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.
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 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
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.
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.
Grown during the highest temp ever recorded in Lillooet
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.
STORIES WE’RE WORKING ON
Van Wine Festival