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.
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,