Tuesday, September 26, 2023

 The Golden Mile 

Unique and oh-so-beautiful, British Columbia's Golden Mile is an area located in the Southern Okanagan region. Today, the Golden Mile is known for its wines. The land is dotted by wineries and covered with vineyards. The Golden Mile sub-region lies south of Oliver on an east-facing bench backed by gentle mountains. 

The sub-region begins just south of Oliver at Fairview and extends southward to the3502 Fruitvale Way where Gold Hills winery is located. It is said that the Golden Mile was given its name because of its location, geography and resulting temperatures and ideal growing conditions. The Golden Mile is located off the Valley floor in the upper bench. This is particularly important when there is a fall frost as it is less likely to reach, and therefore damage, plants in the area. This makes it ideal for ground cropping as the positioning allows for additional warmth from the rocks, which benefits the crops and lengthens the growing season 

The temperature in the Golden Mile can be six to eight degrees warmer than what is found along Highway 97 at the bottom of the valley. This was critical in the early years for the area wineries because of frost. Vines cannot be exposed to early or severe frost – the leaves turn brown, photosynthesis and ripening stop, and the plan is easily wounded and even killed. Past years have seen a distinct temperature shift and the lower-lying areas along Highway 97 are significantly warmer than in past decades. But traditionally, grape crops needed to count on a longer, warmer season through mid to late October for crops to properly ripen. This can be relied upon in the Golden Mile. 

The first commercial vineyard was planted in 1969 by Joe Bisnardo, who currently owns Divino Estate Winery on Vancouver Island

Early Development History ** 

The rich history of the area dates back to 1918 when the Southern Okanagan Lands Project was established following the passage of the Soldiers Land Act. Up until that point most of the activity in the region centred on an area four kilometers west of Oliver called Fairview. This old gold mine community dating back to the 1880s was created to work on the Stemwinder, Smuggler, Joe Dandy, Strathyne, Susie, Tinhorn and Wide West claims. 

The Soldiers Land Act was spearheaded under Liberal Party Premier John Oliver and his Minister of Lands, T. D. (Duff) Pattullo. Known as “Honest John,” Oliver was a simple man of considerable integrity. He governed BC through difficult times, including the readjustments after World War I and the economic depression of the early 1920s. 

The “Act” was a priority for Honest John as it permitted the British Columbia government to purchase 22,000 acres of land from the Southern Okanagan Land Company for use as a soldier settlement to accommodate returning veterans from WWI. The settlement scheme included the establishment of a town site (appropriately named “Oliver”); the subdivision and sale or lease of lots in the region, and the construction of an open-canal gravity irrigation system, completed in 1927, stretching from a dam at the outlet of Vaseux Lake to the Canada/USA border. 

To get the canal from the east side of the Valley to the benches on the west – known today as the Golden Mile – a 1,940 foot (591 m) long, six-and-a-half-foot (2 m) diameter wood-stave pipe was constructed that ran directly beneath the centre of Oliver. This water main, combined with the arrival of electricity from the West Kootenay Power and Light Company in 1922, meant that canal and river waters could be pumped up onto the Valley's benches. The 23-mile (37 km) long canal turned what was previously cattle ranging land into a lush ground crop and fruit-growing region that dwarfed what was occurring elsewhere in the province. The importance of this canal and irrigation system to the transformation of this region cannot be overstated. 

On May 24, 1923, the first train arrived in Oliver. A few months later, the first cantaloupes were sold, and the response was so overwhelming that 44 carloads were put on the market the next season. The region thrived until the 1930s when activities slowed down because of the hard economic times. In 1935 and 1936, a small boom occurred in mining with the reopening of the Morning Star at Fairview and in the lumber industry with the opening of a small sawmill. 

With water added to the region's bounty of sunshine, Oliver grew in population between 1926 and 1936, from 500 to 1800, and became a prosperous community centred on agricultural abundance. Ultimately the canal irrigation system that was constructed between 1918 and 1927 was handed over to the citizens of Oliver and Osoyoos in 1990. 

According to archived records, the first lot in the new development was sold to D. P. Simpson on March 4, 1921, followed by F. W. Nesbitt and C. Leighton. George Mabee, John Burns and Guy P. Bagnall bought the first lots south of town. These men all planted orchards the same year. They formed the Oliver Produce Association with H. Earle, the first president, and joined the Oliver Cooperative Association in 1923. 

Another reason for the name Golden Mile comes from the 19th century gold and silver mines. Tinhorn Creek is named after Tin Horn Creek Quartz a mining company that once owned the land. 

At one time, there was a winery named Golden Mile Cellars. The winery was designed to look like a castle. Peter and Helga Serwo purchased the winery site in 1985. The Serwos were responsible for a good chunk of the early Golden Mile plantings including the original Tinhorn Creek site. Pam and Mick Luckhurst purchased in the land and winery in 2003. In 2008, they decided the name Golden belonged to the sub-region and all the winemakers of the Golden Mile. They renamed their winery Road 13 Vineyard. Establishing the phrase "its all about the dirt" 

Bill Eggert former owner and winemaker who established Fairview Cellars in 1993 at the Golden Mile's northern tip, says that wines made on the Golden Mile are often more complex than those grown on the sandy eastern side of the Valley. The Golden Mile has a good quantity of gravel in the soil, allowing drainage and a good percentage of clay for retaining nutrients.* 

A detailed description of the Golden Mile wineries can be found on the Okanagan Oliver page

In 2014 the Golden Mile became the first sub-Designated Viticultural Area (or sub-Geographical Indication) of the Okanagan Valley DVA. It does not include all of the wineries around Oliver.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

 Bell Peppers and Hummus

A really good snack for your happy hours is Hummus and Peppers, green red or yellow. I prefer the baby peppers. They all go well with wine.

Most  food and wine writers avoid the subject as the pepper's flavours change with the colour. They also change with cooking and how they are prepared. 

A vegetal green pepper  is best suited to a fruity sweet wine. I have a host of white wines I like with the green or red peppers. They are Pinot Grigio, Bacchus or a Verdejo Pinot Grigio, Bacchus or a verdejo.

Adding hummus changes everything smooth creamy hummus pairs well with a creamy white wine that has undergone malolactic fermentation   You could go with a Chardonnay or a white Rhône blend. Classic hummus also pairs nicely with a medium-bodied rosé or light fruity red like Pinot Noir or Beaujolais. But remember their are so many flavours of hummus you have to select wisely.

Barbara prefers a red wine. There are so many that work well with both red and green peppers. Try a Grenache or a Gamay. For those of you who like Zinfandel its works well with both peppers and the hummus.

What about Chardonnay , to me it goes with plain Hummus, but not straight peppers. 

When roasting peppers we go with Pinot Grigio .

When using a Sun Dried Tomato hummus and peppers go with does black cherry wines such as Pinot noir Also try a Cab Sauvignon. A friend of our loves pepper and hummus with Malbac

If you are adding a spicy hummus try a Riesling! 

If you’ve been wondering why youthful wines from particular grapes taste really fruit-driven and others have a wide array of savory flavors, the answer may be methoxypyrazine. A group of these savory flavors (which includes “bell pepper”) come from a from a specific aroma compound called methoxypyrazine (often called “pyrazines” for short). The compound is found in higher proportions in the “Bordeaux-family” grapes: Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec.

If you can experiment to find the wine that best suites you..

Humans can distinguish more than 1 trillion scents, according to new research. The findings show that our sense of smell is far more discriminating than previously thought.

“The message here is that we have more sensitivity in our sense of smell than for which we give ourselves credit. We just don’t pay attention to it and don’t use it in everyday life,” Dr. Keller says.

One  study claims that there is an approximate 30 percent difference between any two people's sense of smell. So what pepper and wine combination one may enjoy someone else will not.

Monday, August 28, 2023

 Aussie Fest 2023

Festina Lente Estate Winery and Meadery is Langley BC is not only known for it meads and hospitality but also for its numerous events. This past Saturday Barbara and I along with friends took in the Aussie Fest event. 

Thankfully we were granted VIP status and had a parking spot; the winery event was sold out and the place was hoping. The horse area was turned into the event center. Owners Bill and Teresa Townsley daughter Katherine is a an equestrian rider.

We of course started off the event with a glass of  Mead going with the semisweet Vinum Regum. We sat and enjoyed the music until our drinks were finished then toured the numerous vendors.

Later the horses would draw my attention. 

We returned to the tasting room sitting on the patio listing to the music. We also orders a flatbread
from the High Tea Food truck. Yum.

We relaxed ate our flatbread and ordered a bottle of Luna Methegin that complimented the flat bread nicely.

It was a most enjoyable time at Festina Lente

Thursday, August 3, 2023


One meal that I  really enjoy is Schnitzel. Schnitzel is a selection of meat pounded thin and coated with bread crumps and spices. It then fried. Its origin is German/Austrian

It is often made with veal or pork It can be made from various kinds of meat such as chicken or turkey.

Selecting a Wine to go with Schnitzel is simple enough. The key been the breaded meat and fried. So a medium to low acidity is best. A low tannin red can work well. Try to avoid a full body red.

Any red with more than 13.5 % alcohol is considered full body Examples would be Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.

A light body red such has a Pinot Noir would have less than 12.5 % Alcohol

A fruity white is also good. Light bodied. A Riesling works as does a Chenin. I like to have a Pinot Grigo.

Gewurztraminer is also a good pairing.

I also suggest you serve mash potatoes, green Beans and Brussels Sports with the Schitzel.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

 Britannia Brewing Co -Ladner

On a beautiful, but hot, dday in July Barbara and I returned to the Britanna Brewing Co in Ladner. We were nicely greeted when we entered and where offered the choice of sitting inside or out. Being of very light skin and subjected to skin damage by the sun Barbara inquired if their was shade on the patio.

We were ensure shade was available. The staff showed us several tables seeking out the best spot for me to sit. As you can see in the photo all the seats had umbrells. We appreciated the staffs effordsto make us comfortable

Barbara and I both ordered a a Red Roof Cider ( Their only cider selection). Red Roof is produced by Orchard Hills.

Orchard Hill Estate Cidery is a small family business located between Oliver and Osoyooss. The Dhaliwal family stared the business in 2006. Red Roof is their best selling produce. Which we found quite enjoyable.

Barbara ordered her favourite the Crispy Portabella. I went with the Fish and Chips. The batter and the french fries where among the best. The Red cabbage slaw far too creamy. 

We relaxed enjoying the meal and sipping our cidery It was a good time. One of the severs walking by smiled and said " I like your hat" Now that made my day!


Monday, July 10, 2023

 Wine and Your Liver

Scientists have found once again that wine may in fact be the answer to all of life’s problems. A new study found that French oak, a tree commonly used for barrel aging wine, contains a tannin that heals your liver.

You read that right: French barrel aged wine could be protecting your liver, even as you consume alcohol. The tannin, called roburin, is found in both species of French oak, Quercus robur and Quercus petraea, and it can improve liver function while decreasing fatigue and nausea.

“When we consume alcohol, the temporary overload may exceed the liver’s capacity to process and deplete, manifesting with typical ‘hangover’ effects of nausea and sluggishness while our body recuperates,” Fred Pescatore, a doctor and spokesman for a drug called Robuvit that isolates roburin, says in a press release. The isolated roburin “helps protect the liver from alcohol-related damage and gets our body back to work for more efficient removal of toxins that are affecting us.”

The study tested the effects of isolated roburin on 44 people, so not the most definitive data out there. It builds on previous studies however, and the compounded results point to a happy conclusion: Wine is good.

Roburin is most helpful when it comes to temporary hepatic damage, which is chemical-driven liver damage. Hepatic damage can happen from prescription drugs, too much acetaminophen (found in Tylenol), and alcohol. Early data from the most recent study and previous studies show that roburin decreases liver inflammation.

So go ahead and buy an extra bottle of wine to drink in moderation — just make sure it spent some time in French oak.

~ Source Vinpair Website 

A new published study shows that supplementation with French Oak extract, Robuvit®, boosts liver function for faster recovery from temporary damage and symptoms related to alcohol consumption. 

This new study (Pellegrini et al, 2016) advances the findings of previous research demonstrating positive impact of Robuvit® for increasing liver enzyme capacity required for efficiently neutralizing waste materials and recovering from intoxication.

"The liver is our body's detox engine. A healthy liver breaks down waste materials and toxins like alcohol," said nationally renowned natural health expert and author Dr. Fred Pescatore.

~ Source Horphag Research (USA) Inc. 

Monday, July 3, 2023


Today my blog has nothing to do with wine. It is about your health and well been! It about the lack of care taken by today's restaurants and the inability of our Health Service to properly inspect these Restaurants

Where am I come from? Twenty five years of been in the hospitality food service industry. I have managed restaurants, been an area manager and owned two restaurants. Times have changed. What use to be a major concern to a health inspector is something restaurants continually get away with today.

At one time I managed restaurants for a company that had their own food inspectors they came unannounced once a month. I became the first and only manager ever to achieve a perfect score. I though I had achieved this objective twice however i was mark down for having a spot of white paint on an electrical cord. That spot was there long before I came to the restaurant.

Here are a couple of items  that seem to have changed. In my day servers could not wear nail polish. Their hair had to be under control. Kitchen workers had to wear hair nets.

One day my wife and I were having coffee in a Tim Horton's. I have in the past described Tim Horton's as having under trained staff and dirty locations. As we sat at our table sipping the coffee I notice the manager come out of his office and replace the employee making the sandwiches. He put on a pair of gloves. He took a cloth and cleaned his station. He then made a sandwich. After making the sandwich he went into the front room cleaning tables. He returned to the sandwich table and made another order. He did this wearing the same pair of gloves, Groan! 

One of the most common mistakes made the server is hold your glass by the rim. That is basic 101 training.

So why the title shocking? Just the other day my wife and I had a very early morning appoint. After the appointment we were seeking breakfast. Been in a small village location there were limited choices. We picked a local coffee shop that seem to be quite busy every time we passed by. 

The first thing that caught my eye was the front door covered in finger prints and old notices. Once inside you attention was directed to an old display case. I hinted to my wife that we should leave. She did not take the hint and placed her order for a coffee and a Scone, I ordered the same.

The coffee was good and the scone was too. However I noticed scratches and chips in the table and chairs. Something the health inspectors in my day would not tolerate. As I always finish eating before my wife I had time to let my trained eye wander. I notice the build up of dust upon an artificial fireplace On further inspection there was an amazing collection of dirt on the corner of the heath and in the corners around the fire place. The wall boards caked with dirt.

I wounder how clean those washrooms are or the KITCHEN!

Been the former restaurant owners I scanned the entire room and soon realized it was in need of very deep cleaning. My shock is how the regional Heath authority lets these places get away with this. What is also shocking how little the owners and employees care about Health and Cleanness. Even more shocking the customers who do no seem to care either.

My mother would always check a restaurants or motel bathroom. If  it was not spic and span she was out the door.

I did start the blog by saying this this has nothing to do with wines. However it does have much to do with the Wineries. Quality, Service and Cleanliness are huge factors in the success of any winery, or any business for that matter.

Take the simple act of cleaning at table, The server takes a spray bottle and the swipes the table from side to side. Oh! so wrong. Toss a ping pong ball on a table It will bounce is any given random direction That is what is happening to the cleaning solution sprayed on the table it may just land on your food. 

The side to side method only pushes the crumbs on to the seats. Seldom do the seats get cleaned too. If they do its debris onto the floor. 

To properly clean the table spry the cleaning solution into a clean cloth wipe the front of the table. Then pick up the salt pepper and what have you cleaning them Placing then on the clean front of the table. Then finish cleaning the table including the backing, sides and seats.

In my health region all employees must be food health certified. That means taking a short food handlers safety course. Sadly the cost is $80. Back in my day the course was free. Do you see a problem here!

“cleanliness is next to godliness?”