Picking Grapes is a Scout 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.
The Magnet gets a lot of (well-deserved) praise for their awesome beer selection. However, their wine list – although more concise – definitely holds its own! This is in part due to the thoughtfulness of Rob Scope, who is currently responsible for their beverage list. Find out more about his personal tastes, thoughts and local wine recommendations in the interview below…
What was the BC wine that you first fell in love with? Do you remember where you were? What were the circumstances?
This is a hard one to pinpoint, but I think it started many years ago on my first trip to the Okanagan. Our first stop in the Similkameen was at Orofino, in Cawston, and the Gamay blew me away with how fresh and juicy it was. The trip was capped off by a visit at Terravista on the Naramata Bench, where their Fandango – a blend of Albariño and Verdejo – was so citrusy and refreshing. It was definitely an eye-opener that BC can make some world class wine.
Autumn is here! Crush is happening. Is there a local winemaker whose upcoming vintage you are most excited about, and why?
A Sunday in August for sure. Michael is pumping out some real tasty wines, and they are always stocked at home and on my wine list at the Magnet. I love how the vintages vary from year to year, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the Skin Contact Pinot Gris, among others, turns out.
Supporting small BC businesses has become especially important these days. We know it’s challenging 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?
Rigour & Whimsy — Costa and Jody are making some of the most exciting natural wines in the province right now, and I’m always excited to sell (and drink) their wine.
Sage Hills — A fully organic and family-run winery in Summerland with an amazing view and wines to match. Shout out the side project from winemakers Keenan & Zoe. We are currently pouring their latest releases at the Magnet, and they are both super tasty.
Averill Creek — Based out of Duncan, Vancouver Island; I feel like the Island gets overlooked for winemaking, but there are some really great wineries over there. Special attention goes to Averill’s Joue line. Easy drinking, approachable and affordable natural wines.
Have the last few years reshaped your approach to buying, serving, and enjoying wine in any way? If so, how?
In the past few years I’ve definitely focused more on buying natural wines, especially ones from BC. I also think that the amount of wine bars popping up around Vancouver has made it easier to enjoy these wines, as well as sampling bottles that you might not have been able to in the past. I’ve also been fortunate to spend time around some talented individuals who have helped grow my love for wine.
What sort of changes, if any, do you think the local wine industry – from wine lovers and servers to the producers and distributors – might see over the next year or two?
I think the focus on smaller, natural wineries will continue to grow, and that more local restaurants and bars will focus on wine that’s produced in our backyard. Climate change is an obvious concern, so hopefully we don’t see a drastic change to yearly yields for fruit.
Another change I’m anticipating is the focus on lower and non-alcoholic wines. My partner doesn’t drink anymore but really misses the taste of cocktails and wine. BC already has a few beer, cider, and spirit options to go along with piquette style wines being produced, and I’ve recently discovered a new start up called ONES+, where Tyler, of the now shut TH wines, is making a 1% sparkling rosé, BC’s first low intervention, sugar free non-alcoholic wine. Curious to see if it sparks a few more people giving it a shot.
If you could work in just one local winery for just one harvest, which would it be and why?
Bella Wines — I’d love to be part of the process of making natural sparkling wines in both the traditional and ‘ancestrale’ methods. Their newest release, a collaboration with Shawn from Marrow Vermouth, is a Sparkling Chinato (Amaro). I love the innovation these two are putting out, both separately and together. Also, it doesn’t hurt that it’s a beautiful location on the Naramata Bench.
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?
Neon Eon Zweigelt Pet-Nat. This so-called ‘Poser Lambrusco’ is deep in flavour and colour. Who would have thought BC could make a Lambrusco?
What about a white?
Synchromesh — any of their Rieslings. This is a family run winery who are specialists in showing off the different expressions of the Riesling grape.
And finally, a rose?
Daydreamer Rosé. This saignée rose has lovely soft and floral notes, and is a blend of Syrah & Viognier – a style made popular in Cote Rotie, in the Northern Rhone Valley, showing off BC’s versatility in different growing climates.