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.
What was the BC wine that you first fell in love with? Do you remember where you were? What were the circumstances?
Joie Noble Blend. I remember being young, pretty early in my career and I really didn’t know anything about the wine world. It was the 2005 vintage, I believe. It was so lively and expressive and was the first time I can remember being able to pull flavours out of the wine and discuss what I was tasting and smelling.
Which local winery are you most looking forward to visiting, and why?
Corcelettes in the Similkameen. Incredible hospitality, great wine, stunning scenery (must see to truly appreciate), and maybe we hit a couple sand wedges off the patio to a green in the vineyard below.
Supporting small, BC businesses has become especially important these days. We know it’s difficult to narrow it down, but if you had to choose just three local wineries that you think are especially deserving of our attention, who would you choose?
Le Vieux Pin, Echo Bay/Else, Lariana Cellars.
What is the one versatile BC wine you recommend for pairing this autumn?
Tantalus Blanc de Noir. We just don’t drink enough sparkling wine with our food. And here in BC we have some of the best value anywhere in the world when it comes to bubbles. This one is made with Pinot Noir and pairs with almost anything you throw at it.
Have the last two years reshaped your approach to buying, serving, and enjoying wine in any way? If so, how?
My focus during the pandemic has certainly been more geared to buying and serving wine from BC. Seeing that everyone was going through hard times together really fuelled the desire to do what we could to see as many of us come out the other side as possible. The same could be said about enjoying wine….lots and lots of it.
What sort of changes, if any, do you think that the local wine industry – from wine lovers and servers, to the producers and distributors – might see in the future?
It’s hard to see the positives right now, as we are neck deep in staff shortages, rising costs and supply chain breakdowns, all while watching some of our most beloved restaurants and businesses close their doors, but let’s try! I believe we will continue to support/drink more local products, and restaurants are finally enjoying hospitality pricing on alcohol, which was a long time coming. Thankfully, off-sales and patios looks like they’re here to stay! I am personally loving the creative ways restaurants have pivoted their business models and are creating more revenue streams like grocery stores in the dining room, take home meal kits, picnic packages, delivery programs and live streamed video events. How nice to see our industry get even more innovative!
If you could work in just one local winery for just one harvest, which would it be and why?
Le Vieux Pin/La Stella to work with one of the best we have, Severine Pinte. There are so many reasons why. The obvious reason is they are making some of the best wines coming from our province and I have been lucky enough to work with and know Sev for a while! Her passion and the way she talks about wine and winemaking, would make anyone gravitate towards working with her. Another reason for me is that I owe her big time! I got married at La Stella Winery in 2013 and things went horribly wrong when our wedding planner “no showed” on the day of the wedding. Sev and the entire team at the winery stepped up and literally saved the day! It could have been a complete disaster but instead, with her help and guidance for all our wedding vendors, it was an incredible day! So, working a harvest (or 5!) might help repay some of that debt I owe her!
Can you recommend one local, emblematic-of-BC red wine for someone who didn’t even know that wine was made here? Why did you choose it?
La Stella Fortissimo. I feel like this wine combines a couple of principles that makes BC great. We have a a lot of “Bordeaux blends” in the Valley, and many of them are great. We also experiment with different grape varieties which keeps things interesting and dynamic. This wine combines both with the addition of Sangiovese grown in Osoyoos to Merlot and Cabernet.
What about a white?
Meyer Family ‘Mclean Creek’ Chardonnay. It’s got great depth, complexity, freshness and balance – it has it all.
And finally, a rose?
Unsworth. A fantastic rose coming from the Cowichan Valley.