Friday, June 1, 2018

Ortega and Bacchus  they get no respect!

Two of my favourite summer wines are Ortega and Bacchus. To me the wines are very much under-appreciated. You are not going to find them winning any Lieutenant Governor's Award for Excellence. In Robert's Selections, you will see that I gave Chaberton's Estate WineryReserve Bacchus 2106 a 94.

Bacchus: is a white wine grape that was created by viticulturalist Peter Morio at the Geilweilerhof Institute for Grape Breeding in the Palatinate in 1933. He crossed a Silvaner x Riesling cross with Müller-Thurgau .Bacchus received varietal protection and was released for general cultivation in 1972.

Bacchus is the signature wine of Chaberton Estate Winery in Langley British Columbia. In BC Bacchus grape production is less than 1 % of all grapes grown in the province. Arrowleaf is another BC producer of Bacchus. Blue Grouse on Vancouver Island as well.


Across between Muller-Thurgau and Siegerrebe varieties mostly used for white wine blending. Cold-hardy grape found in Germany and Canada. Comparable to Riesling. Ortega ripens early, is not sensitive to frost and reaches quite high must weights, typically 20 degrees Oechsle higher than Müller-Thurgau. It is therefore often used for sweet wines, which are considered to improve with cellaring. Ortega wines have aromas of Muscat and peach and are high in extract

Ortega's winter-hardy character has allowed this grape to be successfully grown in British Columbia, and with limited success in Canada's eastern province of Nova Scotia

Some top producers are Domaine de Grand Pré, Luckett and Jost in Nova Scotia. In British Columbia Larch Hills, Chaberton and Blue Grouse are among the best.

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Vault Restaurant

Thinking of somewhere different to enjoy a great dining experience? Would you think of Cloverdale, better known for its rodeo than it's restaurants? Think again, it has two very unique sister restaurants.

Cloverdale is a town centre and historic town of Surrey, British Columbia, located in the eastern portion of the city just west of the city of Langley, a suburb east of Vancouver.

The two restaurants the Vault and the Hawthorne are both located on 176th street, they are owned by the same people.  This evening Ken, Jane, my wife Barbara and I decided to dine at the Vault. The name comes from the fact that it was once a bank and of course has a vault. Larger groups can reserve a table in the vault.

The Vault is an inviting eatery with a retro vibe, offering American classics with a multicultural spin & martinis. The menu is not extensive but does offer a nice selection of appetizers, salads, pasta dishes, meats and seafood.

From a previous visit, I knew exactly what I was going to have; the Ale Braised Beef Short Rib. The house most desired dish! Ken joined me in his selection. Jane went with the Grilled Chicken and Brie Fettuccini. Barbara had the Flatiron Steak.

The wine menu is not extensive but does offer  a nice range of fine wines with few notable BC selections. For a change, I selected something different and went with a Napa Valley wine, Pepperwood Cabernet Sauvignon an excellent choice.

The Braised Beef Short Rib lived up to their reputation absolutely tender and delicious. The ladies were also pleased with their selections.

The hospitality and service were Five Star. We had a most charming server. We came with a coupon for the Hawthorne which was honoured by the Vault. Wow, Thank you!

We topped the evening off with dessert a raspberry cheesecake for Jane and Ken. Barbara and I had the Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie!

Yes you can put Cloverdale on your radar for fine dining.

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Amazing Little Winey

Have you heard of Cresent Hill Winery,  who won double Gold for their Glennallyn Gewurztraminer 2015.  Until then the winery operated well under the radar. But winning double gold at two major events is not what is so amazing.

Located at the north end of Skaha Lake . This places the winery at the south end of Penticton. Glennallyn Murray bought the land and planted the vineyard in the 70s with all German clones. Glennallyn started making wine in Port Moody in the 60s when Andrés winery landed there and fell in love with it. He located land in Penticton on Crescent Hill and Valley View road, and after returning home from Germany and bringing with him German root stock, he planted his vineyard. They were among the first the first vineyard in Penticton and among the very first in the Okanagan producing Gewürztraminer. He sold what he called "juice" to Casabella winery in Penticton and Calona Winery. Today the winery is owned by his daughter Teresa Murray Wisemen.

Teresa has MS. Teresa's husband Russell Wiseman is the winemaker. A winery that went unnoticed for years until Teresa and Russell brought it to life and gained the attention of  Canada's Wine Industry. Now that's amazing! featured the winery long before they gained this acclaim. Please read

Monday, May 7, 2018

 The Hellish Price of Canadian Wine.

 Simple question why do Canadian wines have higher prices than imported wines? Granted any wine producer can give you some legitimate reasons for this, but can they really, I mean really, justify the huge difference.

Just the other I walked into one of BC major wine shops. You could barely move about the store with cases of wine stacked 8 feet high. The wines were from Spain, Chile, South Africa Italy and France. The prices ranged from $5.99 to $14.99. The majority selling for $8.99.

I spotted a woman being helped by a sales rep. The sales rep had a dolly. I watched as he placed 4 cases of wine on the dolly I walked over to the women. I asked her "have you tried this wine?" "Is it any good?" "Yes and Yes" she said. "It must be with four cases" I said. Her reply I am buying 6 cases. It is only $5.99.

I then proceeded to the BC section. I DECIDED TO LOOK FOR A WINE UNDER TEN DOLLARS. I COULD NOT FIND ONE. I then looked for wines under $12.00 I could not find one.  Ok  I picked at random a section of wines counted 20 bottles added up the price and came up with the average price of the wines $37.12. Yes, I stood there all alone in the BC section shaking my head watching imported wines going out the door by the case load.

So once again I had to ask the question why such a big price difference!

I had to think about the number of  Canadian wineries building new and enlarged winery facilities.
Are Canada's wines overpriced like gas?

Look at the popular winery recently build in the Naramata bench Wow! The average price from the winery $21.00

This winery is about to open in Pentiction. It is their second winery. Their price range goes from $24.00 to $85

I would say about 70 % of Canada's wineries in Ontario and BC have improved their facilities in the last 5 years. Is it just good business planning, increased wine sales or some overpricing!

I am retired now living on a fixed budget BC  wines
will not be on my table as often as they once were. It makes me sad.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Time is Everything

One day with my wife's encouragement I decided to start a website the subject being the wines and wineries of Canada.. A rather easy task (the pamphlet at the local government liquor store listed 25 wineries) not too difficult. First step, learn to build a website, second step purchase a domain name and website hosting.

It was a learn as I go process that did not take too much of my time, about three days consisting of twenty to twenty-five hours, after all there were only 25 wines, according to the pamphlet. With wineries in British Columbia and Ontario, there would be three pages, the Home Page, British Columbia page and an Ontario page.

it would be just a matter of time before I would be done and the site up and running.. but then I decided I would have time for some research into Canada's wineries. Information on the internet was very limited, the year was 1992.

I came across a Book called "Vintage Canada" by Tony Aspler in 1993 oh my gosh! there were wineries in Quebec and Nova Scotia also there were wineries in different regions of Ontario. There was so much more to the wines of Canada I was now in a race against time to catch up and make my website current.

Robert Orben said "Time flies. It's up to you to be the navigator". and so the years passed and the website grew.
New pages were added regularly. I had the time to deal with it all; The nineties came and went, a new millennium had begun Canada's wine industry grew, her wines became more popular. Her icewines became world renowned and time became my enemy.

The number of wineries grew and soon I was boasting about the five hundred wineries in Canada. The website had over a million visitors in 2009 the website had grown to over 150 pages. In 2010 the list of new winery licenses was amazing; In 2018 we will have over 800 wineries in Canada.

Rapid changes were taking place. Wineries were adding new brands, changing their names, wineries were opening regions were no one thought grapes could grow before, virtual wineries opened. Wine companies were forming, buying out smaller wineries. Restaurants and guestrooms were being added it was all happening so fast!

I thought about this yesterday as I realized I had spent over six hours communicating with just one winery; one owner. I do not regret this time. The website is my passion. I just don't know how I am going to find the time
to remain Canada's number one wine website supporting not only the wines of Canada but our country.

Time is money... www.winesofcanada is taking my time but not providing the money. It's an old cliche that we all know and understand, but to what extent do you really apply it in your life. Time is our most precious resource, because it is the only one that is truly scarce.

As Canada's wine industry grows and grows .. I need time, time from the wineries of Canada. I need them to take the time and provide information about their their winery ,give me information and I will tell the world.
We thank the many who do..

I have had marketing and hospitality managers from the big wineries telling me they don't have time to answer my questions. My response is get off facebook, get off twitter and take time to answer the questionaire I send. I'm promoting your winery for free and it would give me time to make sure your information is current. There is always someone with the time to point out to me that certain things they deem important are missing.

We first discouver the wonderful world of wines on our honeymoon when by chance we ended up in Napa Valley
Why did we start a second website simple we live with in a few blocks of the US border and have a cabin So we have the operortunity to taste many washington wines.

Time now for me to make lunch. You have to spend some time sleeping, eating, playing, relaxing and growing within yourself, time with your friends and family.

For those of you who never found the time to return my e-mails, my calls, or greet me when I visited not to worry I found the time to list you as well.

Friday, April 27, 2018

On April 26th my wife Barbara and I set out to partake in the BC VQA "Bloom" Spring Release Tasting. We left our home in Langley shortly after 12 pm. It was necessary to take our car to a suitable location where we could catch a bus for stage one of our trip.

First, we needed to put gas in the vehicle, not a pleasant  event considering we have the highest gas prices in Canada. This task was completed with ease and we set off down Fraser Highway to catch a bus. It was a beautiful day with the sun shining. The day was warm with temperatures above normal.

The bus ride was only stage two of our trip. We were headed to the Surrey sky train station. The train would take us into Vancouver. I am not one that enjoys buses or sky trains. It was a long journey.

The train had two many stops and time was rapidly passing us by. By the time we reached the stadium station, it was already past 2pm. The event located at the J.W Marriot Parq hotel was already underway.

Once we were off the train and standing on the street, we had no idea where to go. In front of us was Rodgers arena. There was a map of the area posted by the door. The Marriot was not shown on the map nor was the street next to the stadium station. We had no choice but to hail a cab. At first, the cab driver was confused as to our destination but once we informed him the hotel also housed a casino he knew where to go.

Although the distance was short it took a while due to one-way streets, heavy traffic and red lights. There was also construction to deal with. It was after 3pm when we arrived at the hotel. The doorman directed us to the elevators and said our event was on the fourth floor.

Once on the elevator, the floors went  2,3, 5,6 and so on. No button was listed for the 4th floor! Thankfully a hotel staff member was on the floor and she pushed the button CE.

Once inside my day became immediately brighter has I tasted some of BC's finest wines. Among the finest moments were chattering with Andy Gebert St Hubertus & Oak Bay Estate Winery, Marina Knutson of Spearhead, Leslie D'Andrea Noble Ridge, Spencer Massie, Harry McWatters and a very long chat with Arterra's head winemaker David Carson.

David produced two amazing wines under the Sunrock label Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 and a Red Meritage 2015. I was also impressed by Gerringer's brothers Classic Ehrenfelser.

Kismet Estate Winery had a very good cellar of wines as did Clos Du Soleil and Robin Ridge.

Time flies when you're having fun!  Far too soon it was time to head back to Langley. This is when we discovered the hotel had a shuttle bus to the sky train station.  At the station a friendly BC Transit employee informed it was best to wait a few minutes then we would only have to pay for a 1 zone trip instead of a three-zone fare.

The train was crowed and so was the bus trip. We stopped for dinner at the Dublin Cross Pub before making the drive home.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Although we try to promote wines, especially from our own country of Canada, today I am going to post a negative comment. It is all about wine tasting in grocery stores. Are they really beneficial to the wine industry?

Apparently, they must be as they continually do it. Or is it just part of the contact for the winery to provide occasional tasting? I am not one to shop for wines in a grocery store, it has happened but I am mostly there for the food items.

The wine section never seems to be busy, the tasting stage is often occupied either by store staff or marketing personal not by the winery. When I do stop by for tasting one usually find an inexperienced staff member who knows little if anything about the winery they represent. Sad!

Just the other day I found myself at the Save-On-Food Store in White Rock. My wife wished to purchase some flowers and wine. It was an extremely busy store. Parking was difficult and the store crowded. It just so happened there was a sign at the door advertising Free Wine tasting 1- 4pm. Our path took us by the wine section where a tasting stand was set up along with a display of Sandhill wines. I approached the table and waited patiently and waited.

I could see two employees both stocking shelves. I am sure they could see me. I decided to move along. However, I did return as once again my path took me by the wine section of the store. Once again I was ignored. Once again I left.

My wife was now studying the flower display. As she browsed through the flowers, made her purchase and had the flowers wrapped, I watched the tasting table. Not a single person stopped. Why!

With flowers in hand, we left the store and made our way to the government liquor store for the wine.
Save-on-foods lost a sale. Sandhill lost a sale and gained some negative publicity.

Why negative, well I sent them an e-mail about my experience that day and they did not respond. It seems many big companies have forgotten they are a customer based business and should respond quickly and efficiently to customer concerns.

You know how it is a happy customer may tell one person an unhappy customer tells ten.

Sandhill  is owned by Andrew Peller Estates Ltd