The Sea To Sky Region – A ‘Cornucopia’ Of Culinary Expertise

November 3, 2015

Does a picture of mammoth mountain peaks, expansive rainforests, lush valley floor, and a cool ocean breeze come to mind when you think of the Sea to Sky region? This and much more is true of the picture-perfect locale. But there is so much more to be enjoyed here. The Sea to Sky’s reputation as a food and drink mecca is fast becoming renowned, due to the culmination of passion, expertise and innovative spirit, alongside the bounty of fresh, local harvests to cement the area as a ‘cornucopia’ of culinary delights.

Cornucopia, presented by BlueShore Financial, is proud to present a smorgasbord of home-grown talent, across the festival’s 11 dedicated days of food, beer, wine and spirits. Keep reading for a sneak-peak into the Sea to Sky’s gastronomic genius.

Tyler Schramm is the owner and Master Distiller of Pemberton Distillery, an award-winning certified organic micro-distillery located in Pemberton, 30 minutes north of Whistler. The Pemberton Distillery was built in 2008 – making it one of the first craft distilleries in Canada, and the first to create spirits using 100 per cent B.C.-grown raw materials. Initially specializing in classic old-world style organic potato vodka – the only organic potato vodka in the world – Schramm now creates a range of small batch organic spirits, including whisky, gin, absinthe, brandy and liqueurs. His philosophy is to combine hands-on craft methods and locally grown ingredients to produce high quality spirits with distinctive terroir and style. Travel 40 minutes south of Whistler and you’ll find Gillespie’s Fine Spirits in Squamish. Partners in life and business, Kelly Ann Woods and John McLellan are co-owners and operators of the artisan craft distillery – needless to say, the spirits industry is alive and well along the Sea to Sky.

Eric Blouin, founder of Taste Whistler, has dedicated his professional life to wine and the pleasures that surround it. With the overarching goal of making wine more approachable and less intimidating, Blouin explains “It’s very motivating to taste wine with people, see what they’re into, make them discover a new favourite style, varietal or region… wine is supposed to be fun!“ When asked what we can expect from his up-coming seminars at Cornucopia he reiterates “Great wines, serious fun and probably lots of banter”. See Blouin and fellow ‘Whistlerite’ Samantha Rahn (2013 Sommelier of the Year, at the Vancouver International Wine Festival) when the dynamic duo team up to present at four of Cornucopia’s  wine seminars, including: Whistler’s Wine Transplants, The Cool Kids, He Said / She Said and Lords of The Dirt.

Fort Berens Estate Winery reconfirms the local areas undeniable entrepreneurial spirit; pioneering the wine industry, when breaking ground to build the first winery in Lillooet. As one of the newest additions to the regions culinary repertoire, Fort Berens continues to grow from strength to strength, winning the 2014 Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in British Columbia Wines with their 2012 Riesling. Heleen Pannekoek, co-founder and co-owner of Fort Berens states that “winning this prestigious award for a wine made with 100 per cent estate-grown grapes really proved that not only could we grow grapes in Lillooet, but that we could grow premium-quality grapes”. Taste the unique flavours of this emerging wine region when Fort Berens teams up with the culinary bravado of the Four Seasons Whistler’s signature hotel restaurant, Sidecut Modern Steak + Bar at The Fort Berens and Four Seasons Experience winemaker dinner, November 8.

Craft beer in British Columbia has experienced an unprecedented surge in popularity with a plethora of micro-breweries, brew pubs, artisan brewers and craft breweries popping up across the province. In Whistler you don’t have to go far to understand why, with the Whistler Brewing Company producing much-loved artisan brews, that are highly-reflective of the local community. Jen Smythe, Portfolio Manager of NorthAm Beverages explains “At Whistler Brewing we are passionate about making beer, we believe that it’s important to make beers that our community will enjoy and embrace”. When asked of the significance of using local produce, Smythe says that it is “incredibly important, in fact one of our newest beers – the Unique Brew Cold In Fused Coffee Brown Ale – was a collaboration with The Whistler Roasting Company. Local partnerships are an integral part of our philosophy.” Journey down the road south to Squamish again and you’ll find Howe Sound Brewing, a brew pub that not only produces unique (and delicious) craft brews, but is implementing small changes in order to better their environmental impact. From using re-useable bottles, to channeling the bulk of spent grains to local farms, Howe Sound Brewing is taking steps to keep the Sea to Sky Corridor a beautiful and natural locale. Sip, sample and savour the delicious craft brews from the Whistler Brewing Company, Howe Sound Brewing plus many more at Cornucopia’s newest tasting gala, BREWED: The BC Craft Brewers Guild Winter Beer Market.

Don’t trust everything you read? Try it for yourself at Cornucopia, November 5-15.