Sunday, February 28, 2010

Seventeen Days - Day Seventeen

Originally posted at

On the seventeenth – and final – day of the Olympics, we raise a glass, in honour of our athletes, of Stratus Wines 2008 Icewine Red. Like the name suggests, this is a red blend in Icewine form but it is the blend that is surprising to most. A classic Meritage blending of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot but instead of Merlot, J-L Groux decided to introduce Syrah into the mix. Young Icewines tend to have flavours that are not completely developed and need some aging time in a cellar to make them really interesting. That is not the case with this wine as it is already showing floral and berry characteristics and, more importantly, it doesn’t show a bell pepper flavour component which is common with some Cabernet Franc grapes. Given the superb flavour of this icewine, it is only fitting that we choose to end our series of wines to drink through the Olympics with on the night of the Men’s Hockey Gold medal game and the closing ceremonies. Available for purchase, at the price of $39.85 a bottle, at the winery or online through this link:

Here’s hoping that you enjoyed this little series of blogs and have had a chance to try some of these amazing wines. To all athletes, who gave it their all, congratulations on making it to the Olympics and for competing on the world stage.

2010 Olympics – Day 17

Originally posted at

Well, we have finally made it to the Closing Ceremonies of the Olympics and the final day of our series of British Columbia wineries to visit. For our final day, we thought it fitting to choose the oldest – and largest – winery in the Fraser Valley: Domaine de Chaberton. Domaine de Chaberton is home to award-winning wines of Chaberton, Canoe Cove, and the Zagat-rated Bacchus Bistro. Originally from France, Claude and Inge Violet sold their winery and decided to start anew in the New World. In 1975, Claude and Inge came to North America and visited California, Ontario and the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia but finally decided to settle in the Fraser Valley (which is closer to Vancouver than the Okanagan Valley is) and started the process of planting and opening Domaine de Chaberton. Well, just like Ontario’s early winemakers were scoffed at when they decided to plant vinifera grapes in North America, Claude was laughed at when he decided to plant wine grapes in the rain drenched Fraser Valley. However, like Ontario’s pioneers in winemaking, Claude had done his homework and had discovered that his land had a similar microclimate to the vineyards of Northern France. Now, it took quite a few years to develop a strategy for which grapes to grow and how to treat them while they were on the vine but, by 1991, their first vintage was released. Twenty five years after they planted their first vines, the Violets decided to retire and sold their winery to a couple of Chinese businessmen who had interests in the Vancouver area, an interest in fine wine and were looking for a challenge.

Now, they do have some grapes that are common throughout North America but there are a couple of really interesting white wine grapes planted that most of us have never heard of – Madeleine Sylvaner and Siegerrebe. Both of these grapes are particularly suited to this wine region and even as far south as the Puget Sound AVA in Washington State. Just a warning, the first vintage of Siegerrebe sold out so quickly the owners had to pull it from competition due to its sheer scarcity. If you want to try this delicious white wine that pairs well with Asian food, cheeses and curry dishes, get their quickly to try some and buy.

Tours available year round – check website for details on times.
Wine Shop open year round – check website for hours.
Bacchus Bistro open Wednesday through Sunday for lunch; Friday & Saturday only for dinner.
Domaine de Chaberton Estates Limited Partnership
1064 - 216 Street
Langley BC
V2Z 1R3
Boutique 604 530 1736
Bistro 604 530 9694
Long-Distance 1 888 332 9463
FAX 604 533 9687

Seventeen Days - Day Sixteen

Originally posted at

On the sixteenth day of the Olympics, we raise a glass, in honour of our athletes, of Southbrook Vineyards NV Blueberry. In Ontario, we’re not all about grape wines! Yes, we do make some absolutely amazing grape based wines here but the unsung hero of the Ontario wine industry is definitely fruit based wines. Now, when it comes to fruit wines, there are a lot of hits and misses when it comes to blueberry. Think about all the different fruits out there that you see in your grocery stores – blueberries are definitely one of the smallest. So, naturally, it takes a lot of work to get an intense, true to life, taste from such small berries in a bottle of blueberry wine, but Ann Sperling and her team at Southbrook Vineyards manages to do just that. At the winery, they refer to their Blueberry Wine as “Courageous. On the wild side, with a hint of northern herbs.” On our second last night of Olympic festivities, we have Men’s curling to finish up, the Men’s hockey Bronze medal game, speed skating, bobsleigh and skiing competitions. I am sure we can find something to watch tonight to enjoy our Blueberry wine with. Southbrook Vineyards makes this wine available, at a price of $15.75, at the winery or through

2010 Olympics – Day 16

Originally posted at

Clos du Soleil really believes in the principle of keeping it simple. They make only two wines – Clos du Soleil White and Clos du Soleil Red -, they do not have a tasting room at this point and are not set up for tours just yet but their wines are available at many restaurants and wine shops in British Columbia. It all started in 2005 when a group of friends, with backgrounds in business, and a passion for great food and wine, were bitten by the “wine bug” and decided to open a winery in the Similkameen Valley of British Columbia. After acquiring a 10 acre parcel of land, those partners came together with Lawrence and Sharon Herder – from Herder Winery (day 15) – and a little further down the road, Ann Sperling, currently at Southbrook Vineyards in Niagara to craft wines that combine “old world elegance with a bit of new world edge and oomph.”

Now, the wines really do take a simple, old world approach. The Clos du Soleil White is always either 100% Sauvignon Blanc or a combination of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon - the 2007 vintage contained 5% Semillon. The Clos du Soleil Red is a classic Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot although the percentages do change from year to year depending a lot on what mother nature gives them during the growing season. Even though the winery does not have a store front operation, the wines can be ordered through their website and can be tasted at restaurants and wine shops throughout British Columbia.

Clos du Soleil
OFFICE ADDRESS: 1411 West 6th Avenue
Vancouver, BC,
Canada V6H - 4E9
Phone: 778.837.4205
WINERY ADDRESS: 2568 Upper Bench Road
Keremeos, BC,
Canada V0X-1N4
Phone: 250.499.2831

Friday, February 26, 2010

Seventeen Days - Day Fifteen

Originally posted at

On the fifteenth day of the Olympics, we raise a glass, in honour of our athletes, of Fielding Estate Winery 2008 Pinot Gris. When you read the description the winery provides on how this wine was made, it is intriguing to see the complexity and thought they put into making this wine. “Three vineyard plots from different sub-appellations (Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Lakeshore, Lincoln Lakeshore) were selected and harvested at different stages to help bring different flavour profiles to the final wine. The grapes were soaked on the skins for a short period before pressing and cold settling. Fermented cold using several yeast strains for three to four weeks, the wines were kept on light lees to help build richness in the final wine. A small portion of the final blend was fermented warm in a neutral French puncheon barrel to help add complexity and mouthfeel.” The result is a wine that is light straw in colour with a copper rim and crystal clear. Pear, tangerine and honey are the aromas that come into play and they flow evenly into the flavours of key limes, anise and flowers. Like any good Pinot Gris, it has a fresh and lively mouthfeel, great balance, good concentration on the flavours and a slight hint of residual sugar on the finish. This wine is drinking perfectly now so it is definitely a wine to enjoy while watching the bronze or gold medal games for curling, the semifinals in hockey or the various medal events for speed skating. This wine, which is available in 125 Vintages sections across Ontario for $18.95 a bottle, can also be ordered online at

2010 Olympics – Day 15

Originally posted at

Herder Winery in Keremeos, British Columbia is a story of a young couple, meeting in high school, working in fields completely unrelated to wines and then deciding to find exciting careers in winemaking and viticulture. Lawrence Herder grew up in southern California and at age 14 started making wine. After a career in L.A. as a food broker he decided he wanted to turn his love for wine into a profession. He graduated in 1996 from Fresno State University earning his degree in Enology and minor in Viticulture. Originally working in various wineries in California, in 2003, Lawrence and his wife Sharon decided they wanted to move to British Columbia and open a winery there. While getting Herder Winery off the ground, Lawrence worked for other wineries in the area, including Jackson-Triggs, Golden Mile Cellars, Stoneboat Vineyard and Clos du Soleil. Sharon was originally from British Columbia but, in high school, moved to California where she met Lawrence. Her career background, prior to opening the winery, was in Retail and as a Graphic Designer. These days you can find her in the wine bar during the summer season, working on their website and tweeting about the winery.

They make three red wines – one Bordeaux blend, a Merlot and a Cabernet Franc – along with two white wines and two white wines to be released shortly. The one white wine is a traditional Chardonnay while the other is a four way white wine blend. The views are spectacular from their state of the art facility and the reviews keep pouring in for their amazing wines.

Tasting room open from May through October but call in the off season to see if they are available for purchases.
Herder Winery & Vineyards
2582 Upper Bench Road
Keremeos, BC V0X 1N4
Phone: (250) 499-5595

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Seventeen Days - Day Fourteen

Originally posted at

On the fourteenth day of the Olympics, we raise a glass, in honour of our athletes, of Sandbanks Estate Winery 2007 Baco Noir Reserve. Whatever vintage you may have, this wine has always been one of the best made wines that Sandbanks Estate Winery has ever made. Baco Noir has always been known to be a bit of a “fruit bomb” when it comes to flavours and even aromas and this one does not disappoint. While very fruity in general, the predominant flavours are blackberry and a hint of chocolate and this wine has not disappointed in competition. Gold, Silver and Bronze as well as honourable mentions have made this wine as award winning as our Canadian athletes have been at the 2010 Olympics so it is only fitting that we have a glass (or two) of this wine while we watch medal rounds in cross country skiing, ladies hockey semi finals and finals, figure skating and men’s freestyle aerials. If you are a curling buff – my mom was one so I feel the need to mention this – today is also the day for men’s and women’s semi-finals in curling so don’t forget to watch it with your glass of Baco. Sandbanks Estate Winery will deliver anywhere in Ontario and does not have minimum orders, so to order the 2007 Baco Noir Reserve, which retails for $24.95, call the winery at (613) 399-1839 or email them at

2010 Olympics – Day 14

Originally posted at

Originally owned by three Russian Engineers who had been kicked out of Russia after the revolution, then owned by one of the largest growers in the area and eventually owned by Pam and Mick Luckhurst, the land that Road 13 Vineyards sits upon has been in use for first fruit orchards and now vineyards for almost 90 years. There are 18 wines over 3 tiers and the entry level are wines dedicated to the memory and pioneering spirit of BC Premier (1918-1927) John Oliver. A red blend and a white blend, dedicated to the man who played a major role in bringing irrigation canals to the Golden Mile of the South Okanagan.

The awards and accolades page of their website is long and extensive – actually, it’s longer than their list of wines – so you know these must be wines that are worth a try. At this time of the year, it is highly recommended that you call ahead to see if they are there but if you are there in the summer, make sure you drop by and, if you go in the off season, check them out to see what all the buzz is about. Aside from the great wines, you should also take some time to browse through the gallery of local artist Katie Foster and pick up some of her great ceramic pottery.

Wine Shop and Tasting bar are open daily from Easter weekend through to October 31st.
All other times, please call ahead to confirm that someone will be there.
Road 13 Vineyards
13140 316A Ave,
Road 13 RR1 S-28A C10
Oliver, BC V0H 1T0
Phone: 250.498.8330
Fax: 250.498.8331

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Seventeen Days - Day Thirteen

Originally posted at

On the thirteenth day of the Olympics, we raise a glass, in honour of our athletes, of Ridgepoint Wines 2006 Cabernet Merlot. Ridgepoint Wines believes in the art of assemblage with its blended wines. What this means is, in relation to the 2006 Cabernet Merlot, each of the grapes involved – Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot – they were each fermented separately, aged over two years in a combination of American and French oak barrels and artfully blended at bottling. The result is a wine that has complex aromas of blackberry, dried plums, eucalyptus and pleasant oak with a hint of milk chocolate. On the palate, this medium-bodied wine displays smooth tannins with refreshing acidity on the finish, for which Niagara is known. A great wine to pair with food, I recommend pairing this with roasted meats, tomato based dishes or even some chocolate but also with our shortest day of sporting events at the Olympics. Today is the first day where we have several medal rounds happening, including cross country skiing, alpine skiing, speed skating, bobsleigh, and Ladies freestyle skiing aerials. The Hockey teams continue with quarter finals as well so even if this is the middle of the week, Wednesday is going to be a very action packed day of sports in Vancouver and area. This wine is available at your local LCBO at a price of $14.95 but you can also order their wines by faxing an order form ( to (905) 562-8855.

2010 Olympics – Day 13

Originally posted at

Lucky #13 on our winery list is Golden Beaver Winery – home to probably the only Canadian Tokay and two wines called Vin de Cure. So, what is Vin de Cure? In this case, one is a peachy, candied Vidal, and the other is a spicy Merlot. The winemaker dries the mature grapes after harvest on greenhouse racks for about seven weeks, constantly turning them and making sure they remain free of spoilage. read more...At the end of this drying period, the Merlot had lost 40 percent of its weight to evaporation that raised the Brix to 40°. Only then were the grapes crushed and fermented. The result is an intense and spicy wine, tasting of cherries, chocolate and licorice, with a lingering port-like sweetness.

I love how they put it on the home page of their website:

Come visit us and taste our wines,
we may be small
and our place not as fancy as Mission Hill,
But our wines are well worth a visit!

While Mission Hill is a great winery to visit – after all, we did choose it as Winery #4 – Golden Beaver Winery is just as interesting and, with the looks of their wine list, it is definitely a must stop in the Okanagan Valley.

Tasting room open daily from April 15th to October 15th, Sunday through Wednesday from October 16th to April 14th except between December 12th and January 4th when they are closed. Check website for specific details on hours.
Golden Beaver Winery Inc.
29690 S Hwy 97
Oliver , BC V0H 1T0
Phone: 250-495-4991
Fax: 250-495-4324

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Seventeen Days - Day Twelve

Originally posted at

On the twelfth day of the Olympics, we raise a glass, in honour of our athletes, of Nyarai Cellars 2008 Sauvignon Blanc. Nyarai Cellars is Ontario’s first virtual winery – you can’t visit them, you can’t tour their facilities, you have to go to a local restaurant to try their wines but they will deliver their wine (that you order online) right to your front door. From their opening, Sauvignon Blanc has been a very important grape to them – it has become their flagship grape – and for very good reasons, it is one of their most outstanding wines. Fermented in 100% stainless steel, this medium-bodied wine exhibits flavours conveying notes of white grapefruit, green melon and driven tropical fruit embraced by firm acidity promoting a lingering finish. Today, the medal rounds are in speed skating, biathlon, cross country skiing and the ladies ski cross finals. We also see the start of play off qualifications in Hockey and the start of the ladies figure skating competition. Since this winery is a virtual winery, the best way to get your hands on bottles of this wine, that retail for $18.20 per bottle, is to go to this website: and order them directly.

2010 Olympics – Day 12

Originally posted at

I love a winery that takes some time and puts some thought into making an impressive looking winery…as long as they also invest in the necessities to making great wine as well. Burrowing Owl Estate Winery is one of a few wineries in the Okanagan Valley that have taken that time and money and transformed their winery into an architecturally stunning, esthetically pleasing winery to visit.

As you are driving up to the winery you notice how it is flat roofed, made of this burnt orange, stucco material that is reminiscent of being in the desert – but, then again, you are at the northernmost tip of the Sonora Desert so, it fits. They have a restaurant that is open most of the year, a guest house with 10 rooms, plus the huge Meritage Suite not to mention their amazing wines. There are 42 wines from 8 grapes and only one is currently sold out. Now, not all wines are available for order online but if you are making a trip to the winery, you have quite a selection to choose from. Given that the Syrah has a two bottle limit, I am thinking it is definitely a must try, must buy wine.

Tasting Room open year round, except for weekends during the winter season.
The Sonora Room (Restaurant) will be opening for the 2010 season on Friday, February 12th and will remain open until December. Please see website for specific details.
The Guest house has similar hours to The Sonora Room. Please see website for specific details.
Burrowing Owl Estate Winery
100 Burrowing Owl Place
RR#1 Site 52, Comp 20
Oliver, British Columbia, V0H 1T0
Toll Free: 877.498.0620
Local: 250.498.0620

Monday, February 22, 2010

Seventeen Days - Day Eleven

Originally posted at

On the eleventh day of the Olympics, we raise a glass, in honour of our athletes, of Creekside Estate Winery 2007 Shiraz. The winemaker at Creekside Estate Winery – Craig McDonald - hails from Australia so it is almost natural that when he makes a Shiraz, he is going to put an Australian mix on the final product and, when you combine his expertise plus the expertise of the rest of the winemaking team at Creekside and the incredible growing season that 2007 has become to be known for Ontario, it is not much doubt that this wine is a world unto its own. Typical Shiraz is mostly black pepper and cloves in the aromas and the flavours alike but the 2007 growing season added a couple of extra dimensions to these components – slight floral and plummy, jammy fruit. Today, the medal rounds include Ski jumping, Cross Country skiing and Figure Skating with continued competition in curling, hockey and my favourite, the start of the Freestyle Skiing Aerials. I know I will be watching the Men’s Aerials with a glass of Creekside Estate Winery’s 2007 Shiraz – will you be joining me? This wine can be picked up at the winery, online - - or at your local LCBO store.

2010 Olympics – Day 11

Originally posted at

A French name to the winery, French names for its wines – Le Vieux Pin, located on the east bench of Oliver, British Columbia is our choice for winery #11. Although originally from British Columbia, their winemaker – James Cambridge – came to Ontario to be educated and worked with a bunch of our wineries before returning to British Columbia to work, first at Summerhill Pyramid Winery and then, secondly, at Le Vieux Pin. At Le Vieux Pin, the vineyards really dictate the kinds of wines they make. None of their vineyards are over 12 acres in size and they have 50 acres planted throughout the south Okanagan Valley. They also contract grapes from other grape growers who have certified organic vineyards and grow their grapes sustainably. They use an old world style in winemaking and with the combination of intense heat during summer months, limited rainfall (average annual rainfall is 8 inches), Le Vieux Pin is able to make intense red wines that make you stand up and notice. On the other end of the scale, their evenings are extremely cool which equates to vibrant and unique white wines.

They stick to simple when it comes to the wines they make – only Pinot Noir and Merlot for Reds, a couple of Rose’s, and – for whites – Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer and a white blend. However, simple is often best and, since they win awards for these wines, they must be doing something right.

Tasting room open daily from April 1st through October 31st. Please call ahead to make appointment during off season.
Le Vieux Pin
34070 73rd and Black Sage Rd
Oliver, B.C.
V0H 1T0
Tel: 250.498.8388
Fax: 250.498.8399

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Seventeen Days - Day Ten

Originally posted at

On the tenth day of the Olympics, we raise a glass, in honour of our athletes, of Tawse Winery 2008 Quarry Road Vineyard Gewurztraminer. Tawse Winery was named Best Ontario Winery at the 2009 Wine Access Canadian Wine Awards and this particular wine was awarded the Gold Medal at the 2009 Ontario Wine Awards. At the Olympics today, we see a day of Freestyle skiing in the Ski Cross competition (including their medal round), medal rounds in Biathlon, Alpine skiing, Speed Skating and Bobsleigh. There are continued rounds of Curling and Hockey so there is definitely something to choose from to enjoy your gold medal wine with our gold medal athletes. Tawse Winery sells this wine exclusively at their wine shop or online. You can contact them at (905) 562-9500 or as well as order online directly at this link:

2010 Olympics – Day 10

Originally posted at

An all organic winery with unique names for each of their wines – Chandra Estates is winery #10 in our series of wineries to visit in British Columbia. Have you ever had a wine named Isis or Yue or Luna? Well, at Chandra Estates, Isis = Blaufrankisch, Yue = Chardonnay and Luna is their name for Pinot Noir Rose.

The winery opened in 2008 but when the owners heard that the vineyard was up for sale, they jumped at the chance to buy it. You see, the vineyard was already certified organic and the vines were into the mature stage so the actual cost of starting a winery was reduced as compared to when you are starting completely from scratch. Combine this already established vineyard with a team of consultants, winemakers and marketing gurus and you have a winery with some great wines that are organic, VQA and flying off the shelves.

Tasting room open daily from April 1st to October 31st. Open by appointment only from November 1st to March 31st.
Chandra Estate Winery
33264 121 Street
Oliver, BC
V0H 1T0
Phone: (250) 485-4081
Toll Free: 1-866-777-4081
Fax: (250) 485-4051

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Seventeen Days - Day Nine

Originally posted at

On the ninth day of the Olympics, we raise a glass, in honour of our athletes, of Chateau des Charmes 2007 Estate Bottled Cabernet Franc. It’s the weekend and there’s nothing more I love on a weekend than having comfort food for my meals – like burgers…but fancier burgers than what the chain restaurants offer. This wine, from the warm 2007 growing season has concentrated currant and cassis aromas and flavours. There was limited barrel aging for this wine – only long enough to impart some slight spice and smokiness and not mask the vibrant fruit that is coming out as you swirl the glass. So, while you are enjoying some more curling or medal rounds in ski jumping, skiing or speed skating, have a glass of this great wine and cheer on our athletes. This wine is $13.95 a bottle and is available both at the winery and at your local LCBO.

2010 Olympics – Day 9

Originally posted at

Only twice in the history of the Wine Press Northwest magazine’s bestowing of a Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year award has a British Columbia winery achieved this honour and, in 2009, Wild Goose Vineyards they were the big winner. The Winery of The Year is selected by a panel of judges based on a series of blind tastings, visits to wineries, and accolades achieved by wineries over the past year. A regional winery of the year is chosen in each of Idaho, British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon and then from this list a Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year is chosen.

Wild Goose Vineyards was originally bought and planted to be a vineyard for other wineries in the area – namely Mission Hill Winery in the early years – but in the late eighties, Adolf Kruger wanted to change focus from larger wineries to helping out the little guy. Now, this isn’t as easy as it sounds because, at that time, farm gate wineries (as they were to come to be known) were not allowed by the provincial government. So, after a lot of lobbying and persistence, the British Columbia government gave in and Adolf was on his way to becoming a farm gate winery. These days the winery has both a line of wines called Wild Goose Vineyards but also a line called Mystic River Vineyard and, between the two tiers, fourteen wines are available for people to taste and enjoy. One wine in particular that looks very interesting is their Black Brant. Sold in a half bottle, at only $20 for that bottle, Black Brant is a port style wine made using Marechal Foch grapes that have been allowed to stay on the vines until they reach a sugar level between 26% and 28%.

Winery open for tours & tastings from April 1st to October 31st. Call for appointments between November 1st and March 31st.
Picnic area on site where the winery recommends you bring a lunch and enjoy it with a glass of Wild Goose wine.
Wild Goose Vineyards
2145 Sun Valley Way, Okanagan Falls, B.C.
Phone: (250) 497-8919
Order Line: 1-877-497-8919
Fax: (250) 497-6853

Friday, February 19, 2010

Seventeen Days - Day Eight

Originally posted at

On the eighth day of the Olympics, we raise a glass, in honour of our athletes, of Dan Aykroyd Wines Discovery Series 2007 Cabernet Shiraz. Today we have curling, ski jumping, hockey, cross country skiing, figure skating and skeleton to choose from for our sports and given the diversity in the sports, it just makes sense to have a glass of wine that has won many, many awards for someone who has involvement in many, many areas of life. This Cabernet Shiraz displays a rich bouquet of dark berry fruit and peppery notes. The palate is smooth in texture, showing concentrated flavours of plum and cassis complemented by an undercurrent of spicy layers. Winner of the All Canadian Wine Championships 2008, bronze medal in the Red Vitis Vinifera category, the Canadian Wine Awards 2008, bronze medal, and the prestigious Cuvee Wine Award. Available at the winery or through your LCBO store at $14.95 a bottle.

2010 Olympics – Day 8

Originally posted at

Probably one of the most unique winery names during the course of our 17 day series here and the second fruit winery to be included, Elephant Island Orchard Wines is definitely not to be missed. Now, as crazy as that name sounds – and, no it is not located on an island – there is a rational story behind its name.

“Grandmother Catherine acquired the orchard as a retirement investment. Grandfather Paul, or Poppy as we called him, was convinced that the investment would prove a ‘white elephant’.
In 1972 Grandma Catherine’s free spirit won … she purchased the property in Naramata and convinced Poppy this was ‘the’ location for their dream home. Grandma is an architect (one of the first women in Canada) and Poppy an engineer. Collectively they proceeded to battle their respective professional impartiality and collaborated on their coup de grace, the house at Elephant Island. Out of this clash of professional wills (Grandma’s visual versus Grandfather’s logical) emerged Poppy’s name for the property … the architects ‘EYE-land’ – testament to his perception of Grandma’s obsession with the aesthetic.


Elephant Island … Grandma’s way of getting back at Poppy for all of his mockery … your adventure into a whole new world of wine.”

The winery itself was formed in 1999 with the help of Catherine’s granddaughter Miranda and Miranda’s husband Del. Having no experience in winemaking, Miranda and Del hired Christine Leroux who had been educated and worked in some of the big wineries of Bordeaux, France. Christine, with the help of Grandpa Paul’s (Poppy’s) recipes, has refined and expanded the winemaking process at Elephant Island Orchard Wines in order to ensure that only the highest quality wines are being made for the winery.

The wines that Christine has helped them perfect are definitely interesting. They have Dessert wines, they have Table wines, they have a section of “specialty” wines and then they have a Methode Champenoise (traditional method) Sparkling wine made from apples and raspberries. The proceeds of the sales of their Sparkling wine, which they have named “The Little King” are in memory of the life and spirit of their young son Rex and go towards an ongoing education fund at the BC Children’s Hospital. So far $17,000 has been donated and the inspiring story makes this a wine that I would want to have in my own personal cellar.

Tasting Room open daily from May 1st to October 11th. Will open by appointment during the off season – just call ahead first.
Elephant Island Orchard Wines
2730 Aikins Loop
RR#1 S5 C18
Naramata , BC
V0H 1N0
Phone: (250) 496-5522
Fax: (250) 496-5521

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Seventeen Days - Day Seven

Originally posted at

On the seventh day of the Olympics, we raise a glass, in honour of our athletes, of Rosewood Estate Winery & Meadery 2008 Natalie’s Sussreserve Riesling. This wine is a classic – Natalie Spytkowsky, winemaker at Rosewood Estate – has been making this wine since her early years at Angel’s Gate Winery and it has become known as her signature wine. An off dry style of Riesling, this wine has won awards at major competitions for both this vintage and many past vintages, this wine is made by adding unfermented Riesling grape juice back into the wine just before bottling which creates added complexity, character, structure, natural acidity and of course sweetness. The 2008 vintage has bright notes of lemon, lime, peach and wild flowers. The palate is fresh with balanced acidity and sweetness. Pairs best with lemon or butternut squash risotto, Weiner Schnitzel, Thai dishes, Munster and St. Paulin cheeses and warm apple desserts. So, what sports do we have to share with this classic Riesling from the only winemaker in Ontario who is interested in making it? Medal events today include biathlon, speed skating, figure skating and ladies halfpipe for the snowboard. Other sports to watch – curling, more hockey (Canadian Men’s team today) and skeleton. To get your hands on this wine, which is $18 a bottle, contact the winery directly at 1-866-633-3248 or 905-563-4383.

2010 Olympics – Day 7

Originally posted at

They only make three wines – and at the moment they only have one available – but this quaint little winery, with an interesting name, has an inn with spectacular views so that is why Howling Bluff Estate Wines is our winery of the day for day seven of the 2010 Olympics.

Of their three wines – Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and a red blend – only the Sin Cera (red blend) is currently available. However, when they have all three lining their shelves these are some pretty spectacular, award winning wines to be tried. The Inn at Howling Bluff is set among the vineyards which are home to their Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon grapes. As you look down the hill, you are greeted with an amazing view of Okanagan Lake and there are several wineries nearby to choose from.

Tasting Room and Inn open from April 30th – October 15th
Howling Bluff Estate Winery
Winner of the 2009 Lieutenant Governor's Award for Excellence in British Columbia wines
1086 Three Mile Rd
Penticton, B.C.
V2A 8T7
Winery 250.490.3640

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Seventeen Days - Day Six

Originally posted at

On the sixth day of the Olympics, we raise a glass, in honour of our athletes, of Marynissen Estates 2007 Bottoms Up. This wine has a very interesting story to tell which I hope you will enjoy. From Jeff Hundtermark – winemaker at Marynissen Estates - In 2007, our lees filter unceremoniously gave up and is now non-functioning. The decision was made to place all the Lees from the bottom of each tank (all 7 varieties) into one tank and allow the lees to settle the old fashioned way... by gravity. This procedure took approximately 5 months and a further 4 rackings until we were able to recover as much as we could. The bonus, as we found out, was that the wine being in contact with the lees for that period of time provided intense fruit concentration, integrated tannin structure, and the deepest of colour. The serendipitous part of this story is when we decided to taste the wine before using it to top up barrels; we discovered just how special the wine was. We immediately ordered new American Oak barrels and aged the wine for a further 8 months. So, what Olympic sports do we have to enjoy this delectable wine with? Rounds two and three of curling (both Men’s and Women’s), more skiing, more hockey (Canadian Women are playing), medal events in Cross Country skiing, speed skating and luge, as well as a complete day of Men’s Halfpipe for the Snowboarders. This wine is available at the winery directly so contact them at 905-468-7270 or by email at to place your order today.

2010 Olympics – Day 6

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Our sixth winery opened its doors in 1997 but rather quickly gained a reputation for excellent wines and great hospitality and outgrew their original buildings in Naramata, BC. Consequently, in 2004, Red Rooster Winery opened its new doors 10 minutes south of their original location. Their new hospitality building allows guests to discover and taste their wines, explore wonderful works of art from local artists in their own gallery and to enjoy lunch on their picturesque patio.

The people behind Red Rooster Winery don’t like to call their wineshop a “wineshop” because it is so much more than that. The Hospitality building does feature there tasting bar but they also have displays featuring the talents of local artists and it does change on a regular basis – every month during the summer and every other month during the “off season” a new artist is brought in and, quite often, there is so much stuff to display, it can spill out onto the lawns of the winery. Also, if you get a little nibbly, they do offer a light lunch type of menu – salads, antipasto, cheese platters can all be enjoyed on the patio in the summer months while soaking up some gorgeous Okanagan sun.

Now, about those wines – they make 22 different wines, some of which are currently sold out, but still a nice selection nonetheless. The price per bottle ranges from anywhere between $13.99 and $37.99 (for a 2005 Reserve Merlot) and they encompass the full range of white, red and rose for you to choose from.

Wineshop and gallery open daily.
Patio open during summer months.
Red Rooster Winery
891 Naramata Road
Penticton, BC
V2A 8T5
(250) 492-2424
Fax: (250) 492-2400

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Seventeen Days - Day 5

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On the fifth day of the Olympics, we raise a glass, in honour of our athletes, of Wayne Gretzky Estates 2007 Merlot. On the day that the Canadian Men’s Hockey team takes to the ice for the first time – against Norway – we feel it is completely appropriate that the wine we drink tonight is the wine from the last General Manager of our Men’s Hockey team who led them to winning the Gold. Now, it’s not just the first night of Men’s hockey – there is more skiing, snowboarding, luge, skating and biathlon but we also see the first round of action for both our Men’s and Women’s Curling. Just a quick note about this wine – it has a fruit-forward style highlighted by aromas of blackberry and cherry. Rich, rounded palate and moderate tannins frame ripe berry fruit, finishing with mocha and oak spice. Possible food pairings – mild curries, pork tenderloin, souvlaki, chili or stew – everything we would love to eat at this time of the year to keep us warm. To grab a bottle – or two – of this wine which retails at $15.95 a bottle, visit your local LCBO, the winery itself or order online at

2010 Olympics – Day 5

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I love a good fruit based wine – it is such a refreshing change from grape based wines and our next winery – Sleeping Giant Fruit Winery – is one of two fruit wineries we will highlight during the course of the 2010 Olympics. This winery boasts 21 fruit wines with a sugar level of anywhere from bone dry (0) to a Late Harvest level of 7.

Sleeping Giant Fruit Winery has a long and interesting history. Originally, Ted Atkinson founded Summerland Sweets in an effort to help fundraise for his local Rotary Club by making a fruit jelly candy using the fruit from the orchard he owned. From that small fundraising effort grew a “retirement project” and Summerland Sweets Ltd. was born. After years of Summerland Sweets Ltd., Sleeping Giant Fruit Winery was created and is now thriving under the same principles that have made Summerland Sweets Ltd a family name. To compliment the thriving sweets business, Ted hired Ron Taylor to become Sleeping Giant’s winemaker. Ron had previously worked for over 20 years with Andres wines – a massive wine company responsible for producing over 5 million liters of wine annually. Ron had retired from Andres a few years previously but had been working with a variety of small wineries in both British Columbia and Washington state as well as some consulting jobs in mainland China. His focus had been on reviving the fruit wine component of the industry so when the opportunity came along to work with Sleeping Giant, it seemed like a natural fit.

Looking at their list of wines, which is impressive, there are two that intrigue me and they both have Pumpkin in their name. I have an uncle who is a Pumpkin fanatic – he would love to have pumpkin pie with ever family dinner if he could but we insist on Plum Pudding for Christmas. In fact, one year I even made him Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream – in the dead of winter – for Christmas dinner. Now, my Uncle doesn’t drink but I always find it interesting when I come across something that is not normally pumpkin based so that would definitely be one wine I’d like to try out myself.

Winery open daily for tasting and purchases
Sleeping Giant Winery (at Summerland Sweets)
6206 Canyon View Road
Summerland, BC V0H 1Z7
(250) 494-0377

Monday, February 15, 2010

Seventeen Days - Day Four

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On the fourth day of the Olympics, we raise a glass, in honour of our athletes, of my favourite White Meritage from Ontario – Hidden Bench Vineyards and Winery 2007 Nuit Blanche. Ever since I had this wine, when Harald Thiel brought a bottled that day Nuit Blanche to an Ontario Wine Society event I was organizing, I have been in love with this wine. The current vintage – 2007 - has a rich mouth feel with sweet fruit characters and a lingering finish. The wine shows refined aromas of papaya, guava fruit, Chinese allspice and smokey minerality. On the Olympics schedule for today we have another Canadian Women’s Ice Hockey game – against Switzerland – as well as more cross country skiing, speed skating, figure skating and luge. The new addition to the sports lineup is Men’s Snowboarding – qualifications, semi finals and finals, all in one day. Given how exhausted those guys will probably be that day, I think it is our patriotic duty to have a glass of this amazing wine for them. To get your hands on this wine, call the winery at (905) 563-8700 or order this wine online at $40 a bottle but completely worth the expense.

2010 Olympics – Day 4

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Mission Hill Winery has been described as one of the most architecturally stunning buildings in the Okanagan. It took six long years, a dedicated team of professionals and a vision unique unto its own to design, develop and build one of the most impressive looking wineries in British Columbia. When you visit Mission Hill Winery, make sure to remember your camera because you won’t want to miss out on the opportunity to snap a few pictures.

Now, Mission Hill Winery is more than just impressive architecture. It is the largest, independently owned wineries in British Columbia, has 23 different wines over 4 tiers, and a restaurant that has been named “One of the top Five winery restaurants in the World” by Travel and Leisure Magazine. Whether you’re an architectural buff, looking for great wine or want to have one of the best meals possible while visiting the Okanagan, Mission Hill Winery has something for you. All of their tours include a wine tasting so you have a chance to try the wines before you buy – and buy you will – but it is highly recommended that you book ahead because they do fill up quickly.

Wine Shop open year round except December 25th, 26th and January 1st.
Tours available January 2nd – October 15th.
NOTE: Not all tours are available at all times, check website for details.
Restaurant opens for lunch May 14th – September 19th
Restaurant opens for Tapas June 26th – September 5th
Mission Hill Family Estate
1730 Mission Hill Road
West Kelowna, Okanagan Valley
British Columbia, Canada
V4T 2E4
Main 250.768.7611
Retail Store 250.768.6498
General Information 250-768-6448
Facsimile 250.768.2267

Seventeen Days - Day Three

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On the third day of the Olympics, which is also Valentine’s Day, we raise a glass, in honour of our athletes (and our sweethearts), of Black Prince Winery 2008 Chardonnay Terroir Elite. This wine is completely unique in the Ontario wine industry because, for the first time ever, we have Prince Edward County grapes aged in barrels from The Carriage House Cooperage which is a local cooperage house in Prince Edward County – the only one of its kind. Never before have the grapes and the barrels been so closely linked and the wine they created together is one to be enjoyed over a candlelight dinner or while watching one of many different sports this Sunday. There is Alpine Skiing, Cross Country Skiing, Biathlon, Luge, Speed Skating, Moguls or Figure Skating to choose from…or even Ice Hockey if you want to watch another country play. There were only 100 cases of this wine produced and, at $29.95 a bottle, these wines are going to fly off their shelves. Available at the winery or through their website - – to get your hands on this wine before it is all gone.

2010 Olympics – Day 3

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There is so much that can be said about Summerhill Pyramid Winery that it is hard to know where to start. The owner has won the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, the winery is Canada’s most visited winery, the wines are aged in a pyramid and they have won awards that, in a logical sense, should have been impossible to win. Stephen Cipes, owner, has been described as looking more like a spiritual visionary than a Wall Street hard-nose. When he first visited the Okanagan in 1986, he believed he had found the perfect conditions – i.e. terroir – to grow intensely flavoured small grapes, which is the perfect base for sparkling wine so he set off developing his plans for Summerhill Pyramid Winery.

You know how I mentioned that Stephen Cipes seems more like a spiritual visionary than a Wall Street hard nose? Well, Stephen has put a lot of time, care and spirituality into his approach with Summerhill Pyramid Winery. The wines are aged in a geometrically precise pyramid that is aligned to True North. Although there are benefits to performing the final step in wine production inside a pyramid – for both the wine and the people working inside it – the website is quick to point out there are no easy answers to how the pyramid shape benefits this step except to say “the Pyramid connects us to the unseen world of pure form, and to things surpassing the intellect's understanding.” If you are interested in learning more about why the pyramid was built and the benefits attained by using it in wine production, there winery’s website has much more detailed information and, when visiting the winery, if you ask, they will play a video that was made for them by UCLA professor Dr Valerie Hunt showing some of these benefits in action.

So, how does this translate into great wine? Well, using the pyramid to age wine in, combined with the organic practices used in the vineyard, as well as their biodynamic practices in the vineyard have created wines that repeatedly win awards against almost insurmountable odds. One of Stephen’s happiest moments with his winery was when they won gold in Champagne, France…against French Champagnes. Aside from their outstanding sparkling wines, Summerhill Pyramid Winery also makes reds, whites, a variety of Icewines and three specialty wines two of which are bottled in uniquely shaped bottles – a Jazz Blush in trumpet shaped bottles and a Late Harvest Ehrenfelser in a violin shaped bottle. With the variety in their wine list, their Organic restaurant on site and the unique architecture of their winery, why not stop by Summerhill Pyramid Winery and become visitors of Canada’s most visited winery?

Wine shop and tastings available year round.
Tours available at 12 noon and 2 pm
Restaurant closed from January 2nd to February 10th; open daily the rest of the year.
Summerhill Pyramid Winery
4870 Chute Lake Road
Kelowna, BC Canada
V1W 4M3
(250) 764-8000
toll free: 1-800-667-3538
fax: (250) 764-2598

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Seventeen Days - Day 2

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On the second day of the Olympics, we raise a glass, in honour of our athletes, of East Dell Estates 2008 VQA Pinot Grigio. Flavours, and aromas, of honey, pear and green apple, this wine pairs perfectly with seafood dishes and your favourite Olympics sport. Whether that be Women’s Ice Hockey against Slovakia, Ski Jumping, Alpine Skiing, Luge or Speed Skating, raise a glass of this with family and friends on Saturday afternoon or evening and cheer on your favourite athlete or team. An amazing value at $12.95 per bottle, this wine is available at the winery or can be delivered to your home. Contact EastDell Estates at or (905) 563-9463.

On a side note, I would like to dedicate this series of blogs to the memory of the Georgian Luger who lost his life yesterday as a result of an accident during a practice run in Whistler. May your spirit and your desire to achieve excellence live on in the souls and memories of your fellow athletes, your family and the children of our future.

2010 Olympics – Day 2

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A winery with a political connection – Cedar Creek Estate Winery in Kelowna, BC is the life long dream of Senator Ross Fitzpatrick. Although after university his career took him away from the area he was born and raised in, Ross had always dreamed of returning to “the fertile soil and climate of the valley”. So, in 1988, just as the North American Free Trade Agreement threatened to wipe out the small wine industry in the Okanagan trying to make its name, Ross Fitzpatrick saw it as a challenge to be conquered – and conquered he did. With all of his hard work, along with the hard work of his son – Gordon, who is now heading the winery – Cedar Creek Estate Winery has developed a major wine list encompassing a wide range of palate pleasing options, a seasonal restaurant and a beautiful, Greek inspired in architecture, winery on the banks of the Okanagan.

With a few vineyards to choose from and a wide array of grape varietals planted, after more than 20 years of working with these grapes, Cedar creek Estate Winery has it down to a science. Their white grapes, along with six acres of Pinot Noir are planted in their northern vineyard at Greata Ranch as well as the estate vineyard and their reds, for the most part, are planted at their southern vineyard near Osoyoos where they get the extra heat needed to ripen these grapes properly. The result is a very extensive wine list with all of the grapes represented at several tiers in most cases and many awards to back them up. So, why not drop by Cedar Creek Estate Winery, try a few wines, enjoy a meal in their restaurant (during the summer months) and then let us know what your favourites are.

Tasting room open daily
Tours available May 1st through October 31st
Restaurant open for lunches only – June 12th to September 20th. Special dinner series available on select dates during the summer.
CedarCreek Estate Winery
5445 Lakeshore Road
Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
V1W 4S5
Telephone 250 764 8866
Facsimile 250 764 2603

Friday, February 12, 2010

Seventeen Days

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The 2010 Olympics are about to start in Vancouver, BC, Canada and what better way to toast our athletes and inspire them on to Gold Medals than to raise a glass of wine – a different one each day – for each of the seventeen days our athletes are competing on the world stage here at home. So, here we go – a new wine for each day of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, BC…

On the first day of the Olympics, we raise a glass, in honour of our athletes and the Gold medals they are about to win, of The Grange of Prince Edward Brut VQA. A fruity, minerally, slightly creamy blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir made entirely of Prince Edward County fruit and the first VQA bubbly to do so. Caroline Granger, President of The Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards and Estate Winery, tells me that this wine is the result of twenty-six months of hard work, with the second fermentation lasting a full fifty-seven weeks. Only $29.75 a bottle, this bubbly was released back in November so it is best to get your hands on this quickly as they are running short on bottles. Call the wine shop at 613.399.1048 or 866.792.7712 to order this winery or visit them at 990 Closson Road, Hillier ON to grab a few bottles.

2010 Olympics – Day 1

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Welcome to the 2010 Olympic Games…of wine! Starting today – coinciding with the Opening Ceremonies of the real 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver – I will feature one winery each day from the province of British Columbia. All of these wineries have come highly recommended by friends and colleagues and all of them are best described as small, family run or mom and pop type wineries. It’s not that the “big boys” of the BC wine industry aren’t great, it’s just that these little wineries deserve some recognition too. So, who is our first winery? Where is it located and what makes it unique…

Located in Kelowna, BC we find Quails’ Gate Winery – a family run winery where, even if your last name isn’t Stewart, you feel as if you are one. The one thing that truly impressed me about this winery, aside from the very close knit feel it portrays, is the extensive and elaborate wine list. Two tiers of table wines – the Stewart Family Reserve and the Quails’ Gate line – and a selection of dessert wines, some of which are completely unique – like their Non Vintage Tawny made from 100% Gamay Noir grapes or their Fortified Vintage Foch which is a tribute to the family’s Grandfather “Poppa Dick”.

Tasting Room and Restaurant open daily except December 25th, 26th & January 1st.
Tours available April 30th – October 11th.
3303 Boucherie Road
Kelowna British Columbia
V1Z 2H3 Canada
Phone: 250-769-4451
Toll Free: 1-800-420-9463
Fax: 250-769-3451

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Winning Spirit…

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Olympic fever has hit Canada – we’re only eleven days away from the beginning of the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, BC and you can feel the anticipation of the events to come. Whether you’re one of the lucky ones to be in Vancouver to watch the events, or you’re going to be watching from the comfort of your living room, we all seem to have our favourite sports and, in some cases, favourite athletes that we will be watching closely. In my house, the big name is Steve Omischl – a member of the Men’s Aerials (Freestyle Skiing) team – and a former classmate of my sister back when we lived in North Bay. With all the excitement about the Olympics, it’s almost easy to overlook the fact that British Columbia is one of the most beautiful provinces in Canada to visit. So, in honour of the majestic beauty of British Columbia, and to show off a different side to the province that will be home to the next set of Olympic Games, every day of the Olympics – from Friday, February 12th through to Sunday, February 28th – I will be announcing a new winery each day for people to visit in British Columbia. Also, for those of us who won’t be lucky enough to visit this beautiful province, I’ll also be suggesting one Canadian wine a day for each of us to try.

Now, I want to take a moment and thank everyone who made suggestions on my Facebook wall on great wineries in British Columbia – you’ll have to come back every day during the Olympics to see which one’s made the cut. For anyone who is interested, if you want to suggest a wine of the day for the Olympics, feel free to post a comment below and maybe your suggestion will be featured over the course of the seventeen days of Olympic festivities.