Sunday, April 5, 2020

Sunday, March 22, 2020

The East Kelowna Wineries

There are now 9 wineries and one meadery on Kelowna's eastside. Its a country community with single family homes, historical buildings and orchards along with vineyards.

House of Rose Winery is situated in an area known as "the Belgo Bench" with both soil type and microclimate contributing to an excellent site for grape growing. The winery is nestled among apple orchards with a view of the mountains in all directions. Established in 1993. Founded by Vern Rose the winery is now run by his daughter Aura and her husband Wouter van der Hall.

The winery was established through the vision and partnership of Ann and Susan Sperling, along with their husbands, Peter Gamble and Paul Richardson, the family lands and vines have become a vinous reality producing elegant wines of character. The Sperling family ancestors first purchased the land in the 1860s. Vines were first planted in the 1920s.

Tantalus Vineyards is situated on the eastern slopes of the Okanagan Valley overlooking the shores of Lake Okanagan and the city of Kelowna. Tantalus is dedicated to growing and vinifying limited quantities of exceptional Riesling, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Winery Proprietor Eric Savics liked the origin of the word Tantalus - to be Tantalized. The vineyard was first planted to grapes in 1927 and was called Pioneer Vineyards. Tantalus was established in 2004 on this site.

The vineyard consists of 50 acres of undulating topography. Each block demonstrates its own particular aspect and slope. The soils are varied, their origins dating back to the last ice age and the formation of an ancient lake whose depth rose 250 meters above the current level of Lake Okanagan.

The Vineyard having old plantings of Riesling, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Today, Riesling vines planted in 1978 and Pinot Noir planted in 1983 make up the backbone of the vineyard.

The winery opened in 2010 and is owned by Bill and Marina Knutson along with Bruce Hirtle/Vancouver; William Knutson/Vancouver.

The winery has now planted 14 acres of its 20-acre property, which was an apple orchard before Bill and his partners began planting grapes in 2008 on the ironically named Gentleman Farmer Vineyard,

The winery is owned by Rob Young and Denise Brass, two Air Canada flight attendants who have lived on an East Kelowna apple orchard for several years..Rob and Denise took over the orchard after Bob Young passed away in 1996. They planted the vines in June 2007 and built the winery in August of the same year. Opened the tasting room in June 2008

They have 4.5 acres of Pinot Gris, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Gewürztraminer.Current production is 1500 cases with the goal been 2500.

The winery reflects the Camelot and the Knights of the round table. Every year they host a unique wine country festival: the day-long Medieval Fair, celebrating European history and culture of the 11th to 16th Centuries. It is a colourful spectacle, including jousts by armour-clad individuals who belong to a Kelowna historical group calling itself the Duchy of Connaught. Yes, they have a  sword embedded in a stone greets visitors

The View Winery is on a piece of property that has been in the Turton/Ward family for 5 generations. Historically, apples were grown on the property. In the mid 1990s a transition began and orchard rows were replaced with vines. The winery currently is in the heritage packing house that also doubles as a cidery.

In recent years new wineries have opened the largest been Kitsch Wines. The remaining two are Frequency and Vibrant Vines. All three are excellent wineries to visit.

The meadery is Meadow Vista Honey Wines producing top of the line mead.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

A few months ago I received an e-mail with a question about Brights wine. A question I have often received.

The e-mail came with the above photograph. The Ontario resident wrote " I came across this Champagne in my mother's attic. Is the wine worth anything, is it drinkable what should I do with it?"

The answer is no do not drink it and no its has no special value.

An even more common e-mail I use to receive was " I like Brights Manor St David I have been drinking it for years why can I not find it in the stores."

First, let me tell you that Brights Winery is long gone It no longer exists. Most Brights products have been discontinued. However, some products are ben released under the Brights label.

The T.G. Bright & Company Ltd can trace its roots back to 1874 when Thomas Bright and F.A. Shirriff founded the Niagara Falls Wine Company in Toronto. In 1911 they moved to Niagara Falls and incorporated as T.G. Bright & Company Ltd. In 1993 Cartier and Inniskillin merged with T.G. Bright to form Vincor.

In June 2006 more than 95 per cent of Vincor International Inc. shareholders overwhelmingly vote in favour of the arrangement transaction in which Constellation Brands acquired all of the shares of Canada 's premier wine company.

In 2011 numerous brand names were discontinued by Vincor including Brights and London wines. The London label is completely gone, a few Brights products remain such as Brights 74 Tawny, Brights Classic Cream, Brights Maria Christina Red and the very popular Brights President's sparkling wine. The Brights label is easier found in eastern Canada than where I live in BC. One of the popular labels to be discontinued was Brights Manor St David.

2016 Nov. Constellation's Canadian interests were bought by Ontario's Teachers Pension Plan. New name Arterra Wines Canada.

So today the Brights label is owned by Aterra Wines Canada. When you check their website and find the page titled Brands you will NOT find the BRIGHTS label mentioned.

Brights wines were popular from the late '50s into the '70s and perhaps that generation wishes to buy what they know. The wines are mostly cellared in Canada wines are considered to be table wines.

Aterra never answers any information requests regarding Brights

Saturday, February 29, 2020

The Big Wow

There I was, sitting in a seminar at the Vancouver International Wine Festival, the seminar was called Grapes Unknown excited to learn about twelve featured wines from France, Italy, Croatia, Spain, Romania and Canada's province of British Columbia.

In these types of seminars, one can expect to enjoy some excellent wines, those offered here did not disappoint. By the time we had tasted our way through the first seven wines, I had written the word WOW twice; and then came Chateau Chalon Savagnin 2009.

The aroma was fantastic but so different, at first, I did not realize what I was experiencing  It was indeed a wow moment, a huge "WOW" moment. I swirled the wine glass and once again sniffed the tantalizing aroma.

I was listening closely to the speaker, Nicolas Haeffelin, oenologist and specialist on the Jura Region of France where Savagnin is grown. As he spoke I tasted the wine; still amazed yet not quite sure what I was experiencing, it was not until Mr Haeffelin said the wine was developed on purpose not to produce a fruit-forward wine. "Nuts, I thought to myself, yes, nuts" that was the flavour of the wine, walnuts and almonds.

If any wine deserved a score of 100 this wine did!

The Château-Chalon AOC is dedicated exclusively to the production vin jaune wine. Savagnin or Savagnin Blanc is a variety of white grape with green-skinned berries. It is mostly grown in the Jura region of France, where it is made into Savagnin wine or the famous vin jaune vin de paille.

The grape has been grown in France for over 900 years.

In Canada Chateau des Charme has grown and produced wine from this grape.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

I hate it!

Yes, I do hate it when I read an article ( mostly from California writers) that calls the Okanagan the New Napa. Referring of course to the Napa Valley wine region of California.  A region famous worldwide for its wine production.

I heard this reference over 15 years ago and it may have held some credibility then. I read it again today and I read it in articles in 2019  2018 and 2017 and so on. Come on California we long ago surpassed you in quality wine production. In my humble and very unimportant view, Okanagan wines on the average are far superior to California.

A 2018 article from Culinary Vacations wrote:

"For those of you who love all that Napa Valley has to offer and are willing to take an adventurous chance on a lesser-known alternative, I’ve got just the place for you. This hidden gem, located in a breathtaking region of northwestern Canada, is where you can visit lush green wineries .. I visited  Osoyoos."

Just to get it right Osoyoos is not in the north it is in the south tucked right up beside Washington (us) boarder.

In 2006 the New York Times wrote an article calling the Okanagan the new Napa Valley.

In 2017 Explore wine & food wrote an article calling the  Niagara Peninsula the most interesting wine region in Canada the New Napa Valley.

I do not have space or time to list all the awards won by Canadian wines at worlds top wine competitions. We could start in the 1970s and fill two or more books.

In 1994 Mission Hill Family Estate put the Okanagan Valley on the map by winning the International Wine & Spirit Competition in London for 'Best Chardonnay in the World' and at the time the Master of Wine Judges were in such disbelief they re-tasted all of the wines and Mission Hill won a second time.

It is nice to get the respect of these writers referring to Canada's wine regions as the new Napa Valley but we are beyond that far beyond...

If you want to see how good Canada is against the wines of the world simply Google or do any web search using the term Canada wins World best ( better add the word Wine) In Google search I get 235,000,000 results.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

At Last a Really Good Cider 

To set the stage let me take you back to my college years. The years when you would visit the bars with your buddies and drink a beer or two. The trouble for me was I did not care for beer. I desperately searched for an alternative, There was rum and coke a good alternative since you could get a weak one for just 98 cents. There was "Coolers" remember those; flavoured alcoholic beverages with relatively low alcohol content. There was also cider. Wine was in my future.

Although cider offered a reasonable choice I did not find one that had remarkable flavour,

As the years went by I, of course, discovered wines. Wines became my main beverage. Occasionally I would try a cider. It seemed though that every bar, every restaurant offered the same brand X, It was okay but nothing that excited my taste buds.

It was not until the 2000s that there was a rise in the popularity of Cider. As the years went by more and more Cideries were opening. However in BC where I live it was still brand X dominating the pubs and restaurants.

In the last ten years, a number of Cideries have opened in BC producing quality ciders. Among them Twisted Hills Cider, Tod Creek Cider, Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse and Fraser Vally Cider Company.

However, nothing impressed to the point of jubilation until Jennifer Turton-Molgat owner of The View Estate Winery in Kelowna introduced us to Wards Cider. The one we have tried so far Picker's Hut Premium Cider. Where flavours abound.

Ward's Picker's Hut Premium Cider is the best cider. I have had in years. Full of flavour Apple ginger cinnamon with hints of melon 97.

Overall the future looks very bright for Wards Ciders and the View Winery. We have enjoyed many wines from the View over the years and look forward to tasting all Ward ciders.


Wednesday, January 22, 2020

 Tsawwassen's llluminaté Restorante

After taking care of errands in Tsawwassen on a rainy Tuesday afternoon and missing lunch, Barbara and I were ravenous by the time the supper hour arrived. We had heard that Illuminate` has a pizza special on Tuesdays so off we went before facing the 35-minute drive home.

Chef Roland Smith and his wife Joeqyna opened the doors of their restaurant on Oct 12, 2005. with the aim of bringing a quality Italian- inspired experience to South Delta; they have succeeded!

This time we did something totally different than previous visits, we usually sit at a table but this time we followed the suggestion of the hostess and sat at the bar which faces into the kitchen. What an amazing experience, I was fascinated by how Chef Roland and his staff orchestrated the preparation of each order that came through.

We noticed the cheerful smiles of the staff whenever they happened to look our way. It's little things like that that make a dining experience exceptional. The kitchen is immaculate!

We took our time looking over the menu which features elevated Italian cuisine from pasta to seafood, to steaks. We have tried various dishes over the years but never a pizza, as it *was* pizza night we went for the Pollo Aioli Pizza with chicken and mushrooms. It did not disappoint!

Pizza and wine go well together, I chose a very smooth fruit flavoured Pinot Noir from Cedar Creek. Barbara's choice was a Malbec Felino from Argentina, both good choices.

With the bar being in such close proximity to the kitchen it gave us an opportunity to chat with Chef Roland, an added bonus.

The restaurant features fresh local products, Roland and Joeqyna believe in working closely with the community. Over the15 years in business they have accumulated numerous awards along with the local paper's People Choice Award.

We topped our dinner off with coffee and a shared dessert which named Chocolate Heart, a soft-baked chocolate cake and vanilla gelati. Mouthwatering!

Did I mention how great our waiter was! Perfect service, a wonderful meal indeed, we felt very satisfied with everything as we set out on our drive home.

There are a number of dining choices in the community but none equal to five-star quality you receive at IIuminate Restorante whether it be for a pizza or a four-course meal!

Illuminate is located at 1077 56th Street Tsawwassen.