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



We are currently doing interviews in the Vancouver Convention Centre at the 2024 VanWineFest.

NEXT WEEKWe start Part One of this years coverage.

Co-Hosts this year are Kelcie Jones,  Leader of This is  Wine School. Sommelier of the year, DJ Kearney Wine Director Terminal City Club Vancouver.  Wine Educator and Judge. Michaela Morris, international wine writer, judge, speaker. Writes for Decanter. Italian wine specialist and once again Daenna van Mulligen, The Wine Diva. Writer, speaker and outstanding wine reviewer.

In order to give ourselves time to gather guest comments, edit the 22 interviews and get ready for at least 3 weeks of wine stories and journeys, this week is a repeat of last years Part One kick-off.



 This is our 17th year of covering the  adventure  of The Van Wine Fest!

For the Executive Director Harry Hertscheg and his top flight team of organizers,  it’s their 44th annual.

(Harry and keynote speaker Evan Goldstein will close our series in a couple of weeks)

Harry Hertscheg

Although it’s still a amazing “blur” I think we did at least 20 interviews in just under four hours.

A mix of winemakers and founders from Chile, Argentina, BC, Lodi, Napa, Sonoma and  Washington!

We could not have made this journey without the help of media/marketing support from Ruby Gillett (Milk Creative Communications) and Danielle Giroux (Director- California Wines Canada)

Thank you both.

Vancouver International Wine Festival


Here’s Part One of this years Festival

 We begin with the most amazing friend – Wine Director at Terminal City Club and much admired wine educator, speaker and wine judge,  DJ Kearney.

DJ and I were judging the Lt Governor awards last month and between flights I whispered “will you join me at VanWineFest for a couple of interviews. I love your questions and observations?”

She nodded OK!  How lucky I was to know her?

As promised,  DJ sat down for the first two interviews and to my complete surprise and delight,  she stayed for almost the entire series of chats. A small grouping of chairs – knee to knee –  because the crowd noise gets louder as the minutes click by. A lot of collective chatter.  In the chairs, we all found ourselves leaning in to listen and comment. Tasted many outstanding wines the guests brought.

Loved it.  Best of all, this is just Part One of 3 weeks of interviews.

This weeks guests are:

 DJ Kearney – Wine Director  (Terminal City Club) Wine Educator, Judge, Writer,  Speaker and great friend.

DJ Kearney

The one and only DJ Kearney with her observations about Van Wine Fest history, the line up of this years wineries and general opinions about the state of today’s winemaking. She brings so many memorable stories and details.



JJ DowellWinemaker Lake Sonoma, Plume Wines. (Russian River, Sonoma, Alexander Valley, Napa Valley)

Jaime started her career “in the arts” at her family’s art gallery.

The art of wine came calling. Crooked Vine, Stony Ridge. Then off to New Zealand making high end Pinot Noir at Villa Maria.

Back to California in 2011 to join Bonny Doon, Alpha Omega, Round Pond Estate in Napa and finally joined West Coast Wine Partners – which included the Stewart Family at Quails Gate – to oversee Lake Sonoma and Valley of the Moon WinesPlume Wines were soon added to the portfolio.

All that experience shows in her wines.

Jaime "JJ" Dowell Named Round Pond Estate Winemaker - Wine Industry Advisor

JJ Dowell


Christa-Lee McWatters – McWatters Collection GM/Family (Penticton)

Tony Holler – Co-Owner Poplar Grove (Naramata Bench)

DJ and I knew this was going to be fast, informative and lots of fun.

Christa-Lee and Tony LOVE talking about wine. Theirs and many others.

But they also have new events and growth.

At Time Family of Wines in Penticton Christa-Lee has opened OROLO Restaurant with Damian Cole as Head Chef.  Fine dining friends.

Wine's Most Inspiring People: Christa-Lee and Darrien McWatters, TIME Family of Wines - Wine Industry Advisor

Christa-Lee McWatters

She was also pouring her Father Harry’s last vintage. A  2017 Brut!

Cheers to Harry McWatters.


Tony Holler poured his Pinot Gris “it has to be poured at this event.”

Tony Holler

And also revealed his new culinary team at Poplar Grove Restaurant.

Timing says Tony “its all about timing” His executive chef moved on to Canoe in Toronto and at the same time Executive Chef Stacey Johnson and Chef de Cuisine Minette Lotz came available at Naramata Inn. Think about it.  That team in that room with that view? Wow!

Truly loved DJ’s comments.


On my way into the Convention Centre I bumped into Chris Turyk and his Father Tim from Unsworth in the Cowichan Valley.

I reminded Chris that last year I stood in front of their Unsworth pouring table but the line-up just kept getting bigger and bigger and we never got an interview done.

Chris Turyk

So, this year we put two chairs together and had a conversation until someone asked if they could have their chairs back.

Talking about Unsworth, the Cowichan Valley, the Jackson Family adding Blue Grouse to their Cowichan Portfolio, what he was pouring at the festival (Charme de l’ile NV).


My thanks to Chris, Tim and Unsworth.



Part One of 2024 VanWineFest

Harry Hertscheg – Executive Director VanWineFest

Nathalie Bonhomme – Le Vins Bonhomme (Spain)

Donal Black – House of Smith (Charles Smith portfolio – Washington)

Richard Kanazawa – Winemaker Bench 1775 (Naramata Bench)

Michael Kullman – CEO and Winemaker at Osoyoos LaRose

Michael Abbott – GM  Blue Grouse (Cowichan Valley)

Stephen Neumann – Burrowing Owl Brand Ambassador (Oliver)



February 3rd, 2024 Making great whisky is serious business!


This Years Winner. Last years winner. Plus Whitehorse and Edinburgh



Making great whisky is serious business.

Whisky takes time. You can create it and leave it in barrel “while your kids grow up and head off to college” kind of time.

For example Paradigm Spirits -The Heritage Collection –  Whisky of the Year in Canada spent 19  years in barrel. Then along came friends and partners Michelle deBus and Irma Joeveer who were just beginning their whisky journey. They purchased the filled barrels to start Paradigm.

Then blended in some Oloroso Sherry and found a stunning balance between the corn whisky and sherry.

Davin de Kergommeaux Canada’s Whisky authority and founder of the Canadian Whisky Awards describes The Heritage as having

“sublime complexity and elegance with fresh fruity top notes”


This is a really nice story of people who dreamt a dream of making whisky and how it all lead to being named Whiskey of the Year in Canada. Besting 200 other whiskeys.

Our guests are Irma Joeveer and Michelle Debus



Bob Baxter – Two Brewers Whisky.  Whitehorse, Yukon

 At the Canadian Whisky Awards,  Two Brewers put on a show.

Two Brewers

Won Single Malt Whisky of the Year – Release 41

Won 3 Gold – Releases 41/36/37

Won 2 Silver  Yukon Single Malt Whisky  38 and 39


Bob has been on Tasting Room before and I was delighted to catch up with him again.

Bob Baxter – Yukon Brewing Spiked Seltzer

I like this man and his whisky.  They keep winning a number of awards in Canada and the World.  His attitude is…. we appreciate it but we have whisky to craft and that’s way more important. They’re brewers first and bring those smarts to their spirits. They also use some of the craft beer grains in their whisky making.

Bob is joined by his daughter Corey. She’s with the marketing department.

His son has joined the whisky makers.  It’s truly a family thing.


Rob Carpenter –  co-founder /  Calum Rae – Distillery Manager

Holyrood Distillery Edinburgh  (Old Town)

October 2023 Holyrood launches their 1st whisky Arrival. It’s one of the first single malt whiskies produced in Edinburgh in over 100 years.

Working in the cellar with Butts-Hogs Heads-Bourbon Barrels and Rum Barriques.

Playing with flavours eg: Heritage Barleys-Special Malts-Yeast Strains

Have a listen about their latest release on World Whisky Day 2023.  Lovingly called Mezcal Moonshine.

James Lester – co-founder of Sons of Vancouver

Last years Canadian Whisky of the Year

Palm Trees and  a Tropical Breeze came from Sons of Vancouver Distilling.

They sent their whisky but stayed home. There was no way they would be named Whisky of the Year.

Well, a year later everything’s changed. For them and I think for Canadian Whisky. How they taste and how they’re marketed.

This year they won Gold with

Summer Road Trip Across the Midwest

Palm Trees and a Tropical Breeze

Desert Grass and Blue Agave


Won Silver with

Raiding Nona’s Liquor Cabinet


Love this company and their vision.  Making whisky and marketing it in a whole new way.

Changing the next generation of spirit makers.  Teaching their methods to those who want to sign up for classes.

Heads up – They sell out quickly!!  James explains the very best way to get your hands on their “expressions” before they’re gone.

James leaves us with a couple of teases of what’s coming up this year.


Congratulations also to Stillhead Distilling in Duncan. Winner of multiple Golds and 4 Bronze.  We’ll go find them for an interview asap.




A conversation about Alberta

And BC Wines.


Township 7




January 27th, 2024- Victoria Whisky Fest  & Canadian Whisky Awards


Victoria Whisky Fest  & Canadian Whisky Awards





“Friendship is like Whisky – the older the better”

 Yes, my friends its our annual trek to Victoria’s inner harbour for the 18th annual Victoria Whisky Festival and the Canadian Whisky Awards.

It was founder of the awards Davin de Kergomeaux who whispered in my ear wondering why I wasn’t attending or tasting or writing about his Whisky Awards.  On second thought I think the voice in my ear was me saying

Davin de Kergommeaux

“how could you possibly miss this?” just after I had missed the events about 6-7  years ago.

I knew almost nothing about Whisky but my thinking was the same as wine – 17 years ago – every interview is going to be a master class. Pay attention and you could learn all about wine and pass it on to the listeners.


I’m pleased to welcome to Tasting Room Radio –


Davin de Kergommeaux – founder of the Canadian Whisky Awards.

The Canadian Whisky Awards, held annually with the Victoria Whisky Festival, is the first and only competition dedicated solely to Canadian Whisky.

The Awards have become the first stop for whisky producers, distributors, retailers and fans looking for the very best Canadian whiskies.

Davin is the world’s leading authority on Canadian Whisky. He also has three books available on Canadian Whisky with a fourth coming in March!

Davin assembled 10 judges and sent them nearly 200 competing whiskies to blind taste.  Davin announces the winner in his interview. We talk to the winners next week.



Dr. Graeme Macaloney PEng, PhD. – Macaloney’s Island Distillery (Saanich)


Proud owner of 5 world whisky awards including Worlds best Potstill – Kildara. They are a non-chilled, filtered, no colour added distillery.

In our 8-10 minute interview I think I asked 3 perhaps 4 questions – Dr Graeme handled the rest.

It was like a masterclass. A charming man in a Cameron Kilt.

He won Gold for his 54ppm Peat Project.



Tish Harcus –  Manager Canadian Club Whisky  since 1988.  Canadian Club itself since 1858.

Tish Harcus

James Neil – Bowmore Distillery. The oldest distillery in Islay. On the shores of Lochindaal since 1779. Also home to one of the world’s oldest Scotch maturation warehouses – The No 1 Vault.

James poured Bowmore 22 Aston Martin

Bowmore Ultimate Rare Collection


They took part in the Great Whisky Debate with

Micah Dew from Maker’s Mark.

Words flew, one liners were exchanged and they still remain long time friends. Micah was busy with a masterclass but we thank Tish and James for coming by.


Chris Read –Shelter Point Distillery. Campbell River.

Distinctly Vancouver Island. Uniquely Shelter Point.

By the time Chris sat down we knew Shelter Point had won 2 Bronze medals for their Oak Cask Single Malt  (smoke, spices, honey, leather and a wiff of ocean)

Shelter Point Distillery wins big at Canadian Whisky Awards - My Comox Valley Now

and their flagship Evans Family Reserve.

(vanilla, tannins, dark chocolate, coconut, citrus, berries, cloves.)

Chris explained the unique influences in their island location. It was like poetry.




Rob Carpenter.  Holyrood(Edinburgh)

Calum Rae –  Holyrood Distillery Manager

Bob Baxter – Two Brewers Whitehorse.

Irma Joeveer and Michelle Debus –

Co-founders of Paradigm Spirits

London Ontario –

2022 Heritage Collection  Canadian Whisky of the Year

A 19 year old  cask strength single grain Whisky.

From already filled casks they bought to start their distillery. Their oloroso sherry blending was brilliant. “sublime complexity and elegance” (davin)

Made in the former Kellogg’s factory using some of the same grains for their future Whiskies.

What a story.




Van Wine Fest

Township 7

Fort Berens

The provincial politics of  BC Wine





January 20th, 2024 John Skinner: Painted Rock Wines & VJ Gandhi: making our wines available in USA.-


John Skinner on his Painted Rock Wines /VJ Gandhi: making our wines available in USA.




“If Painted Rock is going to compete with the best in the world we must have confidence in our terroir and allow it to express its uniqueness. That’s why we are 100% Estate.”  John Skinner

John Skinner

John Skinner

John Skinner and Valeria Tait planted Painted Rock  in 2006,  a year before we moved to the Naramata Bench. Even though there was no Painted Rock to taste when we arrived, it was one of the first wine names I heard in my ‘walk arounds’.

John was driven to make wines that would be appreciated all over the World but first he had to create it and then convince the wine world that it was worthy.

He has done so with Painted Rock.

Fires around Painted Rock

John’s Red Icon was named as a Decanter Wine of the Year in 2020.

Also this review from Jancis Robinson:  London

Painted Rock, Red Icon 2016 17 Points: “Like a very rich red Bordeaux. Very beautifully balanced. Long and velvety. Everything fully ripe but with good acidity too. Well balanced and very bright-fruited. Still youthful but promising for the long term. (RH) 14.9%” Drink 2020 – 2027


John takes us through his new releases and brings a stack of stories.

2020 Chardonnay  available for first time since 2019

2020 Merlot – dark and rich.

2020 Red Icon – classic blend

2020 Syrah – a jaw dropping gem


VJ Gandhi  – Founder of Kascadia Wine Merchants

It’s time to change the narrative to – North American wine.” – VJ Gandhi

For everyone who has family and friends in the USA asking how to get their hands on  wines from BC and other provinces, or Americans who discover wines North of the border that they really like, there’s someone now making our  best wines available in the US.

That someone is VJ Gandhi.

KASCADIA WINE MERCHANTS - Napa Valley Life Magazine

VJ Gandhi

Founder, VJ Gandhi is a proud Canadian citizen with epicurean taste, and her deepest passion yet has to be her love for the complexity in a glass of fine-tasting wine.

Over the course of her career in marketing and business management  VJ has developed, implemented and managed several large scale projects in finance and marketing for high profile organizations such as the Government of Canada, BC Provincial Government, and 2010 Olympic Games Secretariat.

VJ was inspired to market award winning Canadian vintages globally in the United States when  she’d moved to the San Francisco area in 2014. VJ and her trusted team of experts have carefully curated the Kascadia Wine portfolio over the years, which has now scaled to shipping in US states.

With the launch of the wine club, clients who are eager to savor exclusive, high quality wines from North America, including Canada and the Pacific Northwest are going to be impressed!


Today, her growing venture, Kascadia Wine Merchants, markets and sells Canadian wines across 45 US states.




Fort Berens – New Releases

Township 7 – New Releases

Van Wine Festival

Victoria Whisky Festival.





January 13th, 2024- Wine, Whisky & Winter!


Wine, Whisky and Winter


 First Guest is Harry Hertscheg – Executive Director  45th Annual Vancouver Wine Festival


Acknowledged as the largest combined consumer and trade wine show in North America. Also one of the biggest and oldest in the World.  Not Harry…the festival.

The 45th festival will take place February 24 to March 3!

8 days with 42 events.

Harry takes us through some of the events including the California Wines Sun Fest Mingler and a public seminar.

The theme region is Italy. With an amazing 71 Italian wineries represented. In many cases attendees include winery owners and winemakers.

The Italians alone are featured in 22 events, 12 dinners, a public seminar, trade seminars , The Bacchanalia Gala, the Festival Toast, Awards Lunch and La Dolce Vita.

Daenna van Mulligen – The Wine Diva hosts one of two Gerard Bertrand wine events. Harry also advises us to watch  for the Global Cru and The Shape of Wine.

Daenna van Mulligen – The Wine Diva

Van Wine Fest have partnered with  Harry suggests “don’t just plan a couple of hours in the tasting room, make a wish list that covers a couple of days. Make a weekend of it.”


Details at


Second Guest is Adam Bradshaw – Digital & Premium Experience manager at The Strath. (Victoria)

Victoria Whisky Festival.  Thursday Jan 18 to Sunday Jan 21.


Adam is also local ambassador for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Held annually at the Hotel Grand Pacific. The festival hosts four days of events including the

Canadian Whisky Awards. Grand Tastings, Masterclasses and consumer tastings.

Adam is personally presenting a single cask masterclass

Details at


The third guest is Kimberly HundertmarkGeneral Manager Okanagan Wine Festivals

Kimberley Hundertmark

The 2024 Okanagan Winter Wine  Festival

  • Jan 20 . Winter Sips South. Penticton Trade and Convention Centre
  • Jan 20/21 TASTE Passport – District Wine Village Oliver
  • Jan 27 Winter Sips North. Revelry Food and Music Hub


News and Updates - Okanagan Wine Festivals

Kimberly  takes us through all of the events and the fun to be had. Why winter and wine go together. A great pairing.

The District Wine Village intends to become a great destination. Finish with lunch at Wards Kitchen.

ALL of the details  you need  can be found at



Victoria Whisky Festival

Fort Berens

Celebrating Winter Whites




January 6th, 2024- Mike Grgich – His 1976 Napa Chardonnay in USA/France blind tasting in Paris was The Shot Heard Round the World.


Mike Grgich – His 1976 Napa Chardonnay in USA/France blind tasting in Paris was The Shot Heard Round the World.






Winemaker Mike Grgich died Dec 13th 2023.  He was 100 years old.

Mike Grgich Dies at 100; His Wine Stunned the French by Besting Theirs - The New York Times

Mike Grgich

This is his story,  as told to yours truly into a nasty microphone in the lobby of the Hotel Vancouver 2016.

He had just released his memoir A Glass Full of Miracles.

(Note – on his way from Croatia to Napa he travelled across the Atlantic and by train across Canada to Vancouver for a lumberjack job he had applied for. The job was gone by the time he reached the west coast. So,  Mike washed dishes until he heard of a winemaking job in Napa and straight south he went)


Steven Spurrier, a wine expert from England who ran a fine wine shop in Paris, decided it would be fun to organize a blind tasting to coincide with America’s Bicentennial celebrations in 1976. For the tasting, he gathered together the best French judges, the finest French wines, and to salute America on its 200th anniversary he added in a few wines from some upstart winemakers in California. Steven hoped the tasting would bring favorable attention to his wine shop. But he didn’t have any idea of the impact that his Bicentennial tasting would have on the world of wine.

André Tchelistcheff, along with Jim Barrett, had hand-carried an armload of California wines to Paris for the competition. The blind tasting was held at the InterContinental Hotel in the center of Paris. The morning competition was devoted to white wines and the afternoon was devoted to the reds. And Steven Spurrier brought together the very best white wines of Burgundy: a 1973 Meursault-Charmes, a 1973 Beaune Clos des Mouches, a 1973 Bâtard-Montrachet, and a 1972 Puligny-Montrachet Les Pucelles.

Alongside these French legends there was the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay crafted by Mike Grgich, and other Chardonnays from California that the French judges had never heard of either. The judges expected to sniff and gag when they tasted the California wines.

But it didn’t happen that way. The nine French judges blind tasted the white wines and graded each of them. The winner was the Chateau Montelena Chardonnay that Mike Grgich had made, with 132 points, the highest total scored of any of the wines, red or white, in the tasting. It was the champion! Then, to add insult to injury, the third and fourth places went to Chalone Vineyard and Spring Mountain Vineyard.

TRR Jan 6 Mike Grgich Part Two 1011


In the afternoon tasting of the red wines, the French judges gave their top ranking to Warren Winiarski for his 1973 Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon, beating the best wines of Bordeaux, among them a 1970 Château Mouton-Rothschild, a 1970 Château Haut Brion, a 1970 Château Montrose from Saint-Estèphe, and a 1971 Château Léoville-Las-Cases from Saint-Julien.

The judges were shocked as was Steven Spurrier.

Steven Spurrier

Upstarts from the Napa Valley had won both categories, against the very best wines of France. The French judges were speechless and a few tried to suppress the results, but without success. The following week, George Tabor’s story in Time magazine announced the American triumph, and it sent shock waves throughout the world of wine. Mike received the news that they had won by a congratulatory telegram from Jim Barrett in Paris. That was the first he learned that his wine was even in the competition.

Soon, though, the importance of what had happened began to sink in..

On July 4, 1977, Mike Grgich and Austin Hills, of the Hills Bros. Coffee Company, broke ground to start Grgich Hills Cellar, which from the start sold wines that were in high demand, based on Mike Grgich’s reputation as the winemaker who won the Paris Tasting. Gradually, the winery purchased 366 acres, spread over five vineyards within the Napa Valley, allowing all Grgich Hills wines to be produced solely from estate grown grapes. In recognition of that significant achievement, the winery changed its name to Grgich Hills Estate.

The California Wine Club | Napa Valley Winery | Grgich Hills Estate

The Paris Tasting revolutionized the wine world, establishing Napa Valley’s reputation as a world-class wine region! First, it shattered the myth that only French soil can produce world-class wines. For decades New World winemakers had all been stuck in that mindset and this finally broke through it.  Second, the victory pumped new energy into the California wine industry, particularly in the Napa Valley. Vintners were proud to be part of what was a revolution in American wine but they still had a long way to go. So they redoubled their efforts to make better wines each year.

California’s victory also inspired other winemakers in different parts of the world. Breaking the myth of French superiority gave new hope and energy to winemakers in South Africa, Italy, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, and even in Mike’s native Croatia. Now they joined the race to make world-class wines, and as the years unfolded California winemakers also shared with them their technology and know-how. As part of that effort, Mike returned to Croatia in 1996 and started a new winery in order to share what he had learned with young winemakers in his homeland.

George Taber, the Time magazine journalist who first reported the tasting, in 2005 wrote a detailed account of the event and its impact in his book, “Judgment of Paris: California vs. France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting That Revolutionized Wine.”

As a result of his historic contributions to making world-class wine in California, Miljenko “Mike” Grgich was inducted into the Vintner Hall of Fame in 2008.


A Hollywood version of this story  was actually true but not much.  It was called Bottleshock.


We salute the great Mike Grgich.




Fort Berens

Sons of Vancouver

Harry Hertscheg – Tales of the 2024 Van Wine Fest

Whisky specials coming






December 23rd, 2023 The Wine Diva: Top 100 Wines – Under $25 – 88pts or better


The Wine Diva: Top 100 Wines

($25 or under – 88 points or better)



Best wines for Christmas dinners and New Year's Eve toasts | Vancouver Sun

The end of any year always brings “best of” lists:

Films, Music, Books, Food and many artistic events!

This year end list from Daenna van Mulligen/The Wine Diva  brings the very best budget wines of 2023. All $25.00 or under and 88 Points or better!!

Daena Van Mulligen

Daenna van Mulligen – The Wine Diva

For all those wine fans who ask the yearly question – Where are the $25.00 wines that taste like $35 dollar wines?”

Those wines are right here. Budget bottles good enough to be happily offered as gift bottles.

Daenna van Mulligen/The Wine Diva tastes a staggering amount of wines over the weeks and months of a wine year and these are the ones that stood out. Affordable all stars.

The complete printable list can be found at


Merry Christmas – Happy Hanukah – Best of the Season – Happy New year



HIgh Note Estate Winery ‘Capriccio’ Riesling, Naramata Bench, BC N/A

Hester Creek ‘Selected Barrels’ Merlot, Okanagan Valley, BC $21.99

Gerard Bertrand ‘An 806’, Corbieres, Sud de France $21.99

Nicosia Grillo, Sicily, Italy $21.99

LaFleur Chevalier Bordeaux, France $22.00

Araldica Barbera, Piedmont, Italy $22.00

Wild Goose Winery Riesling, Okanagan BC $25.00

Oops ‘Spicy Splendor’ Carmenere, Central Valley Chile $14.99

Falernia Carmenere Gran Reserva, Elqui Valley Chile $19.99

El Petit Bonhomme Blanco, Rueda Spain $17.99

Meyer Family Vineyards ‘Meyer’ Chardonnay, Okanagan Valley, BC $21.00

HIgh Note Estate Winery ‘Soubrette’ Pinot Grigio, Naramata Bench, BC N/A

HIgh Note Estate Winery ‘Continuo’ Rosado, Naramata Bench, BC N/A

Township 7 Vineyards and Winery ‘Provenance Series’ Pinot Gris, Okanagan Valley,

El Petit Bonhomme, Jumilla Spain $17. N/A

Terra Ventoux ‘Les 5 Terroirs’ Vieilles Vignes, Ventoux, Rhone Valley $18.50

Selbach Riesling ‘Fish Label’, Germany $22.. Mayhem Wines Sauvignon Blanc Okanagan Valley N/A

Mayhem Wines Cabernet~Merlot, Okanagan Valley N/A

Mayhem Wines Rose, Okanagan Valley N/A

Meyer Family Vineyards ‘Meyer’ Gewurztraminer, Okanagan Falls, BC N/A

Castello di Gabbiano ‘Cavaliere d’Oro’ Chianti Classico, Tuscany Italy $20.00

Da Vero Nero d’Avola Vino Rosso, Sicily, Italy $15.00

Familia Zingarelli ‘Rocca della Macie’ Chianti Classico, Tuscany, Italy $20.99

Araldica ‘Il Meridone’ Catarratto, Sicily, Italy $15.00

Fort Berens Estate Winery Pinot Gris, British Columbia $25.00

Lunessence Winery & Vineyard Rose, Okanagan Valley, BC N/

Clos du Soleil ‘Winemaker’s Series’ Whispered Secret Vineyard Pinot Gris, Similkameen Valley, BC N/A

Clos du Soleil Fume Blanc, Okanagan Valley $25.00

Bartier Bros. Rose, Okanagan Valley, BC $18.99

Spearhead Pinot Gris, Okanagan Valley BC $22.00

Wild Goose Winery Gewurztraminer, Okanagan BC $25.00

Covert Farms Family Estate Semillon~Sauvignon Blanc, Okanagan Valley, BC $26.00

CedarCreek Estate Winery Sauvignon Blanc, Okanagan Valley $25.00

CedarCreek Estate Winery Pinot Gris, Okanagan Valley BC $25.00

La Bonhomme Monastrell Rose, Valencia Spain $20.00




Canadian Whisky Awards

Fort Berens – New Wines

Remembering Mike Grgich and the

shot heard round the World.

Highlights of 2023






December 16th, 2023-Daenna van Mulligen – The Wine Diva & her TOP scoring wines of 2023. (93 pts or better)


Daenna van Mulligen – The Wine Diva & her TOP scoring wines of 2023. (93 pts or better)


A dear friend returns.

For many years now wine reviewer, educator, speaker and writer Daenna van Mulligen, known to the wine world as The Wine Diva, has graced Tasting Room Radio. We have  co-hosted many shows.  The Vancouver Wine Festival, Cornucopia in Whistler and countless specials.

The Wine Diva  has two exceptional websites www.winediva ca and 

On those sites Daenna reviews perhaps a 1000 wines a year. At years end she always  publishes her much anticipated  wine lists.

Daenna van Mulligen

The lists can be found on  and includes a link for printing that list.

This TRR is the first of several.  It features the top scoring wines of 2023. All 93 points or better. As Daenna says “ wines that are complete, balanced and worth the expense!

All wines that come up for discussion on this weeks TRR also include Daenna’s  tasting notes and reflections.

NEXT WEEKTop 100 of 2023. $25 or less and all 88 points or better. (The last segment of this weeks show is a brisk preview)

Heads up – Daenna mentions an event she’ll be hosting during the upcoming VanWineFest.

Wine Diva’s Annual TOP Lists


As I do every year, for longer than I can actually recall, I send out my annual TOP lists.

The parameters have changed a bit over the years (especially this year), more than 15 years ago my TOP 100 wines were $16 or less. That number steadily grew and this year, thanks to inflation these wines are now $25 or less and scoring 88+ points.


My annual TOP 50 $20 or more has become my TOP Scoring Wines of 2023.

These are wines that have scored 93+ points


Finally my sparkling wines list remains the same, bubbles of all styles and shades, from all over the world


Thank you all as ever for supporting WineDiva and WineScores over the years and as ever I wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season and the best for 2024!


These are the wines reviewed:

 Taittinger ‘Prelude Grands Crus’ Champagne, France $115.00

Taittinger ‘Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs’ Champagne, France $350.99

One Faith Vineyards ‘Reserve’ Chardonnay, Okanagan Valley, BC $25.99

Township 7 Vineyards and Winery ‘Seven Stars Sirius’, British Columbia N/A

Gerard Bertrand ‘Cigales’, Sud de France $60.00

One Faith Vineyards ‘Grand Vin’, Okanagan Valley, BC $142.00

Gerard Bertrand ‘Cuvee 100 Les Arbousiers’, Corbieres, Sud de France $75.99

Gerard Bertrand ‘Chateau de Soujeole Grand Vin’, Malepere, Sud de France N/A

Township 7 Vineyards and Winery ‘Seven Stars Aurora’, Okanagan Valley N/A

Lunessence Winery & Vineyard Cabernet Franc, Okanagan Valley, BC N/A

Frescobaldi ‘Perano’, Chianti Classico, Tuscany Italy $35.00

Tenuta di Arceno Chianti Classico, Tuscany Italy $45.00

Castelvecchi ‘Madonnino Della Piave’ Chianti Classico Gran Selezione, Radda in Chianti, Tuscany, Italy N/A

. Township 7 Vineyards and Winery ‘Seven Stars Polaris’, Okanagan Valley N/A

Covert Farms Family Estate ‘Grand Reserve’ Chardonnay, Okanagan Valley, BC N/A

Dona Paula Estate ‘Seleccion de Bodega’ Malbec, Gualtallary, Mendoza Argentina $60.00

Uko Old Vines Malbec, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina $40.00

Quails’ Gate Estate Winery Syrah ‘The Boswell’, Okanagan Valley BC N/A

Citation Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon $90.00

Laughing Stock Vineyards ‘Portfolio’, Okanagan Valley, BC N/A

Township 7 Vineyards and Winery ‘Benchmark Series’ Pinot Noir, Okanagan Falls, BC N/A

Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon, Knights Valley Sonoma California $51.99

Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery ‘Contessa’, British Columbia N/A



Next Week:

Wine Diva Top 100  $25.00 or less/88 Points or better

Wine Diva – The Bubble List

Harry Hertscheg Vancouver Wine Festival  – Preview

Fort Berens – Releases






December 9th, 2023- Winter Wine Getaways in The Okanagan!


Winter Wine Getaways  in  The Okanagan!





A December in BC wine country is like no other month.

Harvest is done . The wine cellar becomes the centre of attention.

Focus shifts to “the next growing season”.

For the rest of us, it’s the brisk days of December and the Holiday season leading to New Years Eve.

This episode of Tasting Room Radio invites the segment sponsors of 2023 and others to let all of us know about their events heading into Christmas.


We start with Kimberly Hundertmark. She’s the GM and leader of the Okanagan Wine Festivals.

Kimberley Hundertmark

Kimberly has changed the thinking in the Okanagan.

Winter presented  a serious downturn in consumer spending. Kimberly introduced her belief that Winter and Wine can be a “thing’.

She takes us through the weekend’s events at Big White and New Years Eve at Spirit Ridge.

The events are engaging and fun. Grape talks on Malbec. The Keremeos Light up. Pet Santa.

Also, info on Okanagan Winter Wine Festival Jan 20.  Same day, its TASTE Passport – at The District Wine Village in Oliver.

Wards Wine Country Kitchen will be  rocking!

Heads up – Spring Wine Fest June 7 and June 16.  Fall Festival October 18 and 27.

Things to Do in Oliver BC - Must Do Canada

(Wards Wine Country Kitchen at District Wine Village)


Next, Hillside Estate Winery one of the originals,  on the Naramata Bench.

The brilliant winemaker Kathy Malone takes us through the wines that shone  from her portfolio.

Kathy Malone Hillside

Then the events at Hillside leading into the years end and exciting Hillside Holiday Gift Guide.


John Weber, the winemaker and co-founder of Orofino Wines in the Similkameen Valley joins us to talk about their harvest, fires and seriously low crop tonnage. On the bright side, smaller but amazing wines from 2023.

John Weber

John mentions how tough its been for regional wineries, their vineyards and accommodations.

When  summer kicked off,  accommodation was seriously booked. The roadblock was launched and rooms/suites were empty.

Now?  We can help. Buy local. Gift local. Support local.


Steven Lane from  Mt Boucherie joins us to talk about the busy days and nights ahead at Mt Boucherie. Also the Winter Wines  being showcased. They have a stellar lineup of events and fun. Like a Winter adventure.

Steven Lane

Find your winter fun at your local wineries.





The Annual Wine Diva Winter and Year End Wine Lists.


December 2nd, 2023 Mary McDermott Winemaker Township 7 and Project X Mark Hopley Winemaker at Hester Creek  


This Week : 




Mary McDermott –  New releases and awards won at Township 7 (Naramata Bench/South Langley)

Mary McDermott in London

Mary was in London to receive the Best Sparkling Wine in Canada award from the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championship!

For their Riesling driven  7 Stars Rigel. It was the runner up to the World Champion Aromatic Sparkling Wine from Italy.

Mary and T7 also won this award in 2021 with their Polaris.

Declared the best Canadian  sparkling wine in the World.

Before Mary and I talked about her new releases,  we discussed about what everyone else in the BC wine world is talking about – crop loss due to a deep freeze in December of last year.  A 54% reduction in crop and long term damage to vineyards.

Strangely, while the crop was reduced, the colder weather led to fewer clusters on the vines which in turn led to rapid ripening when Summer and Fall returned. Great flavours in the whites and complex concentrated reds followed.

Mary and I tasted:

Benchmark Series 2021 Viogner.

From one of the best vineyards in Canada – Fools Gold Vineyard in North Oliver. Owner is vineyard manager Mark Antonello. Planted over two decades ago by his Father-law the legendary Richard Cleave.  Fermented in stain steel tank and just two barrels.

Grapefruit and rounded lime/citrus  on the nose.  Passionfruit awaits in the mouth…with a beautiful soft mouthfeel. $30.97


2021 Seven Stars Vega

 A single vineyard wine. Also made with Viognier from the same Fools Gold Vineyard. Picked early for high acidity . En tirage for one full year. Beautifully aromatic. Crafted in an off-dry style. Inhale notes of pink grapefruit. Both nose and mouth get treated to mandarin orange notes and flavours. $36.97

2016 Seven Stars Sirius

Gold medal winner recently at Great Northwestern Invitational Wine Competition 2023.

Crafted from south Langley fruit planted two decades ago.

Cool climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes harvested, pressed and fermented together. Only the free run juice  was used to make the crown jewel of Township 7’s sparkling wine collection.

En tirage was 60 months. Crafted in the traditional Methode Champenoise style, don’t be surprised to discover Brioche on the nose with a palate of oven baked apple and raw honey. Gorgeous mousse and acidity .


Congratulations for Mary and staff at  Township 7


Mark Hopley – Winemaker at Hester Creek (Golden Mile)

Mark Hopley

Hester Creek was named BC Winery of the year from Great Northwest Wine Awards.

Timing is everything. If that cold freeze had hit the Okanagan just 3 weeks later, many of the vines could have achieved Winter dormancy and survived.

Timing is also important when requesting interviews and tasting wines. Mark Hopley and I were prepped to talk about his/their new releases –

Brooke Jesus and Mark Hopley

2020 Old Vine Brut – traditional method Brut. 24 months en tirage. Lemon and line on the nose. Minerality and brioche notes. $34.99

2022 Merlot  100% Merlot . Sage nose & red berries on the nose. Raspberries and chocolate/herbs on palate. $19.99

2022 Cabernet Merlot – 5 south Okanagan vineyards. 7 months in American and French oak.  $19.99

2022 Character Red –  Italian Merlot clone, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Malbec. Blueberry, blackberry and peppery. $22.99


Speaking of timing ….

it just so happens that a  whole new thinking and planning in winemaking is being released to the wine world Friday Dec 1 –

It’s  called Project X  – Winemakers Trilogy (thus XYZ labels)

Mark will explain – 3 very different wines. Only 200 bottles left.  “$110 dollars of Okanagan goodness”



Fort Berens – New Releases

Canadian Whisky Awards  Victoria

Best of  2023 lists