Colour VQA Wines from B.C.

Wines of British Columbia recently showcased the fall releases of more than 350 B.C. wines, poured by 90 wineries at the Vancouver Convention Center at an event called “Colour.” Only VQA wines were sampled  — the Vintners Quality Alliance standard was created in 1990 to guarantee consumers they were drinking wine made from 100% B.C.-grown grapes. In 1990, B.C. was home to 17 wineries; today there are 275.
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B.C.’s Wild Side

Prior to Wines of British Columbia‘s fall release “Colour” event in Vancouver (described in a separate post), we were invited to attend a wine seminar called “B.C.’s Wild Side” led by moderator and B.C. wine expert Michaela Morris.

The exclusive tasting focused on organic, biodynamic and natural B.C. wines, looking at how some wineries use wild fermentation, skin contact and ancestral winemaking techniques.

Ten wines from Okanagan Valley, Similkameen Valley and Golden Mile Bench were tasted; three were pre-release samples, and unfortunately, a couple of wines are already sold out.
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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!