News and events

What’s happening in the local and global wine communities

La Pentola and Sapo Bravo Organics pay homage to the tomato

La Pentola and Sapo Bravo Organics will pay homage to the tomato at the August Family Supper Series on Sunday, Aug. 30 at 6 p.m. Chef Travis McCord will host the feast, serving family-style dishes of creamy burrata, fried zucchini blossoms, handmade taglierini, and Organic Ocean Pink swimming scallops. Tickets are $55 per person for 8-plus courses. Reservations are recommended. Call 604-642-0557 or email info@lapentola.ca.

Burrowing Owl is the first Canadian winery to be Gold Certified by Green Tourism. The certification recognizes adherwence to the highest standards of environmental sustainability in all aspects of operations, from its $3 wine shop tasting fee donated to the Burrowing Owl Conservation Society’s captive release program, irrigation techniques, integrated pest management policy, 100 on-site bluebird boxes, bat nursery boxes, and the nests of ground-nesting birds protected by barriers in springtime to The Sonora Room Restaurant sourcing as many ingredients as possible from local suppliers and farms, reducing carbon emissions related to transportation and helping support the local economy. Congratulations to the Wyse family.

Lillooet’s regional cuisine on display at The Ponderosa Kitchen

Lillooet’s regional cuisine is on display daily at the latest edition to the Fort Berens Estate Winery arsenal: The Ponderosa Kitchen.

Open daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Ponderosa Kitchen offers patio seating with stunning vistas of the Fraser Benchlands in the foreground against a Coast Mountains backdrop. The Ponderosa Kitchen will offer lunches that feature fresh, predominantly local cuisine and occasional special dinners and bread that is baked daily. For more information, call 1.877.956.7768, visit FortBerens.ca.

Serendipity series under the stars resumes Saturday, Aug. 15

Serendipity Winery is opening it doors for the next in its Movie Night Under the Stars series on Saturday, Aug. 15. The series returns with a sunset showing of Good Will Hunting. The $25 admission fee includes a glass of Serendipity wine and a generous slice of gourmet pizza. Bring a blanket. Serendipity is at 990 Debeck Road on the Naramata Bench. For more information, email wineclub@serendipitywinery.com

UBC, B.C. wine industry receive $630,000 WEDC grant

A bright light in wine leadership comes from an innovative partnership between the University of British Columbia and the B.C. wine industry via a $630,000 grant from Western Economic Diversification Canada to strengthen co-operation in the industry, enhance export readiness and develop global identity. The federal funding, matched by UBC, and industry, to total $1.3 million, will enable panels to explore wine labeling and presentation, the industry’s identity and to better assess options for moving forward globally. The project is part of UBC’s new Regional Socio-Economic Development Institute of Canada and builds on work already begun.

Best of Craft B.C. event supports Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society

Liberty Merchant Company will sponsor the first Best of Craft B.C., a tasting in support of the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society. The event is at Wise Hall, 1882 Adanac, will feature craft beers, cider, mead and spirits from across B.C., along with bites of food provided by Commercial Drive food purveyors. You select the winners. Tickets to the Wednesday, Aug. 19 event, from 7-9 p.m. are $24.99 plus a non-perishable food donation for the GVFBS, are available at all Liberty Wine Merchants stores. Find more information at http://www.libertywinemerchants.com

Cowichan Valley food & wine festival takes over barge in Mill Bay

Canada’s Maritime Mediterranean, the Cowichan Valley will play host to a major food and wine festival. The Savour Cowichan Festival celebrates the valley’s cornucopia of food and drink. It runs from Sept. 25 to Oct. 4 and kicks off with a gala charity event on a barge moored in the waters in nearby Mill Bay. About 40 artisanal food and beverage producers will be  at more than 60 epicurean events across the region. Find complete at information at http://savourcowichan.com

Food Cart Fest puts focus on B.C. VQA wines, craft brewers and spirit producers

Now in its fourth year, the Sunday Local at Food Cart Fest features live music along with B.C. VQA wineries, craft brewers and spirit producers. Throughout the 11-week festival, over 20 B.C. wineries will be featured on rotation each week until Sept. 6. from 1-5 p.m. at 215 West 1st Ave. (Along the seawall, under the Cambie Bridge). Admission is $2.50 or free with a non-perishable food donation to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society.

Bard takes to Bench for Twelfth Night at Township 7

Enjoy the popular Shakespearean play, Twelfth Night (or What You Will), performed live at Township 7 Winery on the Naramata Bench. This romantic comedy is about a cross-dressing, ship-wreck surviving, poetry loving girl, who lands in the centre of an unusual love triangle. Bring a blanket and have a picnic on the lawn with Township 7 wines. If music be the food of love, play on Aug. 7 & 8. Gates open at 6 p.m. Play commences at 6:30 pm. For an Aug. 9 matinée, gates open at 2 p.m. and the play will commence at 2:30 pm. Cost is $20 per person. Tickets on-line at https://club7.township7.com/store.

Boulevard Kitchen celebrates anniversary with seafood boil event

Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar will celebrate its first anniversary by playing host to a Sunday Seafood Boil Series event on the patio overlooking Burrard Street. Each Sunday from tbhrough Aug. 30 at 6 p.m., fresh-caught selections of crawfish, jumbo prawns, clams, mussels and Dungeness crab will be served traditional East Coast-style, piled high on butcher’s paper. It begins with Iceberg wedge salad, includes bacon- and-jalapeño Jack cheese cornbread and B.C. blueberry crumble with elderflower ice cream. Tickets are $49 per person with a two-guest minimum. Beverages, tax and gratuity are additional. Ten per cent of all ticket sales will be donated to the B.C. Hospitality Foundation.

CedarCreek Vineyard restaurant opens for lunch, dinner

Great news, as CedarCreek’s Vineyard Terrace Restaurant is now open for lunch and dinner daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Executive chef Jeremy Tucker will showcase local, seasonal ingredients at their freshest. For reservations, now required, call 778-738-1027 or book online on Opentable at the winery website http://www.cedarcreek.bc.ca/terrace-restaurant.

Railtown Cafe smoke-and-fire series resumes Aug. 8

Railtown Cafe continues its smoke-and-fire series streetside with The Tailgate Barbecue events in the heart of Vancouver’s historic Railtown District on Saturdays this summer, including Aug. 8, Sept. 12 and Sept. 26. Chefs and co-owners Dan Olson and Tyler Day will fire up a custom-built, 12-foot smoker/barbecue barrel from 4-10 p.m., dishing out slow-smoked brisket and pork shoulder and beer-brined chicken and sausage, as well as a choice of side dishes. Tickets for each of the events are available for $16 (meat-lovers) and $10 (vegetarian) plus GST, and may be purchased online at www.railtowncafe.ca/events as well as at the event. All tickets purchased online include a complimentary drink voucher (up to $6 value).

Galiano Health Care Society set for 23rd annual fund-raising festival

The Galiano Health Care Society is playing host to its 23rd annual fund-raising Wine & Beer Festival on Saturday, Aug. 8 from 1-4 p.m. Find complete details at www.galianowinefestival.com. Tickets are is $45 per person (must be 19 or older). Tickets include one wine-tasting glass, one beer-tasting glass and unlimited finger food all afternoon. This event is a major initiative for the society, which provides quality health care to Galiano Island residents and visitors. Reserve tickets at galianowinefestival@gmail.com. or call Jenelle at 250-539-2422.

Delicious champagne returns to shelves in government stores

If you love Champagne but hate the price, check out Champagne Le Mesnil. This is a delicious bottle of French bubble and it’s finally back in stock in government stores. The shelf price is an amazing $47.89; at the cash register it becomes an acceptable $55.17, all taxes and bottle deposit in. If you are thinking Krug Clos du Mesnil, think again. It’s a different wine that lists for $849 or $976.35 all in at the till.

Farm-adventure obstacle course race events on tap at Covert family site

Inspired by history and 50 years of farming 650 acres in the desert north of Oliver, the Covert family will play host to an adventure obstacle race on Saturday, Sept. 19 at Okanagan-Similkameen, to celebrate the many arduous tasks farm hands perform and race-course obstacles abound that re-create the tough jobs required on a working farm. There is a Freak’n’ Farmer 20- & 10-km race, 5-km Half Plowed Farmer, 3-km Little Freak’n’ Farmer, Mini Freak’n’ Farmer, or you can just be a spectator. At the Freak’n’ After Party there will be a wine & beer tasting, a barbecue lunch and live music with the Super Cooligans and others. Your ticket includes lunch, spork, plate, wine/beer glass, wine/beer coupon (additional for purchase), a clean shirt, water on course. A ton of fun. http://www.eventbrite.ca/e/the-freakn-farmer-2015-tickets-16217689546?aff=mcivte

Longtable Dining Series events set for Vancouver, Pemberton

Araxi Restaurant and Oyster Bar in Whistler is taking reservations for its annual al fresco Longtable Dining Series, Monday, Aug. 3 and Saturday, Sept. 5 in Vancouver and Pemberton respectively. Chef James Walt, along with chefs Frank Pabst (Blue Water Café), Andrew Richardson (CinCin Ristorante), Quang Dang (West Restaurant) and Thierry Busset (Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie and Café), will craft a four-course menu with wine pairings by sommelier Samantha Rahn. The Vancouver location is Bard on the Beach in Vanier Park; the Pemberton dinner is at North Arm Farm. Tickets are $159 plus tax and gratuity and includes the dinner served family style, with select wine pairings. Order your tickets via email at longtable@araxi.com

Culimina tasting room in Oliver is open for the season

The Culmina Estate Winery tasting room is officially open for 2015. All visits to Culmina involve an in-depth seated tasting of the portfolio, and run at set times throughout the day. Drops-ins are welcome at any of the scheduled times but advanced bookings are preferred in case the room is full. Reserve tastings at the Oliver winery take place daily through Nov. 1 at 10:15 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 1:15 p.m., 2:15 p.m., 3:15 p.m. and 4:15 p.m.. The fee is $10 per guest, but $5 is waived with a single bottle purchase. For more information go to http://www.culmina.ca/experience-culmina.

B.C. alcohol sales dive 5.7 per cent, year over year

If you want to know what uncertainty can mean in the retail business, look no further than British Columbia alcohol sales in the year ended March 31, 2014. The province generated about $877 million in profit compared with $929.6 million a year earlier. That 5.7-per-cent drop is the worst among all provinces. Clearly the trade was somewhat hesitant to buy or order product throughout the wholesale fiasco, which isn’t going away soon.

Jump for Joy Road Catering’s events

Joy Road Catering’s Cameron Smith and Dana Ewart are Okanagan food and wine rock stars. For a complete list of events they will be catering this season go to http://joyroadcatering.com/events.php. Pick a date you will be in the valley and you will not be disappointed. They sell out fast.

Emerson Drive, Tom Cochrane head CedarCreek music series

CedarCreek Estate Winery announced its lineup for the Telus Sunset Concert Series and it includes three-time Canadian Country Music Awards group of the year Emerson Drive, on Thursday, July 30 and Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee Tom Cochrane and Red Rider on Wednesday, Aug. 26. This year’s proceeds will continue to benefit Kelowna’s Rotary Centre for the Arts. Tickets go on sale Wednesday, May 19 at 9:30 a.m. at www.cedarcreek.bc.ca.

Video: Behind the Label with Yellow Label Blass Chardonnay

Chief winemaker Chris Hatcher has been steering the style ship at Wolf Blass for many years and the launch of the 2014 Yellow Label Wolf Blass Chardonnay completes the circle of change for all the chardonnays at Blass. This time we take you behind the original ‘yellow’ label to get Hatcher’s take on what is a fresher, brighter more food-friendly Down Under white. Watch it now:  sunwinecritic.com/video

Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Society promotes conservation

The Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Society promotes voluntary conservation and stewardship of important habitats on private lands. Its latest steward is Tantalus Vineyards Winery. Proprietor Eric Savics has protected over four hectares of Ponderosa Pine forest within their 15-hectare vineyard. Staff also maintain more than 50 beehives and numerous bird boxes. The vineyard itself is herbicide and pesticide free and the vines are hand-tended. “We recognize the importance of natural habitat preservation and we look forward to working with the OSS to identify and enhance wildlife diversity within our vineyard forest,” said general manager Jane Hatch.

Tap & Barrel celebrates a big win

Congratulations to Tap & Barrel for winning the Georgia Straight Golden Plates Awards for the Best Restaurant B.C. Wine List. The Tap & Barrel offers over 25 B.C. wines from 50 taps. Tap & Barrel’s lineup includes a large selection of custom and exclusive options. Sommelier David Stansfield says “My job is seriously fun. I spend a ton of time hanging around cellars with B.C.’s best winemakers  to select and sometimes even help create the wines we serve at Tap & Barrel.” The FreshTAP system significantly decreases Tap & Barrel’s carbon footprint and packaging waste; to date the system has saved the use of over 75,000 bottles, corks and capsules and about 9,000 pounds of cardboard.

Summerhill Sunset Organic Bistro reopens

Summerhill Sunset Organic Bistro has reopened for the season under winery chef Jonas Stadtländer. Stadtländer is working closely with local organic producers and diners can expect the menu will change frequently as the freshest offerings of the day become available. Sourdough bread crafted from Stadtländer’s organic starter is sure to be a hit, along with certified-organic whole Berkshire pigs from Wild Moon Organics in Armstrong that are now butchered in house so nothing is wasted. There is also a new Junior Foodies menu to keep it healthy for the kids. The Sunset Organic Bistro, refreshed over the winter, is at 4870 Chute Lake Road in Kelowna and is open for lunch and dinner daily.

Chateau Ste. Michelle announces 2015 Summer Concert Series

Woodinville, Washington’s Chateau Ste. Michelle announced its 2015 Summer Concert Series with net proceeds to benefit regional charities. It all kicked off June 13 with Garrison Keillor. Tickets to the winery’s 4,300 seat outdoor amphitheatre are on sale at ticketmaster.com. A smattering of this year’s acclaimed artists include: Smash Mouth, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Chicago, Sheryl Crow, Lyle Lovett & His Large Band, Harry Connick, Jr., John Fogerty, Taj Mahal, Jackson Browne, Steve Miller Band, Chris Isaak, Gipsy Kings, Randy Newman, Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons and Mark Knopfler. For more information log onto ste-michelle.com.

Singletree Winery opens in the Fraser Valley

They just keep coming. Singletree Winery has officially opened its doors in the Fraser Valley. Abbotsford’s Etsell family recently opened Singletree Winery in Mt. Lehman. Second-generation family member Andrew Etsell is working with Okanagan winemaker Matt Dumayne, who crafted the original wine at Okanagan Crush Pad in Summerland while Singletree was being built. The first releases will feature Okanagan fruit, but the transition to the Fraser Valley will follow as the Singletree property matures. You can visit the winery any time and learn more online at singletreewinery.com.

Hospitality Foundation offers scholarship programs

The B.C. Hospitality Foundation offers extensive scholarship programs each year to students in hospitality industry-related studies. The foundation works through colleges, universities, hospitality and culinary schools, as well as industry partners to identify and support future leaders, offering upwards of $35,000 toward sommelier, wine industry, hospitality, culinary, and bartender scholarships. The time to apply is now at https://bchospitalityfoundation.com/portfolio/scholarships/

Toptable Group founder Jack Evrensel bows out of business after 33 years

If you are in the restaurant business, you should be sending a thank you card to Jack Evrensel. The founder of the Toptable Group of Restaurants is finally moving on. Evrensel sold the group to Vancouver-based Aquilini Group and remained in a consulting role for one year. He leaves a legacy of hard work and sheer class and five internationally renowned restaurants: CinCin, West, Blue Water Café and Thierry in Vancouver, and his first restaurant Araxi in Whistler. “This marks the end of a wonderful journey that started 33 years ago with the opening of Araxi, which I named for my wife.” He will be missed.

Canadian increasingly enjoying imported wine

VinExpo chairman Xavier de Eizaguirre has released his biannual global wine report in advance of the giant French wine show in June. Among the numbers was Canada’s prowess as imported wine drinkers. We now rank sixth at 32.7 million cases. Canadian wine consumption is also projected to jump by 7.8 per to 14.4 litres per adult by 2018. de Eizaguirre predicts “Over the next five years, Canada’s wine consumption growth rate will be twice that of the rest of the world.”

End of the road for honey barn at Clos du Soleil

Clos du Soleil has said good bye to the old honey barn that was home to the winery and before that, artisanal honey production. The 2015 harvest will take place in a 4,000-square-foot winery. The new tasting room will be home to the spirit of the original winery, boasting the recycled old honey barn boards. If those boards could talk . Meanwhile Clos du Soleil continues to set a very high standard in the Similkameen Valley under winemaker Ann Sperling.

U.S. consumers drinking more wine, paying higher prices for it

Winesearch.com is reporting U.S. consumers are buying more wine and they are paying more for it. Total wine sales in the world’s largest wine market rose for the 20th year in a row, with 2014 sales expected to be about six per cent over 2013. The hottest category is wines above the $20 mark. In B.C., a new regime of wholesale liquor regulations will escalate taxes on that price category starting April 1.

Australian prices hit all-time domestic low

Australian wine prices are at an all-time low inside the country, where water is now more expensive then wine. Foreign exchange rates, falling international demand, and an excessive amount of product in the domestic market have all contributed to the slide. Australian wine producers are taxed on the value of the product, rather than the amount of alcohol in it, leaving many to pursue the low end of the market in which taxes are lower. Talk about trading down.

Culmina takes lead in wine club offerings with 2012 Hypothesis

Local wineries are finally expanding their wine club offerings. Culmina Family Estate is offering a pre-release of its very fine 2012 Hypothesis in large format, including three- and six-litre bottles, as well as a very small run of limited edition 1.5-litre magnums, each of which have been packaged in boxes rendered by Vancouver-based artist Chelsea Mackay in the unique Udukuri-finish Japanese woodworking style. Inspired by the fall 2012 colours, deep emerald and sapphire, each box has been signed and numbered by the artist, and is as collectible as Hypothesis itself. Register at http://www.culmina.ca/

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