September 4th, 2021-The Okanagan Reconnect Week Three. South Okanagan


The Okanagan Reconnect Week Three. South Okanagan

(Presented by Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association)


What an adventure. Talking, traveling, and tasting our way through the Okanagan.

Moon Curser is our home base this week. Spectacular place! What a great winery Beata and Chris Tolley have created.

They’ll join us for a sit-down interview in Week Five


We Re-Connect with –

John Weber –  Co-owner and winemaker at Orofino Vineyards  (Similkameen Valley)

John Weber

John brings two of his best wines. The  2019 Chardonnay (Fantastic) and his 2020 Gamay (Sublime)

(check out the interview on video. On our website or our YouTube channel)    


Bill Eggert – Owner & winemaker at Fairview Cellars. (Golden Mile)

Fairview Cellars

Wild Bill brings two nice surprises. 2020 Sauvignon Blanc (Sauv/Sem) “my oyster wine”

And the engaging  2019 Crooked Post Pinot Noir. (Interview also on video)

Bill Eggert


Justin Hall – Estate Winemaker at Nk’Mip (Osoyoos)

With many fine wines to choose from, Justin poured the beautiful 2019 QQ Pinot Noir and the delightful 2020 White Merriym.  (Interview also on video)

Justin Hall  Estate Winemaker

Executive Chef Jeff van GeestMiradoro at Tinhorn Creek (Golden Mile)

Jeff talks about the staffing problems that all restaurants have been having. It’s prime time in the Okanagan and some restaurants are cutting down hours and days in order to stay open. Jeff is revealing,  enlightening, and a damn fine chef.

Jeff Van Geest


Thank You TOTA –


Next Week – Okanagan Reconnect Week Four

At Noble Ridge (OK Falls)

John Skinner – Painted Rock (OK Falls)

Terry Meyer Stone – Meyer Family & Mayhem Wines (OK Falls)

Leslie D’Andrea and Bernard Gauthier – Noble Ridge Wines (OK Falls)




August 28th, 2021 – The Okanagan Reconnect Week Two – Naramata Bench


The Okanagan Reconnect Week Two – Naramata Bench

(Presented by Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association)


It’s week two of our Okanagan Reconnect!

This week we are gathering at Hillside Winery and Bistro  on the Naramata Bench

Tasting Room Radio was conceived in a studio in a barn on The Bench in 2007.

So we’ve come full circle.

Our winery and food guests were asked to bring two wines to profile.


Rickard and Jill Richardson Branby – Sperling Vineyards ( final week 1 guest)

Rickard & Jill Richardson Branby-Sperling  Sperling Organic 2018 Pinot Noir & Sperling Pet Nat

Jay Drysdale –  co-founder and winemaker Bella Wines

Jay Drysdale and Josie Estate Chardonnay made ancestral method and 2016 Reserve Eastside Trad Method

Master of Wine Marcus Ansems – co-founder and winemaker Daydreamer Wines

Master of Wine Marcus Ansems (Daydreamer) 2019 Amelia (Syrah/Viognier) & 2019 Orange Wine (100% Viognier)

Exec Chef Ned Bell and Sommelier Emily Walker –

Chef Ned Bell

Emily brought L-ST Projects Ambient Chardonnay (Alyssa Hubert) & 2020 jocko a light Cab Franc (Kelsey Rufiange Echo Bay) BRAVO to both.  Thanks Emily.

Emily Walker

Penelope and Dylan Roche –  co-founders/winemakers of Roche Wines

Penelope and Dylan Roche – Roche Wines    2020 Pinot Gris Texture & Nuances (Bordeaux Blend) (such promise)

Kathy Malone – Chief Winemaker Hillside Winery

Chef Evan Robertson. Kathy Malone Winemaker & Shelann Sleegers Wine Club Hillside Winery and Bistro

2020 Muscat Ottonel & 2015 Mosaic (Bordeaux Blend) History in a bottle

Evan Robertson – Exec Chef  Hillside Bistro/Shelann Sleegers – Wine Club Manager 


 Associate Producer Corey Wood has edited video versions of the interviews with Jay Drysdale, Marcus Ansems, Ned Bell, and Emily Walker. They can be found on YouTube




At Moon Curser…(Osoyoos)

John Weber – Orofino (Similkameen)

Wild Bill Eggert – Fairview Cellars (Golden Mile)

Justin Hall – Estate Winemaker   Nk’Mip (Osoyoos)

Chef Jeff Van Geest – Miradoro. Tinhorn Creek (Golden Mile)



August 14th, 2021-SUMMER SPIRITS with Davin De Kergommeaux


SUMMER SPIRITS with Davin De Kergommeaux


 My spirits education began and ended with the same bottle of  Lemon Gin.

My brother Denis and I were the youngest members of the Kamloops Rube Band.

All the other band members were college-age or dads.

Denis and I tried to keep up with “the boys” when we did parades or road trips.

As much as we liked the first taste of lemon gin, we HATED ourselves the morning after.


For me, it only took one bottle and I never went back to spirits. That is until I met Davin de Kergommeaux at the Canadian Whisky Championships in Victoria.

Davin has been an author and whisky reviewer/judge for over two decades.

Davin De Kergommeaux

His books Canadian Whisky The Portable Expert, The New Portable Expert, and The Definitive Guide to Canadian Distilleries are invaluable to those of you seeking support and deep information on whisky and spirits.

So.  When I decided to do a Summer Spirits special – Davin was a natural co-host.

I asked two things of him:

Please recommend spirit makers who are also storytellers

and…   stop me when I get stupid.

He was great on the first ask and on the second request,  Davin almost gave up on me.


Davin’s recommendations were

Caitlin Quinn – Head Distiller at Eau Claire Distillery, Turner Valley, Alberta.

Negroni. Old Fashion. Rupert’s Whisky Sassafras.

Caitlin Quinn – Eau Claire


Jake Clark –  Consumer Engagement Manager  Strait and Narrow – Custom Handcrafted Gins/Pacific Coast Cocktails

Grapefruit Rosemary/Pear Rhubarb/Peach Elderflower/Lemon Lavender  (Makers of 1908 Gin)


Bob Baxter – President & Co-founder Yukon Brewing Company

Spiked Seltzers –  Cherry and Lime/Pineapple Ginger/Raspberry/Basil/Mango Hibiscus and a great Lemon Lavender Radler (German Shandy)

Bryce Parsons – Master Distiller  Last Best Brewing. Calgary.

The man who created 52 different gins in one year.

Last Best Afterglow Gin & Soda – Savage Love  Tom Collins – Fortunella Citrus Iced Tea


Colin McDougall – Corby’s Spirits Portfolio Consultant.

JP Wiser’s 18-year-old Whisky and Lot 40 Dark Oak 100% Rye Whisky

The man is a storyteller. Enjoy the tales.


Thank you Davin De Kergommeaux, Letittia King, Rob Roycroft and Heather Gillespie at Yukon Brewing.


The Okanagan Re-Connect

A food and wine tour of The Okanagan.  At Least 20 winery interviews over 3-4 weeks

Next week

Chef Mark Filatow – Waterfront Wines

David Patterson – Tantalus

Jason Parkes – The Hatch

Sperling Vineyards

Ellen Walker Mathews – TOTA

Christine Coletta/Matt Dumayne – Haywire/OCP


Mixology at Duncan Firehall


August 7th, 2021 -Michael Allemeier (SAIT) & Singular Winemaker:  Anthony Buchanan  


“I need a miracle” –   Michael Allemeier (SAIT) and the singular wines of  Anthony Buchanan.



In June  Exec Chef Jeff van Geest  at Miradoro Restaurant /Tinhorn Creek posted an Instagram message that started with

“I need a Miracle”. 

He simply couldn’t find enough kitchen staff to begin serving those amazing meals. He wasn’t alone in his search.

We talked to Chef Jeff and The Foodie Chap Liam Mayclem in San Francisco to see if the same thing was happening there. (Yes, it was)

The Kitchen

The second story within this situation was a shout out about the “toxic” nature of some better restaurants. Head chefs screaming at staff. An attitude that’s disappearing but not nearly fast enough.

I wanted to seek one more voice to make sense to this crisis.  Michael Allemeier is an instructor in Calgary  at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT).  He spent many years in this culinary world.  His last Exec Chef position was The Terrance at Mission Hill Winery. The Terrace was named one of the Top 10 winery restaurants in the World.

Michael Allemeier (SAIT)

Now Michael is instructing students who will become the new kitchen staff in many of our lives.

I thought it was important  to know what he was telling them in their classes about these two situations.  Lack of staff and toxic environments.

His comments are telling in this two part interview.

Anthony Buchanan – Winemaker and co-founder of Anthony Buchanan Wines


“a slightly different approach to winemaking” quote from Anthony.

To anyone looking for wines that speak to you in  a different “language”,  the winemaker/artist to seek out is Anthony Buchanan.

Anthony Buchanan

I think it started with a Garagiste event several years ago.  I had been tasting, spitting and talking  most of the afternoon and in the last tent were Anthony Buchanan and his wines. It took me a long time to walk away from that tent.

Not only did I instantly like the man, I was completely won over by his wines.

His Pinot Gris tasted like none of the others that day. Same with his reds. I was gobsmacked.

Anthony Buchanan and family

Then some time later I tasted his Pinot Blanc. It was my favourite BC White of the Year. I don’t mean it as a knock on any other whites but to have a first taste lift your soul is just remarkable. AND he’s just announced that the 2020 Pinot Blanc has just been released. As good as the 2019 was, Anthony is on record as saying the 2020 is more “dynamic and complex.” 100% barrel fermented using low house toasts. Heads up – only 120 cases.  And-GO!



So, its time to get caught up with one of the  most interesting and independent winemakers in Canada.

Check out the wines we taste and talk about – I think you’ll see a pattern.

2020 GAD – Grape, Apple and Dandelion. The grape is an outstanding Viognier. The dandelion is your inhale. Has the jam to be a game changer

2020 Semi carbonic Malbec Rose. Unfined. Unfiltered. 2 months neutral oak. Self described “funky”

2020 Viognier. 2019 was sold out Not surprising as Anthony says its one of his best. New one coming.

Snafu – Skin fermented white blend. Clean biodynamic wine. (Chard-S Blanc-Muscat-Viognier)

Trois – Orange and Amber wine (Gew. Chardonnay Musque. Sauvignon Blanc)

Fubar – Red Blend (Zwei-Gamay-Pinot Noir-Syrah-Muscat)  Beaujolais influenced

Gamay – best yet

Ancestrale Method Sparkling. (wild ferment brut) (whole cluster Chard-Pinot Gris-Gamay)

Pinot Noir (rich black fruit – sage -floral notes- spice)

Whole Cluster Syrah.  Featuring foot treading by daughter Ashlyn

Gruner – (coming next year perhaps)

And two named for  his children

Ashlyn – wild ferment Pinot Noir 115/667. (Black Sage Gravel Bar) Old World style – New World climate.  Some foot crushing.

Some 20%  new oak. Lots of neutral.

Lawson – the is the one that got my attention. Pinot Blanc. 70% Neutral French. 30% concrete. Barb Phillip was right!



The Okanagan Re-Connect

Some 15-20 wineries from North to South

Summer Spirits Special

A return to Tightrope




July 31st, 2021- BC Women in Wine with Sandra Oldfield and Rathjen Cellars


More BC Women in Wine with Sandra Oldfield and Rathjen Cellars





Sandra Oldfield – Elysian Projects


Sandra Oldfield

Sandra Oldfield is one of the founders of Tinhorn Creek Vineyards in Oliver, BC.  She was its winemaker for 20 years and CEO and President for 8 years until its sale in the fall of 2017.  Sandra now runs her own consultant company with her husband Kenn.

Elysian Projects helps BC wineries with a wide variety of issues including business and finance, marketing, human resources, social media, sustainability, and health and safety.  She is a member of the  BC Tourism Engagement Council for the Minister of Tourism and was named one of Canada’s Top 100 powerful women in 2016. You can find her most Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. PT on Twitter hosting the hashtag #BCWineChat, which she founded in 2010.

She drives a 1957 DeSoto.

Her blog is

Sandra Oldfields Desoto

This is the second feature special we’ve done called BC Women in Wine.

Keeping in mind that the wine business has always been a male-dominated industry, Sandra shines a light on three women who rise above the fray and stand out as leaders.


Sandra has lots of choices but seems to intuitively know which ones belong together.  This time they are

Christine Coletta – Okanagan Crush Pad/Haywire. Narrative etc.


Christine Coletta is one of the founding members of the BC Wine Institute and the BC VQA program, and she has helped to mentor a number of professionals in the food and wine industries over the last 30 years.

Through her crush work at Okanagan Crush Pad, she has also been involved in the start of a number of new wineries in BC. Her guidance, support, and mentorship have landed her the nickname, “Godmother of BC Wine.”


Keira LaFranc  – Winemaker at Stags Hollow


Keira LeFranc’s young winemaking career was made possible through being at the right place at the right time.  BUT she came prepared with education, talent, passion & skill!

LeFranc earned a biology degree at the University of Alberta in Edmonton and then headed to New Zealand to earn a post-graduate diploma in viticulture and enology.

Back home, she landed a job as a cellar hand at Stag’s Hollow in 2017 She was promoted to assistant winemaker under winemaker Dwight Sick.

When Dwight moved on to Moraine Winery on the Naramata Bench in  2018,  Keira was finally promoted to winemaker.


Paula Cooper  – winemaker at CC Jentsch

Paula worked by the side of Sandra Oldfield as winemaker at Tinhorn Creek for 10 years. She took that experience to CC Jentsch on the Golden Mile Bench.  When Chris Jentsch passed away Paula became the link between winemakers.

Paula considers herself a cellar master as well.  Taking care of Chris’s craft.

(a future guest on Tasting Room Radio)



Michael Rathjen  –   Rathjen Cellars (Saanich. Vancouver Island)

Mike Rathjen moved to Vancouver Island in 2011 with a passion for wine, farming, and food culture. Over the next five years, he honed his winemaking skills in his basement (AKA the ‘Wine Bunker’) while building relationships in the local farming community.

Together with his friend and business partner Colin Mann, Mike founded Rathjen Cellars in 2016 with a business model based off leased farmland and a focus on supporting the local food system.

Bunker Red from Rathjen Cellars

Mike prefers the title ‘winegrower’—seeking to diminish the variable of winemaking to allow further exploration and expression of Vancouver Island as an emerging wine region.

Rathjen Cellars source all of their fruit from six vineyards on the Saanich Peninsula and two vineyards in the Cowichan Valley.


I’ve always been impressed with the wines I’ve tasted from Mike and I think you will be too!  Tasting and talking about their Auxerrois, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir.  Yum.



The Okanagan Re-Connect

15-20 wineries from North to South

Summer Spirits with Davin de Kergomeaux



July 24th, 2021 – Unsworth Vineyards – New Owners & New Vineyards = Impressive!-


Unsworth Vineyards – New Owners & New Vineyards = Impressive!   


 A feature on Unsworth Vineyards – Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island.

At the beginning Tim and Colleen Turyk were a fishing family until Tim “retired”.

They dreamed about reinventing themselves. In 2009  they heard about a small winery and vineyard for sale in the Cowichan Valley. It all had a Mediterranean feel about it .


Colleen and Tim Turyk


The beautiful farmhouse eventually  became a restaurant, the vineyards became healthy and vibrant. A pond was dug, the tasting room came to life and a sustainable dream became reality.

Winemaker Dan Wright and his team farmed almost 15 acres of vineyards. Marechal Foch,  Blattner varietals, Petti Milo, Sauvignette, Auxerrois. Then came Pinot Gris,  Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  A very popular Sparking portfolio followed.



They were so successful that they attracted the attention of other winery leaders.

After a one year courtship,  the Turyk Family sold Unsworth to Barbara Banke and her business partner,  daughter Julia Jackson. The Unsworth team will stay on as they always have.

Barbara was the wife and very strong partner of the late  Jess Jackson – founder of wine  giant Kendall-Jackson. Julia has the very same smarts and drive as her Mother. The are a formidable team.

So. Keep in mind.  Barbara and Julia  have select wineries in their portfolio and they decided to buy a winery in Canada. On Vancouver Island in the Cowichan Valley.  Surely others will follow.

“the game has truly changed”


I’ve tried to follow the Unsworth story as best I could,  hoping to see what elements of the winery would change with the new ownership and was delighted to learn that they have purchased an additional 60 acres of land outside Duncan and intend to double their production from 10,000 cases to 20,000.

“the game has really changed” this hour we’re off to Duncan and hanging with the  Unsworth team.

Dan and Chris

Tim Turyk – Co-Founder

Chris Turyk – Sommelier and Experience Manager (I made the last part up)

Dan Wright – Winemaker

Andrew Watt – Viticulturalist

Andrew Watt

Chef Maartyn Hoogeveen – The Restaurant at Unsworth.

Chef Maartyn Hoogeveen Unsworth

We start in the restaurant and end with Tim and I standing on the hill top that will be their new vineyard.

We’re tasting wines and pairing food with chef.

We also talk about the upcoming Cowichan Wine Festival Aug 1-31




The Judge – Hester Creek

The Okanagan Re-Connect

15 wineries from all over the Okanagan Valley.

Summer Spirits with Davin de Kergommeaux

Sandra Oldfield – 3 Women of Wine



July 18th, 2021- Remembering pioneer George Heiss, Paired releases from Cedar Creek, Jim Cuddy talks Wines!



George Heiss – Gray Monk Estate Winery (Co-founder. Winemaker/Lake Country)

George and Trudy. It was always George and Trudy Heiss.

He was a really good hairdresser. She was a model. They met,  fell in love, planned a family, and headed for the Okanagan to become winery owners and winemakers.

There were only 6 other wineries in BC then. They were the 7th.

Gray Monk became one of the true iconic vineyards in Canada.

Gray Monk


Their flagship wines were Pinot Auxerrois, Kerner, Pinot Gris and Gew!

The very favourite blend was Latitude 50 – Bacchus and Riesling.

What I liked most about George and Trudy was their sense of humour and  their very affordable prices.

“We’ve paid for our land,  so we decided to thank the customers by keeping the prices as low as possible”

We all lost a true pioneer June 29 when George died. He was 81.

Our sincere thoughts and love go out to Trudy and  to his family.

I found this interview I did with George and Trudy from 2012. They were celebrating their 30-40-50 tour.

30 years since they opened,  40 years since they first planted vines and 50 years since they met & married.

The legend – George Heiss!!

Taylor Whelan – Winemaker – Cedar Creek (Lakeshore. East Kelowna)

Executive Chef Neil Taylor – Home Block – Cedar Creek

Taylor Whelan Cedar Creek

Under normal circumstances, presenting new releases from Cedar Creek might seem routine.

However, when you combine the quick mind of Chef Neil Taylor  (Home Block) and the passion of winemaker Taylor Whelan, those wines are anything but routine.

Chef Neil Taylor

We’re tasting…

2019 Riesling (brilliant minerality, lemon/lime, petrol, apple)

2020  Sauvignon Blanc (pear, granny smith, citrus, lemon, cats pee)

2020 Pinot Noir Rose (strawberry, lime, tangerine, plum)

2019  Pinot Noir (cherry, strawberry, oak, cedar, minerality, and smoke)


And Chef is pairing in order…

Beets and Borani. Walnuts, goats cheese, dill, and fennel.

Burrata 6 Shishido’s, Prosciutto, pesto focaccia.

Spring salmon, clams and bacon,  charcuterie

Thinly slice cold roast pork loin, tuna mayonnaise, capers, and rocket (Arugula)


Jim Cuddy – Blue Rodeo. Jim Cuddy Band   –   Cuddy Wine by Tawse, Niagara

Jim Cuddy at Tawse


He is one of the very biggest stars in Canada’s music world.

I’m not talking about the World World – The Drakes, Biebers,  Weekend, Shawn Mendes, etc

I’m talking about CANADA’S music. Our music. For our country. If others get it – bonus.

Think The Hip, Feist, Colin James. Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. Alan Doyle etc.

Blue Rodeo is such a band. They can tour coast to coast, head south into the USA, and be welcomed.

Jim Cuddy is the co-founder and co-writer/co-singer of Blue Rodeo.

And then there’s his own solo career featuring The Jim Cuddy Band.

One of his other talents is – wine. The man knows his wines. The bus heading home from a tour across Canada is much heavier than when it left. It’s loaded with Canadian and World wines.

When not on the road, Jim spends time at the highly regarded vineyards at  Tawse Winery in Niagara.

The Cuddy by Tawse,  created by winemaker Paul Pender are

2016 Chardonnay

2018  Cab Merlot (Cab Franc, Cab Sauvignon, Merlot)

2016 Spark Traditional  Method Sparkling Riesling


Despite years of heckling, I’ve never TASTED his wines. But Tawse doesn’t fool around with interlopers.

So, when we do get together to talk music..right after the music chat is finished, we wait 2-3 seconds. Then the wine conversation begins.

Here’s the latest chat.


Blue Rodeo play The Calgary Stampede – Saturday, July 17


The Jim Cuddy Band returns to Calgary’s Prince’s Island Park to headline the Folk Festival Summer Serenade on July 23



The  return to Unsworth  (Cowichan)

The Okanagan  Re-Connect  (Okanagan Valley)

Summer Spirits with Davin de Kergommeaux

Jeff Downie – The Old Firehall mixologist




July 10th, 2021- Western Living Food /Travel Editor Neil McLennan : Top 40 Foodies of 2021


Western Living Food /Travel Editor Neil McLennan : Top 40 Foodies of 2021

Neil McLennan – Western Living

This is the  14th edition of  Western Livings Foodies of the Year and it’s safe to say, it’s been a tough year for most everyone in the hospitality industry across Western Canada. But despite the closures, restrictions and seemingly endless hurdles, the foodies of the West still managed to make their mark and do all of us proud. Western Living’s Top 40 Foodie  winners listed at bottom.


With the invaluable assistance and lung power of Food and Travel Editor Neil McLennan, we present Western Livings  2021 Foodies of the Year Finalists: these are 40 of the tastemakers, innovators and damn good cooks that wowed their  editorial team. Congratulations to each and every one of you.


  1. Katherine Backman (Nora’s Non-Dairy <> , Vancouver) The beloved cashew-based Nora’s is only three years old but it’s already in 250 retailers in B.C. and Alberta, including Whole Foods Market, Nesters Market and, and has sold more than 100,000 pints of its ice cream.


  1. Ned Bell & Kate Colley (The Naramata Inn <> , Naramata) The former Four Seasons chef and Oceanwise ambassador is no stranger to this list, but he and wife Colley (along with partners Marie Wiesner and Paul Hollands) have taken the all-potential, but never-quite-there circa 1907 Naramata Inn and transformed it into the perfect small wine country inn. Great food, a killer wine list and charm and history galore—it’s the lodging the area’s been longing for.

Chef Ned bell

Kate Colley

  1. Tess Bevernage and Tom Robillard (Hānai Family Table <> , Vancouver) In a year when all but the most selfish of us stayed put in our home provinces, what a godsend it was to have these two recent O’ahu transplants cooking up all the Hawaiian classics—from garlic Furikake Chicken to Spam Musabi to perfect macaroni salad—once a week from their East Georgia shared commissary to a legion of tropically deprived fans.


  1. Bread & Butter Collective (Social Issues, Victoria) Spearheaded by some of the biggest names in the city (Sterling Grice of Part & Parcel, the Big Wheel Burger team) this initiative is focussed reimagining the Victoria food scene addressing issue with compensation, returns and community engagement.


  1. @actual_daddy (Good Pizza <> , Vancouver) The industry veteran—real name Alexander Cashin—started making homemade pizzas on his night off, posting them on Instagram and then donating profits to local charities helping those in need. It proved so popular that it’s morphed into an actual business: Good Pizza started serving the public in late January 2021.


  1. Antonio Cayonne Andrew Jameson and Sean Reeve (Say Mercy! <> , Vancouver) The Southern-meets-Italian spot had just opened when Covid hit, but the team (who also own the Mackenzie Room) responded by starting the Staff Meal program, which allowed industry people and first responders to access low-cost healthy meals via takeout (and made reasonably priced containers of deliciousness for the rest of us). Plus Cayonne found time to star in a Hallmark Movie – no kidding.


7.Taylor Chobotiuk (Tacofino <> , numerous locations in B.C.) The head of people at Tacofino spearheaded the Shift Change series of events, and when Covid hit moved them online to help the industry open up a discussion on important issues facing the industry like LGBTQ2S and BIPOC inclusion.


  1. Meaghan and Steve Clark (Tractor <> , Vancouver/Victoria/Toronto) Covid proved a boon to the healthy, pre-made fare that has seen Tractor grow from one location in Kits in 2013 to now nine, including Toronto and the newly opened Victoria spot.


  1. Abdallah “Dallah” El Chami (Superbaba <> , Vancouver & Victoria) With partners Robbie Kane and Ryan Spong, Dallah brought the middle-eastern meets high-end ingredient concept to Main Street, and it’s been one of the few openings to flourish during a tough year. Plus he helped spearhead the movement to avoid delivery services, by making Superbaba a pick-up only spot.

Abdallah “Dallah” El Chami



  1. Liane Faulder (Edmonton Journal, <> Edmonton) The long-time Journal scribe covered Edmonton’s food scene with focus and passion for more than 30 years before taking a final bow in 2020. A sincere bow to a job well done.


  1. Mike Gordon (Great Plains Craft Spirits <> , Calgary) The main problem facing any whisky start-up? Time needed to mature the spirit to mellow perfection. Gordon didn’t have it, so he got creative with a variety of unique barrel finishes—both 20-year-old cognac & 35-year Armagnac versions will be coming soon. But it was their inaugural Jerez brandy finish that got them all the attention—including Best New Whisky at the Canadian Whisky Awards.


  1. Brandon Grossutti (Pidgin <> , Vancouver) The long-time Gastown restaurant owner created delivery app FromTo, as a cost-based delivery app that was designed to allow restaurants to survive the lockdown without having to pay the steep delivery fees associated with the big companies.


  1. Joe and Matt Hamill (Red Shed Malting <> , Penhold, AB) Most craft beer drinkers don’t think beyond the brewmaster when they enjoy a pint, but if it weren’t for the Hamill brothers steering their multi-generational farm in central Alberta toward producing their own custom malt, there would be a lot less interesting pints in Wild Rose Country.


  1. Jill Hoff (Monogram Coffee <> , Calgary) The team at Monogram has been at the forefront of the sustainable, ultra-nerdy love of coffee since their first location in 2014. This year saw their showstopping manager Jill Hoff win the title of Best Barista in Canada at the Canadian Barista Championships—the first woman to ever garner the honour.


Jill Hoff


  1. Tristan Jagger (Vancouver Food Runners <> , Vancouver) This start-up pairs restaurants with organization that help those in need with an aim to prevent food waste. Since March 2020, they have rescued over 235,000 pounds of food, which is equivalent to over 195,000 meals.


  1. Kelcie Jones (Chambar <> , Vancouver) With four years and counting at Chambar, the somm is one of the longest-serving-at-one-spot wine slingers in the city, and not only does she run one of the city’s tightest wine programs she’s long been an agitator for respectful and equal work environments for all FOH peeps.

Kelcie Jones


  1. Jenny Kang (Orchard <> , Calgary) The South Korean native grew up on a farm outside Seoul and has worked at some of the city’s top rooms (Bow Valley Ranche and Darren McLean’s acclaimed Shokunin), but at the stunning new Sturgess Architecture-designed Orchard, she’s finally the star of the show (and part owner), and she’s been wowing crowds with her modern Mediterranean as seen through a pan-Asian lens take on cooking.


  1. Peter Keith, Will Kotowicz and Glendon Tan (Meuwly’s Artisan Food Market <> , Edmonton) The concept started with three friends and nascent butchers launching a Secret Meat Club that delivered artisanal fare to those in the know. It’s now morphed into a 124th Street bricks-and-mortar shop showcasing not just their own charcuteries, but local fare from a well-curated selection of purveyors.


  1. Tyler Knight and Jordan Kubeck (Lightning Rock Winery <> , Summerland) Their low-intervention sparkling-wine operation has been clamoured after since their first vintage three years ago, and each year production and acclaim increases—and the date they sell out gets shorter.


  1. Eve Laird (Eve’s Crackers <> , Vancouver) The dream of a gluten-free cracker that tastes good became a reality when the Nanaimo-raised Laird perfected the crunchy and flavourful recipe that is the hallmark of Eve’s crackers. Now in some 500 locations across Western Canada, including Safeway, Save On Foods and Whole Foods Market. Sales reached the high six figures in 2019.


  1. Arlie and Brett Laroche, Scott Dicks and Lacey Sellinger (Odla <> , Saskatoon) Two farmers, a chef and a sommelier come together like some sort of agrarian Avengers to bring Saskatoon a near-perfect partnership of a generational farm (Odla means farm in Swedish) that supplies the bounty to a farm-to-table wonder on Sakatoon’s Broadway Ave.


  1. Julius Makarewicz (Nude Beverages <> , Vancouver) Is it possible that Nude, that spirit juggernaut that’s seemingly everywhere in Western Canada, only launched in 2017? Yes, and the anticipated onslaught of the behemoth has done little to dampen the local champ’s upwards trajectory.

Julius Makarewicz



  1. Jonathan Burke, Alex Ploughman, Craig and Jillian Sheridan (Legends Haul <> , Coquitlam) Perhaps the ultimate Covid pivoters, they not only moved from supplying high-end protein and produce from restaurants to consumers, but they also quickly added ready-made food from those restaurants to their growing fan base.


  1. Gemma McNeill and Doug Zaklan (Zaklan Heritage Farms <> , Surrey) The duo has transformed a 1.5-acre micro-plot that’s been in Dougs family for over 90 years into the go-to spot for thoughtful and creative chefs (like Budock and Co.’s Andrea Carlson) who want the very best (grown by the very best people).

Zaklan Heritage Farms


  1. Said Mdahoma (Said the Pastry Nerd)  <> , Calgary) If one person encapsulates everything that happened in the pandemic year, it might be this French-Comorian PhD in Neuroscience who got the baking bug and transformed a nascent passion into being one of Calgary’s self-taught proper French baking extra ordinaires, through his popular Instagram account and YouTube videos.


  1. Shane Munn (Martin’s Lane <> , Kelowna) The Kiwi winemaker oversees one of Anthony Von Mandl’s (and as such the entire Okanagan’s) prestige properties, crafting rieslings and pinot noirs that are easily among the region’s best (and most pricey), while still maintaining that southern hemisphere “aw shucks it’s nothing” vibe.


  1. Paul Natrall (Mr. Bannock <> , Vancouver) Nattrell is a familiar face thanks to his popular Mr. Bannock food truck, but it’s his role as a director of The Indigenous Culinary of Associated Nations that’s seeing him help bring to cuisine of our first peoples to a wider audience—including the Indigenous Feast Box program that sees Indigenous-owned restaurants (including Mr. Bannock) create healthy meals for their communities during Covid.

Paul Natrall



  1. N’Quatqua First Nations (Trout Hatchery <> , Darcy, B.C.) The D’arcy-based band may be isolated from regional population centres, but in the past few years they brought their bounty to the finest restaurants in the region (like Whistler’s Grill Room) with their pioneering trout farm. Covid saw them using their surplus to help feed local band members, many who, raised on Salmon, had never tried trout.


  1. Ben Reeder (Maple Bay Hop Farm <> , Maple Bay ) We love our IPAs out West but we rarely think of the raw goods required. Ben Reeder does—the Backcountry Brewing co-founder controls his (and others) own supply change, by running a Maple Bay hop farm growing everything from classic Cascade to nerdy Sorachi Ace to keep the bitter front and centre for breweries like Luppolo and Strange Fellows.


  1. Pascal Roy (La Fabrique St. George <> , Vancouver) The idiosyncratic owner of Marche St George had an idea three years ago to open a small natural wine that aged the fermenting juice in ancient kveri vessels. And it took all of those almost three years of dealing with the city’s permitting department to make it happen. But the cool Mt Pleasant spot is worth the wait.


  1. The Schacht Family (Ampersand Distilling Company <> , Duncan) What is it about gin and the Island? First it was the ground-breaking Victoria Gin, then purple-hued Empress, then the dominance of Sheringham. But at this year’s World Gin Awards, it was Ampersand’s flagship bottling that took home the Gold for Canada (and for good measure their Per Se Vodka won best varietal vodka at this years world vodka awards). A testament to the father-son engineering of Stephen and Jeremy, with Jeremy’s wife Jessica dealing with the botanicals and mother Ramona tending the nearby farm.


The Schacht Family


  1. J’Val Shuster (Devour <> Ca <> tering <> , Calgary) Her catering business may have been reeling from the pandemic, but when she heard that the Calgary Food Bank was in receipt of an unwieldy donation of 1,000 pounds of potatoes (destined for French fires that never were) she sprang into action. The Potato Project, as it came to be known, saw her company transform the raw material into healthy meals that could be frozen for the underprivileged. That initial shipment started a trend —by the end December, Devour had transformed over 20,000 pounds of potatoes into almost 16,000 packaged servings of potato soup, smashed potatoes and Potatoes O’Brien for the community.


  1. Gus Steiffenhofer Brandson (Published on Main <> , Vancouver) The Winnipeg-born Hawksworth and Pear Tree-alum opened one of the most ambitious restaurants in recent memory—weeks before Covid hit. But he’s stuck to his guns with thoughtful, elaborate and one-of-a-kind menus throughout the pandemic.


  1. Ian Tostenson (BCRFA <> , Vancouver) The long-time head of the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association was front and centre from the start of the pandemic, advocating for change to the industry—like patio permits and ability to sell wine with takeout—that made the difference between life and death for many establishments.

  1. The Turyk Family (Unsworth <> , Duncan) Perhaps the most momentous wine moment of the year came last summer when Barbara Banke and daughter Julia Jackson, majority owner in the behemoth that is California’s Jackson Family Estates, announced that they were purchasing Duncan’s well-respected Unsworth. It was a feather in the cap for the Turyk Family, who will stay on and continue the day-to-day operations of the now in-the-spotlight winery.


  1. Josh Vanderheide (Field House Brewery, <> Abbotsford) In the Lower Mainland, the conventional wisdom is that you want to open a great craft brewery you have two options: East Van or North Van. But Abbotsford’s Field House has bucked that trend making sought-after brews (they’re deadly with the sours) that the city folk are clamouring for (and they expanded to Chilliwack this year).




  1. Peter Van De Reep (Bar Gobo <> , Vancouver) The long-time Campagnolo Upstairs barkeep started the year by winning the BC Sommelier of the Year, but as his beloved bar closed, he helmed the opening of yet another soon-to-be classic spot a few blocks away: Andrea Carlson’s natural wine spot Bar Gobo.


  1. Brian Welch (Farrow Sandwiches <> , Edmonton) The sandwich king of Edmonton’s three locations was primed to serve the needs of the takeout-only era, but he still found some spare time to open the High Dough, an ode-to-Detroit deep dish, which seems like another concept that might replicate itself a few times over.


  1. Asha Wheeldon (Kula Kitchen <> , Vancouver) Wheeldon created the Afrocentric plant-based foods that became one of the city’s notable vegan operations, and when the BLM movement was just gaining wider recognition in Western Canada, she created one of the first directories of black-owned business in Vancouver that continues to be the resource for those who want to support with their shopping dollars.


  1. Greg Zeschuk (Ritchie Market <> , Edmonton) The Bioware founder used some of his capital to create one of the most dynamic spots for food in town. Housing the new Duchess Bakery location, Acme Meats, Transcend Coffee, the uber-popular Biera as well as Blind Enthusiasm Brewing, Ritchie Market has become the place for the city’s foodies to get their fix of, well, everything.



Here’s the Top Ten

For further info and results stay connected with <>




Cedar Creek new releases & food  pairing

With Winemaker Taylor Whelan & Chef Neil Taylor at Home Block

Remembering an Original – George Heiss at Gray Monk

Summer Spirits Special

-Last Best Distilling

-Eau Claire Distilling

-Strait and Narrow

-Yukon Beer and 2 Brewers.


























July 3rd, 2021 – Discovering outstanding  wines at 2House & Gold Hill plus  Little Engine on Naramata Bench


Discovering outstanding  wines at 2House & Gold Hill plus  Little Engine on Naramata Bench



 In 2007, when Tasting Room Radio began in a barn studio on the Naramata Bench,  I went looking for the most interesting people making the most interesting wines.

The very first of those guests were Val Tait and Ian Sutherland. Val was consulting a number of wineries/vineyards and Ian was making wine as the founder of Poplar Grove. They took me to wine school every time we talked.

Valli and Ian

We became friends. Ian consulted. Val recently said goodbye to Bench 1775.

Now, 14 years later they  come back to Tasting Room Radio as their own winery 2House. Making singular wines but each with its own expression.

For example they both make a Cab Franc. One in Val’s cool style and another with  Ian’s passion.

Here’s the problem.  They have yet to SHARE that Franc with me and frankly you as well. I hear its coming.

What they did send to taste and talk about were their collaborative efforts with –

2House  2018 Chardonnay (think Montrachet)  WOW!

2House 2017 Tempranillo (one of the very best BC reds I’ve tasted.)

Good grief these are good wines.!


Val Tait is also consulting  Gold Hill Wines for the Gill Family.  That means she has access to the very best vineyards and can grow  2House and the Gold Hill label into the future.

This time  we sample –

Gold Hill

2020 Cab Franc Rose

2020 Sauvignon Blanc

2014 Merlot – Let me say that again.  A 2014 Merlot is one of their releases this summer. It’s huge.

2015 Cab Franc.  Ditto!


Trust me on this.  When Val gets her hands and talent on those vineyards,  in the years ahead the wines at Gold Hill will be keepers.


We did this interview on Canada Day and began the conversation not about wine but about how, because of the shame of our residential schools, this Canada Day 2021 was unlike any other.

Instagram: @2housewine



Steven French  co-founder of Little Engine Wines (with wife Nicole)

 Steven and Nicole met at the University of Western Ontario and upon graduation moved to Calgary where they spent twenty years, Nicole in education and real estate development and Steven in oil and gas.

Successful entrepreneurs with an inherent family motto of will and determination it was their desire to create that beckoned them to an industry steeped in creativity.

They purchased their first vineyard site in 2011 with the foresight of combining their love for both wine and the rich tradition and culture of wine making into a brand that would deliver excellence without compromise, the Little Engine brand.

Their family motto: “Dreams don’t come true, dreams are made true.”

This two part interview started when I saw a mention of a virtual tasting Little Engine was offering on line.

I liked the idea because you could play back Stevens commentary – pause and make notes – then carry on.

Three small piccolo bottles showed up.

2018 Little Engine Chardonnay

2018 Little Engine Pinot Noir

2018 Merlot

I got Steven to turn off his front end loader and get in touch. No easy task.

I had a bag full of questions about Little Engine and he answered all of them and more.

Because of the commitment by Nicole and Steven, Little Engine Wines are always going to be singular, outstanding and better each year.

Thoroughly enjoyed this conversation with Steven.  I hope it shows.  Enjoy!!

Congratulations to the winemaking team, lead by Scott Robinson. Well Done!








Cedar Creek – New Releases

Meyer Family – New  Releases

Unsworth – Breaking new ground




June 26th, 2021 –  4th Annual Cowichan Valley Wine Festival!


Cowichan Wine Festival Aug 1-31.   12 wineries – 31 days – 36 wines to be discovered.


2021 –  4th Annual Cowichan Valley Wine Festival

Sunday, Aug 1 High Noon –  Tuesday, Aug 31, 5 PM.


It is so nice to be able to share this week’s Tasting Room Radio with our friends from the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island. The good news they bring is that The Cow is open for business.

They will be adhering to covid guidelines and practices.

In all,  12 wineries will be open and welcoming. (reservations are highly recommended)

You’ll want to make plans early because last year was a complete sell-out.

Tickets are $35.00.

Your handsome glass is the ticket that allows you to get into all 12 participating wineries.

Visit as many wineries as you like and collect stamps in your passport. If you collect all of them you can enter a draw for a Grand Prize.

For more info

For all the dark news of 2021 it’s nice to be able to share this week’s Tasting Room Radio with our friends from the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island. The good news they bring is that The Cow is open for business. They will be adhering to covid guidelines and practices.

In all,  12 wineries will be open and welcoming. (for some,  reservations are highly recommended)

You’ll want to make plans early because last year was a complete sell-out.


Tickets are $35.00. Your gorgeous glass (and passport) is your ticket. That allows you to get into all 12 participating wineries.

Visit as many wineries as you like and collect stamps in your passport. If you collect all of them you can enter a draw for a Grand Prize.

Historic Faces of Cowichan

For more info

unsworth wines

Unsworth Winery


The stories and the pours from 6 valley wineries. Our guest list includes:

 Jim Moody – Owner and Winemaker at Zanatta Vineyards (Duncan)

Bailey Williamson – Winemaker at Blue Grouse (Duncan)

Bailey Williamson Blue Grouse

Lorin Inglis – Manager of Enrico Winery (Mill Bay)

Brent Rowland – Winemaker Averill Creek and Joue (Duncan)

Brent Rowland Winemaker Averill Creek

Michelle Schulze –  Management  Venturi-Schulze (Cobble Hill)

Dan Wright – Winemaker Unsworth (Mill Bay)









Spring Releases from:


Gold Hill

Cedar Creek

Home Block Restaurant

Little Engine Virtual Tasting

Breaking Ground at Unsworth