Announcing The Inaugural Cornucopia Wine Summit

What is remarkable about each and every year of Cornucopia is the sheer number of passionate, knowledgable people from all over the world that gather in one place at one time.

And because that gathering typically pulls together some of the most thoughtful and interesting people in the world of food and wine, there was an occasion to make a whole that is much more than the sum of its parts.

Such was the inspiration behind launching Cornucopia’s brand new initiative, The Cornucopia Wine Summit.  With keynote speaker Dr. Jamie Goode and hosted by Michaela Morris, the Cornucopia Wine Summit is an industry forum for leaders, thinkers and wine industry professionals to exchange, debate and celebrate.  The Cornucopia Wine Summit brings together experts and topics relevant to the wine industry and its changing landscape, in a setting where those who have a common interest can share and debate.  Get Jamie’s outside perspective on BC wine, learn the latest news on topics such as inter-provincial trade and sub-appellations, and be a part of the great debate on the future of BC wine. Plus much more. Marking 20 years of Cornucopia, this Summit will combine great speakers, hot topics, food and wine in a thought provoking forum that is not to be missed.

The Summit is for anyone interested in the ins and outs of the industry.  Its for those who want to talk about wine in a deep, political and technical way in a setting that revels in the grit, the geek, the minutia, the debate, and the heat and soul.  It’s for those committed to their businesses and who need to stay on top of what’s shifting in a constantly changing environment.  It’s for those who want to have a say, know more and be a part of the future. And its also for those who want to raise a glass and say cheers to everything that has been accomplished so far and for what’s to come.

And besides? Where better to have a Summit than in the mountains? The Cornucopia Wine Summit is our birthday present to ourselves and we want to welcome you to the party.  See you in November

World-Class Wine Talent To Whistler In 2016

How do you make an already flavour-packed 11 day convivium of people and taste even better? Invite two of the brightest and freshest thinkers from the International world of wine. This fall for Cornucopia’s 20th Anniversary, Dr. Jamie Goode and Madeline Puckette will join the expert line-up of talent at Whistler’s celebration of the best of food and drink.

Jamie Goode of is a London-based wine writer, lecturer and wine judge who is currently a wine columnist with UK national newspaper The Sunday Express. As Cornucopia’s Keynote Speaker, Jamie anchors 2016’s inaugural Cornucopia Wine Summit – a freshly launched industry forum for exchange, debate and celebration.  Over this two day conference, Jamie will bring his unparalleled perspective on wine from both British Columbia and around the world.  Having visited Canada’s wine regions several times and having been a judge at last summer’s 2nd Annual Judgement of BC Wine Tasting and most recently at the 2016 National Wine Awards of Canada, Jamie understands Canadian and British Columbian wine and how it sits amongst its International peers.  A multiple award winning writer Jamie has, most recently in 2016, just launched I Taste Red: Understanding the Flavour of Wine, published by Quarto/University of California press.

Joining Jamie Goode is New York Times bestselling author Madeline Puckette, wine’s bright spark of the internet and chief wine communicator at Wine Folly.  Madeline, along with her friend Justin Hammack, founded Wine Folly in 2011.  Wine Folly is an entertaining and educational site that offers answers to wine questions.  In only a few years, Wine Folly has taken the online relationship between wine and social media to a whole new level. hosts millions of visitors each month and offers tips, articles, videos and products that help people be confident with wine–in any situation. The site has received accolades from International Wine and Spirits Competition as Wine Blogger of the year in 2013, ranks in top 5 for websites about wine, and #1 on the topic of learning about wine. The site’s wine infographics have been featured on, Buzz Feed, Huffington Post, Fast Company, LifeHacker and the Washington Post among others.

Madeline calls herself a graphic designer and music lover turned wine geek.  And as the author of the NYT best-selling book, Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine, her background in visual design, music and restaurant hospitality have helped shape her communication of wine through infographics, entertainment and social media. Madeline’s accolades include Court of Master Sommeliers Certified Sommelier (Level 2), 40 Under 40 – Wine Enthusiast Magazine 2015–2016, Wine Blogger of the Year -International Wine and Spirits Competition 2013-14 and Top Wine Writer, Quora, 2012.

Winemaker Charles Smith of Charles Smith Wines in Washington State is considered a true artisan and pioneer in the wine world. Charles Smith Wines is the largest winemaker-owned winery, and the third largest winery overall, in Washington State. The brand expanded in 2015 with the opening of Charles Smith Jet City, the largest urban winery on the West Coast. As a self-taught winemaker, Smith has received 85 scores of 95 points and above and more than 350 scores of 90 points and above from leading wine publications such as Wine Advocated, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, and Wine & Spirits.  As the recipient of numerous awards, Smith is the only person to have won “Winemaker of the Year” by both Food & Wine and Wine Enthusiast magazines.

Have a burning question about the world of food and wine?  Jamie, Charles and Madeline and all of Cornucopia’s exceptional 2016 talent and experts are sure to have the answers.  Come to Whistler this November to learn, experience and appreciate the best with the best.

See you in November!
Kelly Hand
Cornucopia Event Director

Deep Summer Update – From Vineyards To Fields

Beautiful summer days are becoming noticeably shorter – the harvest season is upon us. My garden in Pemberton is in full production and I’m giving away surplus bags of veggies to friends and co-workers. It’s time for all of us to take advantage of the remarkable bounty of BC, as most of our local restaurants do through the year, from fabulous Pemberton Farms like Rootdown Organics, North Arm Farm and Laughing Crow (all certified organic I might add), through the Fraser Valley and of course the fantastic wines of the Okanagan, Similkameen and Vancouver Island. Even Kamloops and the Kootenays are producing excellent wines.

With the B.C. grape harvest on track to finish early, hopes are high that the November road trip to Cornucopia will find most of the winemakers presenting their wines to you in person, as all the grapes will be in the wineries, and ferments well under control in time for kick off November 10.  If you don’t make it to the wineries this summer or early fall to see the harvest in motion, not to worry, we are bringing the wine world to you in Whistler this November.  In fact, our great wine shops and restaurants do it every day, so don’t forget to keep Whistler on your summer and fall road trip agenda too.  You can extend your adventure through Pemberton and on the scenic winding drive over the Duffy Lake section of highway 99 to Lillooet and have a fabulous winery experience at Fort Berens winery, right in our backyard.  There are lots of great farm stands to stop in at around Pemberton and Lillooet, and the Whistler Farmer’s Market showcases farm fresh produce, crafts, and yes, even wine, every Sunday until Thanksgiving, and a few more Wednesday nights in the upper village.

Samantha Gamay at the Whistler Farmer’s Market


While we enjoy the amazing food coming from beautiful B.C., and celebrate great road trips and backyard BBQ’s I’m going to take you a tiny bit off the beaten track with some great B.C. and International wines that are great value – from grapes and regions that you may or may not know.

Two crisp, refreshing whites:

Quails’ Gate Chenin Blanc, Okanagan, B.C.

Long referred to as ‘BC’s oyster wine’, this is another classic example of dry Chenin, expertly guided from vineyard to bottle by dynamo winemaker Nikki Callaway.  It’s bright acidity balances a light savory edge and softly rounded texture to pair with just about anything seafood, salad, white meats, herbs and veggies.  This is a B.C. treasure and fabulous way to get into drinking more Chenin Blanc, for less than $20

Ormarine Picpoul de Pinet, Languedoc, France

You all love Picpoul, right? It may be kind of obscure, but this gem is widely available in B.C. liquor stores, on sale for the month of August at a crazy low price, and great for lunching, entertaining, ceviche, my backyard veggie built Greek salads, or just refreshing sips in the sun with your pals.  Pick up a case. You’ll be glad you did. It’ll bring the south of France right home to you.

Deep summer ready reds:

Samantha Gamay, Okanagan, B.C.

This light red is so delicious right now, I can hardly believe it! This is a very proud plug of my little partnership project with Okanagan Crush Pad and their super smart and talented winemaker Matt Dumayne.  Blended from a couple of lots of south Okanagan Gamay, 70% of it spent most of its life in concrete before we bottled it end of July last year.  It’s the red that goes with everything west coast, and available most Sunday’s at the Whistler Farmer’s Market, and in store at Blackcomb Liquor and Nester’s among other places. You’ve got it try it for yourself, though many customers complain it’s so delicious it disappears from the glass a bit too quickly.

Torres ‘Celeste’, Ribera del Duero, Spain
Great meats on the grill and savory dishes call for a big red of great character.  Ribera del Duero is the Tempranillo grape at its finest, and the Torres family is doing great things with it here.  There is plenty of dark fruit and a nice dose of spice – full but not overly done, and a fine introduction for those new to Tempranillo, and Spanish wines. This is available is B.C. liquor stores, or if you don’t want to commit to a bottle, pop by one of Whistler’s fun new restaurants, Bar Oso, and try a glass with some Iberico ham.

Have fun sipping and road tripping, and don’t forget to think of the farmers bringing all this great food and wine to you!

Until next time, your friend in wine,


Farming Beer? Hooked From The First Bubbles

We are hooked on the goodness and bounty of Sea to Sky Country.  And with the innovation and energy inherent in the people of this region, what the folks here are up to never ceases to amaze.  In that light, writer Lisa Richardson brings us a conversation with Pemberton’s first farm-to-tap brewery. Coming Spring 2017.

The Beerfarmers: Hooked from the first bubbles

When she took her sommelier course, Brenda Miller was the oldest person in the room.

She wasn’t doing it to further her serving career. The 40-something mother of five, from Pemberton, just wanted to travel more intelligently, more viscerally – she was an organic farmer, after all, so everything came back to terroir and taste.

“I just wanted to be able to get a sense of place wherever I went.”

Little did she know she was opening a Pandora’s box.

“I never thought it would translate to beer, but it really does.”

Pemberton has been a potato growing Mecca since pretty soon after being first settled by European immigrants, including Brenda’s husband Bruce’s grandfather, who bought the land they now farm as Across the Creek Organics back in 1911.

Across the Creek grows organic table potatoes. Their culls (imperfect looking but perfectly good spuds) also go to Schramm Distillery to make the world’s only organic vodka. (The potato spirit is the base for a host of the Distillery’s award-winning offerings, including gin, schnapps and liqueurs.)  But until now, the town has never had a brewery.

Six years ago, Brenda went out for dinner to Whistler’s Creekbread with her husband and nephew. She ordered a potato beer and declared it “the best beer she’d ever tasted.” Her nephew convinced her to try brewing her own, and encouraged her to buy a home-brew kit. Though she resisted, (the package formula idea didn’t appeal), he persisted. “The next day, the beer in my pantry was bubbling, and I was hooked.”  And so it began.

What does a potato farmer know about beer? Raising 5 boys teaches you something about alchemy. When Brenda looks back on her 20s, when she first started having kids, she says, “All I did was grocery shop and cook. But that did inspire a passion for food. How do I make things taste good to people who say yuk?”

Beer only has four ingredients – barley, water, yeast and hops – but Brenda Miller reckons it really boils down to passion. And passion she has. As well as a streak of perfectionism, several incredible recipes for beers that she’s developed since that first fateful (admittedly horrible tasting brew) that people rave about.

“I just like to know where my food comes from. Every bit of it. I like to know the process behind it. And beer’s no different.”

What’s next is scaling it up, from home-brewing to Sea to Sky’s first farm-to-tap brewery.

The water, hops and barley for the forthcoming Pemberton Valley Beerworks will come from their farm. Potatoes traditionally are rotated with plantings of grains to replenish the soil. Instead of oats, clover and hay, the Miller’s fallow fields will be planted in 20 acres of barley.

“In the spring, when I ride my bike to town, it smells so amazing,” says Miller. “I know it sounds awfully grandiose, but that sense of place is what I’m trying to capture, and you can’t do that if you buy barley from Saskatchewan.”

She’s getting great advice from brewmaster friends: Don’t worry about all the little things. Just brew really great beer.

“Hopefully, I can live up to that.”

By Lisa Richardson

Check her out at