January 18th, 2019 – The 5th Pinot Noir Celebration in Kelowna


The 5th Pinot Noir Celebration in Kelowna



The 2019 BC Pinot Noir Celebration brings together BC’s top 35 Pinot Noir producers for an unforgettable festival-style tasting experience. The event kicked off with a reception and keynote address by Madeline Puckette, certified sommelier and author of New York Times Bestseller, Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine.

Kurtis Kolt

To put this gathering in proper perspective, here’s an overview from writer/judge Kurtis Kolt:

My big take-away is how local Pinot Noir reflects its terroir of origin, rather than its producers trying to emulate other iconic Pinot regions around the world, from Burgundy in France to the Russian River Valley in California.

No matter which B.C. region it hailed from, each one had a freshness and purity of fruit, along with juicy acidity—a common trait in B.C. wine. I was quite impressed that compared to other reds—from Bordeaux-inspired blends to Syrah—the B.C. Pinot Noirs were all tasty and approachable, whether we were looking at current, more fruit-forward releases, or bottlings as far back as a 2006 from Averill Creek on Vancouver Island. It had started to exhibit those more savoury, tertiary notes like sarsaparilla and sun-dried tomato, but still had great structure and was buoyant on the palate.

 Kurtis, who guests on this special,  makes the comment that Pinot Noir is the one wine that can be grown from coast-to-coast in Canada.

All 35 wineries pouring at the event were accepted through a high profile sommelier tasting panel.  They were determined to be the best of the best.

Our owner/winemaker guests are:

 Jak Meyer – Meyer Family Vineyards/Organizer

Grant Biggs – Kitsch/ Organizer

David Paterson – Tantalus/ Organizer

Jason Parkes – The Hatch

Madeline Puckette – Keynote speech and Wine Folly Author

Grant Stanley – Spearhead

Ben Bryant – Mission Hill

Jenn and Kent Molgat – The View

Chris Carson – Meyer Family and Carson

Dan Wright – Unsworth

Paul Pender – Tawse and Hidden Bench

Rhys Pender – Master of Wine and Panelist

Kurtis Kolt – Wine Educator and Panelist

Paul M Bruner – owner of Blue Grouse

Andy Johnson – Owner of Averill Creek

Tyler Knight – Co-owner of Lightning Rock



The 2019 Garagiste  at Sperling Vineyards

The 2020 Victoria Whisky Festival

Food, Wine &  A Mescal Master in Oaxaca

Field Blends – Are we in or out






Winter Whites! Tasting Room Radio-January 11th 2020


Winter White Wines – If they exist, what are they? 


It was a comment about a year ago. Almost blew by me. A winemaker used the phrase “I’m making Winter Whites”.

I’m sorry – what?


“A Winter White – what is that?

Well,  it’s a white wine that has enough texture and mouth feel to pair with Winter roasts, stews, soups, root vegetables etc.

OK..what whites have that ability?”

That’s where the whole idea got started.  This hour is dedicated to focusing in on white wines than can carry their weight through the Winter.

I sought out winemakers and wine experts who could explain Winter Whites and then recommend wines we could get our hands on.

Our guests include:

Chris Rielly – Head Sommelier at (David Hawksworth’s)  Nightingale Restaurant in Vancouver

Nightingale Restaurant

Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson – Drinks Editor Winnipeg Free Press

Kurtis Kolt – Georgia Straight Wine Writer

Rhys Pender – Master of Wine

Michaela Morris – Wine writer and judge

Jason Parkes – Winemaker The Hatch 

Jason Parkes – Winemaker The Hatch

Valeria Tait – GM and Winemaker at Bench 1775

Val Tait

Kathy Malone – Winemaker at Hillside

Kathy Malone

If you join us for the hour you will indeed find out that Winter Whites do exist and we’ll tell you which wines to look for.

Here’s Chris Rielly’s List

Chris Rielly Head Sommelier at Nightingale

2016 Clos du Soleil Capella Sauvignon Blanc/Semillion Similkameen Valley

2013 Haywire Vintage Bubb Okanagan Valley

2016 Gustave Lorentz Pinot Gris Alsace France

2016 Pietradolce Carricante Etna Bianco Sicily Italy

2017 Yalumba “Y” Series Viognier South Australia Aus

Here’s Ben’s List:


Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson

d’Arenberg The Hermit Crab Viognier Marsanne (McLaren Vale, Australia)

$23 Everything Wine

Guigal 2016 Cotes du Rhone white (Cotes du Rhone, France)

$29 Everything Wine

60% Viognier, 15% Roussanne, 10% Marsanne, 8 % Clairette, 5% Bourboulenc, 2% Grenache blanc.

Torres 2017 Esmerelda (Catalunya, Spain)

$16.99 BCLDB

Moscatel and Gewurztraminer, spice and stone/tropical fruit with a hint of sweetness.

Testalonga Baby Bandito “Keep on Punching” Chenin Blanc (Swartland, South Africa)

The Winemakers have lots of suggestions. FYI – One name that pops up three times is Ava from Le Vieux Pin.


2020 VanWineFest

A day with Master Mescal Maker

Sosima Olivera in  Oaxaca

Searching for the 7th Mole

We welcome  Row Fourteen

And Orofino in The Similkameen


January 4th, 2019 – Kurtis Kolt: Wines of the Year & We Remember Harry McWatters.


Kurtis Kolt: Wines of the Year & We Remember Harry McWatters


 Kurtis Kolt  – The Dude

Kurtis Kolt

Kurtis is a sommelier, a consultant, educator and the fine wine writer for the Georgia Straight “The Bottle” Column. Along with partner Jeff Curry,  Kurtis is also the co-founder of Top Drop, a premier small wine festival with BIG guests.

KK has a really good grasp of the wine World.  He studies Local, Regional, National and International wines. Travels the World, walking the vineyards..tasting the cellars.

Thus, Kurtis is the perfect end of the year – start of the year guest.

We’re talking about

The Top 6 best wines of his year. The most memorable ones.

The highlights of his trip to South Africa

The rise of pop-up wine bars in Vancouver

A quick look ahead to 2020 VanWinefest

And a teaser about this year’s Top Drop in Calgary, Vancouver and perhaps Victoria.

When Kurtis Kolt recommends wine it’s a good thing to focus on those wines.  It’s time To FOCUS!!

  • Natte Valleij Cinsault 2017, South Africa, $28-32, Private Wine Stores
  • Lighting Rock Viognier 2017, B.C., $25,
  • Tiberio Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo 2018, $23.99, B.C. Liquor Stores
  • Mathieu & Camille Lapierre Morgon 2018, France, $46.00
  • Tantalus Vineyards Blanc de Blancs 2016, B.C., $34.70, VQA Wine Stores
  • Kitsch Wines  Pinot Noir Rose






Remembering Harry McWatters – Founder. Builder. Legend.

May 23 1945 – July 23  2019

Harry McWatters

The December holidays gave me the opportunity to reflect on 2019 and the past decade.

One face and voice stayed in my head and my heart.

The great Harry McWatters.

Her Highness and a guy named Harry

Harry was a major  force in the British Columbia and Canadian wine industry for more than 50 years.  In 1980, Harry became the founder of British Columbia’s first estate winery, Sumac Ridge and followed with See Ya Later Ranch. He was a pioneer in establishing the Okanagan Wine Festival Society.  In 1990, Harry chaired the new British Columbia Wine Institute.  He was the founding Chair of the British Columbia Wine Information Society, founding Chair of VQA of Canada spearheading national wine standards, founding Chair of the British Columbia Hospitality Foundation, and a long term Director on the Canadian Vintners Association. Most recently, he was the President and CEO of ENCORE Vineyards.

A member of the Order of British Columbia, inductee to the BC Restaurant Hall of Fame, two-time Jubilee Medal winner. the recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree, and the recipient of the Vancouver Wine Festival Spirited Industry Professional Award. He was the Marketer of the Year for North America..

As impressive as that amazing record is,  the lasting legacy of Harry McWatters will be his character.

Ready to help, available for advice, a mentor for 50 years and a wonderful friend and father. His laughter will never leave my soul.

I discovered this interview with Harry just as he was launching his Time label.  We met at the  wonderful Local Lounge and Grill in Summerland.  A room he was familiar with as he helped launch the restaurant.

Harry and I covered a lot of ground but what I really liked about this chat was his honesty and drive.

Here’s to you Harry.

The history of the Okanagan will now be written by your children, your friends and students.


 Van Wine Fest

Mescal Tasting in Oaxaca Mexico

With  Sosima Olivera

December 28th, 2019- Daenna van Mulligen is The Wine Diva!


The Wine Diva/Daenna van Mulligen.  Top Wines under/over $20.00


 Daenna van Mulligen is The Wine Diva.

Daenna is a Sommelier, wine judge, writes for Taste, Monte Cristo, Vitis etc. & |

Based in Vancouver and constantly travelling the wine world ….

Daenna tastes over 2000 wines throughout the year and reviews many of them for her website and various publications.

All of the wines we’ll talk  about on this episode can be found  tasted and rated at and

There are many more to be found there.(For your convenience we’ve added the wines we talked about below, as well)

Daenna Van Mulligen

Daenna loves her lists.  As long as I’ve know her she’s been making sensational wine lists.

  • Top 100 (under $20 and 89 points or better)
  • Top 50   (Over $20 and 91 points or better)
  • Bubbles 

Aye – Here we GO. Under $20/ 89 points or over

  • Cantina Tollo ‘Colle Secco Rubi’ Montepulciano D’Abruzzo Italy $17.99
  • Bodega Valparaiso ‘Finca El Encinal’ Roble, Ribera del Duero, Spain $19.00  
  • Famille Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve, Rhone Valley, France $17.99
  • Barone di Valforte Pecorino, Abbruzzo, Italy $19.99
  • Paul Mas Grenache Noir, Pays d’Oc France $12.99
  • Jose Maria da Fonseca ‘Periquite’ Reserva, Setubal Penninsula, Portugal $16.99
  • Kono Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand $16.99
  • Cellars Baronia Flor d’Englora Garnacha, Montsant, Spain $17.00
  • Cellars Baronia Flor d’Englora Roure Garnacha, Montsant, Spain $18.00
  • M. Chapoutier ‘Bila Haut’ Rouge, Cotes du Roussillon Villages, Roussillon, France $16.99
  • Bodegas Franco-Espanolas ‘Bordon’ Crianza, Rioja, Spain $19.00
  • Tender Hope Chardonnay, Okanagan Valley, BC $20.00
  • Cirro Pinot Gris, Marlborough New Zealand $19.99
  • Boutinot ‘Sun & Air’ Cinsault, Western Cape South Africa $15.00
  • Harper’s Trail ‘Pioneer Block’ Thadd Springs Vineyard Riesling, Thompson Valley, BC $20.00
  • Liquidity Wines Estate Pinot Gris, Okanagan Falls, BC N/A
  • El Petit Bonhomme Blanco, Rueda Spain $14.00
  • Monte Creek Ranch Winery Riesling, British Columbia N/A
  • Spearhead Riesling, Okanagan Valley BC $20.00
  • Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards ‘The Unwinder Ehrenfelser’, Okanagan Valley, BC N/A
  • Lunessence Winery & Vineyard ‘Quartet White’, Okanagan Valley BC N/A
  • Sperling Vineyards Pinot Noir Rose, Okanagan Valley BC N/A
  • Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars Pinot Blanc, Okanagan Valley BC $20.00
  • Babylon’s Peak ‘Front Row’ Shiraz, Mourvedre, Viognier, South Africa $12.99
  • San Valentino Montepulcinano d’Abruzzo, Italy $12.50
  • Fort Berens Estate Winery Chardonnay, British Columbia $19.00
  • Road 13 ‘Chip Off the Old Block’ Chenin Blanc, Golden Mile Bench, Okanagan Valley BC
  • ACuma Organic Torrontes, Argentina $12.79

Top 50  –  Over $20/91 Points or better.

  • Moon Curser Touriga Nacional, Okanagan Valley BC N/A
  • Noble Ridge ‘Noble Knights’ Powers Vintage Chardonnay, Okanagan Valley, BC $40.00
  • Stag’s Hollow Pinot Noir, Shuttleworth Creek Vineyard, Okanagan Valley BC N/A
  • Rust Wine Co. Merlot, Golden Mile Bench, Okanagan Valley, BC N/A
  • Cellars Baronia Clos d’Englora AV14, Montsant, Spain $55.00
  • Meyer Family Vineyards ‘McLean Creek Road’ Chardonnay, Okanagan Valley BC $35.00
  • Liquidity Wines Reserve Pinot Noir, Okanagan Falls, BC N/A
  • JoieFarm ‘En Famille’ Reserve Riesling, Okanagan Valley, BC N/A
  • Emotivo Gran Rosso, Veneto, Italy $20.00  
  • The Prisoner Red Wine, Napa Valley California $60.00
  • Black Hills Estate Winery “Nota Bene”, Okanagan Valley BC $60.00
  • Mission Hill Family Estate ‘Jagged Rock Vineyard’ Chardonnay, Okanagan Valley, BC $45.00 26. Winemaker’s Cut Syrah, Okanagan Valley BC N/A
  • Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars ‘Block 14-Gravel Force’ Pinot Noir, Okanagan Falls, BC
  • Cedar Creek ‘Platinum’ Block 2 Pinot Noir, Okanagan Valley BC $45.00
  • SpearHead Pinot Noir ‘Coyote Vineyard, Okanagan Valley BC N/A
  • Tender Hope Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, Washington N/A  
  • Nk’Mip Cellars Qwam Qwmt Syrah, Okanagan Valley BC N/A
  • Hester Creek ‘Limited Edition The Judge’ Okanagan Valley BC N/A
  • Robert Mondavi Winery ‘The Reserve’ Cabernet Sauvignon, To Kalon Vineyard, Oakville, Napa Valley $175.00
  • Road 13 ‘Blind Creek’ Viognier, Similkameen Valley BC N/A
  • Bartier Bros. Cabernet Franc, Okanagan Valley BC $30.00
  • Quails’ Gate Estate Winery ‘The Connemara’, Okanagan Valley BC N/A
  • Painted Rock Syrah, Okanagan Valley BC $40.00
  • Tinhorn Creek ‘Innovation Series’ Whole Cluster Cabernet Franc, Okanagan Valley, BC N/A

 Daenna LOVES her bubble.

The last several minutes of this week’s TRR she suggests Festive Fizz  for New Years.

You can find the complete 35 bottle list on


This show is dedicated to the memory of Harry McWatters. Much missed but never forgotten.



 Next week Kurtis Kolt

Georgia Straight Wine Writer – The Bottle

Consultant. Educator. Sommelier.

Co-Founder of Top Drop, an outstanding small wine festival. (June 24 Vancouver. June 26 Calgary)

KK brings Top wines of the year, Tales of South Africa, the rise of Pop up wine bars in Vancouver and thoughts on this years VanWineFest.







December 21st, 2019 – The 41st VanWineFest Part Two


The 41st VanWineFest Part Two

(Wine Royalty & The Canadians)



It’s part two of this year’s VanWineFest.

Last week we profiled “The Californians”.

Except for the first two interviews here,   the rest of this Tasting Room is with The Canadians.


Our Guests are:

 Gina Gallo – Gallo Family Wines

Jean Charles Boisset –  Boisset Collection.  Raymond Wines.

 Separately they are iconic/driven personalities.

Together as husband and wife  they are one of the best known  families in the Wine World.

Gina is a member of the Gallo family, pioneers of wine-making in California. Jean-Charles is a French vintner and owner of Boisset Collection, which operates two dozen wineries in California, France and Canada.  Has created a wine with John Legend called LVE.

Jean, Gina and Terry

Gina and Jean-Charles!

Met. Married. Created Twins. Ran their Empires. All the while Gina Battled and Beat Back Cancer.

Honoured to welcome them both.

Chris Wyse –   President. Burrowing Owl Estate Winery


Chris is the oldest son of founders Jim and Midge Wyse.

Today, with its dramatic vantage point in the middle of the vineyard, Burrowing Owl Estate Winery is a winemaking facility that combines state-of-the-art technologies with proven, classic winemaking traditions. A gravity-flow system handles ripe grapes delicately, preserving their rich fruit character.

Barry Olivier – President/Brands  Aquilini Red Mountain Wines

Barry Olivier – Aquilini

Aquilini Wines   headed to the Vancouver Wine Festival to introduce themselves to Canada for the very first time.

They were  pouring

Aquilini Horse Heaven Hills Syrah Rose 2017

Aquilini Red Mountain’s Grand Vin is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon

The Second Wine, Aquilini Red Mountain Family Blend,. The Family Blend is constructed of varying levels of Cabernet, Syrah, Merlot and occasionally Petit Verdot.

(If you follow Barry and Aquilini, you’ll see the birth of a  wine icon.  This is a story that will be fun to watch unfold)


John Skinner       Proprietor/ Painted Rock

Matt Dumayne  Winemaker/Okanagan Crush Pad

John Skinner

John Skinner is a leader in and out of the vineyards.

“It is now 13 years since the planting of Painted Rock’s estate and the property is living up to its potential in every regard. Winning 2014/2015 InterVin International “Winery of the Year” and recent generous reviews in Jancis Robinson’s newsletter validate the progress made by the team and steel its resolve. At Painted Rock there is a firm belief that by aiming highly and working cooperatively, British Columbia wines can compete with the finest in the world.”   Painted Rock Website

Matt Dumayne is the winemaking leader at Haywire, Free Form and Narrative. All at Okanagan Crush Pad.

Matt Dumayne Okanagan Crush Pad

As well as making articulate wines from its organically-certified home Switchback Vineyard, Okanagan Crush Pad is designed as a hub for local winemakers. Heritage techniques, modern knowledge and the spirit of collaboration fuse to form a vanguard for the Okanagan’s next generation of winemaking. Okanagan Crush Pad’s labels include the single vineyard Haywire collection, Narrative series and Campus wines.


Chris Jentsch – Owner/Farmer CC Jentsch Cellars

Valeria Tait –  GM and Winemaker  Bench 1775,


Val Tait

 Wines from Bench 1775 are produced with the unique expression of fruit grown in the Okanagan Valley from three vineyard locations: Oxbow Vineyard, on the original Golden Mile in Osoyoos, South Okanagan, and at Paradise Ranch Vineyard and Soaring Eagle Vineyard in the Central Okanagan.

Carefully managed vineyards and beautifully balanced wines could not be produced without an amazing team led by Viticulturist/Winemaker Val Tait and  supported by Alain Sutre, wine consultant extraordinaire from Bordeaux France.

Chris Jentsch is a farmer first, then winemaker and finally, a great guy.

Chris Jentsch

At the first Judgment of BC pitting 12 BC Wines against 12 acknowledged global benchmarks  C.C. Jentsch Syrah 2013 from the Okanagan Valley ranked first among the flight of Syrah.

“Long-time Okanagan farmer Chris Jentsch is the guy behind C.C. Jentsch Cellars, a gentle giant of a man whose strong, enveloping handshake exudes decades of hearty farming experience and makes my own handshake seem downright dainty. A warm, humble gentleman.” Kurtis Kolt – Georgia Straight


Randy Picton  – Senior  Winemaker Nk’Mip

Randy Picton

As an exceptionally talented and innovative winemaker, Randy is totally committed to the challenge of producing world-class, award-winning wines.

Randy has handed the day to day winemaking to Justin Hall.

A proud member of the Osoyoos Indian band, Justin works with Randy  to craft the award-winning wines of Nk’Mip Cellars.


Stefan Arnason – Winemaker Poplar Grove

Stefan Arnason

 In 2008, Stefan Arnason took on the position of Winemaker.  Each year, Stefan and his team handcraft the Poplar Grove Wines.

Poplar Grove is focused on six core wines: Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and an Icon blend called The Legacy.


Bill Eggert – Winemaker (and Troublemaker) at Fairview Cellars


Outspoken. Gifted. A Mentor. Educator. Closet Musician.

Understands winemaking in the Okanagan like no other.

His labels tell you everything about his wines and his character.

Madcap Red. Two Hoots. Bucket O’ Blood. The Bear.


Ross Baker –  Winemaker Quails Gate

Quails gate Winery

Ross has been an integral part of the  winemaking team since 2013 and was the protégé of former Winemaker Nikki Callaway. A native of Kelowna, Ross  previously worked at Villa Maria Estates in Marlborough, New Zealand and also at both Red Rooster Winery and Kettle Valley Winery.

…and finally Nova Scotia arrives in Vancouver.

Keeping an eye on The Maritimes.

Bruce Ewert –  Owner/Winemaker   L’Acadie Vineyards

Rachel Lightfoot – Winemaker Lightfoot and Wolfville

Gillian Mainguy – Sales/Benjamin Bridge


Thank You to :
James Murray – Tech and production
Kristine Wilkinson (
Bailey Jelinski (Milk)
Anna Stuber (Milk)

Meg Mulligan

Corey Wood

John De Vries





December 14th, 2019- The 41st VanWineFest Part One – The Californians!


The 41st VanWineFest Part One – The Californians!

By the Numbers..

• Over 25,000 wine fans
• 16 countries
• 160 wineries; including 53 from featured region California
• 50 participating restaurants, hotels, caterers
• 1,450 wines.
• 42,000 bottles poured and/or purchased (2018 stats)
• 82,000 wine glasses used (2018 stats)

Our Numbers

32 interviews..
25 winemakers
7 CEO’s or General Managers.
Sleepless nights – 2
Hours budgeted for all interviews – 3
Minutes to missing last Harbour Air flight – 1


41 years ago the Vancouver International Wine Festival opened their doors to the World’s wineries.
Only one showed up. Robert Mondavi brought his California wines to pour that day.
Some say California saved the show.

And so, here we are 41 years later and California is the feature region at the 41st VanWineFest.
What a line up. We couldn’t talk to them all but we did do pretty well.
Seventeen Californians and one certain Washington Red Mountain newbie.
Have a favourite California wine? Check the list below. See if it’s there or see if it’s there but go looking for a new California pal.
FYI – Next Week Gina Gallo. Jean Charles Boisset and 15 Canadian winemakers

Jon Bonne – Keynote Speaker. Author of The New Wine Rules

Here’s why I immediately liked Jon Bonne.
“ Not all pink wine need be Summer water But Whispering Angel should be cast into some Miltonian iteration of Hell”
Jon Bonné is one of the most influential American voices on wine. He is the senior contributing editor for PUNCH, and the author of The New California Wine and The New Wine Rules.

Jon Bonne

Bob Blue – Founding Winemaker at Bonterra, 1000 Stories and Elysian Collection.

In 2016 the Wine Enthusiast awarded Bonterra as its American Winery of the Year because of its commitment to organic farming and it’s quality of affordable wines. Bonterra is the most popular organic wine in the USA.
Fetzer’s bourbon-barrel-aged Zinfandel 1000 Stories debuted in 2014. In the five years since, production has exploded from 5,000 cases to more than 140,000 annually!

Craig McAllister – Winemaker at La Crema

A New Zealand native, McAllister earned a bachelor’s degree in viticulture and enology from Lincoln University in Christchurch, New Zealand. His deep passion for winemaking has taken him all over the world, from New Zealand to Australia, Chile and Cyprus. Since moving to California, in addition to his work with La Crema, McAllister has also made wine for Wild Ridge, crafting elegant Pinot Noir from vineyards on the rugged Sonoma Coast.

Randy Lange – Owner Lange Twins

Lange Twins

Randy Lange is a fifth-generation winegrower.
During the 1870’s his Great-Grandparents, Johann and Maria Lange, settled in Lodi. By 1916 they had the family’s first grape-ranch. It was on this ranch where their dad, Harold, was born in 1920.
In 1974 they decided to farm on our own. They finally built Lange Twins winery in 2006.
FYI – Lange Lodi vineyard produces spicy old-vine Zinfandel, concentrated Bordeaux-style wines and lively Rhone-style reds and whites—many from organically or sustainably farmed vineyards.

Ondine Chattan

Chief Winemaker Share a Slash/Cannonball/Cowboys and Angels
High Dive and Astrolabe
Ondine is a passionate Sonoma County winemaker with experience ranging from cult boutique producers to notable household name brands. Her love of the diversity of Sonoma and California at large fuels her enthusiasm for making a range of varietals from Sauvignon Blanc to Cabernet. Started her career at Cline, Beam and Geyser Peak.

Emma Swain – CEO St Supery

Emma Swain, CSW and CEO of St. Supéry Estate Vineyards and Winery has worked in the wine industry for more than 20 years. Emma started in finance, before joining Niebaum-Coppola Winery and later worked at Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery for thirteen years as Chief Operating Officer
“Our primary focus is on Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon, “We’re a 100 percent Estate Winery, which means that we grow and produce everything that we make, without a drop of anything else coming into the process. Of the more than 530 wineries in the area, there are only a handful in the Napa Valley that are 100 percent Estate.”

Paul Wagner – Napa Valley College

Paul Wagner was honored by the American Wine Society as the winner of its annual Award of Merit for 2018. Other recipients of the award include Robert Mondavi, Gina Gallo, Warren Winiarski, etc
“Paul has influenced the way the public drinks wine and thinks about wine”
Paul Wagner has been an instructor for Napa Valley College’s Viticulture and Enology department for the past 23 years. In addition, he teaches at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, is a guest lecturer at many universities and has spoken at more than 80 conferences throughout the world on wine, wine education, wine tourism, public affairs, and wine marketing.

David Gates Jr – Ridge Vineyards VP Vineyard Operations

After an obligatory stint in Napa Valley he made his way to Ridge in 1989. David’s duties include managing the historic Monte Bello vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Whitton Ranch at Geyserville, and the Lytton Estate vineyards at Healdsburg, as well as monitoring and helping all Ridge growers in Sonoma, Napa, Santa Clara, and San Luis Obispo Counties.
Ridge’s fame started when it was placed fifth in the 1976 Judgment of Paris tasting. At the 30th anniversary tasting in 2006 it went several steps further, with its 1971 Monte Bello Cabernet winning first place in the original vintage category and the 2000 ranking top for new vintages.

Russ Weis – President Silverado Vineyards

In 2005, Silverado Vineyards pioneering winemaker Jack Stuart stepped down as general manager, and Russ Weis took the reins. Russ, a senior vice president with Robert Mondavi (launched Opus One), brought more than twenty years winemaking to Silverado. He is extremely passionate about the winery: “We enjoy an amazing array of meticulously cared for estate fruit. Even in the most challenging years, our vineyards guarantee us a level of quality which we can be proud to call Silverado.”
Silverado makes around 85,000 cases each year, of which 22,000 are Chardonnay and the rest Bordeaux-style wines. The vineyards are in cool climate Napa regions, Carneros and Stag’s Leap.

Harvest Duhig – Atlas Peak Winemaker/Grower Relations Wagner Family of Wines
Caymus.Conundrum.MerSoleil.Emmolo.Red Schooner

Born and Raised in Napa. In September of 2002 she tried selling grapes to Chuck Wagner. He declined the fruit but hired her to work with him.17 years later she’s Mountain Cabernet Winemaker for Caymus Vineyards. Harvest also has her own family winery Duhig, in Coombsville.

Kristen Barnhisel – Winemaker (White Wines) J Lohr

Also born and raised in Napa, Kristen brings two decades of viticulture and winemaking on three continents to making the whites at J Lohr.
Along the way she worked with mentors Zelma Long at Long Vineyard and Milla Handley at Handley Cellars.

Ray Signorello – Owner/Winemaker Signorello Estates

Ray lost his winery to the Napa fires. The house his Father built and the buildings attached.
Surprisingly his wines mostly survived. Signorello was designed like a Bordeaux Chateau. Everything farmed in-house for the past 40 years. His surviving vines included 38 year old Chardonnay vines with the Cab vines not that far behind.

Ray Signorello

Ray was pouring his fabulous Signorello Estates Cab but also his new wines Fuse, Edge and Trim.
Signorello is Located in the heart of the Silverado Trail. Just North is Stags Leap and just West is Oak Knoll. There’s a new winery being built this year.
Ray on Social Media and Millennials
“They’re different from Gen X and Baby Boomers. They seem to be more interested in trying wines they haven’t heard of before – off-beat stuff – not necessarily the blue chip Napa Valley. So the challenge is how do we in Napa Valley make sure we’re engaging them”

Randy Ullom Chief Winemaker at Kendall-Jackson

Randy Ullom

I cannot think of another winemaker who has stayed with the same winery for 28 years.
Randy oversees 12,800 acres of estate vineyards in cooler coastal California winegrowing regions. One third each in North Coast, Monterey and Santa Barbara counties.

Randy Meyer Senior Winemaker Geyser Peak

A native of Santa Rosa Randy grew up tending the small family Muscat vineyard on their property.
He and his family promptly build a small cellar into a hill on their property and started production. As one does in wine country. Randy has interned at Piper Sonoma and Far Niente before spending 23 years with Korbel and Draxton Wine.
Geyser Peak was named Sonoma Winery of the Year in 2018 by The New York International Wine Competition. Farming in Sonoma plus The Russian River and Alexander Valleys.

Karl Wente – Wente Vineyards

Fifth generation winemaker and winegrower Karl Wente grew up working at Wente Vineyards and expanded his experience at the Peter Michael Winery in Sonoma and Brown Brothers winery in Australia. In 2013, Karl was named one of Wine Enthusiast’s “40 Under 40.

Thank You to :
James Murray – Tech and production
Kristine Wilkinson (
Bailey Jelinski (Milk)
Anna Stuber (Milk)



Part 2 : Vancouver International Wine Festival

December 7th, 2019 – UNCORKED!    THE SCIENCE OF WINE!






“Uncorked: A Celebration of the Science of Wine” took place Thursday, November 14, as  a special collaboration between Science World and five of British Columbia’s most acclaimed wineries: Mission Hill Family Estate, CedarCreek Estate Winery, CheckMate Artisanal Winery, Martin’s Lane Winery, and Road 13 Vineyards.


Through seminars, tastings and  hands-on activities, renowned winemakers and viticulturists showcased  the science, craftsmanship and terroir that makes Okanagan Wines so extraordinary.

As well, chefs from two of the region’s best estate restaurants — Terrace (Mission Hill) and Home Block (CedarCreek) — served amazing culinary plates to pair with the wines.

Special Guests:

Janet Wood – President and CEO of Science World

Darryl Brooker – President, Iconic Wineries of British Columbia

Phil McGahan – General Manager and Winemaker at CheckMate Artisanal Winery

Shane Munn – General manager and Winemaker at Martin’s Lane Winery

Taylor Whelan  – Winemaker at CedarCreek Estate Winery

Corrie Krehbiel – Winemaker at Mission Hill Family Estate

Joseph Luckhurst – General Manager, Road 13 Vineyards

Kurtis Kolt – Wine Educator. Judge. Georgia Straight

Tim Pawsey – Wine Judge. Educator


 Wines poured on the night…

CedarCreek Estate Winery

  • 2018 Estate Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2018 Platinum Riesling
  • 2016 Estate Pinot Noir
  • 2017 Platinum Syrah

Martin’s Lane Winery

  • 2014 Naramata Ranch Riesling
  • 2015 Fritzi’s Riesling
  • 2014 Simes Pinot Noir
  • 2015 DeHart Pinot Noir

CheckMate Artisanal Winery

  • 2015 Attack Chardonnay
  • 2015 Fool’s Mate Chardonnay
  • 2014 Opening Gambit
  • 2014 Silent Bishop Merlot

Mission Hill Family Estate

  • 2017 Reserve Meritage
  • 2018 Terroir Sauvignon Blanc – Semillon
  • 2017 Terroir Cabernet Franc
  • 2014 Quatrain

Road 13

  • 2017 Roussanne
  • 2017 Viognier
  • 2017 Syrah
  • 2017 Syrah Malbec

Seminars taking place throughout the evening included:   

  • Synthesis: The Science of Blending Wine
  • Evolution: The Science of Aging Wine
  • Innovation: Technology and the Modern Organic Vineyard
  • Terroir: The Science of Soil


Proceeds  support Science World’s On the Road program, which last year brought live science performances to 41,500 students throughout BC who otherwise might not have had a chance to visit TELUS World of Science.



Holiday Wines..





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