Tasting Room Radio

April 13th, 2024-2024 Spring Releases from Hillside Estate Winery and Bartier Bros


2024 Spring Releases from Hillside Estate Winery and Bartier Bros




It’s a very busy time in the BC wine world.

Firstly, April is BC Wine Month.  Vineyards are being examined to see what the deep freeze damage was and plans are being made to replant vineyards lost. Perhaps with entirely new varietals. Our second guest, Okanagan wine veteran Michael Bartier reveals his plan to replace the 17 vineyards he lost to the freeze.

To quote Michael “ I’ve stopped grieving”.  (more on Michael shortly)


Kathy Malone – Winemaker at Hillside Vineyard and winery/Exec Chef Evan Robertson Hillside Bistro (Naramata)

Hillside Winery Merlot Malbec and Heritage Series Cabernet Franc For Now and Later – MyWinePal

(Kathy Malone – Winemaker/Hillside Winery)

We start with Kathy Malone,  Winemaker at Hillside Estate Winery Naramata Bench.  Hillside was the third winery on The Bench so those vines have found their place in the deep soils. Hillside staff  are celebrating their 40th anniversary!


Hillside Winery – Scout Magazine

(Hillside Winery – Naramata Bench)

Kathy is joined by Hillside Bistro Executive Chef Evan Robertson. Chef pairs his new Spring menu  with the wines we taste and talk about. Such as:


2022 Heritage Muscat Ottonel – The Heritage series is dedicated to their history and the land, showing all the flavours and styles of the Naramata Bench. The graceful and thoroughly pleasing Ottonel never fails to surprise and find new fans. $26

2022 Heritage Pinot Gris.  Only the best vineyard blocks  are selected. Fermented in Tokay Hungarian Oak. 5 months of lees stirring. The wine and barrels are a perfect match. A top shelf white. Citrus notes, tropical fruit on the nose – full bodied due to 71% barrel fermentation.  $35

2023  Un-oaked Pinot Gris. White peach , granny smith and melon. Beautiful clean finish. A blend of four vineyards, all from Naramata Bench. $25

2022 Heritage Viognier.  The 2021 won an exclusive Platinum Award from Lt. Governors awards. The 2022 was a much cooler growing season. They created layers of texture with 24% fermentation in French Oak and time on lees in a concrete jarred. This is fine winemaking. Find this one.  $28

2020 Gamay Founders Block. Thanks to founder Vera Klokocka. She ignored  the advice given 40 years ago and hedged her bets by using “own roots” vines. That alone protects the vineyard from cold but today allows Hillside to regrow vines from the roots up. The roots seem to be able to take the deep freeze of  past years.

This Gamay is from the oldest Gamay vineyards in Canada. “cru” style Gamay spent 8 months in French Oak – one third new. $45

2021 Heritage Syrah. Syrah took a big hit these past two winters. Hillside still doesn’t know if they survived. The warm 2021 season created one of the best vintages from this block in years. From the Hidden Valley Vineyard. Planted in 2007, the year Tasting Room Radio started.  Syrah fans will love this release. $36

2017 Mosaic   The flagship wine of Hillside. The 2017 blend is 33% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 18% Malbec, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petit Verdot. Finished in 43% New French oak. Gloriously good. $70




Michael Bartier – co-founder of Bartier Bros Vineyard and Winery. (Black Sage/Osoyoos)

Bartier Bros Winery | Don and Michael

(The Bartier Bros – Don & Michael)

Michael has become one of BC’s wine leaders. Working his  winemaking way through Hawthorne Mountain, Road 13, Township 7, Okanagan Crush Pad, Michael now has his own vineyards and winery. Yes, there is another  brother – Calgary based Don.

Michael also consults many other vineyards.

Over the 17 years of Tasting Room Radio, Michael has become a mentor to me and the audiences through our interviews.

I was looking forward to talking to Michael about his 2024 Spring releases but also wanted his opinions on “the freeze damage”  of the past two winters.

He’s lost 17 vineyards. Seventeen!

In this interview he admits  “I stopped grieving”. I also wanted to hear his comments on the current Alberta/BC wine war.


Michael and I tasted and talked about these 2024 Spring releases….


2022 Riesling  To quote John Schreiner “Every wine Michael creates is meant to showcase the purity of the fruit.”   This is a beautiful wine. Outstanding nose and palate. Intense, crisp, stays complete through the finish. $22

2023 Rose.  All day. Every day. Perfect wine for the season ahead and then some $19

2023 Sauvignon Blanc From the Members Club. Wonderful blend of citrus and tropical flavours. A favourite $25

2022 Pinot Noir  Also from the members club $40  Rich and ripe  dark fruit with a whiff of dill on the nose. Well constructed tannins with scenes of  a  balance of fruit and minerality and a long delicious third act. Bravo!

2021  Granite  A brand new red blend.  53% Syrah. 32% Merlot. 12% Cab Franc 3% Cabernet Sauvignon.  From vineyards in Cawston, Golden Mile and Black Sage Terrace. 19 months in neutral French Oak before blending and bottling. 14.5 Alc.   $29.99


Piquette Rose – 4X355 ml Cans. Delicious. Perfect summer fun. Originally the wine workers drink. Made much better these days.

Piquette White – 4X355ml Cans. Easy to drink. Perfect for camping and backyard. Both $15.99




French Door

Anthony Buchannan

Painted Rock






April 6th , 2024- 7th Annual April is BC Wine Month-Buy B.C. Wine.


It’s the 7th Annual April is BC Wine Month

Seven Wine Stars on  why it’s time to Buy BC Wine. We can ALL help!






Christine Coletta – Co-founder  Haywire Wines (Summerland)

Grant Stanley –Winemaker/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

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

Tim Pawsey – Writer and Wine Judge (Hired Belly)

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


The BC Wine industry could use your support. This month would be good!

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

Farming and making wine is a long hard road during the growing season. However,  the past farming year was hit with wildfires, smoke, a December freeze that killed many vines and the MacDougall Creek Fire, one of the largest and most vicious 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 either go home or stay home.

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

The wineries, restaurants and accommodation businesses in the Okanagan lost weeks of prime-time sales.

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.


 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 online. Gift your friends. 

Also, the Spring Wine Festival is 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
  • TimothyPawsey
  • WineBC.com
  • Totabc.org



Spring Wine Releases


Bartier brothers

Anthony Buchannan

Painted Rock








March 30th, 2024Spring Releases – Tightrope (Naramata) & Bonterra Organic  (Mendocino)


Spring Releases – Tightrope (Naramata) and Bonterra Organic  (Mendocino)




Lyndsay O’Rourke – Winemaker at Tightrope Winery (Naramata Bench)

Lyndsay O'Rourke Tightrope Winery - Good Life Vancouver

(Lyndsay and Graeme O’Rourke)


Tightrope Winery is a small, family-run, sustainable winery on the Naramata Bench.

A true Labour of love for owners Graham (viticulturist) and Lyndsay O’Rourke (winemaker). Their vineyards on the Naramata Bench are farmed sustainably to make hand-crafted wines with artistry and passion. Tightrope wines capture the soul of Naramata – the personality, character, culture and fruit of “the Bench.”

Tightrope Winery, Naramata Bench - Visit Penticton

(tightrope winery)

Tightrope  is yet another story of a couple who discovered they both had a passion for wine and when given the self inspired opportunity  to become farmers and winemakers, they changed careers and homes to follow their dreams.

To those who seek such things, it should come as no surprise that their wines are completely  passionate and speak to your senses.


Top 10 small wineries in Canada – 2019.

Our interview with co-owner and winemaker Lyndsay O’Rourke will cover Tightrope Spring Releases..

2023 – Pinot Gris – 4 different vineyards. Notes of pear and grapefruit. Beautifully clean and dry. ( Lyndsay has prices in interview)

2023 – Rose . What a nice surprise to find 96% Pinot Noir and 4% Barbera which adds spice notes in the tasting experience.


2022 – Semillon. Single vineyard Gem.  100% Sem. Lemon zest. Grapefruit and minerality. Clean and crisp.

2023 – Viognier.  Two vineyards involved.  Ripe citrus notes, ginger. Dry and bright. Aged on lees for 3 months. French and Acacia Barrels. Worth it!!

2022 – Pinot Noir Rubis.  Destemmed not crushed. 3 weeks on skins. Then  French Oak – 30% new for 10 months. Cranberry. Strawberry. Spice. (Cellar for 2-10)

2022 – Pinot Noir Fleet Road. Complex vineyard management pays off. Ripe black fruit, plum. Leather. Some Oak. Impressive. (cellar 2-10 years)



Bonterra Organic Estates – Joseph Brinkley Director of Regenerative Farming/Benjamin Mitarakis Dir. of Trade Development (Mendocino)

Bonterra Organic Vineyards Continues to Advance Organically Farmed Wine | Minnesota Monthly

This taste and talk took place at Tap and Barrell Bridges on Granville island . The afternoon was part Spring release tasting and very much a talk about organic farming at Bonterra Organic Estates. America’s #1 Organic Winery.

The winery and vineyards over the years has been known as Fetzer Vineyards and had winemakers such as Paul Dolan and Bob Blue.

Vina Concha y Toro took control of Fetzer in 2011 and when they launched Bonterra they were well ahead of anyone else in Organic farming and wines.

Its taken years of education to raise the profile of organic wines. With the consumer and surprisingly with wine sales staff. Not just in Vancouver but everywhere.

Benjamin and Joseph spent several hours walking us through the farming process, the certification of the vineyards and their commitment to The Earth.

(Joseph Brinkley – TDM – Benjamin Mitarakis)

Our  energized  conversation covered most of the questions asked in the room but then we talked about “the wines”.

All the while we tasted the following Bonterra  Spring Releases..

2022 – Bonterra Organic Estates Chardonnay. 2 vineyards. One sandstone and the other volcanic rock. On Lees 6 months American Oak – third new. $24

Delightful Mendocino Chard. Light oak notes – nice finish and the price is right.

2021 – Bonterra Organic Estates Cabernet Sauvignon. Nice touch of Petit Syrah adds fine aromas. 40% new French oak. Raised toast levels lifts everything.

$25.  Dark ripe berries, lasting finish. Again, the price is right.


Not yet available but hopefully coming our way, we also tasted


2022 – Bonterra Estate Collection  (new) Chardonnay. Granny Smith, citrus, ripe pear. 50/50 oak  French/American. Brilliant nose.  Big hit!

2022 – Bonterra Estate Collection   (new) Cabernet Sauvignon. Butler Ranch Fruit. 100% French Oak.  40% new.

2022 – Bonterra Estate Collection  (new) (new) The Butler Red Blend. Butler Ranch Vineyards. 63% Syrah, 18 P Syrah, 12 Mourvedre,  6 Grenache and 1% Viognier. 14 months in French Oak (12 new).  Direct,  delicious and damn good.

Bonterra Certified: B Corporation/ Regenerative Organic Certified/Climate Neutral Certified/True Zero Waste Certified.




BC Spring Releases

Whisky Tales






March 23rd, 2024- VanWineFest with DJ Kearney and a reconnect with Sandra Oldfield




Our last segments of  2024 VanWineFest with DJ Kearney  and  a reconnect with Sandra Oldfield

The Vancouver International Wine Festival (#45) has come and gone but the interviews live on….for at least this week.

I’m joined by my third & final co-host, the one and only DJ Kearney.  Educator, mentor, leader, wine judge, black belt, speaker and wine director at Terminal City Club.

Deej is also the best friend a person could ever have. We all feel lucky to know her.

As I did with Kelcie Jones  and Michaela Morris,  I asked DJ to choose who she’d like to interview and spotlight.


Immediately she belted out….. “Justin Hall  – first Indigenous winemaker in the World”.

So  winemaker Justin Hall joins us from Nk’ Mip in Osoyoos.

And Stavros Kriaris Global Ambassador of Alpha Estate in Greece.

“I’ve been there and loved the winery and wines”

Justin Hall Nk’ Mip

Then I had the gall to ask “who do we close with Deej?”

DJ liberally yelled “Lets invite next years  feature theme region California

Bonterra Organic  Mendocino    (Gabriela Marble  Export manager)

Robert Mondavi   Napa    (Kurtis Ogasawara, Director of Winemaking)

Signorello Estate   Napa Valley Golden Mile (Ray Signorello – Owner. North Shore guy)

Ray Signorello










Sandra Oldfield –  Elysian Projects / Tourism Leader

Sandra Oldfield  (Elysian Projects)

Many of you know Sandra from her over 20 years at Tinhorn Creek. Winemaker, co-owner, helped to establish BC’s first sub-appellation – The Golden Mile Bench.  In 2017 Sandra and husband Kenn started Elysian Projects, a beverage/tourism consulting company. Sandra named one of Canada’s Top 100 Powerful Women of 2016.  She co-founded the Fortify Conference and  is in the BC Restaurant Hall of Fame.

Sandra embeds herself into the dialogue of today’s BC Wine Industry , she’s natural leader.

We met in Victoria, just before a 3 day tourism conference kicked off. There was much to talk about at the conference.  In addition,  there were a number of issues Sandra and I had to talk about for the podcast. The on going BC/Alberta wine clash. What can tourism do to help the wine industry through this very tough year?  The loss of considerable vineyards to cold snaps and who speaks for the small farmer?

Sandra finished the interview with a story about several boxes that arrived at her house. Sent from Alberta to BC.

The question is/was “what’s in the boxes and why should we care?”

We welcome back Sandra Oldfield.









New Spring Release Feature Wines

Tightrope – Naramata

Hillside Winery – Naramata

Winemakers Cut (South Okanagan)

Orofino – Similkameen

Bartier Brothers

Painted Rock

March 16th, 2024- 45th VanWineFest TRR Part 2 – 10 Italians and a Turyk!




Featuring guest hosts and wine specialists  Kelcie Jones and Michaela Morris.

TDM. Kelcie Jones co-host – Ermes Scardova (Ermete) and Beatrice Schiavio (Marchesi di Barolo)

The feature region of the 2024 Vancouver International Wine Festival was Italy.

There were  71 wineries representing 13 different Italian regions, from Sicily in the far south to Trentino-Alto Adige in the north.
There were hundreds of autochthonous grape varieties and each region has its own mix of varieties, wine styles, and food and wine culture!

So much history and passion wrapped up in Italian wines. Italian winemakers and owners know that Canada has its own history of embracing the wines of Italy.

No matter what the region.

When I asked Kelcie Jones and Michaela Morris to consider co-hosting with me, I also asked who would they like to invite for the interviews.

Kelcie is the co-founder of This is Wine School and the Sommelier of the Year 2023.

Kelcie looked forward to talking with

Beatrice Schiavio –  Marchesi di Barolo. The first Barolo was created in their cellars.

Thomas Jefferson was an early fan. The King of Wines. The Wine of Kings.


Ermes Scarova.  Medici Ermete.   Growing vineyards and creating wines since 1890. Not just any wine but a sensational  CRU of Lambrusco: Concerto

 Next comes the charming Daniel Grace – the American owner of Il Molino di Grace

In the very heart of the Chianti region. Producing world-class wines for 350 years.

Urs Vetter – from Vietti.   Formed 150 years ago in the very heart of the Langhe at the highest point of the medieval village of Castiglione Falletto. It’s still there today.

What followed were beautiful Arneis, Moscato, Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo, Barbaresco and many  Barolo.

tdm – Michaela Morris- Daniel Grace. Katie Nussbaum. Sebastiano De Ferrari  Vanwinefest 2024

Unsworth Vineyards – Cowichan Valley Vancouver Island.  Chris Turyk.. marketing and family member.  If you listen to Tasting Room radio you know Chris Turyk.

Chris Turyk – Unsworth (Cowichan Valley)

Every region needs a spokesperson. Chris is the leading voice of the Cowichan Valley Wineries.

Unsworth leads by example.


Michaela Morris becomes the co-host in the second half of this Tasting Room Radio.


Michaela is a fully acknowledged leader in Canada’s wine world.

She’s an educator, mentor, sought-after wine judge and gifted writer. (Decanter)

Michaela had just returned from Tuscany.

Michaela invited

Katia Nussbaum Owner of San Polino.  Vineyards were created early in the  10th century. As of 1581 it was owned by the Montalcino Hospital, Santa Maria della Croce. The olive trees planted in 1581 are still standing.

Then Sebastiano De Ferrari. The owner of Boscarelli sits in.

Michaela and I then welcome

Barbara De Rahm from Marziano Abbona and

Stefano Inama – Inama Wines  Owner and family member – perhaps the finest producer of Soave!!

Stefano brings his son along for the chat.


Thank you, Kelcie and Michaela!!  Thank you, Meredith and Harry!!






Van Wine Fest Part Three

  • with DJ Kearney
  • Tightrope Winery  New Releases.
  • BC/Alberta  Wine Wars


March 9th, 2024-The 45th VanWineFest Part One


The 45th VanWineFest Part One



The press release says: It’s the largest combined consumer and trade wine show in North America. And one of the biggest and oldest in the World.  From Feb 24 to March 3. Eight days, 42 events, 12 countries,  149 participating wineries, 71 from feature region Italy, 1, 150 wines, 800 in the tasting room and over 18,000  wine fans expected to attend all events.

So…..how does one guy with one microphone cover something like that?  You don’t!!

Can’t be done without a huge team but if you plan carefully and do your homework, surround yourself with wine friends who bring their own beliefs on wine and winemakers, then you might get something captured.

I’m so pleased to announce that with the help and smarts of the following friends & experts we managed to do 22 interviews with winemakers and principals from Italy, Greece, Washington, California, Spain, France and BC.

Thank you to Meredith Elliott – Communications and Marketing manager.  Grace under pressure.

Harry Hertscheg – Solid Support.

Harry Hertscheg (sip mag)

Our co-hosts are:

Daenna Van Mulligen – The Wine Diva. Writer, speaker, judge and popular reviewer.

Michaela Morris –  educator, judge, speaker and wine writer (Decanter)

Kelcie Jones – Best Sommelier 2023, educator, consultant and founder of This is Wine School

DJ Kearney – Director of Wine at  Terminal City Club, wine educator at large. Legend.

This first Tasting Room Radio will feature opinions and comments from

Terry and Daenna

Daenna Van Mulligenwww.winediva.ca Has travelled the wine world. Knows many winemakers in the room.

Hosted a sold-out feature seminar on Gerard Bertrand Winery.

Blue Grouse Estate Winery – Michael Abbott – New GM (Cowichan Valley)

Burrowing Owl Estate Winery – Stephen Neumann – Brand Ambassador (Oliver)

Le Vins Bonhomme –  Nathalie Bonhomme. (founder/winemaker) Originally from Montreal. Now making wines for her label –  in Spain and France.

Nathalie Bonhomme-lesvinsbonhomme

House of Smith – Donal Black VP – Int. Sales. A new gathering of Charles Smith Wines. K Vintners, Substance, Sixto, Golden West etc. (Washington)

Charles Smith – House of Smith

Harry Hertscheg – Executive Director VIWF.  The man who dreams the dream and leads the team.

Bench 1775 – Richard Kanazawa (Winemaker)  Naramata Bench. Fabulous winemaker

Osoyoos LaRose – Michael Kullmann   CEO/Winemaker (Osoyoos) Great discussion between these two. Consistently fine wines.















NEXT WEEK – All Italian wineries (except for Unsworth.)

Co-Host Kelcie Jones  

Marchesi di Barolo

Medici Ermete

Il Molino di Grace




Co-host Michaela Morris

San Polino


Maziano Abbona



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



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.



 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.




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.



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.



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.




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!


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




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

Sandra Oldfield – Partner Elysian Projects and Organizer/Founder  of  Fortify Conference.

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.


 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. 

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








Timothy Pawsey





Spring Wine Releases


Painted Rock

Clos du Soleil

Anthony Buchanan Wines

French Door Winery


Sons of Vancouver

Wild Life Distillery










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


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


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.




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!




Vancouver Wine Festival

Focusing on Italy and BC




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.






Van Wine Festival

Township 7

Spring Releases