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March 2nd, 2024 – Replay… Last Year’s 44th Vancouver International Wine Festival (Part One)

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We are currently doing interviews in the Vancouver Convention Centre at the 2024 VanWineFest.

NEXT WEEKWe start Part One of this years coverage.

Co-Hosts this year are Kelcie Jones,  Leader of This is  Wine School. Sommelier of the year, DJ Kearney Wine Director Terminal City Club Vancouver.  Wine Educator and Judge. Michaela Morris, international wine writer, judge, speaker. Writes for Decanter. Italian wine specialist and once again Daenna van Mulligen, The Wine Diva. Writer, speaker and outstanding wine reviewer.

In order to give ourselves time to gather guest comments, edit the 22 interviews and get ready for at least 3 weeks of wine stories and journeys, this week is a repeat of last years Part One kick-off.

 

THE SHOW

 This is our 17th year of covering the  adventure  of The Van Wine Fest!

For the Executive Director Harry Hertscheg and his top flight team of organizers,  it’s their 44th annual.

(Harry and keynote speaker Evan Goldstein will close our series in a couple of weeks)

Harry Hertscheg

Although it’s still a amazing “blur” I think we did at least 20 interviews in just under four hours.

A mix of winemakers and founders from Chile, Argentina, BC, Lodi, Napa, Sonoma and  Washington!

We could not have made this journey without the help of media/marketing support from Ruby Gillett (Milk Creative Communications) and Danielle Giroux (Director- California Wines Canada)

Thank you both.

Vancouver International Wine Festival

 

Here’s Part One of this years Festival

 We begin with the most amazing friend – Wine Director at Terminal City Club and much admired wine educator, speaker and wine judge,  DJ Kearney.

DJ and I were judging the Lt Governor awards last month and between flights I whispered “will you join me at VanWineFest for a couple of interviews. I love your questions and observations?”

She nodded OK!  How lucky I was to know her?

As promised,  DJ sat down for the first two interviews and to my complete surprise and delight,  she stayed for almost the entire series of chats. A small grouping of chairs – knee to knee –  because the crowd noise gets louder as the minutes click by. A lot of collective chatter.  In the chairs, we all found ourselves leaning in to listen and comment. Tasted many outstanding wines the guests brought.

Loved it.  Best of all, this is just Part One of 3 weeks of interviews.

This weeks guests are:

 DJ Kearney – Wine Director  (Terminal City Club) Wine Educator, Judge, Writer,  Speaker and great friend.

DJ Kearney

The one and only DJ Kearney with her observations about Van Wine Fest history, the line up of this years wineries and general opinions about the state of today’s winemaking. She brings so many memorable stories and details.

https://www.tcclub.com/

@djwines

 

JJ DowellWinemaker Lake Sonoma, Plume Wines. (Russian River, Sonoma, Alexander Valley, Napa Valley)

Jaime started her career “in the arts” at her family’s art gallery.

The art of wine came calling. Crooked Vine, Stony Ridge. Then off to New Zealand making high end Pinot Noir at Villa Maria.

Back to California in 2011 to join Bonny Doon, Alpha Omega, Round Pond Estate in Napa and finally joined West Coast Wine Partners – which included the Stewart Family at Quails Gate – to oversee Lake Sonoma and Valley of the Moon WinesPlume Wines were soon added to the portfolio.

All that experience shows in her wines.  https://lakesonomawinery.com/

Jaime "JJ" Dowell Named Round Pond Estate Winemaker - Wine Industry Advisor

JJ Dowell

 

Christa-Lee McWatters – McWatters Collection GM/Family (Penticton)

Tony Holler – Co-Owner Poplar Grove (Naramata Bench)

DJ and I knew this was going to be fast, informative and lots of fun.

Christa-Lee and Tony LOVE talking about wine. Theirs and many others.

But they also have new events and growth.

At Time Family of Wines in Penticton Christa-Lee has opened OROLO Restaurant with Damian Cole as Head Chef.  Fine dining friends.

Wine's Most Inspiring People: Christa-Lee and Darrien McWatters, TIME Family of Wines - Wine Industry Advisor

Christa-Lee McWatters

She was also pouring her Father Harry’s last vintage. A  2017 Brut!

Cheers to Harry McWatters.

www.timewines.ca

 

Tony Holler poured his Pinot Gris “it has to be poured at this event.”

Tony Holler

And also revealed his new culinary team at Poplar Grove Restaurant.

Timing says Tony “its all about timing” His executive chef moved on to Canoe in Toronto and at the same time Executive Chef Stacey Johnson and Chef de Cuisine Minette Lotz came available at Naramata Inn. Think about it.  That team in that room with that view? Wow!

Truly loved DJ’s comments.

www.poplargrove.ca

 

On my way into the Convention Centre I bumped into Chris Turyk and his Father Tim from Unsworth in the Cowichan Valley.

I reminded Chris that last year I stood in front of their Unsworth pouring table but the line-up just kept getting bigger and bigger and we never got an interview done.

Chris Turyk

So, this year we put two chairs together and had a conversation until someone asked if they could have their chairs back.

Talking about Unsworth, the Cowichan Valley, the Jackson Family adding Blue Grouse to their Cowichan Portfolio, what he was pouring at the festival (Charme de l’ile NV).

 

My thanks to Chris, Tim and Unsworth.

www.unsworthvineyards.com

 

STORIES WE’RE WORKING ON:

Part One of 2024 VanWineFest

Harry Hertscheg – Executive Director VanWineFest

Nathalie Bonhomme – Le Vins Bonhomme (Spain)

Donal Black – House of Smith (Charles Smith portfolio – Washington)

Richard Kanazawa – Winemaker Bench 1775 (Naramata Bench)

Michael Kullman – CEO and Winemaker at Osoyoos LaRose

Michael Abbott – GM  Blue Grouse (Cowichan Valley)

Stephen Neumann – Burrowing Owl Brand Ambassador (Oliver)

 

 

February 24th 2024- Seven Wine Stars – Time to Buy B.C. We can ALL help!

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Seven Wine Stars – Time to Buy BC. We can ALL help!

 

THE SHOW

 

Christine Coletta – Co-founder  Haywire Wines (Summerland)

Grant Stanley – Winemaker and GM of Spearhead  – (East Kelowna) 2022 Best Small Winery in Canada.

Rhys Pender – Master of Wine and co-founder Little Farm Wines (Similkameen)

Kimberly Hundertmark – Executive Director Okanagan Wine Festivals (Fall Fest starts today)

Sandra Oldfield – Partner Elysian Projects and Organizer of  Fortify Conference in Penticton Nov 15

Tim Pawsey – Writer and Wine Judge (Hired Belly)

Leslie D’Andrea – Co-founder and CEO Noble Ridge Winery (OK Falls)

 

If ever the BC Wine industry could use your support, it’s right now .

Discover the Wines, Wineries and Vineyards of British Columbia | Wine BC

Farming and making wine is a long hard road during the growing season. The past farming year was hit with

wild fires, smoke, a December freeze that killed many vines and the MacDougall Creek Fire, one of the largest and most dangerous  fires overlooking West Kelowna.

Then, at the height of the fires,  the BC government shut down the highways into the Okanagan.  Wine fans and tourists were asked to stay home.

They did stay home and when the roads opened again they either stayed home or went elsewhere.

The wineries, restaurants and accommodation business in the Okanagan lost weeks of customers and income.

The lost revenue and the reduced fruit crop has put a hurt on many small wineries. Some will be lost. Many are holding on hoping for a better year ahead.

Of course, now comes another challenge. The Alberta government has threatened to pull BC Wines from their store shelves. Yup. Another holdup at the border.

HOW CAN WE HELP?

 Have a listen to these BC Wine leaders.  Lots of suggestions and much wise advice.

From buying BC wines for the near future and ordering a BC wine when dining.

Join a wine club. Shop on line. Gift your friends. Rethink new plantings!

Also the Winter Wine Events are on in the Okanagan.  Now’s the perfect time to visit.  Kimberly Hundertmark Executive Director gives us a primer on the events.

 

Spearheadwinery.com

Haywirewinery.com

LittleFarmWinery.ca

thewinefestivals.com

elysianprojects.com

Nobleridge.com

Timothy Pawsey

WineBC.com

Totabc.org

 

STORIES WE’RE WORKING ON

Vancouver International Wine Festival 

The French Door Winery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 17th, 2024- Wines of Romance from Township 7 and Rocky Mountain Whisky from Wild Life

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Wines of Romance from Township 7 and Rocky Mountain Whisky from Wild Life

THE SHOW

The press release arrived well in advance of Valentine’s Day.

These exceptional wines are not only perfect for cosy winter evenings but also make for delightful Valentine’s Day celebrations.

I’m 3 days late with this story but when Valentine’s Day falls on a Wednesday, I find most of my friends agree with me and move it to the weekend when we have time to call our own.

Anyway, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Mary McDermott – Winemaker Township 7 (Langley and Naramata Bench)

Township 7 Vineyards & Winery launches the seven stars club - My VanCity

Mary McDermott

Mary is a straight shooter. No catch-all marketing phrases. Just the facts and heartfelt reflections on the growing year and what the vineyard was trying to say to us.

Her training and years of seasonal survival have made Mary one of the winemakers to watch. Mary watches over the prime Naramata vineyards and their ever-evolving vineyards in Langley.

She is, after all, following in the footsteps of Michael Bartier and Bradley Cooper. High standards have risen even higher under Mary’s watch.

A wonderful winemaker and consummate craftswoman.

Tasting and Talking:

seven stars RIGEL 2021

Traditional method style, made with Riesling from the  Fool’s Gold Vineyard in North Oliver. Owned by Mark Antonello, well known vineyard manager.

The vineyard was researched and planted two decades ago by the legendary Richard Cleave. When he and Harry McWatters drove and walked around the Okanagan, they had their choice of “everything and everywhere”.  They picked the best plots of land to be had. If Richard Cleave’s name is linked to a vineyard, it’s Gold friends.

For example, the 2020 version of this sparkling wine was awarded Best Canadian Sparkling Wine 2023 Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships in London.  Loaded with notes of citrus and minerality. The glorious mousse has a texture that never seems to leave my memory bank. The body remembers such moments.

383 six-bottle cases –  $36.97

seven stars POLARIS 2020

Named in honour of the North Star which has guided ships at sea for many 100’s of years.

Crafted in traditional Methode Champenoise style.

Polaris is a Blanc de Blanc made from 100% unoaked Chardonnay. It has been celebrated at the Canadian National Wine Awards, BC Lieutenant Governor  Awards, Global Awards in Australia and many more.

Notes of brioche, Granny Smith apples, peach, lime.

In a word – Polaris is complete!    1250 six-bottle cases –   $39.97

 

Benchmark Series Pinot Noir 2022

 

This wonderful Pinot came from long-time growers Dwight and Arnie Gash’s Remuda Vineyard in Okanagan Falls.

Mary works with ripe dark fruit which she ferments in their concrete egg and stainless steel.

Aged a full year in French Oak Puncheons.

Your nose will love the aromas of raspberries and cherries.

The palate is fully engaged with assembled fruit and delicious undertones. When your mouth is not busy with the pinot, it will be forming the words “wow”!

800 cases made – available at both wineries and online.

$41.97

www.township7.com

 

Matt Widmer – Co-Founder of Wild Life Distillery  Canmore, Alberta

 

Matt and Keith Founders of Wild Life

Matt and his co-founding partner Keith Robinson grew up together in the neighbourhood.

In their case, the neighbourhood was Banff and Canmore, Alberta. Rundle Mountain was in between them but it all worked out.

In 2017 they decided to build a distillery in Canmore – they called it Wild Life.

Craft spirits became a reality – whisky, gin, vodka, amaro, canned cocktails, bitters, etc.

While I was covering the Victoria Whisky Festival I heard their name being dropped several times. Then I saw they had won Two Gold Medals.

Wild Life Rye Whisky – Gold

Wild Life Wheat Whisky – Gold

 

Now comes Batch 001 of Wild Life Single Malt Whisky…just released.

WLD uses all Alberta grains and malt, including barley, wheat and rye. Water in the Canmore area is directly sourced from the Rocky Mountains. A local family farm grows grain exclusively for Wild Life Distillery. They also have a direct source of Guttino Rye from the family farm they work with.

As you can see the Rye and Wheat Whiskies have proven themselves.

The new single malt has vanilla and citrus on the nose & ends with ripe apricot.

The palate has light oak, nice rounded barley, caramelized dark honey and toffee.

For a first step single malt this whisky is well worth the wait. It’s going to be very popular.

FYI – The distillery has a bar in the tasting room and new cocktails are being created every day.

The back room has become where Open Mics are regularly found. Matt and Keith are often doing the playing and singing. If you’re a touring artist, get in touch.

Wild Life is a distillery to add to your “check this out” list and for certain a destination for those of you passing through one of the most stunningly beautiful places on Earth.

Congratulations to all at Wild Life Distillery!

www.wildlifedistillery.ca

STORIES WE’RE WORKING ON

 

Vancouver Wine Festival

Focusing on Italy and BC

 

 

 

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

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Winter Wine Wars. Features on Orofino/Fort Berens

THE SHOW

 

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.

 

www.elysianprojects.com

 

 

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.

www.farris.com

 

WWW.WINEBC.COM

 

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.

www.winebc.com

 

 

 

 

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.

 

www.orofinovineyards.com

 

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.

 

www.fortberens.ca

 

STORIES WE’RE WORKING ON

 

Van Wine Festival

Township 7

Spring Releases

 

 

February 3rd, 2024 Making great whisky is serious business!

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This Years Winner. Last years winner. Plus Whitehorse and Edinburgh

 

THE SHOW

Making great whisky is serious business.

Whisky takes time. You can create it and leave it in barrel “while your kids grow up and head off to college” kind of time.

For example Paradigm Spirits -The Heritage Collection –  Whisky of the Year in Canada spent 19  years in barrel. Then along came friends and partners Michelle deBus and Irma Joeveer who were just beginning their whisky journey. They purchased the filled barrels to start Paradigm.

Then blended in some Oloroso Sherry and found a stunning balance between the corn whisky and sherry.

Davin de Kergommeaux Canada’s Whisky authority and founder of the Canadian Whisky Awards describes The Heritage as having

“sublime complexity and elegance with fresh fruity top notes”

 

This is a really nice story of people who dreamt a dream of making whisky and how it all lead to being named Whiskey of the Year in Canada. Besting 200 other whiskeys.

Our guests are Irma Joeveer and Michelle Debus

www.paradigmspirits.com

 

 

Bob Baxter – Two Brewers Whisky.  Whitehorse, Yukon

 At the Canadian Whisky Awards,  Two Brewers put on a show.

Two Brewers

Won Single Malt Whisky of the Year – Release 41

Won 3 Gold – Releases 41/36/37

Won 2 Silver  Yukon Single Malt Whisky  38 and 39

 

Bob has been on Tasting Room before and I was delighted to catch up with him again.

Bob Baxter – Yukon Brewing Spiked Seltzer

I like this man and his whisky.  They keep winning a number of awards in Canada and the World.  His attitude is…. we appreciate it but we have whisky to craft and that’s way more important. They’re brewers first and bring those smarts to their spirits. They also use some of the craft beer grains in their whisky making.

Bob is joined by his daughter Corey. She’s with the marketing department.

His son has joined the whisky makers.  It’s truly a family thing.

 

www.twobrewerswhisky.com

 

Rob Carpenter –  co-founder /  Calum Rae – Distillery Manager

Holyrood Distillery Edinburgh  (Old Town)

October 2023 Holyrood launches their 1st whisky Arrival. It’s one of the first single malt whiskies produced in Edinburgh in over 100 years.

Working in the cellar with Butts-Hogs Heads-Bourbon Barrels and Rum Barriques.

Playing with flavours eg: Heritage Barleys-Special Malts-Yeast Strains

Have a listen about their latest release on World Whisky Day 2023.  Lovingly called Mezcal Moonshine.

 

https://holyrooddistillery.co.uk/

James Lester – co-founder of Sons of Vancouver

Last years Canadian Whisky of the Year

Palm Trees and  a Tropical Breeze came from Sons of Vancouver Distilling.

They sent their whisky but stayed home. There was no way they would be named Whisky of the Year.

Well, a year later everything’s changed. For them and I think for Canadian Whisky. How they taste and how they’re marketed.

This year they won Gold with

Summer Road Trip Across the Midwest

Palm Trees and a Tropical Breeze

Desert Grass and Blue Agave

 

Won Silver with

Raiding Nona’s Liquor Cabinet

 

Love this company and their vision.  Making whisky and marketing it in a whole new way.

Changing the next generation of spirit makers.  Teaching their methods to those who want to sign up for classes.

Heads up – They sell out quickly!!  James explains the very best way to get your hands on their “expressions” before they’re gone.

James leaves us with a couple of teases of what’s coming up this year.

 

www.sonsofvancouver.ca

 

Congratulations also to Stillhead Distilling in Duncan. Winner of multiple Golds and 4 Bronze.  We’ll go find them for an interview asap.

 

www.stillhead.ca

 

STORIES WE’RE WORKING ON

 

A conversation about Alberta

And BC Wines.

 

Township 7

 

 

 

January 27th, 2024- Victoria Whisky Fest  & Canadian Whisky Awards

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Victoria Whisky Fest  & Canadian Whisky Awards

 

 

THE SHOW

  

“Friendship is like Whisky – the older the better”

 Yes, my friends its our annual trek to Victoria’s inner harbour for the 18th annual Victoria Whisky Festival and the Canadian Whisky Awards.

It was founder of the awards Davin de Kergomeaux who whispered in my ear wondering why I wasn’t attending or tasting or writing about his Whisky Awards.  On second thought I think the voice in my ear was me saying

Davin de Kergommeaux

“how could you possibly miss this?” just after I had missed the events about 6-7  years ago.

I knew almost nothing about Whisky but my thinking was the same as wine – 17 years ago – every interview is going to be a master class. Pay attention and you could learn all about wine and pass it on to the listeners.

 

I’m pleased to welcome to Tasting Room Radio –

 

Davin de Kergommeaux – founder of the Canadian Whisky Awards.

The Canadian Whisky Awards, held annually with the Victoria Whisky Festival, is the first and only competition dedicated solely to Canadian Whisky.

The Awards have become the first stop for whisky producers, distributors, retailers and fans looking for the very best Canadian whiskies.

Davin is the world’s leading authority on Canadian Whisky. He also has three books available on Canadian Whisky with a fourth coming in March!

Davin assembled 10 judges and sent them nearly 200 competing whiskies to blind taste.  Davin announces the winner in his interview. We talk to the winners next week.

 

www.canadianwhiskyawards.com

www.canadianwhisky.org

 

 

Dr. Graeme Macaloney PEng, PhD. – Macaloney’s Island Distillery (Saanich)

 

Proud owner of 5 world whisky awards including Worlds best Potstill – Kildara. They are a non-chilled, filtered, no colour added distillery.

In our 8-10 minute interview I think I asked 3 perhaps 4 questions – Dr Graeme handled the rest.

It was like a masterclass. A charming man in a Cameron Kilt.

He won Gold for his 54ppm Peat Project.

 

www.macaloneydistillers.com

 

 

Tish Harcus –  Manager Canadian Club Whisky  since 1988.  Canadian Club itself since 1858.

www.canadianclub.com

Tish Harcus

James Neil – Bowmore Distillery. The oldest distillery in Islay. On the shores of Lochindaal since 1779. Also home to one of the world’s oldest Scotch maturation warehouses – The No 1 Vault.

James poured Bowmore 22 Aston Martin

Bowmore Ultimate Rare Collection

www.bowmore.com

 

They took part in the Great Whisky Debate with

Micah Dew from Maker’s Mark.

Words flew, one liners were exchanged and they still remain long time friends. Micah was busy with a masterclass but we thank Tish and James for coming by.

www.makersmark.com

 

Chris Read –Shelter Point Distillery. Campbell River.

Distinctly Vancouver Island. Uniquely Shelter Point.

By the time Chris sat down we knew Shelter Point had won 2 Bronze medals for their Oak Cask Single Malt  (smoke, spices, honey, leather and a wiff of ocean)

Shelter Point Distillery wins big at Canadian Whisky Awards - My Comox Valley Now

and their flagship Evans Family Reserve.

(vanilla, tannins, dark chocolate, coconut, citrus, berries, cloves.)

Chris explained the unique influences in their island location. It was like poetry.

www.shelterpoint.ca

 

 

NEXT WEEK –

Rob Carpenter.  Holyrood(Edinburgh)

Calum Rae –  Holyrood Distillery Manager

Bob Baxter – Two Brewers Whitehorse.

Irma Joeveer and Michelle Debus –

Co-founders of Paradigm Spirits

London Ontario –

2022 Heritage Collection  Canadian Whisky of the Year

A 19 year old  cask strength single grain Whisky.

From already filled casks they bought to start their distillery. Their oloroso sherry blending was brilliant. “sublime complexity and elegance” (davin)

Made in the former Kellogg’s factory using some of the same grains for their future Whiskies.

What a story.

www.paradigmspirits.com

 

 

STORIES WERE WORKING ON

Van Wine Fest

Township 7

Fort Berens

The provincial politics of  BC Wine

 

 

 

 

January 20th, 2024 John Skinner: Painted Rock Wines & VJ Gandhi: making our wines available in USA.-

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John Skinner on his Painted Rock Wines /VJ Gandhi: making our wines available in USA.

 

THE SHOW

 

“If Painted Rock is going to compete with the best in the world we must have confidence in our terroir and allow it to express its uniqueness. That’s why we are 100% Estate.”  John Skinner

John Skinner

John Skinner

John Skinner and Valeria Tait planted Painted Rock  in 2006,  a year before we moved to the Naramata Bench. Even though there was no Painted Rock to taste when we arrived, it was one of the first wine names I heard in my ‘walk arounds’.

John was driven to make wines that would be appreciated all over the World but first he had to create it and then convince the wine world that it was worthy.

He has done so with Painted Rock.

Fires around Painted Rock

John’s Red Icon was named as a Decanter Wine of the Year in 2020.

Also this review from Jancis Robinson:  London

Painted Rock, Red Icon 2016 17 Points: “Like a very rich red Bordeaux. Very beautifully balanced. Long and velvety. Everything fully ripe but with good acidity too. Well balanced and very bright-fruited. Still youthful but promising for the long term. (RH) 14.9%” Drink 2020 – 2027

 

John takes us through his new releases and brings a stack of stories.

2020 Chardonnay  available for first time since 2019

2020 Merlot – dark and rich.

2020 Red Icon – classic blend

2020 Syrah – a jaw dropping gem

  www.paintedrock.ca

 

VJ Gandhi  – Founder of Kascadia Wine Merchants

It’s time to change the narrative to – North American wine.” – VJ Gandhi

For everyone who has family and friends in the USA asking how to get their hands on  wines from BC and other provinces, or Americans who discover wines North of the border that they really like, there’s someone now making our  best wines available in the US.

That someone is VJ Gandhi.

KASCADIA WINE MERCHANTS - Napa Valley Life Magazine

VJ Gandhi

Founder, VJ Gandhi is a proud Canadian citizen with epicurean taste, and her deepest passion yet has to be her love for the complexity in a glass of fine-tasting wine.

Over the course of her career in marketing and business management  VJ has developed, implemented and managed several large scale projects in finance and marketing for high profile organizations such as the Government of Canada, BC Provincial Government, and 2010 Olympic Games Secretariat.

VJ was inspired to market award winning Canadian vintages globally in the United States when  she’d moved to the San Francisco area in 2014. VJ and her trusted team of experts have carefully curated the Kascadia Wine portfolio over the years, which has now scaled to shipping in US states.

With the launch of the wine club, clients who are eager to savor exclusive, high quality wines from North America, including Canada and the Pacific Northwest are going to be impressed!

 

Today, her growing venture, Kascadia Wine Merchants, markets and sells Canadian wines across 45 US states.

 

www.kascadiawinemerchants.com

 

STORIES WE’RE WORKING ON

 

Fort Berens – New Releases

Township 7 – New Releases

Van Wine Festival

Victoria Whisky Festival.

 

 

 

 

January 13th, 2024- Wine, Whisky & Winter!

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Wine, Whisky and Winter

THE SHOW

 First Guest is Harry Hertscheg – Executive Director  45th Annual Vancouver Wine Festival

Harry-Hertscheg-

Acknowledged as the largest combined consumer and trade wine show in North America. Also one of the biggest and oldest in the World.  Not Harry…the festival.

The 45th festival will take place February 24 to March 3!

8 days with 42 events.

Harry takes us through some of the events including the California Wines Sun Fest Mingler and a public seminar.

The theme region is Italy. With an amazing 71 Italian wineries represented. In many cases attendees include winery owners and winemakers.

The Italians alone are featured in 22 events, 12 dinners, a public seminar, trade seminars , The Bacchanalia Gala, the Festival Toast, Awards Lunch and La Dolce Vita.

Daenna van Mulligen – The Wine Diva hosts one of two Gerard Bertrand wine events. Harry also advises us to watch  for the Global Cru and The Shape of Wine.

Daenna van Mulligen – The Wine Diva

Van Wine Fest have partnered with StayVancouverHotels.com..  Harry suggests “don’t just plan a couple of hours in the tasting room, make a wish list that covers a couple of days. Make a weekend of it.”

 

Details at www.vanwinefest.ca

 

Second Guest is Adam Bradshaw – Digital & Premium Experience manager at The Strath. (Victoria)

Victoria Whisky Festival.  Thursday Jan 18 to Sunday Jan 21.

 

Adam is also local ambassador for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Held annually at the Hotel Grand Pacific. The festival hosts four days of events including the

Canadian Whisky Awards. Grand Tastings, Masterclasses and consumer tastings.

Adam is personally presenting a single cask masterclass

Details at www.victoriawhiskyfestival.com

 

The third guest is Kimberly HundertmarkGeneral Manager Okanagan Wine Festivals

Kimberley Hundertmark

The 2024 Okanagan Winter Wine  Festival

  • Jan 20 . Winter Sips South. Penticton Trade and Convention Centre
  • Jan 20/21 TASTE Passport – District Wine Village Oliver
  • Jan 27 Winter Sips North. Revelry Food and Music Hub

 

News and Updates - Okanagan Wine Festivals

Kimberly  takes us through all of the events and the fun to be had. Why winter and wine go together. A great pairing.

The District Wine Village intends to become a great destination. Finish with lunch at Wards Kitchen.

ALL of the details  you need  can be found at www.thewinefestivals.com

 

STORIES WE’RE WORKING ON

Victoria Whisky Festival

Fort Berens

Celebrating Winter Whites

 

 

 

January 6th, 2024- Mike Grgich – His 1976 Napa Chardonnay in USA/France blind tasting in Paris was The Shot Heard Round the World.

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Mike Grgich – His 1976 Napa Chardonnay in USA/France blind tasting in Paris was The Shot Heard Round the World.

 

 

 

THE SHOW

 

Winemaker Mike Grgich died Dec 13th 2023.  He was 100 years old.

Mike Grgich Dies at 100; His Wine Stunned the French by Besting Theirs - The New York Times

Mike Grgich

This is his story,  as told to yours truly into a nasty microphone in the lobby of the Hotel Vancouver 2016.

He had just released his memoir A Glass Full of Miracles.

(Note – on his way from Croatia to Napa he travelled across the Atlantic and by train across Canada to Vancouver for a lumberjack job he had applied for. The job was gone by the time he reached the west coast. So,  Mike washed dishes until he heard of a winemaking job in Napa and straight south he went)

 

Steven Spurrier, a wine expert from England who ran a fine wine shop in Paris, decided it would be fun to organize a blind tasting to coincide with America’s Bicentennial celebrations in 1976. For the tasting, he gathered together the best French judges, the finest French wines, and to salute America on its 200th anniversary he added in a few wines from some upstart winemakers in California. Steven hoped the tasting would bring favorable attention to his wine shop. But he didn’t have any idea of the impact that his Bicentennial tasting would have on the world of wine.

André Tchelistcheff, along with Jim Barrett, had hand-carried an armload of California wines to Paris for the competition. The blind tasting was held at the InterContinental Hotel in the center of Paris. The morning competition was devoted to white wines and the afternoon was devoted to the reds. And Steven Spurrier brought together the very best white wines of Burgundy: a 1973 Meursault-Charmes, a 1973 Beaune Clos des Mouches, a 1973 Bâtard-Montrachet, and a 1972 Puligny-Montrachet Les Pucelles.

Alongside these French legends there was the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay crafted by Mike Grgich, and other Chardonnays from California that the French judges had never heard of either. The judges expected to sniff and gag when they tasted the California wines.

But it didn’t happen that way. The nine French judges blind tasted the white wines and graded each of them. The winner was the Chateau Montelena Chardonnay that Mike Grgich had made, with 132 points, the highest total scored of any of the wines, red or white, in the tasting. It was the champion! Then, to add insult to injury, the third and fourth places went to Chalone Vineyard and Spring Mountain Vineyard.

TRR Jan 6 Mike Grgich Part Two 1011

 

In the afternoon tasting of the red wines, the French judges gave their top ranking to Warren Winiarski for his 1973 Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon, beating the best wines of Bordeaux, among them a 1970 Château Mouton-Rothschild, a 1970 Château Haut Brion, a 1970 Château Montrose from Saint-Estèphe, and a 1971 Château Léoville-Las-Cases from Saint-Julien.

The judges were shocked as was Steven Spurrier.

Steven Spurrier

Upstarts from the Napa Valley had won both categories, against the very best wines of France. The French judges were speechless and a few tried to suppress the results, but without success. The following week, George Tabor’s story in Time magazine announced the American triumph, and it sent shock waves throughout the world of wine. Mike received the news that they had won by a congratulatory telegram from Jim Barrett in Paris. That was the first he learned that his wine was even in the competition.

Soon, though, the importance of what had happened began to sink in..

On July 4, 1977, Mike Grgich and Austin Hills, of the Hills Bros. Coffee Company, broke ground to start Grgich Hills Cellar, which from the start sold wines that were in high demand, based on Mike Grgich’s reputation as the winemaker who won the Paris Tasting. Gradually, the winery purchased 366 acres, spread over five vineyards within the Napa Valley, allowing all Grgich Hills wines to be produced solely from estate grown grapes. In recognition of that significant achievement, the winery changed its name to Grgich Hills Estate.

The California Wine Club | Napa Valley Winery | Grgich Hills Estate

The Paris Tasting revolutionized the wine world, establishing Napa Valley’s reputation as a world-class wine region! First, it shattered the myth that only French soil can produce world-class wines. For decades New World winemakers had all been stuck in that mindset and this finally broke through it.  Second, the victory pumped new energy into the California wine industry, particularly in the Napa Valley. Vintners were proud to be part of what was a revolution in American wine but they still had a long way to go. So they redoubled their efforts to make better wines each year.

California’s victory also inspired other winemakers in different parts of the world. Breaking the myth of French superiority gave new hope and energy to winemakers in South Africa, Italy, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, and even in Mike’s native Croatia. Now they joined the race to make world-class wines, and as the years unfolded California winemakers also shared with them their technology and know-how. As part of that effort, Mike returned to Croatia in 1996 and started a new winery in order to share what he had learned with young winemakers in his homeland.

George Taber, the Time magazine journalist who first reported the tasting, in 2005 wrote a detailed account of the event and its impact in his book, “Judgment of Paris: California vs. France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting That Revolutionized Wine.”

As a result of his historic contributions to making world-class wine in California, Miljenko “Mike” Grgich was inducted into the Vintner Hall of Fame in 2008.

 

A Hollywood version of this story  was actually true but not much.  It was called Bottleshock.

 

We salute the great Mike Grgich.

 

 

STORIES WE’RE WORKING ON

Fort Berens

Sons of Vancouver

Harry Hertscheg – Tales of the 2024 Van Wine Fest

Whisky specials coming

 

 

 

 

 

December 30th, 2023-Daenna van Mulligen – The Wine Diva brings the Best of Bubble 2023

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THE SHOW

It is a year-end tradition on Tasting Room Radio

Daenna van Mulligen – The Wine Diva – joins me for a rundown of her primary year lists.

daenna van mulligen – The Wine Diva

After tasting well over 1000 wines a year, Daenna compiles all of her notes and posts her “best of” categories.

Three weeks ago it was the   Top Wines of 2023. All 93 points or better.

Then, last week The top 100 wines of 2023 – all $25 or under and 88 points or better.

And just in time for New Year’s weekend, the final list features The Top Sparkling Wines of 2023.

Not only does Daenna bring her comprehensive tasting notes and reflections on the wines but we also get into a discussion about new breakout regions in the bubble world. They all have one thing in common.

Cool climate wines and that’s exactly what Canada is gaining an expanding reputation for.

 

Here is the list of sparkling wines we talked about.

The complete list can be found at www.winediva.ca and www.winescores.ca

 

CHEERS – Goodbye 2023.

Onward Friends

 

  1. Jansz Premium Cuvee Brut, Tasmania, Australia $45.00
  2. Taittinger Brut Reserve Champagne, France $76.99
  3. Taittinger ‘Prelude Grands Crus’ Champagne, France $115.00
  4. Taittinger ‘Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs’ Champagne, France $350.99
  5. Township 7 Vineyards and Winery ‘Seven Stars Vega’, British Columbia N/A
  6. Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars Brut Rose, Okanagan Valley $45.00
  7. Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars Reserve Brut Okanagan Valley BC $50.00
  8. Township 7 Vineyards and Winery ‘Seven Stars Sirius’, British Columbia N/A
  9. HIgh Note Estate Winery ‘Patter’ Brut, Okanagan Valley, BC N/A
  10. Jansz Premium Rose, Tasmania, Australia $45.00
  11. Gerard Bertrand ‘Papilou’, Petillant Naturel, Sud de France N/A
  12. One Faith Vineyards Fizz Rose Okanagan Valley, BC N/A
  13. Gigglewater Prosecco, Veneto Italy $25.00
  14. Gigglewater Prosecco Rose, Veneto, Italy $20.00.

15.Bartier Bros. Brut, Okanagan Valley, BC N/A

  1. Mayhem Wines Sparkling Rose, Okanagan Valley N/A
  2. Mayhem Wines Sparkling White, Okanagan Valley N/A
  3. Bartier Bros. Brut, Okanagan Valley, BC N/A
  4. Caves de Rauzan Cremant de Bordeaux Brut, Entre-Deux-Mers, France $25.00
  5. Villa Conchi Cava Brut Seleccion, Penedes Spain $20.99
  6. Louis Bouillot ‘Perle d’Aurore’ Cremant Brut Rose, Bourgogne, France $29.99
  7. De Chanceny Cremant de Loire Brut, Loire Valley, France $26.99
  8. Da Silva Vineyards and Winery ‘Isabella’ Frizzante, Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, BC N/A
  9. Bottega ‘Il Vino dei Poeti Rose Gold’ Brut, Italy $34.99
  10. Bernard~Massard ‘Cuvee de L’Ecusson’ Brut, Luxembourg $36.99
  11. Bottega ‘Il Vino dei Poeti Gold’ Prosecco Brut, Italy $34.99
  12. Marques de Monistrol ‘Monistrol Seleccion Especial’ Cava, Penedes, Spain $19.00
  13. Marques de Monistrol ‘Monistrol Seleccion Especial’ Cava Rose Brut, Penedes, Spain $20.00
  14. Haywire ‘Pink Bub’ Sparkling, Okanagan Valley BC $30.00 Win
  15.  Ferrari Brut Metodo Classico, Trentino, Italy $34.99

 

For the full story and bottle shots please go to  www.winediva.ca and www.winescores.ca

 

Happy New Year – May 2024 be healthy and happy!

Thank You Daenna. And a special Thank You to Associate Producer Corey Wood and Meg!!

 

 

 

STORIES WE’RE WORKING ON

Remembering Mike Grgich

Harry Hertscheg – Van Wine Fest. A Primer

Fort Berens. Releases

And lots more.