Saturday, June 18, 2022

 

Wine Women and Chocolate

 

The White Rock Soroptimist held their annual Wine Women and Chocolate event last Thursday (22-06-16) at the Elgin Hall near Crescent Beach. It was a fund raiser for the work they do to support women and girls in need.

Several local wineries contributed to the fund raiser. Those sending along wine for tasting, Township Seven, City Side, Backyard and Festina Lente. Due to staff shortages only Township Seven were able to send staff for their tables.

Barbara, our dear friend Kim and I would man the tables for the other three wineries. Kim been the one of us with experience.

The event was scheduled to begin at 6:30 pm by 6:15 we were pouring wines. Sadly, the tables were placed too close to the stage where a very good band was playing. However, we could not hear the people coming to the tables. They of course had trouble hearing us.

Barbara handled the majority of the tastings for Festina Lente. Festina Lente is perhaps the best Mead producer in British Columbia. Now most people are not interest in Mead. Barbara was extremely good at convincing everyone to try the mead. I think they liked it! In fact, we ran out of mead.

Kim handled the City Side wines who offered a selection of four wines. Pinto Gris, Riesling, Chardonnay and a white blend. The huge winner here was the Pinot Gris, a very good wine full of traditional flavours, the wine was quickly gone.

I did the majority pouring of the wines for Backyard, a Fraser Valley Winery that most people knew. They offered their Noisy Neighbour White and Red, along with the Gossip White and Red. The four wines were blends of four or more varietal. All were all well received.

It was the first time Barbara and I found ourselves on the other side of the table. It was quite the experience. We were so happy that Kim was there for us. It would have been quite the challenge to handle three wineries.

We went home quite tired from a very long day!

 

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

 Indulging In Port-Style wines



Barbara and I are happy to say our first outdoor tasting experience of 2022 was a success. We decided to do a port tasting. Now fortified wines in Canada may not be called Port.

Canada reached an agreement with Europe and Portugal. Only wine produced in the Douro region of Portugal may be called Port or Porto. (Canadian producers, under CEWSA Article 12(1), will cease using geographic indications (GIs) Chablis, Champagne, Port, Porto and Sherry effective December 31, 2013.)

Port is a fortified wine. Fortified wines are made by adding a proportion of grape spirit, or brandy, to the wine at some point during the production process. Port is arguably the greatest of all fortified wines and its paramount expression, Vintage Port, ranks alongside the finest produce of Bordeaux or Burgundy as one of the great iconic wines of the world.



We invited six guests to join us for the experience. It was a beautiful day and we gathered in the backyard to relax and enjoy some good wines.

We offered everyone a choice of wine while waiting for everyone to arrive. We had Malbec from Argentina, Syrah from Spain, Pinot Noir from Blue Grouse in British Columbia and a white Pinot Gris also from Blue Grouse.

Once everyone arrived we brought out the appetizers ranging from various worldwide cheeses to Olives, figs, pate and Chocolate Treats.



Our first selection was from Glass House winery called Festa. It featured nice notes of Blackberry, raspberry, chocolate and Caramel.


Our second selection was a wine from Backyard Vineyard, on the label it says " Sit Back,Relax and Enjoy" they hit the nail on the head for we were doing exactly that..with some nice pop tunes playing in the background. The wine featured notes of cherry and hints of spice on the mouth Blueberry and Cranberries


Up next was the offering from Chaberton called Tribute 2017 Nice! Slightly sweeter than the previous wines..featuring Strawberry and raspberry flavours.


So far everyone was quite pleased with our selections. Not everyone had the same favourite. Everyone did say they would happily purchase any of these port-style wines.


Last we went for the highest alc % at 20.1 the 2015 Rouge from Skaha Vineyards. A powerful offering a 100% Merlot fortified with dessert wine aged 24 months in French Oak. Flavours of Butterscotch, Raisin and Almonds leapt on the palette. The chocolate treats quickly disappeared as we sipped on this wine.


As the day began to cool off we ventured inside to a lasagna dinner.


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Monday, May 16, 2022


 Back in 1969 Barokes Wines is considered to be first to put wine in a can. Barokes Wines was founded by Steve Barics and Greg Stokes, reputedly after narrowly avoiding an experience involving a shattered wine glass and a spa. They saw wine in a can as a solution to all those situations where glasses and bottles were either forbidden or ill-advised. Buying bulk wines from other vintners in south-eastern Australia, they began packaging wine in aluminum cans. In 2002 they patented the Vinsafe process, using cans with a plastic lining that could preserve the wine for up to a year. 

The relationship between Barokes and Daiwa deteriorated when Daiwa began supplying the technology to other wine-makers. After lengthy and expensive litigation, the case Barokes brought against Daiwa failed in August 2018 in a judgment that would see the company being wound up.

Some sources say the first wine in a can in theUSA occurred in 2004 by The Francis Ford Coppola Winery in California I tried tried wine in a can various times between 2004 and 2020 and never enjoying one.

Entrepreneurs Henry Connell and Alex Thraves shook up the English wine industry when in 2018 they launched The Uncommon, the first ever English sparkling wine in a can. Their Bacchus, with grapes sourced from Denbies in Surrey, sold out at Selfridges within six months

In 2004 brothers Greg and Yannick Wertsch, owners of Ontario’s Between the Lines Winery, along with their partners Philip Chae and Lucian Cao, have introduced their own wine in cans, the first in the region- an Origin sparkling wine.

What history shows us is that wine in Can came and had initial success then faded away. However here we are in 2022 and guess what is back on the shelves again wine in the can. Been a skeptic of the idea I re-framed from trying the concept. Until



Yes until Stella Schmidt, Co-owner and assistant winemaker, Castoro de Oro Winery sent me some of their wines.

“We love to be innovative! Our philosophy is to make handcrafted 100% BC wines at the best value possible, and our wine-in-a-can takes that dream one step further. We are so excited to offer elegant, convenient cans of our award-winning wines and look forward to seeing all the places they will travel to!”

So far we have tried their award winning Heart of Gold , a white blend, the Chardonnay and the Merlot. They all beat the test. In fact they are beyond good! 

Castoro de Oro is located on the Golden Mile of the famed Okanagan in British Columbia. Stella you are absolutely right wines in a can CAN be good!

Heart of Gold white blend brings together Pinot Blanc, Vidal, Siegfried and Viognier. It exhibits a wide variety of fruit flavours, with a slight cotton candy note on the end. 

The Heart of Gold available in can or bottle won two awards in 2021. 

2021 All Canadian Wine Championships (ACWC) Double Gold, Best of Category

HISTORY MAKING WIN. The first time a wine in can won a “judged award” inside the country of Canada! This was not a wine in can competition Castoro de Oro submitted Heart of Gold in 250 ml single serve cans it competed against bottled white blends and it won Double Gold, Best of Category! Because "OUR" wine in can is the same wine as in our bottles the ACWC awarded the Double Gold to both SKU’s (both formats, bottle & can). The amazing thing is the judges did not beleive a can wine could wine so they re did the tasting the Castoro de Oro wine in a can wown again!

2021 Alberta Beverage Awards (ABA’s) Judge’s Selection

Submitted in bottle format, and judged up against both International and Domestic wines, our Heart of Gold won White Blend Judge’s Selection which means “Top Six White Blend” unlike other wine awards there are no metal (gold, silver, etc.) medals awarded at the ABA’s. 




Tuesday, May 3, 2022

 

Your Attitude Makes your Business.

 

How successful a business maybe is determined by many factors.  However; It’s your attitude and how you treat your customers that really determine your success or failure. Some businesses never learn that. On                                         a recent visit to the wineries of Vancouver Island I encountered shall we say the right and the wrong way of doing business.

I received an exceptionally warm welcome from the good folks at Blue Grouse Vineyards in Duncan. I arrived early at the winery before opening and walked around the grounds and building taking photographs. As I walked along the outdoor patio area the door opened and I was greeted by Pamula who addressed me by my surname Mr Bell. Pamela invited me inside and asked what areas of the winery I would like to see. Remember the winery is still not open I am early. You can read about my visit on the website www.winesofcanada.com

The following day I was scheduled to visit Deep Cove winery in Saanich. I arrived early once again before opening. It was a cold rainy morning. I waited until 5 minutes to 11 before testing the door. It was locked. As I did at the winery the previous morning I wandered around the building. I was on the patio where I could clearly see into the tasting room. There was an employee inside She looked at me briefly and then turned away. She did not acknowledge my presents. I returned to the car and waited for the door to open.

I entered the winery said hello to the young lady who responded by asking” what can I do for you”

I told her I had arranged an appointment. She told me they had no booking until 1 am. However, she sat me at a table and placed a very small menu in front of me. I felt I had to explain that  I was a writer and came to interview the owner or winemaker and do a story on the winery.

After a brief conversation she asked me if she should find the owner I said “yes” He appeared moments later leaned on the counter at the far corner of the room and said “ I am here ask your questions” The conversation deteriorated from there. I finally said, “I do not feel welcome here.” He said “that is my problem". So I said, “I guess I will just leave.” He said that up to you. I said I can write a negative article or a good one it is your choice. He said “I do not care”

I left feeling quite shattered. I could not believe this man’s attitude.  Where there any other customers in the winery- no. There was no need to wonder why!

I went on to the next winery walked in the door and within seconds I was shaking the hand of the manager and being warmly greeted.

 My visits to Blue Grouse Vineyards, Alderlea Winery, Church & State and Symphony Vineyards will appear on www.winesofcanada.com.

 

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

 

Good Times at Brown's Social House


On Sunday, Barbara and I took in the play Other Desert Cities at the White Rock Players Club with our good friends Ken and Jane. The performance was outstanding; over two hours flew by in a nano-second! 

We finished off the afternoon at the local Browns Social House for an early dinner. We were immediately greeted by a cheerful smiling young server, who directed us to the reception desk. Here a young man quickly greeted us and then showed us to a table of our choice on the patio.

This is where the personable and very charming Emily enters the equation. We had yet to determine our beverage selection when she appeared at our table; one could tell she had the lovely personality of an Irish lass. Emily patiently waited while carrying on a conversation with us, making us feel relaxed and happy we were there. I cannot emphasize enough how important an employee like Emily is to any establishment. We settled on the House Red, a good choice; grapes are grown and bottled in the Okanagan.  

A strong breeze came up as we sat on the patio, and the sun hid behind some black clouds. It became cold and uncomfortable; we decided to move inside. As we gathered our belongings, along came Emily; she led us through the restaurant offering a few table choice suggestions. 

Once settled at a new table, Emily let us know it was not in her section. We were disappointed; Emily assured us she would instruct our new server to take good care of us.  A few minutes later, Emily was back at the table to announce she would be able to continue to serve us, much to our collective delight. Once more, I cannot stress enough how important it is that an employee can make or break your business. An excellent server makes the meal in a restaurant, and Emily made ours! 

I, of course, ordered my usual Beef Dip, which was excellent! Ken had a scrumptious looking Chicken Burger. Jane had the Szechuan Beef Noodle Bowl, which she immensely enjoyed and Barbara had the Steak Frites, which turned out to be a 7oz Angus beef sirloin steak with a side of alfredo pasta, and fresh-cut fries; she loved it!

Emily came by numerous times as we enjoyed our meal. She always had a charming response to all our questions and responded quickly to any request. Thank you, Emily, and thank you to the rest of the staff including the chef who put a nice finish to a lovely afternoon!

Saturday, April 9, 2022

 Rough Times at Pat Quinn's

When you go to one of the city's finer (?) dining establishments, with those oh so high prices, one expects the service and food to be impeccable. This is indeed what we anticipated at Pat Quinn's. A classic steak and seafood restaurant in Tsawwassen Springs. Oh, how they failed us!

Barbara and I had arranged to meet our friends Peter and June at the restaurant; we arrived to find them already seated in the lounge. The restaurant section was fully occupied; however, only two tables occupied the lounge. Once seated, we studied the menu; June and Peter had already been served a glass of wine. It was long before the server acknowledged Barbara and me; it took him even longer to take our drink order.

The lounge began to fill up with golfers coming in off the course. Our server seems to have done a disappearing act; it was some time before he returned with our wine and even longer before he took our order. The server was direct in his manner, no hellos, no how your day is going, just "what do you want" to order.

I ordered the Beef Dip, my usual go-to order when unfamiliar with a menu. I always instruct the server I do not want cheese, onions, or anything else added, just beef on a bun, served on a plate, not a wooden platter. 

The wait was incredibly long before the food was presented. Only being in the company of good friends made the wait intolerable. It was now over an hour since we entered the lounge at 1:00; we were headed towards 2:30

When the food finally arrived, we were starving. June and Peter had the shrimp sandwich, which was huge! They said the sandwich was excellent. Barbara had a salmon burger, which was also excellent. My beef dip arrived with cheese, onions and arugula. I was far too hungry to send it back; obviously, the server did not pass on my requests to the chef! But why would someone put a leafy green on a sandwich designed to dunk in the Au Jus?

At no time during the meal did the server come back to the table or offer us additional wine or water nor ask how our meal was

At one point, the restaurant's food and beverage manager came out and cleaned a table off with the skill of someone who had no idea what he was doing. Once the meal was completed, the server removed the dishes coffee was ordered, but after a long wait, with no coffee in sight, the order was cancelled, and the bill was requested. We got quick service then!!

It is our policy to inform the establishment of our concerns. If they respond positively and satisfactorily, we do not write a negative article. Pat Quinn's management team did not respond.


Friday, April 1, 2022


 Retro at the Roadhouse 

Recently a friend posted on social media that they had just move and they were now closer to their favourite restaurant. Of course I had to ask them what restaurant that would be. The answer Roudhouse Grill on King George Highway. Obviously I would have to go there it was less than ten minutes away from our home in White Rock.

It is located in one of the older strip malls and has shall we say a rough outside appearance. I went with our friend Ken. We found our way into the Restaurant, at first we were a bit confused as would stood waiting for someone to seat us. Why confused; It was a retro 50/60 theme, something we were not expecting.


Once seated we began to enjoy the displays from the 50s and 60's on the wall. We had time to do so as the lone waiter was quite busy as the main lunch rush had just ended and he had a large table of 14 plus to clear away.

I ordered a nice house white from Peller Estates and Ken went with a local craft beer. We both ordered the Beef Dip. It was an excellent choice. The Au jus was perfect plenty of beef, and served with fried potatoes. Yum.

We had a very enjoyable meal. The prices are quite reasonable. The service was  good! We will return perhaps to try their breakfast menu served until 2 pm.. They also have a separated bar area.