Wonderful Wine Weekend Getaway at Semiahmoo

Whether you live in nearby British Columbia or in the Seattle area, mark your calendars for April 28-30 — a wonderful weekend for wine lovers.

Just six miles from the B.C. border, the second annual Northwest Wine Encounter at Semiahmoo Resort features a great getaway to experience wine, and meet some of the most talented winemakers and viticulturists from Washington state, British Columbia and Oregon:

We have tasted wines from all of the attending wineries and vineyards, and we also attended last year’s inaugural Northwest Wine Encounter — so we can personally attest to the experiences awaiting you this year at Semiahmoo Resort.

The weekend event is packed with educational and fun times, opening on Friday, April 28 with a Winemaker’s Reception, followed by a private beach bonfire with gourmet s’mores paired with port.

Here is the list of activities to enjoy at the scenic, breathtakingly beautiful resort. You can also download the full schedule at Semiahmoo’s website.

Friday, April 28
4:00 to 6:30 p.m. – Arrival, check-in and free time

6:30 to 8:00 p.m. – Meet the Winemakers, Tasting Reception
Enjoy a casual tasting, hearty appetizers by Bruno Feldeisen, executive chef at Semiahmoo Resort’s Pierside Kitchen, and the opportunity to mingle with the winemakers and wine experts.

8:00 p.m. – Private Beach Bonfire (on the Beach next to Packers Oyster Bar)
Enjoy s’mores and mingling for Northwest Wine Encounter guests and winemakers. A port tasting with exquisite gourmet chocolates from jcoco enhance this signature NWWE experience (weather dependent).

Saturday, April 29
9:30 to 10:00 a.m. – Opening Remarks
A look at Northwest wine country and an overview of the wines you will taste over the next two days, hosted by Andy Perdue of Wine Press Northwest, who is also a wine columnist for The Seattle Times, as well as retailer and collector Doug Charles of Compass Wines.

10:00 to 11:00 a.m. – The Siren Song of Pinot Noir
Explore Pinot Noir with Chris Figgins, Tony Rynders and Walter Gehringer.

11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. – Lunch Break

1:30 to 2:30 p.m. – Walla Walla
One of the most famous wine towns in North America is Walla Walla. What makes the region so special? Explore this AVA with David Merfeld and Chris Figgins.

2:30 to 3:30 p.m. – Wine Speed Dating
In this fun format, each participant will get the opportunity to taste wine one-on-one with our winery panelists.

3:30 to 4:30 p.m. – Guided Bird Watching Tour on the Semiahmoo Spit (Limited space, please pre-register)

4:30 to 7:00 p.m. – Leisure Time

7:00 to 10:00 p.m. – Winemaker Gala Dinner
Get up close and personal with winemakers and top experts at this Winemaker Gala Dinner. Each table is hosted by a panelist or wine industry luminary, and a five-course meal will be crafted by Chef Bruno Feldeisen and celebrity chef Roy Breiman of Coastal Hotels. The courses will be paired by wines from all wineries in attendance.

Sunday, April 30
10:00 to 11:30 a.m. – Importance of Place
How important is a single vineyard? A single location within that vineyard? These questions will be explored with Chris Upchurch along with historic grower Mike Sauer.

The entire weekend package — including two nights at the gorgeous resort — starts at $475 per person. Further information is available at Semiahmoo Resort’s website.

We hope to see you there!

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

 

It’s Back! The Northwest Wine Encounter at Semiahmoo

The second annual Northwest Wine Encounter at Semiahmoo Resort will be held April 28-30, when some of the northwest’s most talented winemakers and viticulturists will be holding seminars, tastings and attending a gala dinner:

We have had the pleasure of meeting Mike Sauer, Chris Upchurch and Walter Gehringer in the past, and have tasted wines from all of the attending wineries and vineyards. We also attended last year’s inaugural Northwest Wine Encounter — so we can personally attest to the experiences awaiting you this year at Semiahmoo Resort.

The event is packed with educational and fun times, opening on Friday, April 28 with a “Winemaker’s Reception,” followed by a private beach bonfire with gourmet s’mores at the spectacular resort.

Saturday’s activities include educational seminars hosted by Andy Perdue of Wine Press Northwest, who is also a wine columnist for The Seattle Times. Keynote speaker will be retailer and collector Doug Charles of Compass Wines.

Participants will also have the unique opportunity to taste wines one-on-one with participating winemakers at Saturday’s “Wine Speed Dating.”

Saturday culminates with an intimate Vintner’s Dinner Gala — a five-course meal crafted by Bruno Feldeisen, executive chef at Semiahmoo Resort’s Pierside Kitchen, and celebrity chef Roy Breiman of Coastal Hotels. The courses will be paired by wines from all wineries in attendance.

Sunday’s seminar, “Importance of Place,” looks at the importance of a vineyard’s location (or a location within a vineyard) to the grape-growing process.

The entire weekend package — including two nights at the gorgeous resort — starts at $475 per person. Local residents can phone for more details: (360) 318-2000. Further information is available at Semiahmoo Resort’s website.

We hope to see you there!

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

 

A Deeper Look at Sauvignon Blanc

Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 1.26.51 PMWe love Sauvignon Blanc in the summer months, and after sharing our views on four bottles that we recently enjoyed, we decided to take a deeper look at this warm-weather wine.

Sauvignon Blanc is both an old-world and new-world wine, grown and produced in Washington state, California, British Columbia, Ontario, France, New Zealand and other wine regions.

The typical descriptions are crisp, refreshing and elegant. The most popular price point is $20 and below; however some Sauv Blancs are in the range of $40-$80, and you can even find an occasional bottle priced above $80.

While the most popular style is “light and crisp,” other styles include “fruity and smooth,”  “rich and creamy” and “elegant.” The flavors can range from grassy to tropical.

  • Fruit – Citrus (Grapefruit, Lemon), Melon, Tropical
  • Grassy – Grass, Herbs, Mineral
  • Oak – Vanilla, Spice, Smoke

Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 1.27.04 PMSauvignon Blanc pairs well with shellfish such as prawns, scallops, crabs and oysters, in addition to other seafood dishes, sushi, some cheeses and grilled veggies such as asparagus.

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Fun Facts:
Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc are the parents of Cabernet Sauvignon. During the 18th century in Bordeaux, the Sauvignon Blanc vine paired with Cabernet Franc to parent the Cabernet Sauvignon vine.

International Sauvignon Blanc Day has been held on April 24, since 2010.

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We love to sip on chilled, refreshing Sauvignon Blanc on warm sunny evenings on the deck or the patio. What is your favorite place or time?

Cheers,
Margot and Dave

December to Remember

Blog Post Dec31-BDuring the festive month of December, we enjoyed some stellar wines. While many of these bottles are for special occasions, sometimes any day might be special!

Here is the list – and kudos to all the Washington state wineries whose juice gave us a December to remember!

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And from our friends down under, we opened two bottles that we brought home from our visit in May.Blog Post Dec31

  • d’Arenberg 2009 The Galvo Garage Bordeaux Blend, McLaren Vale, Australia
  • Craggy Range 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand

It was indeed a December to remember, capping off a year of several visits to wine countries in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Cheers and Happy New Year to all our family, friends and readers! We hope you have a healthy, happy, safe and prosperous 2015.

Margot and Dave

What’s in Your Glass Lately?

Screen Shot 2013-12-22 at 8.37.48 AMYou might have seen the phrase “What’s in Your Glass Lately” on your social network channels. We decided to answer with some excellent wines that we’ve enjoyed over the past six months. In no particular order:

Cheers – and Happy Holidays!

Beautiful British Columbia-Part 4

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 5.58.19 PMTo wrap up this series on B.C. wine country, we wanted to tell you about the Wines of British Columbia dinner that we were invited to a few weeks ago at Dahlia Lounge.

Each of the six delicious courses by Chef Brock Johnson and B.C. Chef Trevor Bird of Fable Restaurant in Vancouver were paired with B.C. VQA wines that are now available exclusively at Whole Foods Market stores in Washington and Oregon.

This was the amazing menu:

First course: Chef Brock Johnson, Dahlia Lounge
Canapés: Bacon jam and apple on toast
Tantalus Vineyards, 2012 Riesling

Second course: Chef Brock Johnson, Dahlia Lounge
British Columbia lingcod fritter, tarragon aioli and olive
St. Hubertus Estate Winery, 2013 Pinot Blanc
Tinhorn Creek Vineyards, 2013 Pinot Gris

Third course: Chef Trevor Bird, Fable Kitchen, Vancouver, B.C.
Grilled fruit salad, Fable made ricotta, pickled berries, radish, end of the season strawberry vinaigrette
Quails’ Gate Winery, 2012 Pinot Noir

Fourth course: Chef Trevor Bird, Fable Kitchen
Confit Point Grey salmon, beet carpaccio, crispy business, herbed yogurt, pickled fennel and dill
Meyer Family Vineyards, 2012 Chardonnay

Fifth course: Chef Brock Johnson, Dahlia Lounge
Beef tenderloin and wine braised beef heart, smoked wild mushroom, parsnip and nutmeg
Black Hills Estate Winery, 2012 Nota Bene
Nk’Mip Cellars, 2012 Merlot

Sixth course: Chef Brock Johnson, Dahlia Lounge
British Columbia cheese plate, roasted fig, pecan flax toast
Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, 2011 Cabernet Franc

As mentioned, wines from these participating wineries are now available at Whole Foods, so if you can’t visit Beautiful British Columbia’s growing wine country, you can still taste the wines right here.

Thanks for inviting us to the delicious dinner and introducing B.C. wines to Washington and Oregon, Wines of British Columbia.

Other posts in this series:

Beautiful British Columbia Part 1
Beautiful British Columbia Part 2: Tinhorn Creek Vineyards
Beautiful British Columbia Part 3: Fairview Cellars

Cheers!

Fairview Cellars-Beautiful British Columbia Part 3

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 1.38.52 PMSome of the best Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends in British Columbia can be found at Fairview Cellars, a small unassuming winery in Oliver, which we recommend as a stop in any tour of B.C. wine country.

While many wineries in B.C. (and Washington state) have become gorgeous destination resorts, Fairview Cellars has a rustic tasting room in a tiny log cabin about five minutes into the hills off the north end of the Benches of the Golden Mile. Sandra Oldfield of Tinhorn Creek suggested we stop by during our September visit, and we now know why.

In 1993, half Fairview’s 10-acre property was planted with Cabernet Sauvignon. The remainder was split equally with Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Later, one row of Syrah and one row of Petit Verdot were added; Sauvignon Blanc was planted on a lower terraced bench in 2007.

We found the Cabs and Bordeaux blends the best. But we also enjoyed Fairview Cellars 2013 Sauvignon Blanc on the hot end-of-summer day we visited; it was crisp, well-balanced and delightful.

And the stories from winemaker/owner Bill Eggert and his brother, Chuck, were an entertaining accompaniment to our tastings.

Fairview Cellars 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon
This is an amazing wine that is drinking beautifully right now and still has about 10 more years left in it. This classic cab is a special-occasion wine that will pair marvelously with savory and/or smoky meats. We loved it.

Iconoclast Premier Series
Bill only makes Iconoclast when he thinks the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are near perfect – the most recent vintage is 2009, and the next release is 2012. This is another special wine, rich, silky and with great structure and balance. This is one big cab, which would pair so very well with a big, juicy steak.

2011 & 2012 Two Hoots
The flagship Cab-Merlot-Cab Franc blend is “produced for daily consumption,” according to Bill. He also says that while there are many reasons for the name, the main one is “to honour the return every year of the Great-Horned Owls to nest on the Fairview property.”  This is a medium-weight blend with a flavorful punch. The 2011 vintage has floral notes and is one of the winery’s best sellers. The 2012 has the same blend, but is bigger and bolder, and we really enjoyed it.

2011 The Bear
Another favorite, The Bear is Cab-based (50-75%, depending on the vintage) with Merlot, Cab Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot to round it off. This is a classic Bordeaux blend, with grapes from the best barrels chosen, and stored from 14-20 months. Thinking of pairing? Think prime rib.

For our friends in B.C., you can find Fairview Cellars wines in a number of places, although we still recommend a visit to BC wine country.

As a young child, my family visited the Okanagan every summer, swimming in the numerous lakes and picking cherries. I said this in Part 1 of this series, and I’ll say it again now: Beautiful British Columbia, you’ve come a long way, baby!

Cheers!

Tinhorn Creek-Beautiful British Columbia Part 2

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 11.43.53 AMTinhorn Creek Vineyards, quite simply, is a must-stop destination for any visit to British Columbia wine country. September 23rd marked the 20th anniversary of Tinhorn Creek, which has grown from barrels of wine in the basement of a house to 150 acres of vines on a beautiful estate in Oliver Osoyoos wine country, in the south Okanagan’s “Golden Mile” region.

Over the years, Tinhorn Creek has also become known in Canada as one of the most progressive wineries, focusing on sustainability and being environmentally friendly.

This winery is the epitome of what we consider a top pick: Good juice, good people and good events such as concerts and winemaker dinners at their onsite restaurant, Miradoro.

Sandra Oldfield, co-owner, president, CEO, and the face and voice of Tinhorn Creek, has been active in the wine community on Twitter for years. She embodies the experience declared on their website:Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 11.11.39 AM

“We grow grapes and we make wine. There are many steps between the field and the bottle, but at the end of the day it’s about farming the land responsibly, having fun, and making wines to share with family and friends. Because that’s what we are: friends, family – and friends who become family.”

Sandra also was the winemaker until this year, when Andrew Windsor joined the team, after after spending the past eight years in wine regions of Australia, New Zealand and France.

The winemaking team works from vines on two very distinct parcels of land:

  • 50 acres at the Tinhorn Creek Vineyard on the west bench, which benefits from sunrise and morning light, and is perfect for Gewürztraminer and Muscat
  • 100 acres on the Black Sage bench of the Diamondback Vineyard across the valley, which soaks up the intense afternoon heat, and therefore works well for Cabernet Franc and Merlot

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 12.02.23 PMSo let’s talk about the wines, starting with Tinhorn Creek’s Cab Franc, surely the best in Canada. We’ve tasted two vintages and enjoy the rich flavors that exemplify the varietal characteristics. This is a fantastic food wine, particularly with hearty beef stew or prime rib.

Earlier this year, the B.C. Wine Appreciation Society held a blind tasting of eight B.C. Cab Francs against four from other wine regions of the world. Tinhorn Creek 2010 Oldfield Selection Cab Franc, the winery’s first reserve version, won by a wide margin.

Going back several years, our first taste of Tinhorn Creek wine was at Whistler, back in the late 1990s — a 1995 Pinot Gris that set the bar for all the Pinot Gris we tasted in the following years.

More recently, last month, we visited the vineyard and tasted the 2013 vintage, which is crisp, balanced and brimming with citrus, pear and apple aromas and flavors.

In the late summer heat, we were also wowed by the Oldfield Series 2013 2Bench White, a delightful blend of Chardonnay, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc that screams for seafood to pair with it.

Tinhorn Creek is also known for its Merlot; the 2012 vintage is not at all jammy, and has a bite at the front palate that will taste marvelous with steak.

And yes, most of us in the U.S. can enjoy Tinhorn Creek wines here too – Tinhorn Creek is one of eight B.C. VQA wineries that offer wine exclusively at Whole Foods Market stores in Washington and Oregon.

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 12.17.56 PMIn addition, Tinhorn Creek now ships wines direct to consumer in 34 states.

Of course, it’s more fun to visit.

And if you’re lucky, you’ll see the newest member of the Tinhorn Creek family. Right after our visit ended, the winery became home to a new puppy, Sam.

How cute is he?

Yes, he’s grown a lot in the last two months, but he is still adorbs (a word that has never been used on this blog since it launched in 2007)!

According to Sandra, one of Sam’s favorite things to do is to nap on the cool tiles in the shower (without the water)!

So what are you waiting for?

Cheers!

Beautiful British Columbia-Part 1

Screen Shot 2014-10-05 at 6.48.00 PMEight B.C. VQA wines are now available exclusively at Whole Foods Market stores in Washington and Oregon, and we were invited to taste them at a special dinner last week at Dahlia Lounge.

Chef Brock Johnson and B.C. Chef Trevor Bird of Fable Restaurant in Vancouver (and Top Chef Canada) created west coast cuisine perfectly paired with the eight featured B.C. wines.

Coincidentally, this amazing evening came on the heels of a trip we took to parts of BC wine country in mid-September.

We will be writing in detail about both of those events in the future. In the meantime, we wanted to share the names of the wineries where we tasted some pretty good B.C. wine. I was born and raised in B.C., and I can truly say, “B.C. wine, you’ve come a long way, baby!”

Wines from these participating wineries are now available at Whole Foods:

  • Tinhorn Creek Vineyards
  • Nk’Mip Cellars
  • Tantalus Vineyards
  • St. Hubertus Estate Winery
  • Meyer Family Vineyards
  • Quails’ Gate Estate Winery
  • Black Hills Estate Winery
  • Burrowing Owl Estate Winery

Additional BC wineries we visited in Osoyoos and Kelowna:

  • Fairview Cellars
  • Gehringer Brothers
  • Hester Creek

Stay tuned for more details in future blog posts. In the meantime, we encourage you to visit Beautiful British Columbia and its growing wine country.

Cheers!