anything besides milk.

GOODS | Oliver’s Culmina Family Estate Winery Partners With Pacific Wine & Spirits

February 20, 2014 

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Culmina Family Estate Winery is located at 4790 Wild Rose Street in Oliver, BC | 250.498.0789 | www.culmina.ca

The GOODS from Culmina Family Estate Winery

Oliver, BC | Culmina Family Estate Winery has partnered with prominent Western Canadian wine agent, Pacific Wine & Spirits Inc., to sell its wine in British Columbia.

Beginning April 1, 2014, Pacific Wine & Spirits will represent Culmina’s portfolio in BC, including the 2011 Hypothesis, a Bordeaux-style red blend, and the 2011 Dilemma, a Burgundy-style Chardonnay. Both wines will be targeted to fine wine retailers and on-premise establishments that cater to discerning and knowledgeable wine consumers.

“We sought an agency that shared our vision and values for developing Culmina into an icon brand in British Columbia”, says Donald Triggs, Co-Proprietor & Principal. “We believe that Pacific Wine & Spirits’ portfolio of top international producers, its strong and growing sales in British Columbia, and its healthy relationship with BC trade will greatly complement our winery’s ethos and objectives.” Read more

GOODS | Hester Creek Estate Winery Block 3 Reserve Cabernet Franc Drawing Praise

December 12, 2013 

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Hester Creek Estate Winery is located at 877 Road 8 (PO Box 1605) in Oliver, BC | 250-498-4435 | www.hestercreek.com

The GOODS from Hester Creek Estate Winery

Oliver, BC | After a year of terrific buzz about the reserve Cabernet Franc wine from Hester Creek Estate Winery’s Block 3, the wine continues to draw accolades, as last week respected B.C. wine writer John Schreiner called it “a red that should be in the cellars of serious collectors of Okanagan wines.” This recognition comes following the prestigious Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in British Columbia Wines for the 2010 Reserve Cabernet Franc Block 3.

Used for centuries to add finesse to Old World red blends, here in B.C. Cabernet Franc stands all on its own, showcasing luscious plum, blackberry, cassis and spice characters. It’s a varietal that is perfectly at home in the alluvial soil of the Okanagan Valley’s Golden Mile bench, particularly in Hester Creek’s Block 3, where it consistently produces a wine of impressive structure and complexity. Winemaker Robert Summers — who arrived at Hester Creek in 2006 — was an early champion of it as a single varietal, and has produced it every year since.

Schreiner penned his approval after a vertical tasting of the Reserve Cabernet Franc vintages from 2005 to 2011, also writing that Hester Creek is now one of the best wineries in the Okanagan. Of the now-available 2011, Schreiner notes it has aromas of blackberry and raspberry, with flavours of blackberry and red currant. He adds, “this vibrant red should be cellared for another four or five years to allow it to develop toward its peak.” Learn more about how you can get your hands on the wine after the jump… Read more

HEADS UP | Six Awesome Things To Do At Whistler’s Cornucopia Food & Wine Festival

October 28, 2013 

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The highly anticipated Cornucopia is on the immediate horizon and we can’t wait. It’s the ultimate Fall festival for those who love food, wine, and good times, offering something for everybody with winery dinners, craft beers and spirits, themed food and drink events, interactive seminars, and electric after parties. This year, Cornucopia is even more abundant, running for 11 sumptuous, consecutive days with a diverse range of new events, including the Nourish series focusing on sustainable lifestyle choices. Key events this year include:

House Party: Best of BC – November 7 | Now established as one of the hottest events of the year, House Party combines live music with local foods and domestic wines. Featuring the best of ‘local’ talent in music, food and wine, we invite you to Our House; a party of epic proportions. Indulge in BBQ from our backyard, home-grown vodka, micro-brewed beer and much more from our land of plenty.

CRUSH Gala Grand Tasting – November 8 & 9 | Do you ever look at a wine list and wish you could taste it all? At CRUSH, we help you do just that. The flagship tasting event of Cornucopia, CRUSH creates a vibrant atmosphere to sip, sample and savour your way through dozens of wineries. From New-World to Old-World, Sparkling to Champagne, you may just discover your new favourite gem, or ten! CRUSH is conveniently held over 2 nights – Friday Nov. 8th & Saturday Nov. 9th , in the Sea to Sky Ballroom of the Whistler Conference Centre, and although there is no food included, there will be small tidbits available to complement the wines. Attendees are asked to eat prior to the tasting so as not to over-imbibe, and to be able to appreciate the wines to their fullest extent.

Top 25 Celebratory Reception – November 9 | It takes a lot to be the best. Especially amongst winners. Our panel of expertly trained palates sipped, sampled, savoured and sometimes swallowed a breath-taking number of individually incredible wines to bring you the best of the best. The Top 25 of the Cornucopia line-up will be announced and unveiled at this magnificent tasting gala. Lucky ticket holders will have a chance to sample the wines that made the cut and represent the best of Cornucopia’s offerings paired with the Dairy Farmer’s of Canada’s award winning cheeses.

Cornucopia Night Market: A Taste of Asia – November 10 | Straight from the streets of Shanghai and Shinjuku, Cornucopia presents the second annual Night Market, focusing on incredible Asian cuisine from across the globe. Demonstrating the wonderful adaptability of wines, beers and liquors, we invite you to enjoy this fun-filled evening in a casual yet refined environment emulating an Asian-style night noodle market. Sample different beverages with pan-Asian cuisine to experience the magic in matching with exotic and creative fare. A truly gastronomic experience for the discerning palate.

House Party: Best of Argentina – November 15 | Start the weekend at this rousing party featuring some of the most celebrated wines from Argentina alongside local craft beers and spirits from BC distilleries. Enjoy mouthwatering and meaty bites prepared by the Four Seasons Whistler Resort’s SideCut Restaurant. A DJ will spin tunes and the vibe will be festive, so bring your appetite for good times.

Indulge – November 16 | Hosted in the Emerald Ballroom at the Westin Resort and Spa (host sponsor of the event), the funds raised during the evening support the Whistler Health Care Foundation to enhance the provision of health care in Whistler and neighbouring Sea to Sky communities. The night also celebrates and acknowledges sponsors, donors and volunteers who have supported the Foundation throughout the year. Over the last 6 years, Indulge has raised almost $350,000 for the Foundation. Guests are welcomed on a red carpet to a champagne reception followed by a four course dinner. Each course is carefully paired with selected wines sponsored by some of the most celebrated domestic and international wineries. The experience is enhanced by a silent auction, with items generously donated by the local business and artist community. Sparkling jewelry, local art, restaurant and adventure certificates, and exclusive getaway trips are all up for grabs during the evening. There’s always something for everyone on the auction tables.

There are, of course, dozens upon dozens of other things to do while attending Cornucopia. For a complete listing of all the events, parties, dinners, seminars and courses that celebrate the best of food and drink from Whistler and beyond, click here. Be sure to also follow along on Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr. See you up there starting November 7th!

GOODS | Laughing Stock Vineyards’ Tool Shed Expands To Include 2 New Amphorae

October 24, 2013 

Laughing Stock Vineyards is located at 1548 Naramata Road in Penticton, BC | 250-493-8466 | www.laughingstock.ca

Laughing Stock Vineyards is located at 1548 Naramata Road in Penticton, BC | 250-493-8466 | www.laughingstock.ca

GOODS from Laughing Stock Vineyards

Penticton, BC | In order to make great wine, you need great tools, this year’s winemaking tool chest has expanded to include 2 Amphora’s imported direct from Chianti, Italy. An ancient way to make and store wine from Greek and Roman days, Amphora’s are made of clay which helps the wine breathe during fermentation and storage. This will accelerate the maturity of the wine and we are also expecting some effect on the colour. So far this harvest, it is the fermentation home for a blend of Viognier, Rousanne & Marsanne. Part of a research project involved 4 different fermentation methods, it’s a way to explore these winemaking tools and the various flavours and textures of each.

Having completed 10 harvests since leaving the investment industry, Laughing Stock’s focus is no longer in growing the winery production, but rather increasing quality each year. This year’s vintage is looking stellar with the warm summer temps and extended Okanagan fall season. 10 tons to go! To see more pictures of Harvest 2013, visit our LFNG Facebook page. Read more

Fort Berens Estate Winery

October 1, 2013 

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DETAILS

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1881 Highway 99 North | PO Box 758 | Lillooet, BC V0K 1V0
Phone: 250-256-7788 | Toll free; 1-877-956-7768
Email: info [at] fortberens.ca
Web: www.fortberens.ca | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

GALLERY

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The Pioneers

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Owners, from left: Rolf de Bruin, Hugh Agro, John McConnell, Jason Neal, Heleen Pannekoek, Sean Harvey.

About Fort Berens Estate Winery

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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

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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.

Our Philosophy

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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

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“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.

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