February 10th, 2024- Winter Wine Wars. Features on Orofino/Fort Berens

Winter Wine Wars. Features on Orofino/Fort Berens



The letters were received on Jan 22. It was the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission informing a considerable number of BC wineries that if they did not immediately stop shipping wines direct to consumers in Alberta, they would stop allowing those wines in their retail stores.

Legalities aside, the timing couldn’t be worse for BC wines and farmers.

Two winters of freezing vine damage, roadblocks in high season and wildfires have led to some wineries wondering if they can survive through 2024. Now this!

BC wineries are on record as offering to collect the taxes on their shipments, most of which are to members of their wine club.

In many cases, these are high-end, exclusive & hard-to-find wines, so the Alberta concern of younger drinkers getting their hands on these wines is simply not in play

To try and make sense of all of this new information I asked two valued wine friends to join me on Tasting Room Radio.


Sandra Oldfield – Former partner/winemaker in Tinhorn Creek. Now the founder of Elysian Projects and a steady voice in the Okanagan.

Sandra Oldfield Elysian Projects

You may remember Sandra from the 2011 wine war between BC and Alberta. To make a point about shipping across provincial borders in Canada,  Sandra ordered a shotgun from out of province and it arrived safe and sound. However, she was not allowed to ship or carry wines into Alberta. She still has that shotgun to remind her of how far we have yet to go.





Al Hudec – Lawyer. Farris LLP. Specializing in wine law. Runs the Kelowna office of Farris LLP.

Al Hudec

Al is a prominent legal advisor to the BC Wine Industry and has been lead lawyer on many of Canada’s most significant Indigenous transactions of the past 12 years.





We’re going to cover a lot of ground here but please keep in mind that the wines we love sharing with family and friends come from the passion,  talents and hard work of small farmers in BC.

That’s who’s dealing with this bad news – in a year of bad news. Small farmers working sunup to sundown. Dealing with insects, fires, extremes in climate, smoke, hail and now regional politics.


Just when they really needed our support, there is another mountain to climb.


So, please buy BC as much as you can. We’ll get through this together.






John Weber – co-founder and chief winemaker at Orofino Vineyards in the Similkameen Valley.

Its been a while since John and I chatted about winemaking. Its usually about fishing.  No wait,  its always about fishing.

Please  head for the website.  As you can see they’ve been  very busy. And this is just the whites!!!

2022 Orange skin contact White

2022 Pozza Vineyard C ab Franc Rose

2022 Crossroads Riesling

2021 Home Vineyard Old Vines Riesling

2021 Chanrdonnay

2022 Sparkling Gamay Noir


Mostly we’re going to be talking about how the Similkameen is dealing with killer winter freeze, fires and  with climate change.  Which is what farmers do.

Every season and every year.




Alessandro (Alex) Nel – Winemaker at Fort Berens, Lilloett, BC

Before arriving at Fort Berens,  for over a decade Alex had been a winemaker at Cederberg Winery in the Western Cape of South Africa. While there he produced one of the Top 50 wines  in the Decanter World Wine Awards in 2021.

He’s also crafted wines in California, New Zealand and France.

We’re lucky to have him involved in BC wine.

Fort Berens winter scape

Alex and I will taste and talk our way through recent Fort Berens releases.  We’ll also talk about the awards they’ve won including a platinum medal at the 2023 BC Lieutenant Governor’s Awards. Also a Silver  Award and 91 points at Decanter World Wine Awards and the #3 Small Winery in Canada –  2022.


2021 – Small Lot Merlot  $32.99

A blend of 15-year-old Dry Creek fruit and young vines from Red Rock Vineyard. Beautiful texture and a long finish.


2021 – Cabernet Franc  (95%) Cabernet Sauvignon (5%)

15 months in French Oak (5% new)

Ripe black fruit, cassis, dried herbs and vanilla. $32.99

A beautifully crafted work of drinkable art.


2021  Meritage

Grown during the highest temp ever recorded in Lillooet

48 degrees.

Merlot (64%) Cabernet Sauvignon  19% and Cab Franc  (17%)

Plums, Cranberry, Cassis on the nose.

Chocolate, floral elements and long finish are outstanding. $31.99


2022  Pinot Noir.. Grown in two vineyards in Summerland and Naramata Bench. 9 months in neutral French oak. Alex used a Burgundy Yeast Strain. He liked the result.

I did as well.  This is a wine you want to keep an eye on. Such promise here.






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