Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Fraser Valley Wineries

We look back,away back to the 80s when even I did not know about the Fraser Valley Wineries. Actually, there was only one winery to know back then. My dear wife and I  found ourself living on the Surrey-Langley border. Money was scarce in those days but we decided to enjoy an evening out and even splurge on a bottle of wine.

We had no idea what to order; our waiter recommended a local wine from Chaberton Estate.  We did not know there was a winery nearby!  We went with his suggestion and were very impressed.

The first of the Fraser Valley wineries, Domaine de Chaberton was opened by founder's Claude and Inge Violet. This very successful winery was named after the vineyard they had owned in France. The Fraser Valley location was selected for its proximity to Vancouver, the microclimate, south facing slope, and the quality of soil and low rainfall. The winery was sold in 2005 to Anthony Cheng and Eugene Kwan, business partners In 2014 the name was changed to Chaberton Estate Winery

Shortly thereafter we became aware of Glenugier Winery. Owned by the Glenugier family. For health reasons, they sold the winery which became know as Neck of the Woods and later renamed Backyard Vineyards.

Under the guidance of winemaker James Cambridge Backyard has become one of the provinces most popular wineries. The Fraser Valley was now definitely on the provinces wine map.

The Colmans opened Township 7 in 1999 Rapidly gaining a following for their Merlot. The winery became so popular the Colemans sold the winery. Today the Langley Township winery is rapidly growing and adapting to its popularity.

There were other smaller wineries operating at this time. George and Ragna Flynn started farming their property in Pits Meadows in 1946, and opened the winery in 2003. George was
 84 then,
Terry Bremner's fruit winery  Wellbrook opened June 2004 in Delta.

Located just minutes from the charming and historic town of Fort Langley, BC,  Wade and Erinn  Bauck opened Fort Langley Winery.

Blackwood Lane Vineyards & Winery was the dream of Carlos Lee and his oenophile partners. Their goal was simple, to produce wines that lived up to their high standards and expectations. Their philosophy is summarized in the Company's motto: “Bonus Vita et Bonus Amici” (Good Life and Good Friends).

Backwood Lane produced a wonderful red blend called the Reference. When author John Schreiner gave the wine a score of 96 and a 97 The winery was given a major boost. Today it has a top of the line cellar of wines and the best patio in the Fraser Valley.

A major boost to the fruit wine industry of the valley came when Krause Berry farm already a very popular place to visit and purchase berries, opened its winery in 2013. There 2016 Cassis won the prestigious ACWC Fruit wine of the year!

Lulu Island winery opened in Richmond in 2001 followed shortly by Isabel Winery. In 2016 the Holger Family opened Country Vines

The Abbotsford valley region first winery was Mt Lehman Winery founded by Vern Siemens in 2000. They were followed by Singletree and Seaside Pearl.  Making the Mt Lehman region  a popular new wine route.

Farther east Ripples and Whispering Horse opened producing quality wines. Prior to both of these wineries was St Urban winery in Chilliwack.

Travelling east of Vancouver has never been more exciting for wine lovers. Today we have numerous wineries producing top quality wines.  Luck  us!

Barbara and I spend a majority of the summer exploring the valley from wineries to goat farms (cheese) parks and secret gardens.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

In 2018, the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, with support from the Government House Foundation, and The Okanagan Wine Festivals Society announced a new partnership in recognizing the best of British Columbia wines with the creation of the British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards.

The British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards replaced the Lieutenant Governor’s Awards for Excellence in B.C. Wine and the B.C. Wine Awards. The new competition is open to all licensed wineries in British Columbia, including fruit wines and mead. Bronze, silver and gold medals are awarded, with the top 1% of medal winners receiving the Lieutenant Governor’s platinum medal and with one wine receiving the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Best Wine in British Columbia.

This of course dramatically increases the number of winners.  To give credit to The Okanagan Festival they chose a very strong panel of judges for the event.

2018* platinum medal

Sperling Vineyards Sparkling Brut 2011 ($43.49 for 200 six-packs). This is a traditional Champagne method wine made with Pinot Blanc from a 1996 planting. The wine spent five years on the lees before being disgorged. It has classic bready/bisquity aromas and flavours from time on the lees. There are also flavours of citrus and apple. Good acidity gives the wine a crisp, tangy finish. The bubbles are fine and persistent. (My tasting notes.)

Black Hills Estate Winery Syrah 2016 ($39.90). This vintage of Syrah is elegant, offering notes of blackberry, blueberry, and black & white pepper on the nose with hints of cocoa and eucalyptus lingering in the background. Soft, supple tannins dominate the palate with rich black fruit carrying through for a mouth-watering finish. This wine will pair well with wild game and hearty red meat dishes. Enjoy now or cellar for up to eight years.

Hillside Estate Winery Reserve Pinot Gris 2017 ($24). Our classic Pinot Gris—luscious ripe fruit created scents of orange blossoms and vanilla mingled with tropical fruit aromas followed by a rich and supple mid-palate.

Kismet Estate Winery Syrah Reserve 2016 ($39.99). Syrah is especially suited to the warm dry climate of the South Okanagan, where it reaches full ripeness with deep purple colour and spicy aromas. Aged for 18 months in new French and American oak barrique barrels. Bright cherry red colour with a good depth and bluish hues at the rim. Intense red currant and red berry fruit aromas along with spice and vanilla. A lively, vibrant palate with intense flavours.

Kismet Estate Winery Cabernet Franc Reserve 2016 span>($39.99). Smokey toasty, blackberry, black cherry and leather. Sumptuous soft and seamless texture. Focused acidity lifts the fruit of this viscous wine. Structured bold and emery tannins complete the finish. Aged for 18 months in French and American barrique barrels.

Lake Breeze Vineyards Pinot Noir 2016 ($25.90 but sold out). Best wine of the show. This wine is a medium bodied elegant red with rich aromas and flavours of strawberries and plum, followed by a touch of warm spice. Well integrated tannins and generous length reflects the terroir of this estate grown Pinot Noir. An excellent structured wine designed for food.

Little Engine Winery Silver Pinot Noir 2016 .A beautiful ruby colour wine that beckons with initial notes of savoury herbs, dried brush and red fruit leather. Fresh and juicy start on the palate with bing cherries and dried hibiscus with a considerably lengthy finish highlighting spicy red fruits, anise and a touch of tarragon. Approachable and silky upon release this wine will develop well through 2023 under ideal cellaring conditions.

Moon Curser Vineyards Touriga Nacional 2016 ($39.99). The 2016 Touriga Nacional is a dry, medium-bodied red wine with a nose of spice, red fruits, fennel seed and floral notes. The palate is similar to the nose but with hints of leather, tobacco and cedar. Medium weight, with a silky mouthfeel and approachable tannin and acid structure, the wine delivers an intriguing profile of savoury and fruity characters.

Nk’Mip Cellars Qwam Qwmt Chardonnay 2016($28.99). These Chardonnay grapes were whole-bunch pressed to extract the highest quality of juice. Complete malolactic fermentation during 10 months in French oak barrels developed the unique bouquet and mouth-feel. Rich and nutty in flavour, offering lots of caramel, marzipan and pear. Enticing and aromatic with subtle layering of honey and pineapple is followed by a lingering vanilla finish.

Quails’ Gate Estate Winery Totally Botrytis Affected Optima 2017 ($28.99 for 375 ml). For more than 25 years Quails’ Gate has become known for this wonderfully unique dessert wine. Our Optima grapes are grown at the base of the Quails’ Gate Estate vineyards where the proximity to the lake encourages a micro flora known as Botrytis Cinerea or Noble Rot to grow on the ripe grapes, which concentrates the flavours and intensifies the sugars to produce a Sauterne-style wine.

Rust Wine Co. Syrah 2016 ($37). Q Block is situated on the northern edge of the Black Sage Bench in Oliver. Sandy loam soils and a western aspect produce a Syrah with ripe black fruits, cracked pepper and olive notes. Will continue to age well for 5+ years.

Wild Goose Vineyards Mystic River Pinot Blanc 2017 ($16.52) The lovely aromas and flavours of this wine make it one of the unsung heroes of BC wines. This small production wine has a nose that shows melon & minerality, while the palate tastes of pear and white pepper. The buttery mouthfeel is balanced with a long finish that goes on and on and …

Wild Goose Vineyards Riesling 2017 ($16.52). This fruit forward Riesling comes from estate grown grapes, including the 33-year-old Wild Goose Vineyards and the 11-year-old Secrest Vineyards. Sweet reserve is added to balance the refreshing racy acidity, a “classic” method of winemaking. The nose shows aromas of floral, spice and apricot, while flavours of minerality and citrus follow.

Tasting notes are those of the wineries

The big surprise here was Sperling vineyards congratulation to them!

Winning Gold another surprise was Golden Hills Winery with 3 Golds. Pipe Dream another surprise winner with 2 gold. A surprise because we have not heard about these wines prior.

Bottom line BC makes great wines. But so many award events come on!

Friday, October 5, 2018


As the years have flowed by I have noticed that more and more establishments are placing tip jars on the counter. Of course, in today's modern world, the tip selection always pops up on the credit card or debit machine.                                                               

At one time we tipped a waitress/waiter when provided with good service. We looked at the job as been a starting position for people and they were of course underpaid so we gave then a quarter (dating myself) or a little more. Somewhere along the line "the rule" became 10%. Then we added the pizza delivery guy and the barber to the list of those we tip. We are not counting those we give to at Christmas such as the paperboy ( i mean person) or mailman ( once again  I mean person)

When I first started visiting wineries no one charged for tasting fees, now they do I fully support that. They too have now added the tip jar!    Maybe that is ok after all they do more than the person handing you a paper cup in a coffee shop saying the coffee is over there"   

But let me give you an example of a recent experience.     My wife and I took friends to visit a local winery, It involved a 45-minute drive. We arrived to find construction material in the parking lot, a workers car blocking driveway and an employees car parked near the front door leaving but one small space to park the car.    That left two people having to exit the car into the construction gravel pile.

Next we are startled by the sounds of a dog barking our eyes fell upon the black   Doberman, Thankfully the dog was behind a fence. We opened the door to the winery and were once again started by another black dog running towards us.       Just image the fright !

Once we realized this was just a  Labrador Puppy we dodged around more construction material.

We were quickly informed by the staff member the winery closed at 5 O'clock

I asked that a bottle of wine be serviced on the patio Sorry " we can not serve you, you can buy the wine and take it out with you" Okay. So I pulled out the debit card stuck it in the machine and clicked ok of course you already know what popped up on the screen "add a tip" staring choice 18%.

Listen to me as prices continue to rise my pension does not and thus 10% 15 % whatever is always more and more. Yet service is less and less.

Well, that's my negative blog for today I blame a certain president for by bad attitude today.

Oh and by the way AT precisely 5 pm we were asked to leave.

We actually over tip today what is a decreasing quality in service.