Taking A Winecation – Part II – Summerland and Time Winery & Kitchen

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Summerland View across the Lake to Naramata Bench Wineries

The nice thing about a self-guided wine tour is the ability to take in the views or stop at the local shops on the way to the wineries. And, if a winery is five-deep with wine tasters vying for a space at the counter to do a flight, hop to the next winery and back track since the wineries are not far from each other in Summerland and on the Naramata Bench. Then, there are the wine tour companies and I highly recommend these, firstly, because you won’t be drinking and driving and depending on the tour company, a variety of services are available – from pick up, drop offs at the wineries and point of return, to every manner of service in between from keeping wine purchases cool and organized to box lunches and drivers who double as tour guides with photography skills.

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George and Me

Since my husband was the designated driver, photographer and point of interest person, I was free to sip and savour and to not have to worry about a thing.


Okanagan Crush Pad

After lunch, our next stop was Okanagan Crush Pad in Summerland. My very first visit to the Crush Pad was in June 2013 as part of the Wine Bloggers Conference tour (now called the Wine Media Conference, an umbrella for its membership of wine bloggers, traditional wine media, social media influencers and wine industry members involved in the conference). It was a smaller facility then producing 17,000 cases of wine for the winery with nine clients to now producing just under 34,000 cases of wine with 12 clients. The winery/facility also received it organic certification in 2015 and provides vineyard-to-consumer services for certified organic wineries and vineyards, from crushing, pressing, temperature-controlled concrete fermentation, stainless-steel storage and humidified barrel aging, bottling, corking and capping, as well as lab and marketing services.

However, what I remember most from my first visit was how different two Pinot Gris wines tasted from each other — same grape, vintage, winemaking practices but separate vineyards not four feet apart. This was my introduction to terroir, magnetic mapping, analysis of the land and how it affects wine. And you can taste the difference.

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OCP Tasting with Paulo Craveiro

But I had bubbles on the mind today and so started off with Vintage Bub 2013 made from small lots Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. When Paulo Craveiro indicated that this bubble was bottled in January 2014 and bottle-fermented no less than 52 months on its lees, I thought I had misheard him. But I didn’t and the wine does show pedigree.


An elegant bubble, fresh and toasty on the nose with baked bread, strawberry, bright apple and lemon zest aromas. Dry, with a fine, persistent mousse of crisp green apple, brioche, toasty hazelnut, creamy and balanced with vibrant grapefruit flavours on the palate. No dosage was added to this vibrant bubble with 11% abv and 2 g/l of residual sugar. Pair with fish and chips, raw oysters with a strawberry mignonette.

Sauvignon Blanc 2017 Crush PadNext, was a weighty, textured 100% Sauvignon Blanc (2017) with fresh-cut hay aromas on the nose,  vibrant with mouth-watering acidity on the palate and a rich and lush texture of soft tropical fruits. Grapes were whole-bunch pressed, fermented in concrete tank with native yeasts, softened with malolactic fermentation and then left on its gross lees to add structure and richness to this weighty Sauvignon Blanc with 13% abv and .5 g/l residual sugar. It is bone-dry. Pair with fresh oysters topped with a small squeeze of fresh lemon juice or grilled shellfish.

Chardonnay 2017 Secrest Mountain Crush Pad.jpegOn to Secrest Mountain Chardonnay (2017) sourced from Secrest Mountain Vineyard in Oliver, South Okanagan.  The vineyard was planted in 2000 and is located 487 metres (1600 feet) above sea level allowing the grapes to ripen evenly in the heat of the day and to gather their sugars in the cool of the night. This is a bone-dry, medium-plus-bodied, unwooded Chardonnay, creamy with bright tropical fruit, toasted nut and lemon curd flavours on the palate finishing long and mouth watering. Nicely balanced, the Chardonnay rested eight months on its gross lees giving texture, structure and freshness to this wine at 13% abv and .5 g/l residual sugar.

Haywire-GamayRosé-NV Crush Pad.jpgAnd now something new for Crush Pad – a juicy, vibrant 100% Gamay Rosé (2018) brought up in both stainless steel and concrete tanks. Brilliant steely pink in the glass with sweet red berry, fresh green herb aromas on the nose. Dry, fresh and zesty on the palate, finishing long with fresh cherry, raspberry, strawberry and savoury herb flavours on the palate at 12.5% abv and 1.5 g/l residual sugar.

Haywire_Canyonview_Pinot_Noir_2014 Crush Pad

And a wine flight would not be complete without tasting a made in B.C. Pinot Noir.  Canyonview Vineyard is a 4.5 acre vineyard on an east/west terrace with southern exposure that rides down Trout Creek Canyon to nearby Okanagan Lake. The lake moderates vineyard temperatures cooling off the vineyard in the summer and keeping it warm in the winter. The Pinot Noir grapes love this and it shows. In its fourth vintage, Canyonview 2014 Pinot Noir is small-batch fermented with native yeasts and matures in concrete tank for 11 months. Ruby in the glass with bricking at the edge, this PN is enticing on the nose with earthy herb, fresh mushroom, fresh red cherry and red berry aromas. Dry and juicy on the palate with ripe red cherry, black raspberry, savoury herbs and mouth-watering acidity to match at 13% abv and .5 g/l residual sugar.  Very satisfying. Pair with roast duck and rack of lamb.

So, I was hungry again and it was on to dinner at Time Winery & Kitchen.

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Time Winery & Kitchen

Located in downtown Penticton and a 15-minute walk from the lake is the Time Winery & Kitchen with an atmosphere that feels like everyone knows your name. This open-concept, modern and chic winery is the vision of wine legend and maverick winemaker, Harry McWatters. The winery once housed a movie theatre and is now a multi-purpose facility with a fully-fledged winemaking operation, events area, lounge, kitchen and bar. There is always something going on there from wedding receptions to sport team celebrations, wine tastings and tours. The kitchen itself, in short, is amazing. The food, well, don’t bother going if you’re on a daily diet of 1200 calories. You will blow that with the appetizer alone. But you will think you have died and gone to heaven.

Shiraz barrel tasting Time Winery with Schaefer June 2019.jpg

Hospitality Manager, Kelley Michael Schaefer gave us a royal tour and thieved a bit of 2017 Shiraz out of a barrel for us to try – it was black-cherry lush, weighty and smooth on the palate and I could have had a glass of that with dinner. But, there were many more wines to try.


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Something for everybody, a classic flight of five wines is $5 and redeemable per bottle purchase of wine. A flight from the Time Portfolio and Signature Wine tasting runs $10 per person and redeemable with a minimum $50 purchase per guest. The Barrel Tasting and Tour option includes four of Time Winery’s best wines – McWatters Chardonnay Exclusive tasting from oak barrique, McWatters Meritage, TIME Equity and TIME Chronos for $20 per person also redeemable with a minimum $50 purchase per guest. There is also a cocktail menu and the Timeless Ol’ Fashioned is worth every penny at $15 made from Okanagan Spirits BRBN bourbon, bitters, house-made cherry syrup, a cube of brown sugar, decked out with an orange wheel, marinated cherry and a smoldering sprig of rosemary.

Then, there is the food. The Build Your Own Board menu is a fun way to sample everything from warm mushroom and garlic confit, duck rillette, cashew cheese and cherry marmalade to a variety of cheeses accompanied with chutney or poached fruit. The Big Plates menu is an experience. But if you need something a little lighter, choose something from the Bruschetta menu.

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We started with a pork rillette, frites all accompanied with ginger apricot chutney and paired it with a three-ounce glass of Time Winery’s Cabernet Franc 2016 – an absolutely perfect pairing with the Cabernet Franc’s raspberry, dark cherry and dried herb flavours, mouth-watering acidity to cut through the richness of the rillette and also standing up to the chutney.

For the main, George had the Open-Faced Steak Sandwich, prepared with a beef bavette done sous vide perched on wilted greens, smoked mushrooms topped with green peppercorn mayo and shaved pecorino. He paired it with a glass of Time Winery’s 2014 Syrah, fragrant with dark cherry, earthy violets and savoury herb aromas on the nose, juicy, spicy, elegant and lush on the palate with powdery fine tannins and a perfect pairing to the sous vide bavette. My choice was the Time Burger, one-half pound of minced chuck and brisket, complete with pickles, crispy onion, bacon jam and smoked pepper mayo on a Petrasek Bakery bun. I paired it with a glass of Time Equity 2016 and it was also a perfect match weight for weight. This wine has a dark soul with intense spicy aromas, candied cherry, blueberry and earthy on the nose, full-bodied, juicy with liquid dark cherry, blueberry, anise, cinnamon and ginger spice flavours that flow across the palate.

And, although the Gratify Blueberry Cheesecake looked and sounded amazing with its blueberry lavender coulis and pretty, candied lemon topping, we simply couldn’t bring ourselves to do dessert. In fact, we were more than happy to waddle back to our B & B on the shore.

Encore_Harry McWatters, ENCORE CEO & President-credit Chris Stenberg-ext

Harry McWatters


At the time of this wine tour, Time Winery & Kitchen, President and CEO, Harry McWatters was about to celebrate the open-house launch of Time Winery Brut on July 12 2019, a beautiful, elegant brut bubble and a first for Director of Winemaking, Graham Pierce. Who could know that shortly after that celebration, on July 23 2019, Harry McWatters would peacefully pass on in his sleep. But knowing what I do know about Harry McWatters, the wine legend, he would want the wine show to go on.

So, a befitting end to this blog and a tip of the hat, as well as a toast to the man and his joy of bubbles, a final wine note about their new release, Time 2018 Brut:

Time Brut 2018Pale pink pearl with the tiniest of bubbles in the glass, clean and fresh with a clean mineral nose that is reminiscent of the tangy smell of sea, along with aromas of baked pie crust and citrusy florals. Made in méthode cuvee clos, bone-dry, with a fine creamy mousse, lifted with lemon meringue and nutty flavours finishing long, clean, vibrant with balanced acidity. Simply elegant and delicious. Buy it by the case.

Produced from 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay, the cuvée was fermented in neutral French oak barrels, stainless steel barrel and tank. Lees stirring in barrels added freshness, structure, creaminess and nutty flavours to this sparkling brut with 12.4% abv and 1.0 g/l residual sugar. Pair with brunch dishes, smoked salmon Bennies, friends and family – anytime.

A special “Thank you” to Town Hall Brands and their marketing team for the help in setting  up this tour.

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At Monster Vineyards: Kissing the Ogopogo for Wine Luck


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Winecation – Part 1 and Time Winery & Kitchen First Anniversary Celebration and Brut Bubble Launch

via Winecation – Part 1 and Time Winery & Kitchen First Anniversary Celebration and Brut Bubble Launch

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Winecation – Part 1 and Time Winery & Kitchen First Anniversary Celebration and Brut Bubble Launch

EvolveCellars_Vineyard_Winery_credit Chris Stenberg

Evolve Cellars

There isn’t a place I’d rather be this summer but in wine country and that covers a lot of ground in BC. So, school is over, exams are written and it’s time to turn thoughts to summer vacations and road trips. I started working on that early on and took a winecation to Summerland and the Penticton area enroute to the third annual Chef meets BC Grape in the Okanagan on June 8 2019.

It was actually a perfect time to go as wine tourism season had just started and there were not the throngs of crowds in the tasting rooms and great for those (me) who want to spend more time with the winery associate, winemaker and sometimes even the winery owner to find out more about what’s being tasted.

First stop was Evolve Cellars. The winery is perched on a natural bench, on Summerland’s Bottleneck Drive overlooking the expanse of Lake Okanagan with a view to the Naramata Bench on the other side. The lake is quiet magic, it sparkles in the sun and has a natural calm about it. The winery’s vineyards stretches to the foot of the lake. There is a plateau where events like weddings, family reunions or company retreats are held. In front of the winery there is a bistro-size patio that looks over the gardens and the lake. This is a slice of heaven.

We arrived there at 10:30 a.m. because that’s when your taste buds are at their best (really, it’s true). But we were not the first ones there. Greeting us at the lot was Christa-Lee McWatters, Director of Sales and Marketing at Evolve Cellars and Time Winery & Kitchen and just as passionate about the wine industry as her Dad, Harry McWatters, President and CEO.

Also greeting me were all 14 Evolve Cellar wines for me to try — I had my work cut out for me. What follows are notes on some of these wines, but what they all had in common is that they were fresh, modern-style wines with good acidity and at a great price point (under $20).

Evolve Pink Effervescence

Naturally, we started with bubbles and the Pink Effervescence is a vibrant blend of 50% Pinot Blanc, 30% Merlot and 20% Chardonnay, just off-dry with a lively mousse of ripe stone fruit and red berry flavours that verily dances across the palate. I could have had more of that, but on to the next.

Elan Effervescence is a new bubble blend of Ortega and Gewurztraminer wine grapes which has married well. Floral on the nose, off-dry with ripe stone fruit, crunchy red apple, lychee and vibrant citrus flavours creamy on the palate. This brunch bubble is made with élan (sorry, couldn’t resist).

Evolve Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is my fav white for summer. SBs are simply fresh and so food friendly. And this one did not disappoint. Fragrant right from the get-go with lime, pineapple, white-fleshed stone-fruit flavours. Zesty citrus finish with vibrant acidity for food – would cut through the richest grilled shellfish dish.

Evolve’s Riesling is equally food-friendly. Fragrant with light petrol, orange blossom and flinty aromas on the nose, honeyed peach and citrus zest flavours weighty on the palate, finishing long with vibrant liquid lemon acidity. Could take on any style grilled pork chops, grilled pork sausages or try it with a toasted Prosciutto ham and Gruyere cheese sandwich. Yes, I was starting to get hungry, but I still had a few more wines to go.

Evolve Ehrenfelser

Next up was Evolve’s very elegant Ehrenfelser; fragrant with melon, lemon curd and cake spice aromas on the nose, off-dry with dried pineapple, sun-kissed apricot and honeysuckle flavours satisfyingly smooth finishing long on the palate.

With all the tropical fruit and stone fruit flavours on the palate, I was ready for something different like a juicy rosé and that is what I got – a juicy rosé blend of mostly Merlot with some Syrah and a smattering of Gamay.

Evolve rose

Just loved the ripe red berry, fresh cherry, rose petal and spicy nose on this rosé. It smells like summer. The rosé is medium-bodied, dry with ripe watermelon, strawberry, red cherry flavours on the palate with a  lingering touch of smoke and spice and a vibrant finish. Fine tannins also add more structure to the wine. This is Christa-Lee’s “turkey dinner wine because it will cut through any of  the richness” and I totally agree.

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Last, was a mouth-filling Cabernet Merlot 2016, smooth, rich and dry with dark berry, dark cherry, red plum, white pepper and oak spice flavours with a lingering juicy blackberry finish on the palate. Lovely, and so easy to enjoy, it’s perfect for burgers and ribs from the BBQ. So, now I am really thinking about food and ready to graze the roses at the end of the vine rows.

From the winery’s café kitchen, enter Chef Justin Curry with a balsamic bocconcini, tomato salad with homemade balsamic dressing, a side of penne pasta, basil and sweet green herb dressing, but the pièce de résistance was a smoked chicken breast, herbed and garlic aioli dressed wrap. I could have kissed his feet.

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OK Falls, BC – Wine Spring Release 2019


okanagan-okfalls-vineyards2 courtesy British Columbia Wine InstituteCourtesy B.C. Wine Institute

If you haven’t been to the Okanagan Falls area, you’re missing some beautiful B.C. country. And that’s not a cliché. From east of the Skaha Lake Bench to Kaleden and south to and above Vaseux Lake, there are deep valleys, soaring massifs that become rolling hills interlaced with patches of desert in this climate zone known as a semi-arid steppe carved from glaciers moving through the Okanagan Valley thousands of years ago. In some places, it is deeper than the Grand Canyon.

An extremely varied terroir, home to 14 wineries and 32 vineyards, Okanagan Falls was approved as the second sub-geographical indication in BC on July 27 2018. And, it was my pleasure to attend the Okanagan Falls Winery Association’s Spring Release 2019 held at the Kelowna Yacht Club on April 19 2019, to see and taste some the wines being offered this year and chat with winemakers and winery owners.

pinotgris-Blasted Church 2017

First up was Blasted Church Vineyards and while the wine labels on their bottles are cheekier each year (couldn’t resist), the wine is not. Their Pinot Gris, as usual, is amazing. Fragrant with ripe pear, apple and spring blossoms, this barely dry PG is weighty with a lush mouth feel and a luxurious soft citrus finish. Tastes like more ($20).

Syrah Blasted Church 2016

Their Syrah is only available at/from the winery and is worth the trip. Fragrant on the nose with ripe red cherry, blueberry and spicy aromas, full-bodied, smooth and juicy, finishing long on the palate and excellent value at $30. Wine grapes for the 2016 Syrah were sourced from the Lloyd, House, Redbrick, Crespo, Suncrest and Parker Vineyards. The Syrah is dry, a red blend of 87% Syrah, 8% Petit Verdot, 3% Viognier and 2% Roussanne and the blended wine matured for 18 months in French and American oak barrels, (22% new).

Bonamici Cellars 2017 Pinot GrigioBonamici Cellars make Italian-inspired wines, but with a B.C. verve. The winery was founded in 2012 by Philip Soo, consulting winemaker and Mario Rodi, friend and business partner. Bonamici’s Pinot Grigio 2017 is a B.C. favourite, consistently fresh with ripe pear, apple, dried tropical and dusty citrus flavours accompanied by ultra-balanced acidity and a long dried citrus zest finish. This PG is aged sur lie in stainless steel tank for three months giving the wine more structure and added finesse ($20).

673954_Bonamici_Cellars_Belviaggio 2014Belviaggio is only produced in optimal vintage years, recently 2012 and 2014. This full-bodied red is a dry, deliciously-layered red wine blend of 60% Cabernet Franc, 30% Syrah, 10% Merlot and Sangiovese from the Osoyoos and Oliver vineyards. On the nose, my first impression of the 2014 was “Wow.” On the palate, it was “Holy Wow.” This is a don’t-mess-with-me-red, a velvet hammer of black currant, dark black cherry, crushed raspberry, blueberry cocoa, mocha, vanilla, oak spice flavours and finishing so long on the palate. Tannins are silky smooth. Cellar for three years or enjoy now with a roast leg of lamb ($35).

Kraze Legz Winery’s, Skaha Vineyard is located on the steep slopes of shale and fossilized sandstone  above Skaha Lake. The lake’s moderating influence is a key factor in how grapes develop and ripen there.

skaha-pinot-blanc 2018The 2018 Skaha Vineyard Pinot Blanc is fragrant with dried pineapple, ripe peach, lemon zest and spicy, zesty on the palate. This is a beautiful, dry 100% Pinot Blanc – so clean and fresh, finishing with vibrant acidity for rich dishes like Pasta alle Vongole (fresh-steamed clams in linguine with a white wine, olive oil and garlic sauce). Well-priced at $20.

skahamerlotbottle 2014

The Skaha Vineyard Merlot 2014 is a strong vintage from a good year for Merlot in Okanagan Falls. Full-bodied and juicy with rich red plum, fresh red cherry, raspberry, red berries, toffee and cake spice flavours on the palate finishing long and spicy. Definitely one for the grill ($25).



Meyer Family Vineyards make Burgundian style Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. I was smitten with the crisp, ripe peach, dried herb and oaky nose on the McLean Creek Road Chardonnay 2017. It doesn’t hit you like a hammer, it’s more like a spring rain slowly coming on.  The wine is silky, smooth and mouth-filling with ripe apple, peach, lemon zest, vanilla flavours on the palate with a clean mineral and subtle oak finish, zesty with balanced acidity. Produced by winemaker, Chris Carson, 530 cases of single-vineyard, organically-grown and sustainably-farmed Chardonnay wine grapes were sourced from two separate plots on the east and west side slopes of the estate vineyard on McLean Creek Road. Great now, but can easily cellar for five years ($35).

nighthawk_gewurtz_2015So named after the Nighthawk birds that return each spring to nest, Nighthawk Vineyards are owned and family-operated by Christina and Mike Henderson. The view over the Green Lake Valley, above Okanagan Falls, is spectacular and so is their Gewurztraminer 2015, fragrant with fresh lychee, rose petal, pineapple and grapefruit flavours smooth and opulent on the palate. Medium-sweet (10.8 g/l residual sugar) but not cloying because of its beautifully balanced acidity. The Gewurztraminer wine grapes for this vintage were hand-harvested and whole-berry gravity crushed with minimal skin contact. Well-priced at $17. Chill and enjoy on its own, or pair with a roast honey ham. And if you happen to be sampling it in the cool of dusky night at the winery, listen for the nasal “meeeee, meeeee” of the Nighthawk.

PinotGrigio 2017 Noble RidgeNoble Ridge Vineyard & Winery is well-known for its 100% French oak, creamy Chardonnay and harmonious, elegant red Meritage, but it was the Pinot Grigio that caught my nose. Fragrant aromas of white freesia, spring florals and nutmeg spice on the nose, on the palate it is smooth with ripe apple, white-fleshed stone fruit and clean, crisp minerality flavours, bright acidity and long citrusy finish. Perfect from beginning to end. On a hot summer’s day on the patio, this wine is going to be so easy to enjoy. Produced from 100% Pinot Gris, wine grapes are whole-clustered press and cool-fermented in stainless steel tank to preserve freshness and acidity in the wine. Excellent value at $18 (14.1% abv).

Gamay Noir Pentage 2016Founded in 1996, Pentage Winery is a family-owned, boutique winery with 23 acres overlooking Skaha Lake. I wasn’t aware they made a Gamay, so naturally I had to give it a try and it is excellent. First off, it has a pronounced nose of ripe red raspberries and dark cherries I could sniff before my nose was anywhere near the wine glass. It had me right there. Just as juicy on the palate with dried herb notes and a smattering of pepper spice on the finish, this is a dry, elegantly-layered Gamay with soft tannins and good acidity for food. It can also be enjoyed on its own and slightly chilled. This 100% Gamay Noir (2016) was aged 14 months in oak, 55% neutral, 20% second fill and 25% stainless steel ($23).

2016-ad-lib-play-estate-white-meritage.jpgI love everything about Play Estate Winery. It’s a fun, kickback-and-relax winery with a fantastic view, tasting bar, indoor/outdoor bistro – just a great place to play in among the 14 acres of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat and Viognier wine grapes. I love their Applause, a full-bodied, rich Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc Bordeaux-style red blend with ripe red and dark berries, dark chocolate, sweet tobacco flavours, spicy and savoury on the palate. So, when I was introduced to Ad Lib 2017 – a white Bordeaux-style blend of 75% Sauvignon Blanc and 25% Semillon, I simply had to give it a try. I was not disappointed. Clean, fresh and dry with fresh melon, honey,  grassy and light herbal flavours on the palate matched with a vibrant, balanced acidity and a soft lemony finish. Perfect for grilled shellfish from the BBQ. ($20).

nelly_rose 2017 SYLSee Ya Later Ranch is another crowd-pleaser favourite. The annual Okanagan “Chef meets B.C. Grape” event is held there high atop Hawthorne Mountain, a food and wine cornucopia unmatched. I also love the view from the bistro balcony overlooking their many acres of Gewürztraminer wine grapes. And I have had plenty of Gewürztraminer from there. But it was the Nelly Rosé, Rover 2016 and Ping Meritage 2016 I was after. The Nelly Rosé is a juicy, fragrant and tasty blend of 50% Cabernet Franc, Merlot with a smattering of Gamay and Gewürztraminer. Love the dried strawberry and pink floral nose on this rosé with pink grapefruit, pink florals and fresh citrus flavours on the palate with well-balanced acidity to this wine’s sweetness (9 g/l residual sugar). Chill and enjoy on its own or pair with fish tacos, spicy crab cakes, or salads topped with goat cheese and dried cranberries ($17).

rover_2016 SYL

Rover 2016 is a fragrant 90% Shiraz and 10% Viognier blend, full-bodied with juicy ripe red and dark berries, black currant, dark plum, figgy, date and cake spice flavours on the palate with a spicy peppery finish. Perfect for a roast beef dinner. Tannins are firm. So decant one hour prior to pouring. The Shiraz and Viognier wine grapes were co-fermented in an open-top fermenter and the wine must punched down twice a day for two weeks. After malolactic fermentation the wine was aged in a blend of 70% French and 30% American oak barrels up to 16 months prior to filtering and bottling ($22).


ping_Meritage 2016 SYLMy favourite red Meritage of the day was the Ping Meritage 2016. So, so smooth, lush, full-bodied and mouth-filling, sensuous and satisfying with dark plum, ripe red berries, cherries, cake spice, smoky savoury herb flavours on the palate and a long mocha finish. Tannins are velvety, smooth. Great balance and good acidity for food – a grilled New York striploin steak comes to mind for this well-presented, enjoyable and well-priced Meritage from See Ya Later Ranch ($22).

Stag's Hollow Albarino 2018

I love trying new wines made from unconventional B.C. wine grapes. It’s a lesson in what these grapes can do here. I can tell you the 2018 Albarino from Stag’s Hollow Winery is citrus sunshine in a glass. Produced from 100% Albarino, this wine is fresh and clean with tropical fruit notes, ripe stone fruit, soft orange and lemongrass aromas on the nose, bone-dry, vibrant on the palate with lemon curd, dusty citrus and leesy mineral flavours. Excellent chilled on its own or with grilled shellfish ($21).

Stag's Hollow Blanc de Noirs 2018

Produced by Stag’s Hollow talented Winemaker, Keira LeFranc, both their Blanc de Noirs 2018 and Syrah Rosé 2018 are a field of flowers on the nose. The Blanc de Noirs is produced with 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Gamay Noir, with fresh, ripe red cherry, soft orange and ripe red berry aromas, toasty on the nose with baked apple pie, toasted almonds and ripe red berry flavours on the palate.  As mentioned by winery owner, Linda Pruegger, the Blanc de Noirs was even “uncharted territory” for Stag’s Hollow Winery on what turned out to be a truly elegant wine ($20). Pair with pasta Primavera, grilled chicken and fish tacos.

Stag's Hollow Syrah Rose 2018

The Syrah Rosé 2018 is rich on the nose with pink florals, spring flowers and wild, ripe cherry aromas. It’s so beautiful to sniff, you’ll forget to drink it. Well, maybe not. Pale coral in the glass, this is a dry rosé produced with mostly Syrah wine grapes with some Viognier added to enhance its nose. Love the ripe fresh red cherry, dried strawberry and light pepper and herb flavours on this savoury rosé. Finishes long and mouth watering ($20). Unfortunately, other than the winery, this rosé is only available in restaurants. Chill and enjoy with charcuterie and creamy cheeses and a sunny day on the patio.


Owned and operated by the Kruger family, Wild Goose Vineyards & Winery have been producing wines for over 29 years in Okanagan Falls and have received over 300 awards from various competitions throughout the Pacific Northwest. Their Autumn Gold produced from estate-grown Riesling, Pinot Blanc and Gewürztraminer grapes is their iconic flagship white and simply flies off shelves (couldn’t resist again). But their Pinot Gris 2018 and Gewurztraminer 2018 are equally amazing.


The Pinot Gris 2018 is fragrant with ripe peach, Bartlett pear and honey aromas. Lush and sensuous on the palate with ripe stone fruit, honey, light nutmeg and ginger spice flavours on the palate with a smoky finish. The wine was matured in 15% second-use oak barrels with lees ageing in stainless steel tank ($18).




Their Gewürztraminer is produced from wine grapes sourced throughout the Okanagan Valley with the majority coming from the winery’s estate vineyard. Each block is vinified separately and then blended to make a floral and peachy fragrant wine with pink grapefruit, ripe peach, apricot and cake spice flavours on the palate. Ultra-balanced acidity on this softy-sweet Gew. Pair with pork tacos, sushi, sashimi and mild vegetarian curries ($18).


So, if you haven’t been to OK Falls, plan an overnight stay (or two) to enjoy all that this wine region has to offer, their wonderful wines, beckoning bistros, restaurants, amazing vistas and much more. Cheers!


cultureofwine blog by Deborah Podurgiel

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It’s all about Mom… Or is it?

Mom and meMom and Me

My Mother loved Mother’s Day, but not because of all the gifts, visits and attention she received, it was usually the one day all her children would be in the same house together. She loved the banter (as siblings will), the squeals of the grandchildren (well, mostly) and all the commotion with the “fur kids”. It was the time to touch base again, to see how we were ‘really’ doing. And, although she would receive all manner of flower bouquets, enough chocolate to last her into next Mother’s Day, and her much-loved Mother’s Day dinner of freshly steamed lobster Thermidored made by my practically vegetarian sister (now that’s love), it was never really about her – it was still always about us.

Our Mom passed last year and everyone in our family is dealing with that passing in their own way – but, it is like we’ve lost a connection, a cohesiveness, a missing part of a bridge to ourselves. This will be the first Mother’s Day I won’t be phoning to wish her a “wonderful Mother’s Day” and banter about what is going on in my side of the world. I can’t ask her to share her amazing recipe for perogies (it changed each time I asked). I can’t hug her, massage her sore hands, or watch those crazy sci-fi movies with her that she so loved. However, I do know that I am still so connected to her and that she is still with me – this is not wishful thinking – there are too many ‘little things’ and coincidences that happen to think otherwise. And, I can still feel her hugs and hear her advice about being more patient and understanding — I am working on the former and think I am actually gaining on the latter.

But I do miss those hugs. So, hug your Mom this Mother’s Day. Listen to the stories you might have heard from her many times before; know that she loves you and know that Mother’s Day is more about you and not her because all she wants to do is spend more time in your company. Believe me, it is all too short.

The following wines have nothing to do with my Mother as she did not drink. Although, I have to say, she always listened with patience and love as I talked about my passion ad nauseum for wines:

Rollingdale Pinot Blanc 2016

Rollingdale Winery / Estate Pinot Blanc / BC Certified Organic / Okanagan Valley 2016 V.Q.A. / UPC 626990286875 / 13.4% $28

From four small rows on a two-acre block of organically-grown Pinot Blanc vines in 2006, and two small batch vintages comes a crisp, clean and lean, all grown up Pinot Blanc. In the glass, Rollingdale’s Pinot Blanc is bright, pale lemon with light green straw-coloured flecks in the glass. On the nose, clean, key lime and mineral aromas, elegant with light herbs and faint, dusty dried tarragon. On the palate, the wine is also clean, dry (1.0 residual sugar), delicate with white florals, soft spice and soft citrus zest, with a long and equally zesty lime and soft spice finish. So elegant, fresh and bright, pair this well-balanced white with a grilled Ahi tuna marinated in a smack of shredded ginger. Rollingdale Winery is wholly family-owned and operated and is certified-organic.

Applause 2015 Play Winery

Play Estate Winery / 2015 Applause V.Q.A. / Penticton / Okanagan Valley / UPC 626990280989 / 14.6% abv / $35

Fantastic balancing act on this 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc and 20% Merlot full-bodied and unfiltered Bordeaux-style blend from Play Estate Winery in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. Applause 2015 is dark ruby in the glass with a rich and intense medley of brambleberry pie, grilled meat and mocha on the nose. On the palate, Applause is dry and concentrated with black raspberry, ripe plum, tobacco leaf, dark chocolate and savoury spice, finishing smooth and velvety with more replays of concentrated berry fruit and balanced acidity. This red beauty fully deserves encores and applause. Pair with a grilled prime rib.

But why not start off the dinner with their light spritz of a Moscato!


Play Estate Winery / 2016 Moscato V.Q.A. / Penticton / Okanagan Valley / UPC 626990259916 / 9.5% abv / $20

Play Estate Winery’s Moscato 2016 is produced from 100% Muscat. The Moscato is floral on the nose with a hint of a petrol, wet stone and orange blossom. The wine is just off dry and elegant with the most delicate lime, grapey spritz – it should really be labelled “Dangerous” for its performance — as in dangerously good. Soft florals of pink rose petals, soft peach and a hint of ginger spice can be found on the palate matched by a clean, crisp and zesty acidity for food. Sweetness and acidity in total balance on this Moscato, nothing cloying or sharp here. Buy a case in anticipation of hot summer days. Chill and have on its own (at 9.5% abv that could be a few glasses) or pair with sautéed scallops, mild vegetable curries, creamy blue cheese brie with a peach compote topping, or Camembert.

And, Mother’s Day wouldn’t be complete without a glass of rosé.

FortBerens-Rose 2017

Fort Berens Estate Winery / 2017 rosé V.Q.A. / Lillooet, British Columbia / UPC 626990108221 / 12.8% abv / $20

Fort Beren’s Estate Winery is located on the Fraser River, 325 kilometres north of Vancouver and 140 kilometres east of Whistler. This is a spectacular place where the Fraser runs wild and the coastal mountains soar, with incredible vistas, all manner of wildlife and rich in gold rush lore. This is also a pretty rugged place to have a winery and for it to thrive. Well, thrive it does, and with the same pioneering spirit and beliefs that came with the gold rush days, Fort Beren’s Estate Winery is making some of the best Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir wines B.C. has to offer.

Their 2017 rosé is a juicy fruit bomb of Pinot Noir and Gamay Noir with a fresh cotton candy nose. On the palate, it is dry with flavours of fresh strawberries, raspberries light savoury spice and herbs all wrapped up in a zesty, balanced acidity. A lot of finesse on this well-structured vibrant pink rosé, pair it with grilled chicken or shrimp, beetroot or green salads topped with herbed goat cheese.

Quails Gate Rose 2017

Quail’s Gate Estate Winery / 2017 rosé V.Q.A. / Okanagan Valley, British Columbia / UPC 778856117240 / 13.5% abv / $19

A delicate, pretty salmon-pink in the glass, the 2017 estate-bottled Quails’ Gate rosé is a juicy blend of 50% Gamay Noir, 40%, Pinot Noir and 10% Pinot Gris with a macerated cherry, dried strawberry and light herb nose. On the palate, this rosé is dry, elegant, fresh and clean with melon, dried strawberry, juicy red cherries and light herbs flavours. This is your patio rosé, for sure – just chill and enjoy. The winery suggests pairing it with a caprese salad, pizza or rosemary roast chicken.


The View Pinotage Rose 2017

The View Winery & Vineyard / 2017 Pinotage rosé V.Q.A. / Okanagan Valley, British Columbia / UPC 626990268956 / 11.8% / $19

The View’s Pinotage rosé is a single-vineyard estate-bottled rosé. In the glass, it is a pale rose-petal pink, but don’t let that soft pink fool you, this light-bodied, dry rosé packs a flavoursome punch. Pinotage is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault wine grapes giving this wine an intense nose of ripe cherries, red berries and soft citrus. On the palate, it is crisp, clean with more ripe, fresh red cherry and berry flavours, a bit of savoury spicy with a zesty acidity wrapped up in a clean minerality. This is another low-alcohol, very drinkable rosé (11.8% abv) and a crowd pleaser. Cold roast chicken, potato salads, roasted flatbread with olives and prosciutto would all be its perfect match.

Happy Mother’s Day and, as always, love the wine you’re with. Cheers. *(*

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The BIG Business of BC Wine

Wineshop pic Western Days 2017

Me at Save-On-Foods Kamloops BC VQA Wineshop — Western Days 2017

I have a part-time BC Wine Advisor position at a BC VQA wineshop. The wineshop is in Kamloops. At this point, half of the people reading this blog are asking, “what is or where is Kamloops?” According to Travel Kamloops:

Kamloops is a Canadian city in British Columbia, where the North and South Thompson rivers meet. Sun Peaks Resort’s hiking trails, bike park and numerous ski runs lie to the northeast. Cougars and bears inhabit the British Columbia Wildlife Park east of town. West, above Kamloops Lake are clay hoodoos (or spires). The riverside Secwepemc Museum & Heritage Park features the remains of a 2,000-year-old village.”

And according to Wikipedia: “Kamloops is the seventh-largest population centre in British Columbia by population in 2016 with 90,000 plus inhabitants.”

However, the City of Kamloops can be noted for much more than that — the most recent is how the city, community and all manner of businesses stepped up to the plate during the summer of the 2017 wildfires with their generosity in providing accommodations, food and support through the various fundraisers for wildfire personnel and victims of the fires. This small but growing in-leaps-and-bounds community on the edge of a desert has also increased in population by about 10 per cent over the past two years – people relocating from BC’s coast, the southern interior and Alberta. AND, Kamloops has a Wine Trail, with several wineries — and here I am going to include cideries and breweries — making some fantastic wines, ciders and premium beers.

But back to the BC VQA wineshop for which I work part time. For one, it is incredibly busy. A lot of visitors to Sun Peaks and weekend cottagers stop here to buy their BC wine; people returning to the coast make a last stop here to purchase their BC VQA wine before driving back down the “Coq” because we have an incredible selection of wines – about a 1,000 labels – no really, this is not an ad for Save-On-Foods or the shop – it’s true. Then there are people buying gifts of made-in-BC wine for in- and, yes, out-of-province friends and family.

So, grab a glass of your favourite, BC or otherwise wine and here are some interesting facts about the Big Business of BC Wine in Canada (courtesy of Canadian Vintners Association, Winery and Grower Alliance of Ontario, British Columbia Wine Institute and Winery Association of Nova Scotia):

Canadian wineries total 604 an increase from 476 wineries in 2011.

Canadian Wine Industry’s economic impact: $9 billion, an increase of $2.2 billion since 2011. BC Wine industry’s economic impact: $2.8 billion, an increase of $760 million since 2011.

Canadian wine and grape business revenues and contribution to the economy: $6.2 billion with tax revenues of $1.1 billion; wages: $1.7 billion. BC’s wine and grape business revenues and contribution to the economy: $1.95 billion with tax revenues of $312 million; wages: $512 million.

Canadian jobs created directly as a result of the wine industry: 37,000. BC jobs: 12,000.

For Canada, there are 1,770 grape growers with a combined acreage of 31,100 grape-bearing acres. For B.C., there are more than 900 grape growers with a combined acreage of 10,260 grape-bearing acres.

Canada had 3.7 million visitors in 2016 through the wine economy. B.C. had one million visitors.

A final, interesting stat for BC: 275 wineries sold 4.8 million nine-litre (12 x 750) equivalent cases of wine.

That’s a lot of wine, and a great segue to what’s in my glass these days:

Vintage: vinAmité Petit Verdot 2015 V.Q.A. Price: $55, UPC 626990223207 / 16% abv

Petit Verdot

I love Petit Verdot. This is a seriously black-skinned wine grape and it makes the deepest, darkest red wine. Often used in blends or to ‘season’ Bordeaux blends, it’s difficult to find a 100% Petit Verdot wine, particularly in Canada, let alone British Columbia. But we have one. vinAmité in the Oliver area of BC’s Okanagan makes a 100% Petit Verdot that is purple in the glass with ruby flecks throughout. The wine is floral, with earthy, crushed violets, a touch of vanilla and a hint of mint. Petit Verdot (small green) refers to one of the main challenges this grape has in that it has difficulty flowering and ripening if the climate is not right. The inaugural vintage (2015) of this Petit Verdot is anything but. The wine is dry, full-bodied, big at 16% abv, but hardly noticeable with the abundance of ripe, dark berries, blueberries, plums, savoury spice and meaty flavours on the palate. Tannins are rounded and there is great balance and finesse on this wine. Only 72 cases were made, but the winery is hoping to make more. I hope so as well. Pair with game meats, roasts, grilled bavette steak with shallot butter.

C.C. Jentsch Small Lot Series Chardonnay 2016 V.Q.A. Price: $50, UPC 626990263630 / 13% abv

CC Jentsch SLS_chard_2016This 2016 vintage was awarded Silver at the 2018 Chardonnay du Monde Competition. Wow!  This full-bodied 100% Chardonnay has got a lot going on with it. Light gold in the glass, the nose is pronounced with acacia flowers, honey, lemon cream. On the palate, the wine is dry, mouthcoating, with creamy lemon custard textures and flavours, followed by acacia honey, ripe peaches, pears, cake baking spices, and a good minerality on the palate finishing long with tangy, soft lemon. Rich and lush, with a bright and balanced acidity that keeps it fresh. This wine matured in three-year old French oak barrels for six months and it is delicious. Have this one on its own, or pair with freshly steamed shellfish.

SunRock Vineyards Red Meritage 2015 Okanagan Valley BC VQA $30 / 14.5% UPC 063657030547

Sunrock Red Meritage 2015

On a steep mountain slope overlooking Osoyoos lake, 104 acres of happy Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc wine grapes benefit from the cooling breezes off the lake just 200 feet below. They drink in the desert sunshine on hot summer days retaining their freshness in the cool desert nights. This is where the SunRock Vineyards are located. There are 1,360 vines per acre of vineyard – each varietal selected to match the soils, microclimate and conditions of the vineyard. Vines are pruned by hand and grapes are hand-harvested. Good wishes from Mother Nature are always welcome, but with the vineyard aspect, management and knowledgeable winemaker, Dave Carson, some of the best SunRock wines are produced from this area. Case in point is SunRock’s full-bodied, smooth and dry (3.2% residual sugar) Red Meritage with a Bordeaux blend of 37% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Franc and 31% Cabernet Sauvignon. The nose is rich with ripe dark cherry, cassis, mocha, and savoury aromas wrapped up in a whiff of smoke. Deep ruby red in the glass, the wine is balanced with good acidity and weighty on the mid-palate with blueberry, ripe raspberry, dark cherry flavours and a lingering smoky, peppery finish. Tannins are supple and silky. Malolactic fermentation occurred in oak barrel and the wine was aged for 18 months in a combination of French and American oak. So easy to enjoy on its own but would also be a perfect match to grilled bison burgers or a rack of lamb.

Elephant Island Winery / “The Other Way” Chardonnay 2016 Sideshow Hill Vineyard, Naramata Bench / $21.00 / UPC 626990214915 / 13.9%

-ElephantIsland-Chardonnay 2016

Love the watermark, well, actually, the wine mark on the winery’s website – “Life’s a circus. Drink wine.” I also love this dry, powerhouse of a Chardonnay made from 100% Naramata Bench, B.C. wine grapes. The wine is nimble and elegant and has a rich, creamy texture with ripe red apple, brioche flavours and a citrusy mineral streak (in a good way) running through it all. The Other Way Chardonnay was partially barrel fermented and spent three months elevage in oak barrel.

But why the dancing elephant on the bottle’s label? As the story goes, it all came about when “Grandmother Catherine acquired the orchard as a retirement investment. Grandfather Paul, or Poppy as we called him, was convinced that the investment would prove a white elephant.”

“The Other Way” is a dry, clean, easy-to-enjoy Chardonnay – no white elephant here, just a very well-balanced, well-made, tasty Chard. Chill and enjoy on its own or pair with freshly steamed shrimp with a squeeze of fresh lemon.

As always, enjoy the wine you are with!  *(*


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BC’s Best

Sean Nelson BC Somm 2018Sean Nelson, Best Sommelier of British Columbia 2018 inspecting wine

The world of wine and food is fascinating and wine tasting is part of that fascination. How do Winemakers, Masters of Wine, Sommeliers analyze wine? How do they know where and in what terroir the grapes for a particular wine were grown or what vintage it might be? There are myriad methods and a lot of knowledge to go along with the ability to ascertain just what is in a glass. Then there is the food and service. With literally every possible thing on the menu these days, what to pair it with and will it work for the customer? And, it’s not only about the wine and the food it’s also about the service, making the moment memorable. The role of the Sommelier is many fold; it requires knowing your ‘stuff’, whether it is food, wine, spirit and service. A good somm has the ability to read people, not only that, but find out truly what it is a customer wants. It’s not that simple, often people come into a restaurant, wineshop or gourmet emporium not really knowing that, but they want to create something special, something enjoyable and memorable. A good somm is always up to the challenge, a great somm thrives on it.

That said, I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with the Best Sommelier of British Columbia 2018, Sean Nelson, sommelier at Vij’s restaurant. Aside from winning the grueling competition, Sean was also awarded “Best Taster” of the day. The annual competition was emceed by Shane Taylor, winner of 2017 Best Sommelier BC Competition. The 2018 competition included an intense written exam in the morning, with the top three scoring sommeliers from the written exam advancing through to a series of practical tests, such as opening and pouring sparkling wines, spotting errors in a written wine menu, as well as a blind tasting and identifying wines; all in front of 100 spectators (Yikes!) This year’s competition judges were Barbara Philip, Michaela Morris, and Sebastien Le Goff.

So, Sean, what prompted, you to become a sommelier and how long have you been in the profession? Was it something you knew you wanted to be from the get go, or was it a career change, or was it something you wanted to try, perhaps challenge yourself or that you had an interest in?

SEAN: I got my first job in the hospitality industry in 2003, as a dishwasher at The Keg Steakhouse. I never considered that would lead me to where I am today. I was in Film School and wanted to be an actor so working in the restaurant was a flexible job that would help me pay my bills. As time went on and I moved through the different positions in the restaurant I started learning about wine as part of my job; I was hooked. Acting fell to the wayside as hospitality and wine became my passion. I sought out people who could mentor me, teach me something, help me grow. I started doing formal wine education in 2012 after a trip to France and Italy. There was too much for me to learn piecemeal and so I completed the WSET 2 and 3 in 2012 before moving to Australia to explore more wine country. When I returned, I began pursuing the Master Sommelier Diploma from the Court of Master Sommeliers, and I was craving the energy of a restaurant again. The position at Vij’s could not have presented itself at a better time. I’m a sponge for knowledge and working with wine challenges me to learn continuously in a world that is ever changing.

What about the journey to the Best Sommelier of British Columbia: Has it been a journey of work experiences? What has been the most interesting work experience, or perhaps challenge that you have had in the profession so far? Why, Who or What prompted you to take the challenge?

SEAN: I think the best thing about my work experiences is that they are so intertwined with personal and volunteer experiences that nearly everything I do contributes in some way to my growth as a professional. The biggest challenge that I’ve had so far was passing my Advanced Sommelier Examination in 2016. The step to go from the Certified level to Advanced is a huge jump and it almost broke me, I pushed through and it made me a better Sommelier in the process.

About the competition itself, how did you prepare for it? What tasks did you need to complete and what was a personal challenge for you? What do you think gave you the win advantage?

 SEAN: They began this format of the Best Sommelier of BC competition in 2015 and I’ve been a part of the competition every year since then. Working closely with the former winners and our study and tasting group was instrumental in preparing me. We started off the day with a 90-minute theory exam that included a business of wine exam, grueling theory portion, and two written blind tasting notes. Theory has always been the area in which I’m weakest, so I made it a personal goal to improve that aspect of my skills. Once I was announced as one of the three finalists, along with two other members of our study and tasting group, I felt a wave of relief. I was confident that if I made it through to the finals that I could win. Working at Vij’s definitely gave me an edge, the speed of service is high, so I’m used to performing my duties in a high stress environment and there’s no stress more than being on the clock in front of 100 spectators.

So, what advice do you have for anyone taking this competition on? What do you think is the most important aspect or take away from the competition? And last, but most important, what does being a sommelier personally mean to you?

SEAN: Relax. It may be a competition but it’s also just a take on what we do each and every day as Sommeliers. If you walked into your restaurant carrying all that stress and tension you are not going to be at your best. The best thing to take away from the competition is that it’s an opportunity to learn where you may be able to become a more rounded professional and that you are competing against yourself first. Be the best that you can, and the rest will fall into place. For me, being a Sommelier is service first, everything that I do, all my professional goals, my career aspirations, the goal is to improve the experience of the guests. There is no greater joy than having each and every guest leave the restaurant carrying that experience with them.

Thank You, Sean. All the best

New: Aspiring Sommelier Competition:

New and as a first in Canada this year, CAPS BC hosted the 2018 BC Aspiring Sommelier Competition. This event was for any member of CAPS BC who earns 50% or more of their income from hospitality employment in any role, and who has an interest in participating in future Best Sommelier BC competitions. The event follows the Best Sommelier BC format to give aspiring sommeliers the opportunity to understand what the competition is all about.

Winner of the inaugural Aspiring Sommelier Competition is Ian Wharton of Blue Water Cafe.

About the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers:

Established in 1989, the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS) is a pan-Canadian association, which brings together individuals within the sommelier profession, restaurant services, and other sectors of the wine industry.

As a not-for-profit organization, CAPS aims to promote and educate the sommelier profession through professional development and networking events related to the wine and spirits industry. Visit: http://sommelierscanada.com/

For more information regarding the advanced Sommelier program, please visit  https://www.mastersommeliers.org/courses/advanced-sommelier-programming

What is St. Valentine’s Day?

I am dating myself, but I can remember when St. Valentine’s Day meant my Mother running out and getting all sorts of pink and red Valentine’s Day cut out cards with variations of “be my Valentine” (usually, for her to fill out with the names of my classmates as well). I would lug those in on February 14 and we would all sit around in homeroom class giving out Valentines to see who would get the most cut out cards. For a kid, it was kind of a traumatic, ‘in your face’ way to see who was popular and who was not. And, when you think about it, it might have been a prototype for Facebook.

As it turns out St. Valentine’s Day is both a Christian and ancient Roman tradition involving at least three different saints named Valentine (or Valentinus) who were martyred. Not an auspicious start to a romance. There are other legends and stories about St. Valentine’s Day, but I’m going to go with that it’s a good time to stop and spend a little time with your loved ones – a time for taking a breath after the holidays, to renew, reflect and, of course, have a glass of wine.

Here are just a few wines to enjoy on Valentine’s Day:

I like rich Bordeaux and meaty Meritage blends. They embrace all that is winter.  A red Meritage is a final blend of three or more of the following grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. These wines can be medium-bodied and easy-drinking to rich and full-bodied blends looking for a hunk of steak grilled rare.

McWatters Meritage 2013 image

The McWatters 2013 Meritage VQA vintage is blood-red in the glass, at first sniff the wine is cherry, cranberry, rose petals and sage. But give it 15 minutes and cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg spice develop on the nose as well. On the palate, the 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, and 14% Cabernet Franc blend is smooth, with ripe red berries, spice and white pepper on the palate wrapped up in balanced acidity and soft tannins. This wine is well-structured and was matured in French oak casks for 15 months prior to bottling. Drink it now by the fire paired with long, reflective evening talks, or pair with a more traditional roast pork tenderloin, cranberry coulis and roasted root vegetables. Classy touch on the corks showing, of course, the time. The cork on this Meritage showed 12:25 – not sure if this was a.m. or p.m. either way, it’s a great time to drink it. This vintage won Bronze in the 2016 National Wine Awards of Canada. 14.2% abv / UPC: 626990165385 / $25


McWatter’s Collection Chardonnay VQA 2015: Love the nose on this McWatter’s Collection Chardonnay (2015) as well, but I can’t decide if I want to drink it or eat it!  Pale gold in the glass, the Chardonnay is elegant with white florals, buttered warm toast and a wicked mineral streak on the nose. On the palate, the wine is creamy and mouthcoating with toasted almonds like a buttery amandine, lightly roasted hazelnuts and more buttered, warm toast – this wine actually makes you hungry. Very well constructed, incredible balance and elegance with a light citrus and mineral finish. Goes down so easy with no acid bite. Pair with buttered popcorn, or a roasted chicken dish. From the winery: This wine was barrel-fermented and aged for 9 months in French Oak (30% new oak) with regular stirring, which helped create a creamy mouthfeel. Multiple yeast strains were used to produce a complex, yet balanced wine. 13% abv/ UPC:  626990122159 / $25


Happy is me to have sampled The View Winery and Vineyards 2014 and 2015 (VQA) Pinotage Reserve side by side. These sister wines are so different from each other but beautiful in their own right. Do not expect a coffee, espresso mocha flavoured Pinotage. Nothing wrong with those, but the View’s Pinotage Reserve is clearly a wonderful expression of cool-climate Pinotage, a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, originating from South Africa. The 2014 is elegant, mulberry, blueberry fruit and delicate flowers with a well-balanced acidity – a wine that is so easy to enjoy on its own or to pair with pork tenderloin in a blueberry, Pinotage wine sauce. This vintage also won the BC Best of Varietal Award and Best of BC Wine Award. In the other glass, the 2015 is a deep, inky red with bramble, blackberry, dark cherries, chewy tobacco, crushed blue flowers, gritty tannins, earthy flowers, spicy white pepper and smoke. It really does have its way with your palate but OMG it is so good and goes down so easy with a venison meat fondue. The 2015 vintage is also a BC Wine Awards Medal winner (2016). I am wondering what The View’s Pinotage Reserve (2016) will bring?  13.6% abv / UPC: 626990268840 / $24

CC Jentsch 2013_cabernet_merlot

C.C. Jentsch Cellars Cabernet/Merlot VQA 2016: Can you say blueberry liqueur? Ruby-red in the glass, this tidy dry red is a blend of 42%, Merlot, 42% Cabernet Franc, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Petit Verdot. Wine grapes for C.C. Jentsch’s Cabernet/Merlot 2016 were hand-harvested and the blend spent six months in a mix of French and American oak barrels with lees stirring. At first whiff, the wine is ripe dark plum, but evolves quickly into blueberry, ripe dark cherries with some smoked meat – bacon, in particular — and dark savoury spices. This is a sensuous red wine, at an excellent price point, with a very comfy mid-palate weight and flavours of ripe red berry fruit, blueberry liqueur finishing quite long with mocha, sour cherry and white pepper on the palate. Beautifully structured, there are some tannins on this so-easy-to-enjoy red, but they are mostly rounded and tame. Decant for one hour and pair with sirloin burgers.   13.5% abv UPC: 626990263463 – $20.

As always, enjoy the wine you’re with. Cheers. DLP *(*


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