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.
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
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
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 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
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 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 House Wine
Vancouver, BC | Summer is synonymous with BBQs, bocce and pool parties; impromptu guests often arrive for l’heure de l’apéro and end up staying the evening. It’s spontaneous, relaxing and rejuvenating. Get ready for some summer fun this Sunday by joining the house wine girls while they share their favourite wines under $20 at The Listel. From Vinho Verde and dry rosés to great reds for the BBQ, you’ll have your shopping list taken care of for the entire summer. Having a well-stocked wine rack without breaking the bank is a great start to the utmost enjoyment of all your festivities. Don’t miss out. Details after the jump. Read more
The GOODS from Road 13
Oliver, BC | Road 13 Vineyards and Edible Canada have teamed to up to give wine and food lovers an opportunity to experience the amazing taste synergy that is created when BC estate wines are paired with 100% Canadian cuisine. The Road 13 Wine Shop is now carrying select Edible Canada products, and visitors to the winery’s Executive Tasting Lounge can now enjoy a special tasting menu designed to showcase the food-friendly character of Road 13 wines. Edible Canada’s Granville Island shop proudly carries a cornucopia of premium Canadian culinary items and Road 13 Vineyards is known for its commitment to environmental sustainability while crafting wines that express the place of their origin. Bringing together the BC wines and all-Canadian ingredients showcases the best of both worlds. Read more
The GOODS from JoieFarm
Vancouver, BC | We are proud to announce that the 2011 JoieFarm “En Famille” Reserve Chardonnay (Sept. 2013 release) has won gold at the UK’s Decanter World Wine Awards. This is a tremendous achievement in what is generally regarded as the world’s toughest wine competition. This year, 219 wine experts from 27 countries, including 75 Masters of Wine and 13 Master Sommeliers, gathered in London in April to taste 14,362 wine entries from around the world to which they awarded a mere 229 gold medals. The complete results of the competition are here. Our results can be found after the jump… Read more
The GOODS from LaStella
Osoyoos, BC | Wine tasting just got a whole lot more adventurous with the launch of LaStella winery and 3Phase Adventures Stand Up Paddling SUP n SIPpackage. Try the summer’s hottest water sport on the waters of Canada’s warmest lake, before sampling a true taste of Tuscany from LaStella, the only winery perched right on the shores of Osoyoos Lake. The two-hour adventure runs through the summer; guests meet at 3Phase Adventures’ new Cottonwood Beach location before heading to the LaStella’s shores, slightly north of Osoyoos. The one-hour paddle takes small groups of novice and intermediate paddlers out onto the lake, always in view of the Tuscan-inspired winery. Upon returning to shore, guests leave boards on the beach and walk through the tumbling hillside vines to enjoy a taste of La Dolce Vita during a VIP one-hour premium wine tasting on LaStella’s terrace. Read more
The GOODS from Dockside
Vancouver, BC | Dockside Restaurant and Coal Harbour Liquor Store are pleased to announce the return of the very popular Pelican Bay Spring Wine Tasting Thursday, May 16th from 5-8pm at Dockside Restaurant in the Granville Island Hotel. Eighteen of the best wineries and distributors in British Columbia will be on hand pouring over 60 wines in Dockside’s award-winning waterfront setting.
Nestled at the east end of Granville Island, facing the marinas of False Creek and the Yaletown skyline, Dockside is an ideal event setting. Dockside visitors enjoy views through panoramic windows and a spectacular patio, again voted as “Vancouver’s Best” in the Georgia Straight Golden Plate Awards.
The wines being poured on May 16th will span the great wine growing regions of the World, from Europe and South America to Australia and California. Of course, plenty of fantastic BC selections will be poured and guests will also enjoy appetizers from Dockside’s kitchen team led by Executive Chef Simon McNeil.
Tickets for this event are just $29 and are sure to go quickly as this event always sells out. The ticket includes a free shuttle from the store to Dockside which begins running at 4:45pm along with coupon redeemable for $10 off for any purchase at Coal Harbour Liquor Store.
The GOODS from Quail’s Gate Winery
West Kelowna, BC | Quails’ Gate Winery is nestled in the beautiful Okanagan Valley in the southern interior of British Columbia. Our 125 acre estate winery, located on the shores of Lake Okanagan, is owned and operated by the Stewart Family, pioneering horticulturists since the turn of the 20th century. Members of our Quails’ Gate team are well respected and viewed as some of the most talented in the wine and hospitality industry. Quails’ Gate fosters a positive and supportive work environment, ensuring each team member has the tools needed to succeed.
We are seeking a full time Assistant Manager in the Old Vines’ Restaurant. This individual will assist with the direct supervision of the OVR team and ensure the restaurant is operating in a professional, customer-focused and effective manner. As a key member of the leadership team, you will be responsible to meet financial and service standard goals. In addition, you will also be responsible for daily administrative tasks and overseeing the beverage & tableware inventory program within the restaurant.
The ideal candidate will be flexible to work a combination of days, evenings and weekends, as required. In this fast-paced environment, we are looking for someone that will work well under pressure, has the ability to multi-task and takes initiative with a hands-on approach to problem solving. In addition, the ideal candidate will possess a positive ‘can do’ attitude when working with our guests and staff. Read more