THE THIRD ANNUAL BC CIDER FEST… BIGGER AND BETTER!
This week long craft cider celebration saw many cider events, tastings and
festivities throughout British Columbia with tasting events from Kelowna to Vancouver Island, including tap takeovers, cider pairing meals, and much
more throughout the week.
The highlight for me and many others is the final event. The gathering of up
to 40 Cideriesat The Pipe Shop foot of Lonsdale in North Vancouver.
It’s one of the buildings my father Pat worked in during WW2.
The first interview had to be with Shawn Pisio, who co-founded the B.C.
Cider Festival three years ago.
Glenn Ennis, Lynn Colliar and the Geo Team
Just how popular is this event? It sells out within minutes.
Cider is going through the very same revolution that craft beers did 10
The opportunity to grow more cider apples in B.C. is unlimited, but BC is
already home to many excellent craft cideries.
One of the cideries we interviewed was Twin Island Cider on Pender Island.
They were voted most popular Cidery at this event.
Finally, for those of you who still think that ciders are not for you
because they’re too sweet or something…FORGET ABOUT IT..
It’s a whole new world out in the orchard.
Our guests are:
Shawn Pisio – Txotx/ Co-Founder
Russ Johnson – Owner/Cidermaker Truck 59 Kelowna
Sydney Bottomley – Asst Cider Maker Broken Ladder Kelowna
Nick Farrer – Founder The Bricker Cider Co Sechelt
Mike Lachelt – Co-owner/Cidermaker Salt Spring Wild SS Island
Mathew Vasilev Co-Owner Twin Island Cider Pender Island
David Schneider – Persephone Brewing Gibson’s BC
Kathleen van der Ree – Northyards Cider – Squamish
Mike Petkau – Nomad Handcrafted Cider – Summerland
All four wines would be presented by winemaker Taylor Whelan and paired with special recipes created by Chef Neil Taylor from the sensational Home Block Restaurant at CedarCreek.
AND they would agree to gather for a Zoom interview.
CedarCreek now have six clones of Pinot Noir planted at the Home Block, with several more to be added in the next few years.
In order to better understand the terroir and what each clone can bring to wine, they fermented these wines separately and bottled them separately. They selected fruit from silty loam soils for all three clones, fermented them all naturally, and used similar oak coopers and ages.
Each bottling is only four barrels (90-100 cases) and showcases how each of these clones best expresses the terroir of CedarCreek within the confines of its clonal heritage.
Just a heads up, there weren’t too many cases made so contact CedarCreek soon if you’d like to purchase the Clonal Three Pack.
This was such fun.
The chef nailed the pairings and the wines were outstanding.
Of course they were, this is CedarCreek after all.
Block Party (Part Two) – Sarah and Murray Bancroft- Birch Block Wines. Kaleden, BC
Sarah and Murray Bancroft
As we explained in early June, this is a series.
(Like Schitt’s Creek without the laugh track.)
What you do hear is the sound of helicopters fighting a wildfire across from their home in Kaleden. They start flying at first light.
I wanted to follow a small winery from the start of the year to the conclusion.
Hoping to showcase what goes into our wines, how they get made, and the hazards that must be overcome.
Sarah and Murray Bancroft were a natural choice. They are just so damn cool, any wine they made would be likewise.
We’re following their ups and downs in the growing year 2020. Nobody factored in the possibility of a Worldwide Pandemic and raging fires in the Okanagan. And critters, varmints and predators. The whole food chain of nature. Not to mention the kindness of neighbours, the farming community around them and the wines they’re creating.
If you have always dreamed of reinventing yourself into a grower, farmer, winemaker or owner..have a listen to what Sarah and Murray are going through. It’s a Block Party.
Oh and one more thing. IF you have expertise in harvest crafts please contact Birch Block Vineyards. They’re looking for people with your skills.
Jason Priestley. Naomi Priestley – North Hollywood, Ca.
I’ve been very happy to call them friends for a long time.
Jason Priestley and I would see each other at auditions for TV and film roles in Vancouver.
Then he headed for LA and the rest you know.
Jason and TDM
Along with Producer Chad Oakes., we created and co hosted Hollywood and Vines TV. 3 years of shows from vineyards and kitchens in Italy, USA (California, Washington and Arizona), Mexico and across Canada.
He met Naomi while acting in London. Jay didn’t know it yet but he was “done, like dinner”.
Naydog is a force… We had lots to get caught up on. The kids, the USA and it’s pandemic and political crisis.
Plus three wines. The Rose they were drinking and my two – both with stories attached. Winemakers Cut and “The Mulligan” from Behrens and Hitchcock.
Nay asks about returning to The Guadalupe Valley outside of Ensenada Mexico. It was just waking up to the possibilities of winemaking there when we visited over 10 years ago. Now it’s just exploded.
We talk about the status of his current series Private Eyes, thoughts on shooting film and tv down the road and how their family, their neighbours and fellow Californians are handling 2020.
Its casual but a lot of fun. It gets serious a couple of times because it’s a serious time we’re all living in. Cheers. Enjoy!!
Mark Wachtin and Mich Pambrun (Storied Wines and Spirits)
These two interviews were left over from our coverage of Swirl and Untapped in Parksville earlier this year.
Parksvilles gorgeous beaches!
I really like these guys and their outstanding portfolio. They represent…
Rathjen, Unsworth, Wayward Distillation
Lock and Worth
Scenic Road Cidery
That is an impressive list of clients.
You can tell these guys know their wines and winemakers.
Founder – Storied Wines & Spirits
It’s all about the people—conversations, stories and histories. Vancouver Island raised (free range) with a lifetime in hospitality, Mark’s drawn to smaller, family-run operations, sustainable farming and handcrafted production methods.
Motivated by both the traditional and the new wave of producers, Mark has paired wine and food in world-class hotels, restaurants and eateries. Mark’s commitment is best expressed in his strong relationships with sommeliers, chefs, bartenders, servers and retail product consultants.
North Island Sales & Marketing Representative
Michel Pambrun, former DJ and hospitality pro from Manitoba, is an Internationally accredited sommelier. Michel celebrates natural, sustainable terroir-driven wines and their environments.
His many distinctions include participation in multiple Gold Medal Plates events curating pairings and perhaps his finest harvest, the raising of two incredible daughters.
We started April by showcasing the wine events that would have happened in early 2020 except for the fact that the Earth was fighting a pandemic.
First was event was –
Locals Only. Vancouver Islands best showcase of distillers, winemakers, brewers and cider makers.
Then Okanagan Falls & Skaha Lake Wine Assn pour in Vancouver. They were shut down. So we went back to 2019 and talked to the very same wineries. When people could shake hands and stand next to one another.
This week its Top Drop Vancouver/Victoria.
Top Drop is simply one of the best small wine festivals anywhere.
They ask of applicants to be sustainable, honour the fruit, don’t mess with the winemaking and be true to the land.
Unsworth Cowichan Valley
It’s become an astounding collection of “must taste” wineries.
We go back to years 4 and 5 to relive the interviews.
To salute BC Wine Month, we have collected only interviews with BC wineries.
The Grand Crew Collective and Graham Pierce pours Kitsch in Victoria!
The Press Release said it all.
The Grand Crew is a Collective of fiercely committed Okanagan wineries with a passion for sustainable farming and small-lot winemaking.
Unlike other “regional gatherings,” these wineries are from four different Okanagan regions. What they have in common is a “garagiste “ attitude. Smaller batches of wine, a true “hands-on” approach.
Each winemaker creates something unique, but they meet regularly to share insights, growing and winemaking tips, and resources so that they can each continue to craft some of the best wines in the region.
They have joined with Kelowna’s Public Liquor to offer a sample box of their releases, curated by the winemakers themselves! The limited-edition inaugural Grand Crew Collective box is available in-store or online, visit Public Liquor to get yours.
Black Market Wine Co. Rob Hammersley Owner/Winemaker (Kaleden)
Black Market Wine Co.
2019 Omerta Syrah Rose $24
A crisp, dry rosé made from 100% Syrah. Aromas of wild strawberries, cherries, and a hint of watermelon. The palate dominated by wild red berries and rhubarb. With crisp acidity, this wine finishes dry.
2017 Syndicate. $35
50% Merlot. 31% Cab Franc. 19% Petit Verdot. 100% Yummy
21 months French Oak. (40% new) Lots of black fruit, Dark chocolate. Tobacco.
Estate-grown Chardonnay shows yummy citrus, pear, and mineral notes with a subtle touch of vanilla from aging in 25% new French oak puncheons. On the nose and palate, lemon, green apple, and minerality. A true cold-climate Chardonnay, this wine offers beautiful balance, crisp acidity, and hangs a long time in the mouth.
2018 The Leap – $23. Rob says The Leap is the younger brother of The Pull. Plumb, Blackberry, and Cherry. Oak and Vanilla note. 60% Merlot. 27% Cab Franc. 13% Malbec. 18 months in new French oak. Bingo!
Niche Wine Co. Joanna and James Schlosser. Owners/Winemaker (West Kelowna)
Joanna – James Schlosser Niche Wine Co
2019 Small batch bubbles – $26
Buttery texture. Homegrown. Handmade. Stirred weekly for 5 months. Limited production. Off-dry. Only 185 cases. Much sought after.
Pinot Noir Blanc – $24 Strawberries, lots of berries frankly. Made from just two barrels. 95 cases.
Again. $24 bucks. Oysters. Charcuterie. Or by itself. Hide from family and friends.
Tender Hope Winery – Efi Perel Owner. Winemaker (West Kelowna)
Eli Perel – Rob Westbury
Efi began his winemaking in Israel. Now 25 years later he’s fully Okanagan.
2019 Rose Bubble. VQA. $23
Whole cluster. Combo of Stainless steel and French oak. Melon. Strawberry. A light touch of PNE Candy Floss.
2018 Fire Dance Meritage
This wine is made up of a ripe and balanced blend of 50% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Franc, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 14% Malbec sourced from the southern limit of Canada’s pocket desert. Rich dark fruit, blueberry, chocolate, wood spice, and smooth mouth feel and a spicy finish.
Winemaker’s Cut – Michal Mosney co-owner and winemaker. (Oliver)
Michal and his wife moved from winemaking in Croatia directly to the Okanagan.
They have become a force, making us even better.
Michael Mosney Winemakers Cut
2019 Gruner Veltliner $26
Shades of Slovakia!
Peach, pear, and citrus aromas along with beautiful minerality and a touch of white pepper and marzipan. Hello Gruner!!!
2018 Bohemia Cuvee $26 and $36
Michal makes a Blanc and a Rose.
Blanc is Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Viognier.
Rouge is Cab, Merlot, Cab Franc, Petit Verdot, AND Syrah. (Pepper. Herbs. Dark Fruit)
Winemaker and GM Graham Pierce – Kitsch Wine pours in Victoria.
I felt I owed this revisit with Graham Pierce. First, he’s a friend, second he’s one of the best winemakers in Canada (think Black Hills and Note Bene) and lastly, my previous interview placed Graham in the uncomfortable position of having to explain the wines of former gifted winemaker Grant Biggs.
When I saw that Graham was pouring for the wine community in Victoria I headed South from Nanoose Bay and met him on the 6th floor deck at Laurel Point in the inner harbour.
Beauty spot but windy that day. Plus it was the first time I was doing an interview with masks on. So the audio is a tad muffled but that goes with the times. Mask Up!
Here’s what we tasted.
2016 Blanc de Blancs ($39)– Lime, Granny Smith apples, crème Brulee. In other words delicious. New vintage coming soon.
2018 Ester’s Block Riesling($25)– classic Riesling. Nectarines and Apricots..add peach and ginger notes and you’ll love this wine.
2019 Pinot Gris ($22) – clean citrus on the nose. Green apples and minerality. Beauty.
2019 Block Party ($21) – I’m a Block Party fan. Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Pinot Noir all from the same block. From the 5 blocks on the family vineyard. You just know this is going to be an interesting experience.
2018 Chardonnay ($24)– (Tentree) Really approachable wine. One bottle bought plants 5 mangrove trees in the Village of Mahabana, Madagascar. Get your bottle soon.
2018 Pinot Noir ($40)– Star anise, forest floor, clean and bright.
2018 Cabernet Franc ($36) Oh Hell yes. More, please. Elderberries, lilacs. Intriguing minerality. Spice and red berries.
Sandra Oldfield & BC’s Women in Wine and Jeff Hundertmark from Mt Boo & Modest Wines!
Sandra’s email said it all “let’s feature BC women in wine”.
Sandra Oldfield is currently the President of Elysian Projects Inc., a company that supports BC’s wine industry. Sandra is best known as the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Tinhorn Creek Vineyard, kick starting Oliver’s Festival of the Grape in 1997 and has always advised tourism in the province.
One of the originals on the Naramata Bench and one of the leaders on The Golden Mile and home of “The Judge.”
This week we spotlight Hillside Winery and Hester Creek Estate Winery!
Kathy Malone – Winemaker at Hillside Winery (Naramata Bench)
In the early 1900s, this site was an apricot orchard.
In 1979, the property was purchased by Bohumir and Vera Klokocka who had recently immigrated to the Okanagan Valley from Czechoslovakia. In 1984 she and Bohumir pulled out the apricot trees and planted 3.5 acres of vineyards. The grapevines thrived in the gravelly soil and warm Okanagan sunshine and Vera’s dream took shape.
In 1989 Hillside, together with Lang Vineyards and Wild Goose, lobbied the Provincial Government to bring about the Farmgate Winery Policy that was instrumental in changing the B.C. Wine Industry.
Since Kathy moved from Mission Hill to Hillside she has lead the winery to walls of awards and became the voice and face of the Naramata Bench Wineries.
The Hillside portfolio is a testament to Kathy’s skill and passion.
100% of Hillside wines are Naramata raised and grown.
Alert – some wines are marked either above or below the road or below the road. The road being the shoreline of the lake 1000’s of years ago.
Hester Creek on The Golden Mile. Kind of rolls off the tongue, right?
Hester Creek Estate has been growing and releasing wines for 50 years.
In 2018, they marked the 50th anniversary of their estate vineyards. As one of the oldest wine properties in the South Okanagan, they are graced with historic vineyards and a modern winery.
None of it would have been possible without the stubborn farming passion of original owner/winemaker Joe Busnardo. His original planting of Trebbiano is still bringing smiles to wine fans.
Joe sold and moved on to Divino in the Cowichan Valley.
Hester Creek went on to become one of the finest wineries in Canada.
Our Zoom guests are Winemaker Marl Hopley and for the food pairings Terrafina chef Adair Scott.
We talk about two new releases.
2019 Character White – The Pinot Gris has stone fruit on the nose. The palate is treated to honey, melons, papaya, and pear. $16.00
Equal parts Cab Franc, Cab, and Merlot. Also equal parts DeLish.$43.99
Your nose will love the anise, black fruit, and cherry.
Followed by tastes of plum, fig, and dark chocolate.
What a great wine.
Every year it surprises and seduces.
This, my friends is an icon wine..let this beauty rest for a couple of years..like 5-8-10 years. The wait is well worth it.
Given that we’re only talking about two wines and because I had the winemaker and the chef handy I decided to pair foods with wine. And then wines with food. This includes a speed round. Like a game show.
Saturday, August 1st isFood Day Canada – a chance to salute Canada’s favourite foods, farmers and all the people involved in our culinary experiences! Hail to the farmers, those who harvest fish and shell fish, those who get our foods to us fresh and safe, to the chefs and restaurateurs, the grocery stores and everyone in the food chain.
Buy Local. Eat Local. Shop sustainably. Let’s all get out of this year alive, well and still in business.
ANITA STEWART – Founder of Food Day Canada. Food Laureate, University of Guelph
Anita Stewart was a little girl selling beans on the side of the road. Who knew she would become the author of 14 cookbooks and founder of one of Canada’s most talked about culinary events.
Anita’s farming roots and farming smarts earned her a membership into the Order of Canada and the first interview on today’s Tasting Room Radio. Thank You Anita!
CHEF ABUL ADAME – The Kitchen at da Silva Winery (Naramata Bench)
“Mexican born, never cooked back home, moved to Canada 20 years ago. “Throughout my first years as a newcomer, the thought of a restaurant job was an “easy thought” for a start up. but, it seemingly became a life style long term commitment and a true addictive passionate affair to me.”
Jennifer Schell is a highly acclaimed food and wine writer, columnist, and former editor of BC Food & Wine Trails Magazine. Her three cookbooks, The Butcher, The Baker, The Wine & Cheese Maker (In the Okanagan & ‘By The Sea’) are Canadian bestsellers and have won numerous international awards.
She is also the co-founder/producer of Garagiste North Wine Festivals, an event celebrating BC’s small lot wine producers chosen as one of the Top Wine Festivals in the Word in 2015 by the London Financial Times.
Jennifer was also the founder of Soup Sisters (Kelowna), a charity organization that focuses on feeding the Women and children at the Kelowna Women’s Shelter and the youth on the streets.
Above all, she is a food, wine & culture leader.
Plus she is part of the Schell Family Winery with her two brothers.
This is not just a book filled with recipes. Each farming family has its own story.
And when you open their wines, the stories come spilling out. Generations of wines, harvests, long table dining, and every conceivable weather story.
Jenn knows it’s the stories, the people and the food that make wine a great experience.
Ned Bell and his wife Kate Colley have come full circle.
Ned grew up 20 minutes from Naramata Village. Kate met Ned on our veranda on The Bench
They married and had two sons.
They have both had outstanding careers. Ned through bigger and bigger kitchens. Kate through her own successful marketing and media company.
They last worked together at The Four Seasons in Vancouver.
Then over two years ago Kate was diagnosed with breast cancer. She’s beaten it back with an amazing team of professionals.
(even as I write, she’s going through more treatment in Vancouver)
They decided to come full circle and return to the Naramata Bench. Specifically, the tiny hamlet of Naramata.
With their partners Maria Wiesner and Paul Hollands, they bought the Naramata Heritage Inn at the end of the main street. Over the years the Inn has represented a beloved base of community and become a destination for visitors. With 12 vintage rooms above and a dining room and bar below, the inn is surrounded by beautiful gardens. Trust me. The rooms are a memory you’ll treasure always.
Ned, Kate, and the new owners bring world-class culinary experience to the kitchen, which is all about sourcing and celebrating local.
The Inn will deliver a proudly “Naramatian” experience. From produce to proteins, the menus will be built around the best local growers and artisans in Naramata and the Valley. It will showcase the true depth and breadth of award-winning wines produced by British Columbia’s winemakers.
Keep in mind, you’re surrounded by 20-30 wineries and a lake that goes on forever.
In a normal year, just about now, I’d get in the car and drive south on Vancouver Island to Cobble Hill and meet the Cowichan Winemakers on a Crush Pad.
As we all know 2020 is not a normal year. A historic pandemic has a way of shutting everything down and threatening everyone’s health and life.
How then to organize and pull off a wine festival?
With the assistance and guidance of Tourism Cowichan, the 13 wineries of the Cowichan Valley invite you to Discover Cowichan Wine.
This year the wine festival is taking place for the entire month of August.
Due to Covid19, there will be no opening party however participants can purchase a ticket for $20 which gives them a festival glass to bring to each winery. Tasting fees are waived and if you get a stamp at each tasting on your passport you then qualify for a draw at the end of August for a case of Cowichan Wine.
The wineries have been preparing to receive guests in a safe and healthy environment. Physical distancing, sanitized tastings plus safety for the guests and employees.
There is so much to celebrate in The Cowichan. A new Sub GI designation. Cowichan now can appear on all wine labels made with Valley fruit.
And the recent purchase of Unsworth by Barbara Banke and Julia Jackson (Napa/Sonoma).
This is our first Zoom interview with the Cowichan Wineries. The audio and zoom video can be streamed on our website.
I asked our winemaking guests to highlight two wines they’re pouring…
Jill Nessel – Tourism Cowichan.GM
Mike Nierychlo – Emandare Vineyard (Rose and Pinot Noir)
Brent Rowland – Averill Creek/Joue (Joue White and Red)
Paul Bruner – Blue Grouse. The owner (Estate Pinot Gris and Quill Rose)
Dan Wright – Unsworth Vineyards (Allegro and Rose)
Paul Busnardo – Divino (Trebbiano and Everything red blend)
Lorin Inglis – Enrico.GM (Charme De Lile Sparkling and Tempest Ortega)
Xavier Bonilla – Cherry Point (Pinot Noir and Siegerrebe)
Chef and Author Bill Jones – Deerholme Farm in The Cowichan.
Jill Nessel Tourism Cowichan
Dan Wright Unsworth
Brent Rowland Averill Creek & Joue
A Question. What goes best with Cowichan Wine? Cowichan Food!
And who better to add a food component to this special than Chef Bill Jones at Deerholme Farm.
You know Bill from his dozen or so books..The Deerholme Foraging Book. The Deerholme Mushroom Book.
Bill Jones is a passionate supporter of local food communities, a founding member of FarmFolk/CityFolk, SlowFood Vancouver Island, and was a key organizer of the BC Canadian Chefs Congress.
If you’re heading to the festival, check out Bills Thursday small dinners and special dinner Aug 15th (Mediterranean) & 22nd (Korean BBQ)
Or sign up for the always sold out foraging classes in The Fall.
Rathjen Cellars. Jim Cuddy Wines. Moon Curser, The Best Small Winery in Canada
In addition to planting their own vineyard in 2016, Mike Rathjen leases five other established vineyards on the Saanich Peninsula, all of which provided grapes to former wineries in the area. Mike is honoured to work with some of the oldest vineyards on Vancouver Island and he’s excited with the quality of wine coming from these vines.
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.
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.
“Well, you get the picture, this is one very different producer, and in many ways, a poster child for what we always hoped would be the kind of innovative, family estate winery that would grab the title of the Best Performing Small Winery in Canada.
All that is left for you to do is try the wine and eventually visit the winery to experience what the Tolleys did when they first got into the business, something new and intriguing and most of all different.”