Cedar Creek Vineyards

Graham Nordin GM/Taylor Whelan Winemaker

The Okanagan is trending.

The region has always attracted Social Media blasts but  this trending is different.

Our three Okanagan stories this week are about Cedar Creek, one of the first wineries in the valley but one that’s going through a transition to organic and new winery buildings are taking shape. It also has new leadership.

In February 2014, the Fitzpatrick family announced the transfer of ownership of CedarCreek to the Von Mandl family.  With this, two of the region’s pioneering winemaking families came together over a shared vision for the future of the Okanagan Valley.

On our way to The Judgement of BC a while back..we stopped at Cedar Creek and received a brisk tour through the cellars, the new tasting room  and Home Block,  their sublime  restaurant that was nominated  to EnRoute Magazines list of best restaurants in Canada.

General Manager Graham Nordin runs a tight ship and Taylor Whelan continues his role as Winemaker.  Both join us on TRR.

Are they on the right track?  Well, Cedar Creek has been named InterVin Winery of the Year for 2019.  They know exactly what they’re doing.

(FYI – Taylor Whelan will join us on next week’s special The Science of Wine)


Phantom Creek Estates

Santiago Cilley  CEO

One of the biggest stories in all of Canadian wine circles is the purchase of prime vineyards and the rise of a stunning new winery.   Phantom Creek Estates in the South Okanagan will cost around $100 Million when it’s finally complete. Does that speak to you about the future of BC wine?

Phanton Creek Cellar

It began in 2016 with the purchase of the legendary vineyards of the late Harry McWatters and vineyard whisperer Richard Cleave.

Driven by a love of Bordeaux-style wine, Richter Bai purchased the  Becker and Phantom Creek Vineyards.

The stated object of all this commitment is not to just be another winery on the Okanagan but rather…

setting the benchmark in Canadian viticulture and winemaking.  Phantom Creek’s estate vineyards are now in transition to organic and biodynamic farming practices. We’ve got a foot firmly rooted in the past with our vision to the future.”

Phantom Creek Estates on the Black Sage Bench announced the appointment of Santiago Cilley as chief executive officer, and Francis Hutt as winemaker.

Santiago Cilley CEO

Phantom Creek Estates will specialize in single vineyard Bordeaux reds, Alsatian whites and the Okanagan’s benchmark varieties of Syrah and Viognier.


Santiago  started his wine career working for Jackson Family Wines in California.  After 9 years Cilley relocated to Chile to lead the renaissance of certified sustainable Via Wines.

Cilley launched the exclusive Alejandro Bulgheroni Estate in St. Helena, Napa and oversaw Zinfandel pioneer Renwood Winery in the Sierra Nevada Foothills along with Bounty Hunter Rare Wines & Spirits.

Santiago Cilley is our guest  and has the latest on Phantom Creek. They open their doors to the public  in 2020.

District Wine Village

Matt Kenyon

Matt Kenyon – GM Greyback Construction

Mike Daley – Director of Operations

Mike Daley

The first true wine village in Canada. Located in the heart of the South Okanagan, the Village will be surrounded by vineyards and home to 16 artisan producers. Will also include a 600 person performance area.  Perfect!!

The first village of its kind in Canada, District Wine Village will bring small-batch wine, beer, cider and spirit producers together alongside unique music and culinary experiences, all in one exceptional South Okanagan location.

They’re building as fast as they can.

 Like a dream come true.

 Matt Kenyon is the fourth generation, general manager of Greyback Construction, a family-run construction firm based in Penticton, BC.

Dedicated to supporting local communities, businesses and initiatives.

Mike Daley grew up in Kelowna   Mike’s wife  and  father in-law started Okanagan Vineyards Winery in the late 80’s (back when there was only 11 wineries in our province).  They were acquired by Vincor in 1996 and Mike became the Director of Operations for Western Canada.

He  successfully created BC Cider’s  business plan, built the Cidery  and created the brand Broken Ladder. This past spring Matt & Greyback construction approached Mike  with the idea of building  a wine village in the Okanagan and in 6 short months their  plan is coming to fruition.

Chef Bill Jones – Author of 12 books, many on foraging & mushrooms.

Chef Bill Jones

We return again to Deerholme Farm in The Cowichan Valley.

I set my seasonal clock by Bill Jones.

During walks in the forests on the  west coast, this year I’m seeing a tonne of mushrooms..of every stripe and shape.  My inner me says “it’s time to talk to Bill”


Bill Jones is the owner / chef at Deerholme Farm.   Bill has  an amazing array of experiences behind him. Bill has cooked in Michelin-starred restaurants in France and England.

He is also a renowned author and expert on the foods of the Pacific Northwest. Bill’s unique specialty is wild foods from the forest, fields and oceans. Many people have visited the farm and Bill’s  goal is to leave them with knowledge, good nourishment and a little happiness.

  • Local Seasonal Food Dinners (mushrooms, French country cooking, etc)
  • Hands-on Cooking Classes
  • Wild Food Forages in the spring and fall

Bill will walk us through the mushrooms  for foraging  during December and how to serve them. He’ll also  give you a heads up on the Death Cap Mushroom..which has had a banner year out there and has already claimed one life and several pets.

death cap

(There’s a photo on this site..check it out)

Bill also tells us about  gearing up for his amazing local truffle dinners.

Truffle Dinner I – December 14th ($125)

Truffle Dinner II – December 21st ($125)

Bill’s latest book is the Deerholme Vegetable Cookbook (Touchwood Editions, 2015) following up the successful Deerholme Foraging Book  and the Deerholme Mushroom Book (Touchwood Editions, 2014, 2013).

He’s a local legend. If one of his famous themed farm-to-table dinners is on, drop everything and go—it’s likely to be the best meal in the province that night. Local food with foraged wild fare and global technique make for revelatory plates like Chanterelle and prawn toast with hazelnut sate sauce.” Vancouver Magazine


The Science of Wine

-Mission Hill

-Cedar Creek

-Martin’s  Lane

-Road 13


Wine gifts.

November 23rd, 2019 – A Tasting of Wines from Italy- Year 16!



A Tasting of Wines from Italy  –   Year 16 !  

 The Show

Depending on who you tallk to, Canada is either the 5th or 4th largest importer of Italian wine in the World.

We flat out love Italian wines.

Doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s :


  • Arneis
  • Pecorino
  • Pinot  Bianco
  • Pinot Grigio
  • Trebbiano-Abruzzese
  • Verdicchio
  • Vermentino


  • Barbera
  • Corvina
  • Dolcetto
  • Negro Amaro
  • Primitivo
  • Nebbiolo
  • Nero d’Avola
  • Sangiovese
  • Aglianico

 They come from every part of this fabulous country:

  • Puglia
  • Sicily
  • Tuscany
  • Veneto
  • Piedmont
  • Asti
  • Barolo
  • Barbaresco
  • Alba
  • La Morra
  • Sienna
  • Chianti

And  then there’s the hottest star of the show – Prosecco.

 Italians don’t just sip wines.  Every Italian wine has to pair with Italian food.  Plain and Simple.

That fact and the work of time has made their wines into liquid art.

Even though they don’t push the organic branding as much as other countries, many Italian farmers, growers and owners have always grown organically.

My co-host for this Italian Special is Michaela Morris.


tdm and Michaela

Michaela  is an international wine writer, educator, judge and speaker based in Vancouver  with frequent engagements in Italy. Besides writing for several Canadian publications including Taste and Quench, Michaela contributes to Meininger’s Wine Business International and Decanter online and print magazines.

Michaela devotes much of her time traveling to wine regions around the globe and speaks English, French and Italian.

She saved me time and time again – with pronunciations, translations and introductions.

She knew most of the wine people pouring on the day.  I got to ride shotgun and this show was better for it.

Thank you Michaela. Impressive work.

The annual 16th A Tasting of Wines from Italy event is organized by the Italian Trade Commission and co-hosted  by the Consulate General of Italy.   The event was  also held in Calgary (16th edition) and in Toronto and Montréal (24th edition).


Alessandro Guagliardi Export Manager TRAVAGLINI GIANCARLO – Piedmont

Giovanni Silvestri CASALE DEL GIGLIO – Lazio

Ida Savoia Export Manager IL POGGIO VINI – Campania

Patricia Mejia Export Manager FIRRIATO – Sicily

Federica Pecorari Owner LIS NERIS – Friuli

Matthew Fleming, North American Brand Manager MALVIRA’ – Piedmont

Nicola Guidi (Guidi Owner) – Tuscany

Carmen David D’Onofrio  (managing partner) Stile Brands

Matthew Landry – Stable House Bistro.  Sommelier of the Year


Bill Jones – Foraging Mushrooms

Touring Cedar Creek

A primer on Phantom Creek

The Science of Wine

November 16th, 2019- TOP DROP 2019



The press release came in loud and clear.

For the very first time Top Drop was coming to Victoria.

Frankly, that’s all I needed to know.

I’ve been happily covering this small wildly successful wine gathering for
Six Years but Top Drop in Victoria is a whole other event. Why? Because
Victoria is a great wine town.

TOP DROP is Vancouver based so they needed a Victoria Host. Turns out the
Vessel crew have been watching this independent, craft wine festival seed
and grow in Vancouver, and spread to Calgary in 2018. This was their year to
launch it in Victoria for ONE DAY .

Victoria International Marina

Top Drop is an opportunity to celebrate authenticity in farming, terroir
and wine, with winery principals from around the globe.

Mirroring Top Drop Vancouver and Calgary’s flagship experience, the public
event is a walk around, grazing-style tasting where attendees enjoy sips
and stories from the principals of international and local wineries. There
has never before been a wine tasting of this scope and caliber in Victoria.

For me and TRR, the voice and face of Top Drop has always been Kurtis Kolt.
Wine educator and Wine writer for the Georgia Straight.

Kurtis and TD

Because of the foul weather, Kurtis and his partners were delayed in
Vancouver and could not attend while I was there.

Once again Kurtis Kolt and his partner Jeff Curry and a sensational team
have convinced some of the very best winemakers to pour at Top Drop.

What they have in common is craft and care!

In Kurtis’ column in the Georgia Straight he said this:

“Each year, our process begins the same. Our team casts out a wide net to
British Columbia-based importers and wineries, asking for winery
applications to participate in the event. First and foremost, Top Drop
wineries must fit with our general philosophy: that wines, indeed, express
terroir or offer a sense of place.

Whether we’re talking vines grown in mineral-rich soils or under
cool-climate growing conditions bringing bright acidity or in sun-drenched
regions offering generous, opulent fruit and so on, we want those elements
to be notable in the glass and for them to have arrived there authentically,
rather than via heavy-handed additions in the winery.

Sustainable farming is also key. There is a high priority on those who
employ these methods while farming their own fruit or who work with growers
who fit the mold.”

Winemaking Guests in Victoria:

(Check them out – Winners All!!)

Ross Borland Managing Partner/Vessel Liquor Victoria

Mitch Renaud Asst manager Vessel Liquor Victoria

Rhys Pender (MW) Little Farm/Similkameen Valley

Angus Thomson Urlar/ Gladstone NZ

Kelsey Rufiange – Echo Bay/OK Falls

Grant Biggs – Kitsch wines/Kelowna

Tyler Knight = Lightening Rock/Summerland

Larry Gerelus – Stags Hollow/OK Falls

Michael Shindler – A Sunday in August/Similkameen Valley

Dan Wright – Unsworth/Cowichan Valley


Bill Jones  (Deerholme Farm) – Foraging.  How, where and when.

Italian Winemakers  pour in Vancouver (co-host Michaela Morris)

The new Cedar Creek

Phantom Creek Rises.

UnCorked! A Celebration of the Science of Wine featuring

Mission Hill. Cedar Creek. CheckMate. Martin’s Lane. Road 13








 The Wines of British Columbia were put to the ultimate test at the final Judgment of BC on Tuesday, October 29, where special guest and wine expert Steven Spurrier joined 32 top wine professionals from around the world and across the country to take part in a full-day, blind tasting of 24 of BC’s celebrated grape varieties; Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah against 16 international benchmarks.

I was honoured to be one of 32 wine judges in the room on the day.

Trust me, it was/is a humbling experience tasting wines “blind” and have a sheet in front of you that asks you to decide whether the wine is from BC or The World.

Your nose, your mouth,  your mind plays tricks on you.

For each varietal there were 6 from BC and 4 benchmarks from around the world.

We started with Pinot Noir, then Chardonnay.

Following that grueling morning we all headed for lunch and lots of talk about what was to come.

The afternoon was spent tasting and spitting Riesling and Syrah.

Paperwork was furiously filled out and collected.  DJ Kearney, the moderator and people wrangler asked for comments about what we had just experienced. Everyone seemed to have a comment, especially those from outside BC.

So many faces and memories in the room.  Most of them friends who had watched the BC wine industry grow and  work hard to be better.

Hosted by the BC Wine Institute, and curated by wine expert DJ Kearney, the final Judgment of BC took place in Penticton. Inspired by the legendary Judgment of Paris in 1976, the inaugural Judgment of BC was hosted in 2015 by the BC Wine Institute in honour of Steven Spurrier’s visit to British Columbia.

Steven Spurrier



Five years later, the BC wine industry was thrilled to welcome Steven Spurrier back to BC wine country to taste and evaluate world-class wines from the region.

DJ Kearney

“What I think is really exciting about BC wines is we’re tasting more and more like ourselves, our individual regions and individual sites. Our best examples are fresh on the palate, pure of fruit and really speak to our beautiful, cool, but hot climate.” Judge Barb Phillip, MW.

Tasting Room Radio would like to congratulate all BC wines who made the Judgment list and  the following BC wineries who took home top prizes in their categories. Arrowleaf Cellars ranked first among the Pinot Noir flight.

Terry and Manual Zuppiger (Arrowleaf)

Meyer Family Vineyards came in first for the flight of Chardonnay, with 50th Parallel Estate Winery in close second. For the Riesling flight, CedarCreek Winery came in second with St. Hubertus and Oak Bay Estate Winery coming in third.

The final flight of Syrah saw BC wines take all three top spots with Tightrope Winery coming in first, Le Vieux Pin Winery in second and Stag’s Hollow Winery and Vineyard in third.

(Complete results at the bottom of page)

Guests on this edition of Tasting Room Radio  include:

  • Gurvinder Bhatia – Edmonton Journal/Quench Magazine
  • Daenna van Mulligen – The Wine Diva
  • DJ Kearney – New District
  • Dr. Jamie Goode – Wine Journalist/
  • Laura Kittmer – Wines of BC
  • Steven Spurrier – Decanter
  • Mark Filatow – Waterfront Bistro
  • Kurtis Kolt  – Georgia Straight
  • Rhys Pender – Master of Wine
  • Anthony Gismondi – Vancouver Sun/Best of Food and Wine
  • Sebastien Le Goff – Cactus Club Canada
  • Manual Zuppiger = Arrowleaf Vineyards
  • Larry Gerelus – Stag’s Hollow
  • JAK Meyer – Meyer Family Vineyards
  • Lyndsay O’Rourke –  Tightrope


  1. Arrowleaf Cellars Archive Pinot Noir 2016 BC VQA Okanagan Valley
  1. La Crema Pinot Noir Monterey 2016 California
  1. Sokol Blosser Pinot Noir Estate Dundee Hills 2015 Oregon
  1. Sperling Vineyards Pinot Noir 2016 BC VQA Okanagan Valley
  1. Meyer Family Vineyards McLean Creek Road Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016 BC VQA Okanagan Valley
  1. Louis Jadot Beaune Grèves Premier Cru 2015 Burgundy
  1. Shaw + Smith Pinot Noir Adelaide Hills 2016 South Australia
  1. Tightrope Winery Pinot Noir 2016 BC VQA Okanagan Valley
  1. Quails’ Gate Winery Richard’s Block Pinot Noir 2017 BC VQA Okanagan Valley
  1. CedarCreek Estate Winery Platinum Block 2 Pinot Noir 2016 BC VQA Okanagan Valley


  1. Nik Weis St. Urbans-Hof Wiltinger Alte Reben 2014 Mosel, Germany
  1. CedarCreek Estate Winery Platinum Block 3 Riesling 2018 BC VQA Okanagan Valley
  2. St. Hubertus & Oak Bay Vineyards Family Reserve Riesling 2014 BC VQA Okanagan Valley
  1. Tightrope Winery Riesling 2017 BC VQA Okanagan Valley
  1. Culmina Family Estate Winery Riesling Decora 2014 BC VQA Okanagan Valley
  1. Upper Bench Estate Winery Riesling 2017 BC VQA Okanagan Valley
  1. Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Creek Vineyard Riesling 2015 Columbia Valley Washington State
  1. Rieslingfreak No. 3 Reverence of Riesling 2018 Clare Valley, South Australia
  1. Martin’s Lane Winery Fritzi’s Vineyard Riesling 2016 BC VQA Okanagan Valley
  1. Nigl Dornleiten Riesling Kremstal 2015 Austria


  1. Meyer Family Vineyards Chardonnay Tribute Series Donovan Tildesley Old Main Road Vineyard 2016 BC VQA Okanagan Valley
  1. 50th Parallel Estate Winery Chardonnay 2016 BC VQA Okanagan Valley
  1. Craggy Range Chardonnay Kidnapper’s Vineyard 2017 Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
  1. Nk’Mip Cellars Qwam Qwmt Chardonnay 2017 BC VQA Okanagan Valley
  1. Chartron et Trébuchet Pouilly Fuissé 2017 Macon, Burgundy
  1. Laroche Chablis Premier Cru La Chantrerie 2016 Burgundy, France
  1. Tantalus Vineyards Chardonnay 2015 BC VQA Okanagan Valley
  1. Monte Creek Ranch Winery Chardonnay Reserve 2016 BC VQA British Columbia
  1. Culmina Family Estate Winery Chardonnay Dilemma 2014 BC VQA Okanagan Valley
  2. Bethel Heights Vineyard Chardonnay Estate Eola-Amity Hills 2015 Oregon


  1. Tightrope Winery Syrah 2016 BC VQA Okanagan Valley
  1. Le Vieux Pin Winery Cuvée Violette Syrah 2016 BC VQA Okanagan Valley
  1. Stag’s Hollow Winery & Vineyard Syrah Amalia Vineyard 2016 BC VQA Okanagan Valley
  1. Saint Cosme Crozes-Hermitage 2016 Northern Rhône, France
  1. Torbreck Woodcutter’s Shiraz Barossa Valley 2017 South Australia
  1. Time Winery Syrah 2014 BC VQA Okanagan Valley
  1. Painted Rock Estate Winery Syrah 2016 BC VQA Okanagan Valley
  1. Domaine Jamet Syrah Collines Rhodaniennes 2015 Northern Rhône, France
  1. C.C. Jentsch Cellars Syrah 2016 BC VQA Okanagan Valley
  1. K Vintners MCK Syrah 2015 Washington State, USA

… and the winners below!


  • Gurvinder Bhatia
  • Jenna Briscoe
  • Sid Cross
  • Dr. Janet Dorozynski
  • Mark Filatow
  • Zach Geballe
  • Anthony Gismondi
  • Dr. Jamie Goode
  • Christina Hartigan
  • Lingzi He
  • John Isacs
  • Kelcie Jones
  • Kurtis Kolt
  • Sebastien Le Goff
  • Bryant Mao
  • David McIntyre
  • Sharon McLean
  • Michaela Morris
  • Terry David Mulligan
  • Tim Pawsey
  • Rhys Pender, MW
  • Barbara Philip, MW
  • Iain Philip
  • Rod Phillips
  • Treve Ring
  • Brad Royale
  • John Schreiner
  • Dawn Smith
  • Steven Spurrier
  • Shane Taylor
  • Daenna Van Mulligen
  • Matt Wentzell
  • Jason Yamasaki


    Phantom Creek Rises

    The Italians pour in Vancouver (Michaela Morris co-hosts)

    Chef Bill Jones – Foraging and cooking at Dearholme Farm


November 2nd, 2019 – New Zealand Pure Discovery 2019


New Zealand Pure Discovery 2019


New Zealand is recognised as one of the world’s premium wine regions,
mainly due to the success of their Marlborough region Sauvignon Blanc


This explosive varietal introduced the world to New Zealand Wine.

In 2019 they would like to celebrate the success of their famous white
through sub-regional expressions as well as showcase the lesser known
varieties such as Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Rose.

Several weeks ago I was offered the opportunity to “speed date” a handful of
New Zealand Winemakers as they passed through Vancouver. I sat at a desk and
they showed up one at a time..each with a wine in hand.

Frankly, it was a blur.

In listening back to the discussions several things became clear.

Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is World Class but now it’s time to check out
sub regions of the North and South islands.

Simon Toneycliffe GM Whitehaven. (Marlborough’s Golden Mile)

Simon Toneycliffe WhiteHaven

Whitehaven wines are grown, crafted and bottled in Marlborough. Each wine is
a powerful, elegant and consistent expression of Marlborough’s classical
wine styles. The white label is the flagship. Their growth has been nothing
short of fantastic.

Whitehaven has been successfully exporting to the United States since 2004
when its first shipment totaled just 5,000 cases. In 2015 Whitehaven
celebrated the export of its millionth case of wine to the US.

Canada is showing the same kind of growth.

The reason is simple. Affordable World class wines.

Wayne Leadbetter – VP Sales Te Awanga Wines (Hawkes Bay)

Wayne Leadbetter Te Awanga

Planted 25 years ago by a group of friends in one of Hawke’s Bay’s oldest
wine growing areas, they dreamt of making the region’s greatest wines.
They say they’re still working on it but believe their vineyard, right by
the coast truly captures something unique.

Sitting on an elevated site in the Te Awanga foot hills, the cellar door has views down through our vines,
across the Te Awanga basin and out to the Pacific Ocean. Spectacular.

Syrah and Chardonnay are exceptional.

Jim Robertson Global Wine Ambassador NZ Brands – Stoneleigh/Pernod Ricard

Jim Robertson – Stoneleigh

Stoneleigh Vineyard is situated in the heart of the Rapaura area on the
northern side of the Wairau valley in Marlborough, New Zealand. The ‘Golden
Mile’ of vineyards.

Stoneleigh takes its name from the stones that cover the
vineyard – land that’s now home to some of the oldest grafted Sauvignon
Blanc blocks in Marlborough.

The stones store and reflect the sun’s heat up into the vines, enhancing the ripening process and contributing to the
unique taste of Stoneleigh wines.

Jim travels the World – a natural storyteller and what a story. NZ wines
are recognized the World over. <>

Joel Watson – Winemaker at Luna (Martinborough)

Joel Watson – Luna

Luna Estate has been lovingly renovated and transformed into one of
Martinborough’s premier wineries.

While their main love is Pinot Noir, they also produce elegant Pinot Meunier Rose, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot
Gris, Chardonnay, and Syrah. It’s almost impossible to capture how
passionate Joel Watson is about NZ winemaking and Luna. It shows in his

A fierce believer in Martinborough.

Rory Crawford – Loveblock (Wellington)

Loveblock is the home of Erika and Kim Crawford. Yup, the same Kim Crawford
who sold his namesake winery and Loveblock is what they did with the money,

This 180 acre (72 hectare) vineyard is perched on top of the hills
overlooking the Awatere Valley above Wellington..

The site is perfect for growing premium aromatic white varietals. Due to the
strong winds, the vine growth is slow and they tend to get very small
berries giving high aromatic concentration in the wine.

The main vineyard area produces Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris
predominantly, as well as Pinot Blanc, Tempranillo, Gewurztraminer, Chenin
Blanc and of course, Riesling.

Hamish McRae – Forrest and The Doctors (Marlborough)

Hamish McRae – Forrest & The Doctors

The vineyard of Doctors John and Brigid Forrest.

Forrest Wines – The first vintage for Forrest Wines came in 1990 when an
over-filled red wine fermenter “accident” resulted in a trophy-winning
Merlot Rosé.
Fast forward almost 30 years; many awards and accolades, 5 labels and
vineyards across the country. Forrest is set for generations.

Forrest is all Marlborough.

The Doctors – The Doctors’ range is about innovation and excellence.
New grape varieties, alternative winemaking techniques and select parcels of
fruit all qualify to create very special wines under this unique label. <>



2019 Judgment of BC – The Final One

The spectacular Phantom Creek Winery

Checking out  Cedar Creek Winery

The Italians pour in Vancouver – Michaela Morris co-hosts

Oct 26th, 2019- Charles Smith: Jet City Rose Experience in Seattle!


Charles Smith ‘s Third Jet City Rose Experience in Seattle.

( Ann Sperling stays home and makes New Direction wines)



Charles Smith – Founder Wines of Substance

Charlie is the founder of Washington’s largest winemaker owned winery and the 4th largest wine producer in Washington State.

Charles Smith

He created and then sold Charles Smith Wines, and five other wines to Constellation.

His new  company, Wines of Substance made 53 different wines last year in their Seattle Jet City facility. 51 were single varietal.

Today he has a portfolio that includes

 K Vintners – The original. Royal City. The Creator. The Boy.

SIXTO – High Elevation Chards. Uncovered, Moxee Vineyard, Frenchman Hills

CasaSmith –  Italian inspired. CasaSmith Sangiovese, Barbera, Primitivo

Substance – Cabernet Sauvignon is the star.

B Leighton  –  By winemaker Brennon Leighton. From Olsen Hills in Yakima.

Wines of Substance showcases Charles Smith’s dedication to producing the very best  wines. From vineyard to glass.

Charles built and opened Jet City in Seattle.  It’s the largest urban winery on the West Coast.

When I saw the artists that would take the stage in the cellar..Rev Horton Heat and Har Mar Superstar – I realized none of my questions or their answers would be heard.

Guests from this wild ride include

Charles Smith

Chef Stuart Lane

Andrew Latta – Latta Wines


Ann Sperling –  Winemaker Sperling Vineyards

Sperling Vineyards (Tourism Kelowna)

Note – Sperling Vineyards 2015 Old Vines Riesling Estate Bottled.  95 Points Decanter Wine Awards.  The only Gold medal winning still wine from BC

 A true original.

Ann Sperling creates wines in Ontario, Nova Scotia and most importantly in her family’s home vineyard in Kelowna at a special piece of land called Pioneer Ranch.

It was established and planted in 1929.

Ann grew up in those vineyards but found herself pulled away as more and more vineyards sought her expertise.

She spent several years at Cedar Creek. Then headed back East to the organic and biodynamic vines of Southbrook Vineyards in  Niagara.

Ann Sperling

Finally in 2008 Ann and her immediate family members decided to launch  Sperling Vineyards at Pioneer Ranch. we are 11 years later and the wines are  pushing the outer edges of what we know BC wine to be.  Wines to keep an eye on.

Their portfolio has specific series called Heritage, Market and Late Harvest/Icewine.

The one series that is really game breaking is The Vision Series of wines.

That’s what Ann and I are going to be talking about .

Organic Natural Amber Pinot Gris 2017 – Like no other Pinot Gris you’ve tasted. Orange and made from 40% whole cluster, 40% whole berry and 20% pressed juice. Nothing added. Nothing taken away.

Vision Chardonnay  2016 (BC Left Gov Award)  . Large French Oak barrels. Minerality and structure.

Organic Pinot Noir 2014 – Hand harvested Dijon clones  144. 777. 828

And the star of the show  Speritz Pet Nat 2018.  (Love and Labour)



Perle of Csaba grapes planted in 1934 – Honouring the Past.

8.3% alcohol.  No fining, No filtration. Wild ferment. Bottled with lees.


Seek and enjoy!!


Many thanks to our great pal Tim Meeks, who suggested this event and ferried  us around Seattle!



Tofino Food and Wine

A special feature on “field blends”

Fire Season in The Okanagan

The Wickaninnish Inn opens a spectacular cellar

Tofino mid-week experience. Chefs and more chefs

BC Shellfish Festival / Courtenay-Comox

Cowichan Valley Wine Festival

Chefs speak out on their/our  role in saving fishery


October 19th, 2019 – Fishing. Food. Friends. Fluids  The Four F’s Year Seven


Fishing. Food. Friends. Fluids  The Four F’s Year Seven


 For 7 years I have had the pleasure of gathering once a year with 3 food and wine friends to fish, eat a great meal and pour tastes of interesting wines.
What’s not to like about that.

Along for the fun again are:

John Weber – Our host this year as we all gathered at John’s Orofino Winery in the Similkameen Valley in the South Okanagan. John’s wife Virginia was kind enough to let us stay overnight in her outstanding  Orofino Winery Suites, right beside the crush pad.

beautiful suites at Orofino!


John is the real true fisherman here. He arranged a pontoon boat drift down a stretch of the Similkameen River, from just outside Hedley and almost to Keremeos.  6 hours in total.

John Weber

Our second day was spent just outside Cawston on a farming lake that can be seen from the highway. Its stocked,  locked and loaded.

Executive Chef Mark Filatow from  came along again with his spinning rod..the one with no tip.

Didn’t stop him in the least.  Caught more fish than me, that’s for sure.

TDM and fish!

Mark also prepared a sensational breakfast and a dinner that I’m still telling people about.

Oh, and then he created pizza’s from all the leftovers. Pies that could win awards.

Mark Filatow

It’s the kind of cooking you come to expect from his Waterfront Bistro and his Catering café in Kelowna.

One other thing, because he’s a certified Somm, his wine choices for all of us are  from all over the Planet!

And finally Rhys Pender – Master of Wine and co-partner in Cawston’s Little Farm Winery, just around the corner from Orofino.

Rhys Pender

In the two days that we’re together it’s Rhys that starts most group laughs. Plus he  comments about the wines we’ve brought to no one one in particular..I think he just shouts out tasting comments to the ceiling.


Occasionally I feel like I’m in one of his Wine Plus Classes.

Enjoy the food, the wines, the fishing and what friends do when they gather.

The Four F’s Gang

(all fish were catch and release.)

Just a heads up – to all those many people who drive through Keremeos ,  Cawston and The Similkameen Valley on their way to “wine country”,   STOP and check out The Similkameen, Its where many of the other wineries wish they had vineyards. This IS wine country!!

And the fishing is outstanding!!


Special thanks to:

Virginia Weber

Similkameen Ernie

Row 14 Restaurant


Lft Governors Awards

Harvest 2019

October 12th, 2019- COWICHAN VALLEY WINEMAKERS –  Crush Pad Sessions in Cow Valley.  





The Cowichan Valley Wine Festival came and went.  I missed it due to a road trip.

However, it’s an ongoing story that I just couldn’t pass up. Many thanks for photos to: Corey & Heather Wood


By all accounts, it was a huge success,  with many comments about the “new faces” showing up.

A whole new wine fan has discovered this  region just North of Victoria on Vancouver Island!


Let’s face it, if you’re not The Okanagan Valley, you just have to try harder to get people’s  attention.

That’s exactly what Cowichan  Valley is doing.

I sent a message to Mike Nierychlo at Emandare to ask if he could wrangle a gaggle of winemakers all in one spot to get caught up on 2019.

Wrangle he did. On the crush pad at Emandare. (And he even brought the sandwiches)

I will admit that during the last interview with Joe Busnardo I had real trouble understanding what he was saying..his accent was thick and he really rambled. I just kept nodding and smiling. I hope you do better with Joe. He’s a real treat!

Today’s guests are:

Mike Nierychlo –  Winemaker/co-owner Emandare

Brent Rowland – Winemaker at Averill Creek and joue

Garrett Deol– The next winemaker at Deol

Zack Brown – co-owner/winemaker at Alderlea

Mark Holford – co-owner/winemaker at Rocky Creek

Marilyn Venturi – co-proprietor at Venturi Schulze

Lorin Englis – GM at Enrico

Dan Wright – Winemaker at Unsworth

Michael Abbott – Vineyard Manager/Raisin Rancher  at Blue Grouse

Joe Busnardo –  Winemaker/owner/legend at Divino


FFFF  – the 7th annual Food. Fishing. Friends. Fluids field trip

This year in the and on the Similkameen Valley/River

Full Italian

Harvest Roundup

October 5th, 2019 – Two Wineries. Two Regions. Similkameen & Lillooet.


Two Wineries. Two Regions…Similkameen and Lillooet



 Every day 100’s of wine fans get in their cars and drive into the Okanagan to discover wine country. Good on you.

Many of them drive right through the Similkameen Valley and past some of the best vineyards in the country. Orofino, for example.


Some of those same well meaning wine fans head East through the Frazer Canyon and may have no idea that if they hang a left at Lytton they can head North into BC’s most promising new  wine region and Fort Berens Estate Wines.

 John Weber – Orofino

 This week we drive around with , sit down with and talk to John Weber, the co-owner and driving force behind Orofino in the Similkameen Valley.

John at Harvest 2019



John will take us to his latest planted vineyard, The Passion Pit. It was a gravel pit that Cawston teens hung out in.

He tastes us through his blend  White Bridge, his Cab, Syrah, Gamay and his award winning Bordeaux blend Beleza!


Also a word about Row 14  the new restaurant in the neighbourhood.

ROW 14

It’s been launched to great success by Clippers Organics.

Here’s a tip:  Orofino have two of the sweetest suites anywhere. Best of all you are right in the vineyard and looking down on the crush pad.

Highly recommended.

Rolf de Bruin  – Fort Berens Vineyards 

Rolf de Bruin

Fort Berens Estate Winery is a culmination of the dreams, vision and pioneering spirit of several entrepreneurs. It was founded with a pioneering spirit and forged on the road less traveled. The winery is owned by a team of eight individuals who share a common belief in the incredible winemaking potential of British Columbia’s Fraser Canyon and a shared vision to make Fort Berens into one of Canada’s leading producers of fine wine.

The voices and faces wine fans see and hear most are Rolf de Bruin and

Partner Heleen Pannekoek.

Just in case you missed the news and as if you needed another reason to drive up to Fort Berens…have a look at this

As voted on by the public, the Best of BC Wine Country 2018 included the following regional awards for Fort Berens:

Fort Berens Estate Winery Riesling – Best BC White Wine
Fort Berens Estate Winery Rosé – Best BC Rosé Wine
Fort Berens Estate Winery – Best BC Winery Tasting Room
The Kitchen at Fort Berens – Best BC Winery Restaurant Showcasing Local Food

That’s what you call a sweep!

Rolf and I will talk about his Rose, Gamay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and a white blend Camels White.  The new estate  vineyards they’ve planted and  their partnership with vineyard Cliff and Gorge

Rolf shares plans for a 10th anniversary bubble. Created  by winemaker  Jim Cambridge who crafted it  with a combination of fruit from Fort Berens and their neighbours.

Watch for releases now labeled Lillooet VQA

Fort Berens wines are well worth the drive and everything in their portfolio is priced under $20.00 at the winery.

You just might want to join the wine club.


 Next week – The Cowichan Wine Festival

And soon the 7th annual

Food. Fishing. Friends. Fluids field trip


September 28th, 2019 – The 5th Annual Garagiste North – Kelowna  


Coverage of the 5th Annual Garagiste North – Kelowna


 What is a garagiste? (gar-ah-jeest)?  

It started out in France (of course) where it was a derogatory phrase for those avante garde and crazy mavericks making wine in their garage and outside the highly regulated system. Gradually and grudgingly came the acknowledgement that something really interesting was happening with these small case lot artisan wines, and a movement was born.

Garagiste North  brings together the small guys. Wines produced from 100% Canadian grapes and under 2000 cases total production annually.  

We’ve been covering this gathering of small BC producers from the beginning. We like the people, the wines and the no BS approach to farming, creating and selling.

This year Sperling Vineyards was once again  the site for a gathering of the Garagiste.  Many of the favourites are returning, but with the growth of the wine industry we are excited to see new small wineries popping up.

Sperling Vineyards

The likes of Lightning Rock, Scorched Earth and Burnt Timer all seem to have a theme!  Added to this year’s event will be a wine pairing of Sperling Vineyards and cheese, music by Glendale Avenue,  food truck service from CrAsian, a cool booth by Taste Advisor and a pop up wine store by Fairview Cellars.


tdm and Ann Sperling


This event gives you an insight into the passion, commitment, craziness and excellence that is the hallmark of a small producer.  We love that for many this is their first time showing off their wines to the public. Others have been attending for awhile, carefully crafting their wines and growing their business and reputation. Others have grown up and graduated.

Former Garagiste are:

  • Daydreamer
  • Synchromesh
  • Sage Hills
  • Tight Rope
  • Bella Wines
  • River Stone
  • Roche Wines
  • Kitsch Wines
  • Forbidden Fruit
  • Marichel
  • Deep Roots
  • Van Westen
  • Kraze Legs
  • vinAmite


This year’s Garagiste guests are :

  •  Schell Wines – Jennifer Schell
  • Mayhem Wines – Terry Meyer Stone
  • Dames Wines – Mireille Sauve
  • Sperling Vineyards –  Ann Sperling
  • Rigor and Whimsy – Costa Gavaris
  • Nagging Doubt – Rob  Westbury
  • Birch Block Vineyard – Sarah and Murray Bancroft
  • Anthony Buchanan Wines – Anthony Buchanan
  • Red Bird Estate – Remi Cardinal
  • Giant head – John Glavina
  • BC Wine Studio – Mark Simpson
  • Scorched Earth – Anita and Peter Pasdernick

 Enjoy the stories and histories!


Fort Berens

Passion Pitt Vineyard – John Weber/Orofino

Year 7 –  Food, Friends, Fishing and Fluids.

Cowichan Valley Wine Festival

Fall Wines