Friday, May 25, 2012

EAT! Vancouver - Food + Cooking Festival

This year's edition of Eat! Vancouver, the 10th annual, runs from Friday, June 1st through Sunday, June 3rd at the newly renovated BC Place Stadium (I assume the roof will be closed). Be sure to visit the tasting room and stop by the Grapes and Hops Presentation Stage where I will be joining The Wine Diva onstage for a few guided tastings of BC and International wines.

Saturday, June 2nd
BC Wine: What's in your Glass @2:45pm
Wine 101: Just the Basics @4:15pm

Sunday, June 3rd
BC Wine: What's in your Glass @12:30pm
Wine 101: Just the Basics @2:00pm

Click the link to the Grapes and Hops Presentation page above to view the full stage schedule.

Tickets to enter Eat! Vancouver are $16 per adult at the door but you can save an extra $2 if you purchase online here. Hope to see you there!
 - Liam Carrier

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Winery Spotlight: Stoneboat Vineyards

Follow the signs off Highway 97 or Black Sage Rd and you'll weave you way down the bench to the small-ish corrugated metal and wood beam framed Stoneboat tasting room. Inside the minimalist inspired room you'll find a long glass bar where friendly staff and family members are eager to pour their wines and a polished grand piano at which, if your lucky, one of the Martiniuk kids may be seated and playing. Stoneboat is the ultimate family owned and operated boutique winery which proportionately only makes-up a small amount of the overall business including a nursery and vineyards which supply grapes to many Okanagan producers.

The winery focuses on only a few, very well-made wines that the family believe showcase the unique qualities of the various South Okanagan vineyards under their management. About half of the fruit they grow is sold off leaving the family with Pinot Noir, Pinotage, Pinot Gris and a host of Alsatian and Germanic varietals which are used to create their proprietary white blend "Chorus".

Eclectic Credentials
The Stoneboat crew may not be overtly kooky or eccentric, but their diverse ventures and interests beyond winemaking does ratchet up their eclectic cred. You can talk to the Martiniuks about any number of subjects and expect an insightful response sprinkled with wry humour and sibling rivalry. Asking manager Tim about the white tower of academia in the presence of twin brother and winemaker Jay is like purchasing a ticket to a Smothers Bros concert. Of course, try the terrific wines while you enjoy the show.

Key wines to try:
Pinot Noir

 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2012

Friday, May 18, 2012

Winery Spotlight: Fairview Cellars

Describing the wines of Fairview Cellars is a little like describing the man behind the winery, proprietor and winemaker Bill Eggert: lively, intense, charming with layers of discreet refinement and a whole lot of outward character. The winery is located at the northern end of the Golden Mile Bench’s alluvial fan, just outside of Oliver and its unique terroir produces cool-climate Cabernets with impressive ripeness and complexity. The signature wines are Cabernet Sauvignon-based red blends that, should they accompany you home, will make a proud and lengthy addition to your cellar or wine rack as they are built to age gracefully. For directions and contact information (occasionally appointments are needed) visit

Eclectic Credentials
Conversations in the small, wood-cabin tasting room, decorated with nostalgia and fan-written poetry, can range from the government’s enforcement of tax collecting to intricate details of how Cabernet Sauvignon responds to the unique terroir of the Fairview site through to the lack of depth on the Canucks blue line. Anything goes and opinions are free of charge. Repeat patronage will be rewarded with samples of rare library wines normally reserved for the wine lists of BC’s top restaurants and which serve the added goal of showcasing the developing longevity of BC reds. You may be asked to taste these blind and you’d be wise to subtract 5 years to your vintage guess to score a second pour. A visit to Fairview cellars is sure to be memorable.

Key wines to try:
The Bear
Two Hoots
Sauvignon Blanc

 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2012

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Winery Spotlight: Hidden Chapel Winery

The folks behind Hidden Chapel Winery, including the owners, Lanny Kinrade and Deborah Wilde, and the host of family and friends credited on the winery’s website, are all down to earth people and completely unpretentious. Rich with a diverse background of previous careers and experiences, it is mutual love of wine and adventure that turned the dream of opening a winery into a reality. A visit to the North Oliver winery will ignite everyone’s inherent appreciation for family-run small businesses: they are happy to see you. Tour the small grounds that are lovingly gardened stopping at the wine cave and namesake chapel for photo ops.

Eclectic Credentials
Clocking in at only 1400 cases total production with a portfolio that includes 3 red blends, 1 white blend, a rose with two names and 4 single red varietal releases, this is a boutique winery with a capital ‘B’. The first publicly available vintage, 2009, is still on sale and makes up the bulk of the available product with new 2010 reds being released soon. Clearly the winery is still trying to work-out what works best with their terroir and the grapes they source each year and there’s something sweet about this experimentation/coming-of-age being all on display that is honest and charming. Taste the full line-up and choose the ones you like best, pass on the rest – simple as that. You won’t regret stopping for the visit and you’ll likely love at least one of their many wines.

Key wines to try:
Cabernet Sauvignon
Malbec (just released)

 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2012

Thursday, May 10, 2012

BC Wine Deal: May 10th, 2012

The following wines have been reduced in price at participating VQA wine shops and BCLDB stores.

Calliope Figure Eight 2010 was $19.99 is now $17.99
Chaberton Gewurztraminer was $15.99 is now $13.99
Dunham & Froese Amicitia Red was $27.91 is now $25.99
Gehringer Dry Riesling was $14.99 is now $12.99
Inniskillin Zinfandel was $29.99 is now $25.99
Kraze Legz Black Bottom Stomp was $31.89 is now $28.85
Kraze Legz Charleston Chardonnay was $22.90 is now $19.85
Kraze Legz Pinot Blanc was $22.90 is now $18.85
Kraze Legz Speak Easy Rose was $22.90 is now $19.85
Larch Hills Gewurztraminer was $16.40 is now $14.90
Larch Hills Madeline Angevine was $15.40 is now $14.90
Larch Hills Marechal Foch was $16.40 is now $14.90
Larch Hills Marechal Foch Reserve was $19.40 is now $16.40
Larch Hills Ortega was $16.40 is now $14.90
Larch Hills Siegerrebe was $16.40 is now $14.90
Prospect Fats Johnson Pinot Noir was 17.99 is now $16.99
Noble Ridge Pinot Noir was $27.90 is now $24.90
Sumac Ridge Cabernet/Merlot was $14.99 is now $13.99
Sumac Ridge Gewurztraminer Private Reserve was $14.99 is now $13.99
Sumac Ridge Merlot Private Reserve was $15.99 is now $14.99
Sumac Ridge Sauvignon Blanc Private Reserve was $13.99 is now $12.99
Summerhill Cipes Pinot Noir Brut was $29.95 is now $24.95

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

3rd Annual Vinos Wine Film Festival

This year there are $16,000 in cash prizes and wine packages to be won. A huge increase thanks to a new partnership with the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association. The contest is open to amateurs and professionals alike who are encourage to dream big, and produce a video about your favourite BC winery or anything to do with BC wine or Wine Tourism. For inspiration check out the work of previous finalists at

The deadline to submit your video is June 1, 2012 so get a move on!

 The Prizes
The Vinos “Wine Video” Awards, presented by SUN FM radio:
  • First Place: $5000 in cash and wine
  • Second Place: $2000 in cash and wine
  • Third Place: $1000 in cash and wine
The Vinos “Wine Tourism Video” Awards, presented by Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association:
  • First Place: $5000 in cash and wine
  • Second Place: $2000 in cash and wine
  • Third Place: $1000 in cash and wine
The “People's Choice Video Award”, presented by Wineries Refined:
  • $1000 in cash and wine

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Banée 2012 - Pig Out!

The 2012 edition of the Banée festival gets underway this weekend and includes a massive pig roast open to the public and featuring the wines of the 24 member wineries of the Oliver/Osoyoos Wine Country association. Stroll the grounds of Covert Farms as you sample the efforts of local chefs pairing various incarnations of roasted pork with the fabulous wines of the South Okanagan. The event takes place on Saturday, May 5th from 1pm until 4pm. Tickets available here.

Wineries in attendance: Black Hills, Burrowing Owl, Cassini Cellars, Castoro De Oro, Church and State, Covert Farms, Desert Hills, Fairview Cellars, Gehringer Brothers, Hester Creek, Hidden Chapel, Inniskillin, Jackson Triggs, Moon Curser, Nk'Mip, Oliver Twist, Platinum Bench, Quinta Ferreira, River Stone, Road 13, Rustico, Silver Sage, Stone Boat and Tinhorn Creek.

Monthly Picks: May 2012

Reports from the Okanagan are sounding positive about an early Spring start and less winter damage than in previous years. Time to celebrate with a list full of tasty new releases.

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards 2011 Pinot Gris - $18
Despite the lower alcohol than in recent years (13.9% in both 2010 and 2009) the 2011 release is fuller with a creamier texture on the dry palate. A touch of residual sugar adds some weight, but the richness seems to come from the concentrated and flavourful fruit.
Icon Score

Stag's Hollow Winery 2011 Syrah Rosé - $19
The dry palate is very well balanced with the acid nicely off-setting the rich, textured red fruit and enhancing the mineral flavours. The blend of 91% Syrah, 5% Viognier and 4% Muscat adds complexity and supports flexible food pairing options.
Icon Score

La Frenz Winery 2011 Sauvignon Blanc - $22
Year-in, year-out the La Frenz Sauv Blanc is a top medal winner. The 2011 release may be their best yet with a rich offering of citrus and tropical fruit flavours and aromas. The balance is nearly perfect.
Icon Score
Black Widow Winery 2011 Oasis - $22
Hopefully your patio or deck will see some sun soon. If yes, pour this lovely blend of Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Schonburger.

JoieFarm 2011 Riesling - $23
If you like a bit of sweetness in your Riesling, but only when it is perfectly balanced with the appropriate level of crisp acid, than this is the Riesling you'll want to try this Summer.
Icon Score

River Stone Estate Winery 2010 Cabernet Franc - $27
Remarkably different from the sweetish 2009 release at 14.5%, the 2010 delivers a lovely, aromatic and spicy nose of berry fruits, violets, spice box, warm rocks and light oak aromas.
Icon Score