Into The Vineyard 2017
From May 7 – 10 a group of 12 wine and knowledge-hungry Albertans headed to BC Wine Country to taste and learn as much as possible about the quality wines created by our neighbours to the west.
Our group of 12 for the second annual trip was made up of retailers, educators and representatives from Liquor Connect and the on-premise (restaurant) side of the business. Arriving on Sunday May 7 we stayed close to our host hotel, the Watermark Beach Resort. Winery principles from Bella, Phantom Creek Estates, Le Vieux Pin, Nichol and Lock and Worth brought their wines to share with us. After an overview of their specialties and the selections they brought we all sat down to dinner on the 2nd floor terrace overlooking the lake.
Highlights of the evening were the 100% Gamay traditional method (made like Champagne with the secondary fermentation happening in the exact bottle you drink it from. Pretty special!) sparkling wine of Bella with its fruit purity and bright strawberry rhubarb aromatics. The Cuvee Violette Syrah from Le Vieux Pin was floral and elegant – proof Syrah is at home in the Okanagan Valley. Lock and Worth’s non interventionist Merlot was pure and delicious and finally we got to try a barrel sample from the new winery Phantom Creek Estates – the first group outside of winery employees to do so. With fruit from the Okanagan’s most respected and revered vineyards (Phantom Creek and Sundial) we are looking forward to their first releases to come in 2018.
The next morning came bright and early (probably a bit earlier for some than for others) and we headed first to Church and State and their amazing labels – 300 different “prude’ or “rude” options (#eggplantemoji anyone) and one of the best value red blends in the Valley. Afterwards we were off to Tinhorn Creek for an invaluable viticulture seminar with the super knowledgeable and engaging owner and CEO Sandra Oldfield. Grape vines are the best plant! After tasting the wines in the vineyards it came from we headed into the on-sire restaurant Mirodoro for a delicious lunch. (Have the meatball sandwich – so good.) After rounding the day out with Stag’s Hollow and their geothermic winery we headed to the best looking winery in BC – Painted Rock – to have a comprehensive tasting with Synchromesh, Noble Ridge and the Painted Rock wines. Stunning end to the day!
I think we all learned our lesson and Tuesday didn’t seem to dawn quite so early. We also didn’t have to travel as far as Wine BC was hosting us in the hotel for the Level 1 of the BC Wine Ambassador course. Rhys Pender MW ensured we all got a comprehensive overview of the Wines of BC and led us through a tasting of 10 wines from across the province.
After lunch we headed out with our first at Moon Curser Vineyards to taste their varied line-up, including Arneis, Tempranillo and Tannat. Next to the Tuscan-inspired La Stella to taste through their merlot based, Tuscan inspired wines.
For something totally different we took a drive through the valley, heading north to visit the wines made #byhand at TH. Named for owner Tyler Harlton these really are wines made by his hands. Small production with fruit sourced from a small selection of growers Tyler is a true garagiste actually making the wine in a space about the size of a garage! His bone-dry Riesling and floral and fruity rose are going to be calling my name all summer.
We finished the day with an excellent dinner at The Vanilla Pod restaurant at Poplar Grove winery after spending some time with two of the family members and tasting through the Poplar Grove line-up of white and red wine.
On our final morning, with the idea to also offer assistance to the wineries in the region, Stephen Dougans from Connect Logistics presented on the Alberta market and how to best navigate the rules and regulations, as well as how to get the best out of the benefits of a central warehouse. It was a very helpful exchange of information for us to understand the winery point of view and for the wineries to get some first hand knowledge in regards to our very different market. If anyone would like to see the PowerPoint please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can’t wait until Into The Vineyard #3 in 2018!