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?
Mission Hill Family Estate Grand Reserve Chardonnay 1992. I was living in Banff Alberta working at the Banff Springs hotel and the Banff Wine Store. It was the first time a wine from BC that we carried at the store had won an international award. It was wild watching the wine fly off the shelves and the interest that it created in BC wine at the store.
Which local winery are you most looking forward to visiting, and why?
O’Rourke Family Vineyard. With 110 acres of painted vines on a 300-acre property and a state of the art winery that features 300 meters of tunnels and 12,000 square feet of cave space to store and age wine, I’m very excited to see this winery. This is a legacy winery in the making with the old-world style.
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?
La Frenz, Painted Rock and Vanessa Vineyards. All three wineries offer a wide variety of grape varietals to try. I look forward to tasting the new vintages each year from these wineries as they always find a way to make incredible wine no matter what mother nature has in store. They all have a age worthy, Bordeaux style blend as their top wine, ideal for your cellar.
Have the last two years reshaped your approach to buying, serving, and enjoying wine in any way? If so, how?
There have certainly been many changes in the way I buy wine most notably, is Zoom tastings. It’s a real advantage talking directly to the wine makers about their wines and then passing off these interesting notes to our guests in the restaurant. The serving of wine in the restaurant has changed due to travel restrictions. Guests that are missing traveling can travel the world with our wine list or stay right here in BC and create a memorable wine experience without getting on a plane.
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?
The local BC wine industry will continue to push forward with terroir driven plantings and the formation of appellations. BC wine tourism will continue to increase as the word is out that our wine is delicious well made and unique to our valleys. The wine industry in North America is pushing north and that puts a spotlight on us. Climate change will continue to effect wine making and winemakers will have to adapt.
What is the one versatile BC wine you recommend for pairing this autumn?
Hester Creek ‘The Judge’ Bordeaux blend. With the days getting shorter and the cool nights upon us, a big bowl of stew or roasted root vegetables are a great pairing with this wine. It is just as tasty with cheese and charcuterie, grilled salmon or steak.
If you could work in just one local winery for just one harvest, which would it be and why?
Blue Mountain Vineyards and cellars. Pinot Noir grapes have always fascinated me, I would love the opportunity to spend time in the vineyard, and learn from one the best Pinot noir producers in BC.
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?
Burrowing Owl Meritage. I love watching guests try BC wine for the first time and this wine does not disappoint. With intense dark fruit of cassis and black cherry the Meritage comes out swinging with flavour. Balanced with ripe tannins and good acidity, this wine always over-delivers.
What about a white?
Mission Hill Perpetua Chardonnay. With a strong family history of making great chardonnay, this French Burgundian clone truly delivers. Harmonious integration of fruit, Oak and texture, I would proudly introduce this wine to someone new to BC white.
And finally, a rose?
Joie Rose. This is the BC rose that first got my full attention, so I would be very happy to recommend it. The pinot noir grapes bring those wonderful strawberry notes to the rose. Balanced with crisp acidy, making it difficult to put your glass down.