Sunday, August 7, 2016

Kimberley's  Mini Bistro

It was a perfect summer evening for the first Pizza Night at Blackwood Lane Vineyards in the Fraser Valley (Langley). We and our friends Ken and Jane looked forward to trying the new ideas winery   Manager Kimberley had designed to compliment the quality wines of the winery.

We were greeted warmly by staff member Julie, whose bright smile and hospitality made us feel welcome.  The news that the winery was now open until 9:00 pm (Fridays only) has spread, and the turnout was larger than expected. All the staff was hands on, including owner Carlos in keeping up with the table service. We enjoyed the ambiance of the patio; sipping wine, chatting and watching the horses in the fields beyond.

We did a tasting of white and red wines before ordering pizzas, a ham and pineapple, as well as a margarita pizza with locally grown ingredients.  Kim, your skill as a pizza maker is outstanding, they were delicious.  We hope you will have them on the menu often.  Barb and Ken chose the Merlot while Jane and I ordered the Reisling to accompany the pizzas

Winemaker Carlos found time to join us, bringing out his newly released fortified wine, Portance Merlot. I have a feeling that it is going to be on Barbara's Christmas wish list, she loved it! 

The dessert of the evening was a delicious flour free chocolate cake Kim had prepared, it complimented the Portance Merlot perfectly.

Fine weather, great service by friendly staff, exemplary food and wine plus fabulous friends all made for a very pleasant evening in BC's Fraser Valley.  We highly recommend a Friday Night on the Patio!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Annual Wine Tasting Party

This year our annual tasting was held on July 26th. This very exciting event is so special it is not held every year. It was a smaller than normal; everyone is so busy these days and we have a much smaller yard. However, we were blessed by having some close friends enjoying the quality wines.

We began the event with a sparkling wine from The View Winery in East Kelowna 2014 Distraction Frizzant. A dry sparkling, made from Pinotage, Gewurztraminer, and Ehrenfelser grapes a nice patio wine on a warm summer day.

After the sparkling wine appetizers were served, what a feast! We then did a wine challenge comparing Rieslings from British Columbia, Ontario, and Washington State. Our guests were not told which wineries they were tasting. The majority favoured the Blackwood Lane 2009  Riesling from BC,  while others preferred the Tawse Winery 2014 Sketches Riesling from Ontario

It was now on to an open cellar where you could select any wine on hand. Reds were added to the mix. Not surprised to find the favourite was the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon from Blackwood Lane, my entire stock was consumed.

Winemaker and owner Carlos Lee of Blackwood Lane provided us with a tasting of his yet to be released, port style wine. What a treat!

The tasting began at 2:00 pm with the last guests leaving at 9:30 pm. All had a most enjoyable time looking forward to the next one.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Taming of the Shrew at Township7 Vineyards

Having experienced visits to Township7 in Langley we decided to attend an evening performance of Shakespear's "Taming of the Shrew"  presented by Bard in the Valley.  We were joined by our good friends Ken and Jane who are fantastic in helping promote our website. 

The weather was not promising, with heavy black clouds threatening rain but the air was warm so we decided to chance it.  We began the event with a picnic supper of chicken, salads and watermelon along with Township7's Cabernet Sauvignon and Reserve Sauvignon Blanc.

The wineries new tasting room and picnic area are very impressive. The wine bar was crowded but the staff was prepared and provided wonderful service. We were all very impressed by their hospitality. 

Prior to the start of the play we met Tesesa Townsley from Festina Lente Farm located across the road from Township 7. She and her husband are currently working towards opening a meadery in the near future.

The play is a modern day version of "Taming of the Shrew" produced by Diane Gendron and directed by Darcy J. Knopp.  In this version, the boss of Padua Golf Club has a major problem, she has double booked special events for her two most important clients. It was well done and the energy of the performers was catching.

All in all, it was a fun night with good friends and good wine. Please see Visit to Township7

Photo credit Barbara Bell

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Naramata Bench

The Naramata Bench located on the south-east side of Lake Okanagan has become one of Canada's prime wine growing regions. There are now close to fifty wineries operating on the bench. It all began back in the 1980s when Vera and Bohumir Klockockas founded Hillside Cellar. Lang winery opened in 1990 and became the first Farm Gate winery in BC.

With abundant sunshine, the cooling of the lake waters and moderate temperatures along with great terroirs grapes have prospered producing fine wines. This of course, brought others to the bench.

Tim Watts and Bob Ferguson started planting their vineyards in 1989. They named their winery after the railroad that once ran through Naramata, Kettle Valley.

D'Angelo winery open in 2002 when winemaker Sal D'Angelo a very successful Ontario winemaker and winery owner was extremely impressed by the Okanagan he  decided to open on the bench. Sal has had great success with the Tempranillo grape.

One of the most successful and very popular wineries  is Poplar Grove under winemaker Ian Southerland. Another winery that became very popular was Red Rooster originally founded by Beat and Prudence Mahrer. They sold it to Andrew Peller Ltd. but loved the business so much they came back and opened Ruby Blues winery.

Recently Black Widow owned by Dick Lancaster has been collecting more than its fair share of rewards including Gold at the recent All-Canadian.

La Frenz is one winery you do not want to miss when visiting the bench. Their Liqueur Muscat and Tawny port sensational.

The Naramata Bench is full of wineries that have impressed very one with their wines. The list includes Serendipity under winemaker Bradley Cooper (and his own label Black Cloud),Lake Breeze, Laughing Stock, Marichal Vineyards and fruit wine Elephant Island.

At the far end of the Bench is Van Westen Vineyards  They started as farmers almost 60 years ago and today are know for its cherries and white wines.

Yes I am forgetting to mention so many other wine wineries  like Misconduct, Meyers Family Estate, Moraine Estate and Nichol Vineyards and Perseus.

At the 2015 Canadain wine awards Deep Roots Winery Syrah won for best red. They also won for their unoaked Chardonnay

Se all the Naramata wineries

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The beautiful Shuswap is situated in south-central British Columbia, northeast of Vancouver. The Shuswap Lake system offers more than 1,000 kilometres of shoreline to explore, amidst spectacular scenery and a pristine environment. The Shuswap offers a four-season playground that boasts the largest houseboat fleet in Canada, and one of the largest in the world, offering a fabulous way to vacation with family and friends, lazily drifting along the lake gazing at blue skies and gorgeous mountains.

Here you will find a number of wineries, many of them starting up in the last few years. This is  a region for Cold Climate wines. Cool climateregions definitely get just as hot as warm climates in the peak of the season. However, it is the fact that the temperatures drop off so quickly towards harvest that make the wines taste different. Lower temperatures preserve the acidity but they also make it difficult for grapes to ripen. You can generally assume that cool climate wine regions tend to produce tart fruit flavors and have more acidity.

These wineries need to be very selective in the grapes they grow and vineyard planting. One of the early and must successful wineries in Salmon Arm is Larch Hills Estate. They made some very good Ortegas over the years.

In 1992 John and Catherine Koopman started Ovino winery also in Salmon Arm. Their signature blend is Foch-Pinot Meunier. The newest winery in Salmon Arm and one to keep an eye on is Marionette winery owned by Amanda Eastwood and Jamie Smith both highly taned winemakers.

Down the road in Tappin you will find Recline Ridge a family operation that has won its shre of awards in the last few years. Continuing south from Salmon Arm you come across Sunnybrae Vineyards overlooking the lake. Mark Walenburge is the consulting winemaker here. He has helped establish a fine reputation for the winery

Up  a little north  of Salmond Arm  sitting on the northern side of Shuswap lake is Celista Winery. Winners of 32 medals in the last 5 years. The winery is owned by Jack Ootes and his wife Marg. Jack is a former MLA and cabinet Minister for NW Territories.

The Shuswap wineries have proven you can make good wines in the northern end of the Okanagan with had work and dedication.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Abbotsford is a city located in the Fraser Valley region of British Columbia, adjacent to Greater Vancouver.

It is one of BC most rapidly growing communities along with an increasing number of breweries and wineries.

Old Abbey Ales on Fraser Highway produces 30 Belgium style beers proving a  comfortable tasting with pints, flights and grower fills.

Ravens Brewing company on Townline road works with local growers to produce European and west coast beers in a traditional approach.

Field House Brewing Co on West Railway Street has a great philosophy


Of course, there are the wineries. Currently 4 with more opening soon

Single Tree Winey: Garnet Etsell and his wife Debbie had established a successful farming business in the valley, as their family grew and matured they realized their turkey farm was not going sustain their sons and families. The solution, start a winery. The vineyard was first established in 2010.
Mt Lehman Winery the first to open here: Located near the city of Abbotsford in the Mt Lehman area which the winery is named after. Mount Lehman is situated on an area of upraised land (hence, where the "Mount" comes into the name), that lies between the flat plains of Matsqui Prairie to the east and Glenn Valley to the west . The winery started in 2000 by Vern and Charleen Siemens, converting the family dairy farm into a winery.

Maan Farms has a long and proud history of providing quality local produce to the citizens of Abbotsford, the Fraser Valley, and Greater BC. Started in 1977 by Jawahar and Gurbachan (Grandpa and Grandma) Maan with the help of their three children.

Campell'sGold Honey Farm and Meadery Mike and Judy Campbell have been active in bee keeping since 1997and are members in good standing of the B.C. Honey Producers Association, the Surrey Bee Keepers Association, and the South Fraser Valley Bee Keepers Association. They produce Mead and Melomel a combination of Mead (honey wine), and fruit or berries Metheglin a traditional mead with herbs and/or spices added is made seasonally.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The World Knows it!


Here in Canada, we make wine. We make outstanding wines. Wines that are known around the world; from China to England and into Russia. Major wine writers that only a few short years ago ignored our wines; today they are shouting and applauding our wines.

The world knows our wines, but does Canadians!   We like to visit places like the Okanagan and the Niagara Peninsula, but we were doing that before the wine revolution. Who buys Canadian wine for their dinner party? For their wedding? Who orders Canadian wine when dining out.

When visiting wine shops, I watch what people are buying. It is not BC wines ( I live in BC) I most cases its whatever is on sale. Canadian wines are seldom on sale. I have been to the grocery store three times to check on their VQA wines. Besides the staff, I was the only one there.

The last four wineries I visited I was the only one there. Why not take a nice drive through this beautiful land of ours and visit a winery bring along a picnic lunch or enjoy a cheese tray on the wineries patio. Some wineries even have restaurants with world class chefs.

Come on Canada our wineries produce some of the world’s best wines and your serving me California wines at your dinner party.  Please support our wineries you will be glad you did.

Recently my wife and I have visited Chaberton Estate Winery, Township 7, Mt Lehman and Singletree.

Recent wines enjoyed at home  are listed here.  Canada’s wine regions listed here.