Sunday, March 23, 2014

Wineries of the Shuswap

Back in the lat 90's and early 2000 Larch Hills winery in Salmon Arm was impressing the Okganagan wine lovers with their wines. Especially their Ortega. Recline Ridge Vineyards was also a winery near by making strides in cool climate grape growing. Today we hear very little about the wines from the Northern Shuswap area. Despite the fact that there are now 10 wineries listed for the area.

There use to be elven but a fire at Granite Creek Estate Winery but them out of business. I made some attempts to contact Baccata Ridge Winery in Grindrod but was unable to make contact.

Celista Winery located in Celista BC claims to be CAnada's most northern winery. They seem to be the most successfull winery in the Shuswap today collecting over 20 international awards in the last four years. The winery is owned by JAck and Margaret Ootes. They grow Mar├ęchal Foch, Ortega, Madeleine Sylvaner, Madeleine Angevine, Gew├╝rztraminer and a small quantity of St. Laurent. Hans Nevrkla award winning winemaker and founder of Larch Hills Winery was hired as consultant and winemaker.

Off the beaten path is Edge of Earth Vineyards located in Spallumcheen. Due to the windy country road one has to reach the winery owners Russ and Marnie Niles renamed the winery Edge of the Earth Vineyard. It was formally called Hunting Hawk Vineyards. They welcome visitors year round. They produce a Argus wine.

Recline Ridge was one of the more successful wineries in the Shuswap. Unfortunately a fire destroyed their winemaking facilities. Last I spoke with them they were not going to rebuild. We hope they will reconsider and continue to operate.

Larch Hills Winery has one of the most beautiful locations. Once you reach the vineyard you drive through a single car lane between the vines to reach the winery that over looks the valley. Hans Nevrkla award winning winemaker was the original founder of the winery he sold to the current owners.

One name that does pop up now and then is OVINO Winery located on the out skirts of Salmon Arms. The winery is owned by
John and Catherine Koopmans. Signature wine is estate Foch-Pinot Meunier blend

Recline Ridge Vineyards extends over 7.5 acres and hosts nine different varieties of grapes. Their unique post and beam log building is 3,300 total square feet on three levels and will house both the winemaking facility and a wine shop and tasting area. The winery overlooks the vineyard framed by Tappen Mountain and the Tappen and Similkameen Valleys. The winery was purchased in 2010 by Graydon and Maureen Ratzlaff. I have tasted a few of their wines They are quite good.

One of BC's newest wineries in the Shuswap Sunnybrae Vineyards and Winery owned by Barry and Nancy Turner. They run a true family winery receiving help from their daughters and grandchildren.
The winery has a beautiful location. From the tasting room's balcony you see Shuswap lake . From the front door you se the vineyards and Bastion Mountain. They produce some rather good wines.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Wine in Grocery Stores

I live in a small bed room community, Tsawwassen . We have three locations in town where wine can be purchased. A government run store, a private liqueur store and a VQA. They are all located in the same mall. If I buy a wine from any of them I based my store selection on the quality of their hospitality. If the local grocery stores added wine to their selection of products I suppose it would add a bit of convince to the shopping trip but nothing more. I doubt the grocer will make the experience of shopping for wine equal to what a speciality store can do if they try.

I do not expect to see any pricing deals resulting from grocery stores carrying wine. Nor do I expect a better selection of wines. In fact I suspect they will lean a bit more towards California than anywhere else. So bottom line will the fact that grocery stores can carry wine in 2015 get me all excited NO. I’m a little more excite about local farmer markets allowing smaller provincial ( local ) wineries to sell their products. Hopefully it will remain a local market not dominated by marketing agencies promoting foreign wines.

Would I like to see the provincial government allow free shipment of wines between provinces YES. Would I buy a Nova Scotia wine or a Prince Edward Island wine if I could off a store shelf Yes I would.
Do I feel I wine prices are too high yes I do but so is the price of Milk, Gas, Hydro, BC Ferries and Chocolate bars.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Vancouver International Wine Festival

Sadly it is over another festival has come and gone. The days went by so quickly! As the saying goes time flies when you are having fun. Thank you Vancouver Wine Festival. Thanks to the organizers, the volunteers and the Wineries from around the world. It was a good time!

I was a little worried at first a few weeks before the festival was to begin I realized I had not as yet received my agenda. So I contact the organizers apparently they lost my application. Thankfully, they scrambled to put a few events together for me. Although I did not get into some of the seminars, I wanted. I was happy with my time at the festival.

I was especially pleased that my wife and I were both able to attend the Thursdays night tasting event together. We booked ourselves into the Pan Pacific hotel for the night. Inviting a few friends up for appies between events. Blackwood Lanes owner and winemaker Carlos Lee came along with the wineries manager Kim Gislason. They brought with them a bottle of their famous reference. We ordered room service for breakfast enjoying every minute of our stay.

The best part of the festival to me is meeting for the first time owners and winemakers from BC and around the globe. The second best part is saying hello to the winemakers and owners we have known for years.
Then perhaps it would be tasting so many wonderful wines.

This year we finally were able to met and chat with the owners of Thornhaven, Gerhringer Brothers and Unsworth and Burrowing Owls Kerri McNolty to name only the BC wineries. I shook hands and chatted with some legends,Stephen Cipes from Summerhill Pyramid winery after been warmly greeted by Ceo Ezra Cipes; Sandra Oldfield from Tinhorn, Walter Gehringer and Time’s Harry McWalters.

Alison Scholefield at Okanagan Crush representing Haywire provided a nice welcome introducing me to winemaker Matt Dumaynei. Barbara and I had a long enjoyable chat with a very well dressed winemaker of note Eric von Krosigk. Another great conversation we had was with Steve Neiss of Gray Monk.

The Island wineries were represented by two wineries. Averill Creek was there, represented by owner Andrew Johnston and his fine cellar of wines. Also present was Unsworth Vineyards a winery with a growing reputation under owner Tim Turyk.

Some of the established stars of the Okanagan were there. Painted Rocks John Skinner, winemaker Derek Kontkanen of Jackson-Triggs, Lake Breeze’s Garron Elmes, Constellation winemaker Matieu Mercier representing Osoyoos Larose and owner winemaker Cassini Cellars Adrian Cassini provided some outstanding wines.

The Vancouver International Wine Festival has three mandates: to provide an informative, educational and entertaining wine experience for public and trade; to be a premier market opportunity for the wine industry and festival partners and to raise funds for the Brads on Beach Theatre Society.