Friday, December 19, 2008

Our Wine Brand Name - Black Cloud.

A little while back we asked friends, family and associates from the world of wine to help us come up with a name for our new wine brand.
We were flooded with replies.
Two things we learned.
  • People really want to help and will take time to offer what they can.
  • the people who do this professionally have talent and skills.

Some of the suggestions were excellent and gave us a reason to carefully consider their candidacy. Others, obviously tongue-in-cheek, were quite amusing.

We've made our decision and now we've retained Magpye Productions and Ann O'Grady to start with our logo and label design. Ann has done some great work with Lake Breeze Farm winery and a host of others. We feel good about our meetings we've had and look forward to looking at some samples in the early New Year. Hopefully we'll be able to share some for your perusal.

On another front, we are working on our incorporation documents and securing our brand integrity in a number of ways including copyright.

After weeks of pondering, mulling, analysis, consensus-building and teeth-grinding we're decided to call our wine brand

Black Cloud

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Holiday Wine List

Paul over at the WINE PRO group on LinkedIn was asking:
What are you drinking over the holidays?
Usually I leave these things to the wine review blogs. But I started thinking about it and got all warm and fuzzy so I wrote something like this:

For the 'go-to' have-on-hand wine I'm going to search out some Cotes Rotie and other Rhonish varietals. There seems to me more of these grapes available to us each year. Best to get some research done.

The wife and I like to sip on cava as we chore, errand and task about the house with all the seasonal duties. Scrubbing the bathroom fixtures seems almost glamorous with a flute of bubble at hand. We tend to like some of the inexpensive Australian sparklers like Wolf Blass. The price is right at $13.99. We'll crack a domestic like Sumac Ridge's Steller's Jay or my own Township 7 Seven Stars if company is coming over and I have to pull on a clean shirt.

We aren't travelling for Christmas so the big turkey feast will be next year. We usually do duck for when it's just me,she and the boy. Duck is one of the few things in the world he likes. Probably team it up with Pinot Noir. I don't have an '05 Sokol Blosser (the link is to the '06)which is undeniably wicked cool. I will probably open a Black Cloud 2006. Black Cloud? Coming soon. Available in the early New Year. You read it here first.

New Year's Eve? I'll be a guest and drink whatever is put out. New Year's Day, however, is different. The plan is to fire up the outdoor grill and have a few folks over for mixed grill and pasta for a mid-day brunch kind of thingy. Maybe the Thomas Fogarty 2004 Fiddletown Barbera. Hope it's sunny and mild. We like to start the year like that and send photos to friends out east.

Any given night, with the snow swirling outside and the fire embering nicely, we'll pop an NV Port and crack some walnuts while we congratulate ourselves for another great year of us.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Can A Winery Name Be Arrogant?

Looky here! It's December already. Before the holiday entertaining schedule ramps up to full speed I thought I'd pop up a post.

Working through the mountain of name suggestions for our new wine brand has been very educational. At one point I was a little exasperated with our inability to really 'love' any one suggestion. I expressed this to a colleague and he suggested -

"Why not just call it Bradley Cooper? Everything you've done rests on your name. It's already got some presence."

When I presented that option to the partner it was if I had brought a bad smell into the room.

"That's conceited and arrogant. I don't want to work for Bradley Cooper Wines. This is a partnership!"

The lambasting softened somewhat when I said, "Kim Crawford, Robert Mondavi, Thomas Fogarty and a host of others". It's not a new concept.

So as it stands now, we may select a name that means something to us, and start building the value and the story around the name or we may go for arrogance.

What do you think? Is naming a winery after an individual a 'no-go'? I await your pithy response.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

An Economy In Crisis: This is the Best TIme to Start A Winery.

The other day a friend of mine questioned my sanity in light of the current global economic woes and my decision to establish a winery.

He called me 'crazy'.

I can understand this reaction. But it's a reaction built on emotion. An emotional response to stimuli that produces more questions than answers and creates fear of the unknown. It's a diet of information that suggests volatility and instability in institutions previously considered to be rock solid.

Emotion alters our judgement. Rational discourse and strategic planning are difficult when running around the room pulling out your hair.

What is happening right now sets the stage for years of growth. Predicting the period of growth may be difficult. Just when it will happen is tough to say. But when it comes around, a business and its' drivers must be prepared for growth. If you're still in damage control at that point (or even just afloat) your going to miss the ride.

So starting a business at the bottom of the economic cycle isn't such a bad thing. It's important to be prudent, maybe even frugal, and make sure you're scalable.

We're starting shoe-string and with such a small inventory that I'll be able to hand-sell it myself. In fact, that's part of the plan. And without a plan, how do you know if you've screwed up or not?

Bad time to start a winery? I don't think so. Bad time to have a winery with a bloated inventory, no viable marketing plan and enormous debt? I think so. In our own backyard here in the Okanagan Valley, I think we're going to see some consolidation. Some of the bad actors will either merge or be bought outright. There will be deals to be had. Prices haven't dropped too much yet but they will as too much value is being attached to non-existent good-will.

So, my friend, my state of mind is not one of questionable mental health. Sure, I'm crazy.

Crazy like a fox.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

First step: a limited company.

As we head down this winery project road, we feel our first step is to incorporate.

A limited company allows us some protection of personal assets and helps legitimize our status.
The company will also allow us to develop a wine brand exclusive of the company name. We feel the company name will allow us to further diversify our efforts, when the time comes, as we spinoff other ventures. Not everything we do in the wine world is directly linked to our wine brand. So we see the company as a kind of fiscal umbrella.

At this time we are examining different company structures and trying to establish what the best format will be for our project. As an example, we may be considering outside investment at some point and we want to be able to act on that option without creating an entirely new entity.

Up until now, we've been operating as a partnership.

There's lots to learn for newbies. We're always open to comments about what we're doing. If you've had a similar experience be sure to comment on how it went.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

New Wine Name, Different Wine Game

You may have noticed that this blog is no longer called Wine & Vine BC.
This reflects a couple of changes.
Number one is the fact that my wife and I are creating our own winery, wine brand and vineyard. We're going to use the blog to explain, promote and enrich our experience.

The other change was more subtle and slow and revealed itself over time. Despite my intentions, I was never really able to cover the wine scene in this province as the title would suggest I should have. It was a good idea but far beyond my available resources. Yes, a good idea and one I'll leave to another blogger who has the time and investment to get it right.

I hope my readers, those that have subscribed over the years and commented occasionally, will stay with me and enjoy the new angle. I'll still post as flippantly, glibly and erratically as ever.

In the meantime, please adjust your blog listings and other titles and pass the word.

Thanks for the support!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wine Wordle

It's kind of small but it's my wordle.
Kind of fun.

Wine Brand Needs A Name

After many vintages gaining experience and working on other people's dreams, my wife and I are embarking on an exciting project.

We're creating our own wine brand. Ultimately, we will be establishing a winery operation here in the Okanagan and living out our own dream.

Meanwhile, we have an exquisite 2006 Pinot Noir with no label and no name that is ready for release in a very short time.

We've been tossing around a few ideas. The ones I like, she doesn't and vice versa. The veto is getting plenty of use.

We're inviting friends, family and the wine drinking public to offer up some ideas that we can use to identify our brand.

If it helps, here are a few items in point form about our lives together than may inspire or suggest something.

  • I grew up in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada

  • We met working in the bar business.

  • Our birthdays in April are only four days apart.

  • She grew up in a number of communties in the Canadian prairie provinces.

  • Our names arranged properly begin with A,B,C and D.

  • We both drive Toyotas

  • We married in a town called Russell, Bay of Islands, New Zealand.

  • We dislike animal names for wine or wineries, with some exceptions.

  • Our son has artwork that is being actively considered for label art. He's eight.

Of course, the winning suggestion or derivative of such will be rewarded.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Crush Crew 2008

Part of our crush crew for 2008 at Township 7.

We've been keeping busy bottling while we wait for the bulk of our grapes to ripen.

Season is late; blame it on the spring. Weather in September has been very co-operative.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Shipping Wine: Not in Canada

This topic has been hot in the press lately. Another writer, Craig Pinhey, weighs in on the subject.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Naramata Tailgate at Township 7: Post Mortem

Another sold out event saw wine fans and wine folk mingle at Township 7. About 400 sipped offerings from the 20+ Naramata Bench wineries, ate some great food and listened to the band.

I was late to the party due to other engagements but Elaine Davidson managed to take a few shots at the beginning of the show.
Great weather and great work by all the winery staffs and volunteers.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Here's the Lost Dog

A dog wandered in to Township 7 winery yesterday.
Animal Control won't tell us where it lives (privacy issues).
Licence 1022. 24 hours and ticking.
Anybody want a geriatric golden retriever?

Click here . . .

Saturday, September 06, 2008

From 1WineDude to Another

I've been on this wierd winning streak lately.

First there was the stove top espresso machine and matching cups,

then their was the mini-weather station.

Then this

I submitted a food and wine pairing idea and ...

I scored!

This fine garment is courtesy of

You'll want to get one of your own.
Visit his site for details. Just click on the shop tab at the top of the home page.

Monday, September 01, 2008

100 Things You Can Eat

Wine is always best with food and friends. Every once in awhile it's good to remind yourself of that point after you've been to yet another wine tasting event and the most exotic or interesting thing you could chew on was perhaps melba toast.

My friend Sonadora over at Wannabe Wino put this up on her blog. It serves to send the brain back into the memory files and recall the good, the bad and the ugly. Some of these things may be calling out for a wine match. Others, not so much.

I had a bit of fun with it and I hope you do too. Had to search a few terms to determine if I actually had consumed them or not.

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten. Bold wasn't working for me so I switched to colour.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating. Or use an asterisk.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at Very Good Taste linking to your results.

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare

5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet Pepper* I am at the age where I would experience discomfort for days.
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava

30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl

33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar

37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
(I ate a couple ants when I was 12 on a dare)
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more

46. Fugu* Probably not. Not going to roll those dice.
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads

63. Kaolin Dude, this dirt! Supposed to aid digestion.
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini

73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky

84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers

89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee

100. Snake

Friday, August 22, 2008

Party Mixer: It's a Safety Meeting

Our euphemistically termed gala is happening on Friday, around 4, on September 5.
The universal community of wine types, professional, amateur, fans, local, visiting: we congregate on the hallowed ground of the Penticton Township 7 crushpad to nibble, sip and chat.
If the weather is poor we squeeze into the barrel room.

We bad. We usually have a couple of these through the summer but . . .
This is the only one this season.

Reading this means you are invited.

Check in here,

Hope you can make it!

Friday, August 15, 2008

New Winery Grand Opening - Hijas Bonitas

One of the newest wineries in the Okanagan Valley is having their grand opening all weekend.

Hijas Bonitas in Summerland is rolling open the doors and inviting the public to drop by.

There's barrel tastings and helicopter rides and, of course, the fanastic scenery.

Lawrence Hopper and family will be on hand to welcome you. It's in north Summerland. Watch for the signs and balloons. The event is on all weekend with live music and food.
I had the opportunity on Thursday to pull a few barrel samples for the VIP reception.
It was a great afternoon.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wine From A Fisherman

I walked the rows in my local liquor store, searching for my wine past. I was looking for labels that I cut my wine teeth on. Those old standards that might be still there taking up shelf space.


For Wine Blogging Wednesday.

The monthly themed wine tasting by the planet's wine bloggers is celebrating four years of internet exchange. Today's theme: go back to your past. Find the wine that turned you into a winophile.

I thought back as best as I am able and I kept coming back to Paul Masson Pinot Noir which I ordered with considerable gravity at the Cliff House in Bellingham, WA, slightly underage and awash in the approving gaze of my equally naive co-horts. If it was good enough for Orson Welles, it was good enough for us.

Then there was that big date when I was 16. Stuart Anderson's Black Angus on Robson in Vancouver. I was out with Roberta. We has a bottle of Mateus.

I had also drunk many swigs of bubbly "Duck" wines. But I didn't really care if they were wine or not.

I suppose I could count the bottle of '61 Chateau L'Arossee that I won in 1981 and drank in 1984.

(Interesting, woody, elegant, faded fruit) But that didn't rock my world.

The wine that ultimately lifted the top of my head was 1979 Puligny-Montrachet I drank in 1983. But that's not what this is about. As far as I am concerned, this is about the everyday wine you drank on a regular basis because you thought it was good wine.

Now to see if it actually still is good wine. Or, is it as bad as you may assume?

I chose Gustav Adolf Schmitt Fisherman Riesling. A 2006 Rheinhessen qualitatswein that is pretty close to all the fresh, accessible whites I started on. They were very affordable. Even today, this wine was only around $10. But, really, shouldn't it be Fisherperson?

This was the wine that showed me how wine could be marketed. In fact, it was a kind of viral marketing.

I was working at a new restaurant in Surrey, British Columbia. A national fast food chain wanted to break into the upscale sit-down market so they came up with this concept called the Haven that they plopped down into the mud and cow pastures and tract housing and car dealers and gas stations that was North Surrey.

A wine salesman came in and led us all through a how-to-taste and how-to-sell wine seminar just before the grand opening. Then he created an incentive plan to sell some wine.


I could name the guy but:

A) I might be wrong and

B) It's still illegal to run such a promotion as it was then.

Basically, he told the dozen or more assembled servers that every time they sold a case of Fisherman, we'd get a bottle, or something like that. The weekly winner would be even more richly rewarded. He told everyone, in the same room and at the same time and subtly suggested that better waiters would win.

Oh yeah!?

Well, we sold it, we drank it, we strategized with our bus crew.

On some nights, looking around the 300 seat restaurant, you'd think that was all we had.

"Yes, sir, prime rib is the special tonight. Very good, sir, rare it is. Might I suggest a bottle of Fisherman Riesling? Excellent with your chosen dish, sir. Goes well with the lady's poached sole, as well."

We'd be cruising our sections, glance over at the neighbouring server and up would come a hand (or two) to signal his running total.

'Six? Shit. It's only 7 o'clock. He's full of it.'

The competition was fierce, open-ended and rife with emotion. There was hell when the bartender ran out.

"Whadaya effing mean, Clyde? How can you be out? Go get some!"

When the competition ended there was a visceral let-down. What was fun about selling it when there was no competition? Truth was, we still sold it out of reflex and the fact we had trained the regulars to order it and, I think, they liked it.

So this year's version?

A sharp hint of sulphur that did not blow off but was not particularly off-putting. It diminished and allowed peach and apple aromas to emerge. There was a slight fuel/mint background to the nose. The palate had some tropical bits like pineapple and passion fruit. Not as much apple or stonefruit as I would have imagined. The acidity and slight sweetness were well balanced. I suspect some kind of mouthfeel manipulation because there was slight 'coating' sensation in the finish. As Wannabe Wino might say, it clocks in at 11% alcohol.

On my ground-breaking, innovative new 1,000 point rating system: I give it a 633.

Worth having again. Simple, better very cold, drink with food and don't let your wine friends see you. Like riding a moped or dating a .... never mind.

Monday, August 11, 2008

VinoCamp: Geeks and Winos!

Next Saturday (August 16) in Vancouver the first ever Vinocamp will get underway at UBC's botanical gardens.

The tech/web/internet crowd that also loves wine is putting this together. While you don't have to be a geek to enjoy the day, you'll certainly have company if you are.

Use the links to check out their site and to find registration information. As they say in their tagline,
This is definitely not the wine festival.

See you there!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Naramata Bench Tailgate Party

The 5th annual Naramata Bench Tailgate Party is coming up September 13.
The venue has changed from last year. This year it will be at Township 7's rough n' ready location at 1450 McMillan (Naramata Road).

If you're used to the manicured lawns and elegant setting of previous events at Red Rooster then I'd advise a reality check. T7 is a bit more 'rustic'. There is no doubting where you are at when visiting Township 7: this a working winery and vineyard. Dress for it. Leave the heels at home, lover.

No matter how 'basic' the setting might be, it should be quite a party. There's more than 22 wineries on the Bench now. They promise a rollicking good time. Tickets can be purchased online at

NO PARKING AT SITE: All guests will be shuttled to and from Township 7 as part of their ticket purchase.

Winery Work for Harvest Vintage Crush

Township 7 will require 2 healthy, strong individuals to join our crew for harvest season.

This is a temporary, seasonal position that would suit persons entering the wine production field or those with limited experience to this point.

Candidates should look forward to long hours, indoor/outdoor working conditions and shift work. The ability to lift and manage 23 kg is required.

Must be legally entitled to work in Canada, be available September 15 through November 30, 2008 and have fluent command of English, written and oral. There is a possibility of exending the work period based on performance.


Send your CV.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Golden Beaver or Pompous Ass?

It's tough to choose. Over in NY's Finger Lakes they've got a Pompous Ass. Here in BC we've got a Golden Beaver.

They both use cartoons in their logo.

Thanks to Lenn for the head's up.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Exceptional Okanagan Falls BC Vineyard For Sale


Properties like this are rare. Mature vineyard with Merlot, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, Viognier and others in full production. Beautiful 'southwest' style home and many service buildings. Right on Oliver Ranch Road with plenty of winery and agri-tourism potential. About 30 acres and about 2/3 in vines.
For more information, contact me directly.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Wine Grapes of British Columbia

Colleagues, friends, fans and members of the general public often ask me -
Just what are you growing up there?
So, in an effort to shed some light on this dark secret, I will now reveal the top grapes by tonnage grown in BC. Almost all the grapes are grown in the Okanagan Valley, but there are significant acreages on Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and in the Lower Mainland portion of the Fraser River Valley.
These figures are supplied by the British Columbia Wine Institute (BCWI) and are for the 2007 growing season.

Merlot 3258
Chardonnay 2479
Pinot Gris 1687
Pinot Noir 1532
Cabernet Sauvignon 1390
Gewurztraminer 1339
Pinot Blanc 1307
Other (< 60 tons) 1125*
Riesling 979
Sauvignon Blanc 977
Cabernet Franc 777
Syrah/Shiraz 613
Gamay Noir 486
Ehrenfelser 228
Semillon 202
Auxerrois 189
Marechal Foch 170
Bacchus 124
Chasselas 104
Chancellor 103
Muller Thurgau 102
Icewine Riesling 99
Chenin Blanc 84
Viognier 84
Vidal Blanc 75
Zweigelt 67
Madeleine Angevine 61
Kerner 42
Pinot Meunier 41
Optima 38
Verdelet 14

*In the other category there are a lot of hybrids and some vinifera. Petit Verdot, Pinotage, Tempranillo, Zinfandel, Sangiovese and Muscat are just a few of the smaller tonnage titles.

While there are no 'native' grapes indigenous to the area, there are some tasty Saskatoon berries just up the mountain behind my house right now.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Does Gewurztraminer start with the letter 'S'?

No, children, it does not.
But today I am participating in something called Wine Blogger Wednesday. For the first time.
It's been going on for about four years but I've never been able to get my sh*t together and participate.
One Wednesday a month, bloggers taste a wine and comment. There's a theme as set by the host. So today it is "Brought to you by the letter S".
The 'S' in my Gewurztraminer is the fact that I made it at Township 7, which has an S.
It's crisp, assertive, slighty spicy and full of fresh pear and apple. We blended three vineyards to get the depth and dimension. To me, as much as I like Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, this Gewurztraminer tastes like summer in the Okanagan Valley.

Winery Vineyard Supervisor Wanted

Based in Penticton, British Columbia, Canada. Growing operation requires experienced vineyard worker to maintain small winery's vineyard properties and enhance grower relations. Knowledge of annual and seasonal viticultural practices essential. Experience in people management, budgeting, planning and site development definete assets.

Contact me directly for more information.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Vinifico! is Magnifico!

You can spend a long time looking for a wine site, based in BC, that day-in, day-out provides the same kind of quality wine reviews as Sean Calder's Vinifico. Actually, you'd be hard-pressed to find one this good outside of BC.

Sean acts like my point man in the market place. He's out there tasting and giving his two cents worth and that helps me find wines that are helping me compare and contrast my own projects. He has a liver of heroic description.

In the past, Sean has been assisted by fellow wine buff Graham. Not sure if that arrangement still exists but, nonetheless, they both have great palates.

Check out Vinifico before your next trip to the bottle shop.

Wine and a Hike in the redwoods

It's not news to most people but here it is anyhow: California is full of things to do. For wine lovers, California is a diverse growing region with thousands of wine-related activities. But to return home after a truly rewarding experience in wine country is not always an easy achievement.

A lot of the time there is a cookie-cutter feel to many attractions. There pre-packaged tours and winery visits that start to look pretty typical. Most of the big name tours could be lifted from anywhere. Just insert different names where applicable.

Among the packed tasting rooms, the parade of buses and the drunk-filled limousines is a California wine country experience that really stands out as unique and fun. California Wine Hikes takes two great activities and combines them for some special memories and genuinely exclusive glimpses of the Golden State.

I've talked about California Wine Hikes in this space before as being something different I had heard about. Back in late May, I got to experience it firsthand.

My wife and I have our best hiking years behind us. We weren't looking for a death march with tough technical sections. So we were delighted with the trail chosen for us by Russ Beebe, owner, operator, guide and all-round great guy. We spent about half a day in the mountains at the south end of the San Franciscan peninsula, somewhere between San Mateo and the ocean. We saw huge redwoods, quiet ravines and an array of wildflowers. The traditional fog off the coast started the day. We ended it in full sun for our mid-afternoon lunch.

Of course, our walk was punctuated with visits to wineries like Thomas Fogarty and Savannah-Chanelle.

Russ' knowledge of the area, his running commentary on the flora and fauna and his contacts within the wine business makes for a memorable day out. Nowadays, I can't think of a trip to California without a wine hike in the itinerary.

(top photo: me and a redwood. Sorry about the focus. bottom photo: Me (left), my wife Audralee and Russ Beebe at Savannah Chanelle)
It's only a matter of time that this kind of thing shows up here. I'm sure BC is ready for one of these businesses dedicated to showing off the scenery and the wines in the various regions of the province.
Until then, make sure you book one of these hikes on your next trip to California.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Two Buck Chuck, Trader Joe's and a Dead Field Worker

The saga continues as this diligent blogger does a little investigation.

Click here.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wine Revelations: Inspired By Tom Wark

One of the most popular wine blogs is Tom Wark's Fermentation.

Lately he's posted some revelations that I think would be good reading for anyone in the wine business (or just a wine lover) who is taking stock or just looking back on their life and wine.

It's here.

Have a read, grab a bottle of Rose and just muse on your own set of revelations.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Immersed in Wine Country

There's nothing else like it around here. If you or someone you know wants the ultimate wine country experience they should check out Naramata Unfiltered.

Visitors and residents looking for the definitive BC wine-centric package will find it here.

Great accommodations, fantastic food, scintillating personalities and tons of different wines. It's a top-notch production.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Wine Country Weather

Don't read this if the f-bomb is a problem for you.

The weather has improved since this would have been appropriate last week.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wine Maker Wanted / Stag's Hollow

Thanks for checking... POSITION NOW FILLED

One of the better small wineries in the Okanagan is looking for a wine maker. Stag's Hollow in Okanagan Falls makes around 5,000 cases and has a newish production facility. Prospective candidates should have considerable experience; a proven track record in wine making is required.
Contact Larry Gerelus directly at or

More about Stag's Hollow

Monday, June 09, 2008

Cheap wine? At what cost?

Next time you wince at the price of BC wine and think some wine maker or owner is getting rich at your expense remember this example of how cheap wine is produced on the back of cheap labour and all the social ills that brings with it.

The story is here.

Double Gold Trophy for Township 7 Reserve Chardonnay

Last week I was pleased to hear that the Township 7 2006 Reserve Chardonnay Harmony One Vineyard was awarded best of class 'double gold' at the All-Canadian. This was in the Chardonnay Over $20 category so I suppose that means it is one of the best Chards in the country. Thanks to all who helped me make this wine and to our fine growers at Harmony One. Year after year H1 produces excellent fruit.

If you're considering getting your hands on a case or a bottle, please do it now. There's about 60 cases left from the original 225.

Our regular Township 7 2006 Chardonnay was awarded a gold at the NW Wine Summit and the 2005 Reserve Chardonnay Stone Mountain Vineyard received a silver.

Overall, it looks like Township 7's Chardonnay heritage is shining through.

Contact Township 7 directly at 604-532-1766 or 250-770-1743 to obtain these wines.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Please Help Me Identify This Man

When I was in California I met this solemn creature at a bookstore. I'm the one on the left.
He implored me to purchase his book.
I did so and he proceeded to give a talk for a good part of an hour about wine and it's place in our collective lives. An excellent speaker but damn if I can remember his name.
Oh wait! Here it is. Right on the book!
Okay . . . nevermind. Got it.

Wine Leads To Criminal Activity

Is there anything more grasping and greedy than a government monopoly denied?

On my trip to California I truly enjoyed some marvelous foods and wines. Being a winemaker, I was naturally drawn to the tasting rooms and the wine lists that I encountered. Always, in the back room of my mind, there was a voice, "Even if you wanted this wine, you can't take it home."

Sure, I could actually take it home. But at the border, after clearing immigration, there would be customs. And customs is charged with collecting the cash that the government figures it is due. This is determined by whatever the provincial mark-up is on a particular product. If they don't actually have the product on their shelves then there is a formula to arrive on the 'proper' dollar figure.

"Surely," you say," you must be allowed something?" Yes, true, we are allowed something.

But no matter how long I stay, I am limited to 1.5 L of wine. That's two standard bottles. After 48 hours, I can bring $400 back in goods. But the wine volume stays the same. After 7 days, I can bring back $750 in goods. But the wine volume stays the same. It's all here in it's ridiculous splendour. If I only stay 24 hours then I have to pay the formula on everything.

The taxes, duty and mark-up or whatever euphemism you want to use is almost always in excess of 100% of your purchase price of the wine in Canadian dollars.

I have heard all the arguments for this kind of policy. Protectionism and public safety, control, maintaining the public coffers. Frankly, in this day and age, none of those tired old arguments are worth a thing.

What this policy leads to is the most elaborate and deceitful schemes by otherwise law-abiding citizens bent on getting a few extra bottles of wine or liquor back into the country. We're not talking about truckloads. We're talking about a half dozen or a case of something special, often not available at home, something that was picked up on vacation or on a business trip.

I know it may be necessary to draw the line somewhere, but this country has turned into a country of amateur smugglers. With the dollar virtually at par with its American counterpart, I imagine there's plenty of temptation.

Hell, I know there is. Here's what I had to do.

After 11 days in the U.S. I settled on 8 bottles of wine and not the 8 cases I really wanted. Sorry, U.S. wine sellers. I put two into my luggage. The other six I packaged and sent to a Washington state border town about 1 hour from my home. Good thing you can ship from California to Washington. I told the UPS guys on Sutter in San Francisco it was olive oil anyways and we all had a good laugh.

Today it arrived. My wife went and picked it up. She drove it to within 400 meters of the border and dropped in on my Mom and step Dad (Canadian citizens) at their lakeside summer place. There she gave them each two bottles and appropriate receipts. They had been stateside for 48 hours so they were entitled to two bottles free of border charges.

The other two bottles are stashed in the crawlspace of the cabin. Tomorrow my people will drive back across the line and into Canada with my wine I will meet them at the donut shop in Osoyoos before they head home. There, in the parking lot like a gathering of of criminals, I will accept the goods.

My next plan: I'm going to head south again soon. I'll stay for at least 48 hours and I'll buy two bottles of wine worth $400 together that are not available in BC. Then I'll bring them back and dispose of them as I see fit.

Tsk. Just sad behaviour I'm capable of. Almost as sad as a monopoly so fearful of revenue loss from cross border purchases that it has to impose these draconian rules on the masses. Isn't it time we used our overworked Border Service to protect our citizens from pedophiles, armed criminals and other threats to society? Isn't it time to stop searching Joe and Mary Sixpack's luggage and car for that extra bottle of White Zin?

I think so and so do a lot of my fellow Canadians.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Wine, Music and a Meme.

I've never participated in a meme exercise. Usually because of a time crunch or because it doesn't have any reference point for my blog. This one doesn't either but it was sent to me by a wine and food blogger I respect and I'll honour her with this response. And I'm officially on vacation.

List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your spring. Post these instructions in your blog along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they’re listening to.

I'm going to add a wine to the end of each one that should accompany the music.

1. For some reason I was humming "Born Free" while standing at the corker station on the bottling line yesterday. I think it was the Andy Williams version, who I always enjoyed because he was short and the way my Mom got all dreamy eyed when he sang "Moon River". Amarone

2."Stray Dog and the Chocolate Shake" by Grandaddy. Not sure who these guys are but this song is so hook filled and techno rythmic that I find it irresistable. The lyrics are cryptic yet familiar, like a scene from a David Lynch film. Tempranillo.

3. "Happy" by Keith Richards as performed by Sheryl Crow and Keith and an allstar lineup at a Central Park (NYC) gig a few years back. I've always like this rollicking, goofy tune. It's almost impossible to sing without sounding like you've already had a few pints too many. Cabernet Franc from the Okanagan Valley.

4. "Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)" . My eight year old has this Offspring ditty at the top of his list right now so we listen to it at full blast on the drive to school in the morning. Every morning. I love all the dated pop culture references (Ricki Lake?, oh yeah, I remember her). Really clears the cobwebs like a good Zinfandel.

5. I was thinking about Vancouver rocker Bif Naked and her battle with cancer lately and couldn't help recall "I Love Myself Today" and the great video that accompanies it. I hope she whips it. Hard-edged female singers attract me 'cause they're hot and scary. But Barolo shouldn't be.

6. "Theme from Jaws" by John Williams. The kid is into sharks in a big way and seems to be unfazed by the giant plastic shark devouring people in this 1975 Spielberg masterpiece. He walks around the house going da dum da dum da dum dadumdadumdadumdadum.
So I do to. Pinot Grigio

7. "Cold Hard Bitch". Seems a bit bitter, no? This Jet tune certainly rocks out and showcases the band's pedigree. Hard to sit still with this one on. You can brood while you boogie. Cab Sauv and blends of such.

Now who should I tag?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Wine, San Francisco, Giants, Jazz, More Wine

Only a few days before my wife and I begin our trip to California. Our 11 day excursion will be centred around the San Francisco bay area but we will be travelling to some other points as we taste and sip our days away.

This is a significant trip. This is the first trip since our honeymoon that is a) longer than three days and b) does not have a kid, dog, relative or friend travelling with. And it roughly coincides with our anniversary (9th). We were married in early June in New Zealand's Bay of Islands.

We're planning on a jazz concerts, have tickets to the Giants versus the Mets June 2, there's a spa thingy arranged and on May 31st we're going wine-hiking with California Winehikes in the mountains and redwoods of the south penninsula. We're inviting all Cal wine types to join us on the wine hike. It should be a gas! Contact Russ at his website for details.

If you're in the area, we'd love to get together for a drink. Call my cell 250-490-7314 or

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Had an opportunity to drop into Fraiche for dinner last week while in Vancouver. I'm an old Vancouver boy so I was yearning for that view you get from the North Shore mountains. The same view you got when you took some of your first dates up the tram on Grouse Mountain or to Salmon House on the Hill.

I also needed some points in the spouse department as I had been predictably shoddy in recent attempts at Important Day Celebrations or IDCs. She'd accompanied me to the big smoke on this business trip so I surprised her with a dinner res at what must be almost 2,000 feet above sea level.
The room is bright, airy and dominated be the floor to ceiling windows facing south. There's a fair view from just about any seat. If you can't get a window seat for your baby, perch her at the bar where she can enjoy the view above the crowd and the crowd can enjoy the view of her. Change genders on that last sentence if you are so inclined.
At 7:15 on a Tuesday in late April the room was essentially full so make a reservation.

The weather behaved remarkably. The service was spot on. The food was flavourful, imaginative and worth the 20 minute jaunt from our downtown hotel. I wasn't in FM (foodie mode) and failed to take notes but suffice to say we each had a salad. Mine featured roasted beets and I think I'm now moving roasted beets up a few notches on the Top Veg Chart. Hers was centred around a small cylinder of goat cheese that was crunchy-crispy on the outside. Both were great. Our mains were duck for wife and lamb for me. Both were damn fine and were reduced to uttering grunts and squeals of appreciation to the chagrin of tables nearby. We paired them with a St. Francis Merlot I felt was a little flaccid which I attributed to my regionalized palate.
An old associate of ours from a decade ago turned out to be our server so we got a chance to share some laughs in remembrance.
The wine list was intelligent and stimulating. Not extensive but still plenty of varied choices. Hey! Township 7 Merlot. Don't forget to order it on your visit!
I was thoughtful and sensitive without any ennui.
I think we dropped a couple of C notes plus and felt we received a good exchange for our moolah.
Do you know how to get to Salmon House? Yes? Then keep driving up the hill. It's on Chippendale. No? Phone for directions or park in Ambleside (beachfront West Van) and take a cab.
I believe it's just dinners right now but that's changing so stay current! Closed Mondays.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Do You Know Gary?

If you read about wine on the internets, you probably have come across his work.

Plus he's been on TV!

Besides his own net TV.

It's Gary Vaynerchuk, the most passionate wine show around.

Twitter is your Wine World Connection

Just when you think you waste, er . . . are making the most of the internets along comes an application that really changes your views.

The best way I can describe TWITTER is to suggest it's a mini-blog system with instant updates. You're only allowed 140 characters a message. So it's a great way to reference lengthier pieces. You can use it on your desktop, laptop or phone.

Certain segments of the wine world have embraced Twitter and our community of winos make for some interesting buzz. If you think you'd like to follow my comments as a way of keeping up on my wine world, follow me at

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Progress and Discovery/ Pruning and Coza!

Despite some labour shortage issues the Township 7 Vineyards in Langley, BC are beginning to to show well and I think we've just about caught up to where we want to be.

A lot of the older vines (seven years plus in very vigorous soils) need some significant pruning to shed some old wood that was beginning to be more of a problems than a benefit. So the vineyard is a little more streamlined now and as a result, I think we're going to have a healthier environment for this year's crop. There may be a little less but, if we can keep the mold and mildew at bay, it should be easier to get ripe.

Check out the video posting to enjoy some of the wacky weather the are is enjoying this weekend. It's been a very slow start to the growing season in Langley and in the Okanagan valley.

While I was in Langley I had the opportunity to enjoy a meal at Coza! Tuscan Grill. (They like to add an exclamation point. That will be the last time for me.) The interior is warm and inviting with subdued lighting and jazzy canned music. I was immediately greeted by smiling hostess (Caitlin?) and shown to my seat. Being solo, I sat at the bar and enjoyed the Calgary/Sharks game on a big screen while sipping a well-deserved ale in a frosty sleeve.

I started with the carpaccio. It was one of the best I'd had in some time. The house drizzle across the paper thin beef was a perfect combination. I liked the added garnish which was almost a mini-salad with fresh tomato and a caper berry.

Hard-working men who work long days in the field are entitled to substantial and flavourful food so I rewarded myself with the sirloin treated with gorgonzola butter. The mains come with a choice of pasta or potato so I opted for the Tuscan mashed potatoes. My cut was cooked perfectly to order and everything on the plate was beautifully accomplished. With my bistecca, I ordered a three wine sampler. I had about 50 ml. each of three reds. After some deliberation I decided the Rosemount Grenache-Shiraz blend had enough acidity to provide the kind of counterpoint I think the rich meat dish required.

I'd recommend Coza! if your're looking to break out of the chain store rut and would like some great food, attentive service and an overall welcoming environment. Now that I've scouted it out by myself, I'm ready to return with a group.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Wine Payola Is Alive and Well.

While talking to people about the wines I make and the wines coming out of the Okanagan Valley and BC the conversation inevitably turns to availability. People want to know where they can get our wine so they can enjoy it at home with their friends and family.

Township 7 has pretty good distribution around the Lower Mainland and we're working at spreading the love to Vancouver Island and other areas in the province. Some of the other wineries I'm familiar with are in most areas of B.C.

But it's getting tougher for new wineries and new labels to get onto the store shelves. Why is that?

I was out and about last week in Vancouver and realized that an old practice was becoming more and more prevalent. Individuals and businesses are being paid to stock certain brands. On the flipside, some restaurants and shops are demanding a certain fee to carry a line.

I'm not naive; this isn't news. It's always been the case. There has always been somebody who was willing to add a few bottles to an order or make some other little gesture to secure a spot on the shelf or a choice restaurant listing.

It was always there in the shadows. But now it's not so backroom. It's unofficial policy for some.
The result is that big producers are dominating stock lists like never before. A few multi-label houses are calling the shots; allowing smaller independents to take a few slots here and there.

Established small wineries should be able to maintain their foothold. But I wouldn't want to be a new brand going into this market. There are some big sharks on the prowl and blood in the water.

But that's business. Nobody said it would be easy to establish a brand. So who loses out besides the small, new winery? Probably only the consumer. If a big house decides that saucy import Green Appendage must be on every wine list then that is what the consumer will see. And they've got the muscle to make it happen. So everyone drinks Green Appendage and misses out on one of the small guys.

The upshot is: look for lists that are less diverse that carry fewer small, independent producers. These are the houses dominated by the big players. Solution: know who owns the brands and avoid "owned" establishments. Support restaurants and shops that demonstrate balance and fairness.
Or don't because you just don't care.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Township 7 at Hamilton Street Grill

Once again Neil and the gang are having one of their great wine nights and they're featuring Township 7 wines.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

OpenWine Consortium - worth investigating

I've had the opportunity to join a fledgling group of wine people who are congregating at OpenWine Consortium. It's a group of wine types dedicated to spreading the good word through the world of rapidly developing technology.

If it sounds a little dry, fogedaboutit! It's a vibrant, global community still in it's infancy and is still being shaped by new membership.

So far it seems like an ideal environment where wine makers, winery owners, web developers, marketers, retailers and others connected to wine can meet to brainstorm and discuss various aspects of the business and discover how technology can serve the cause.

Along the way you'll meet some interesting people with a common interest and, in some cases, a common destination.

I urge everyone in the wine business to at least give it a look, especially those of you in the BC industry. It will help alleviate that "outpost on the edge of the world" feeling you may sometime experience in this industry. If you do register, please join the Pacific Northwest group to further define your origins.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Wine Ski Wine Ski - It's the Winemaker's Cup!

I just heard about an event that really is close to my heart because it combines two things I'm really interested in.
Skiing and wine.
Hats off to the organizers for even thinking of this. Great idea. I encourage everyone in the business to take the day and come up for some fun, sun and casual networking.

Mt. Baldy Ski Resort. Oliver, B.C.
Cost:For Race participants: $50.00 which includes Lift Ticket, Ski Race, BBQ Lunch, honorary T-shirt, and prizes. If you have a ski pass, only $29.00 per person.
Spectators: only charge is $10.00 per person for the lunch.
Ski or Snowboard rentals are available for $16.00 per person

Pre-Registration and information:Contact Tim Foster at Mt. Baldy with any questions you may have by phone,(250) 498-4086, Fax: (250) 498-4087 or e-mail:

Pre-Registration deadline Friday March 13th.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Want to work on an island?

Garry Oaks is looking for tasting room people.

See their ad and description by using the link at the top of the right sidebar.

You can live the summer in the islands, grow your hair, do yoga in the forest, commune with the tides.

Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival

The biggest wine festival in North America is now well under way at this point and will continue through the weekend. I'm popping in on Friday afternoon for trade day to see some old faces and taste some new wines.
Each year the festival pooh-bahs select a region and a wine as the thematic influences. This year the country is Italy and the wine is bubble.
Next year is what I'm interested in:
Our own little old British Columbia will be featured as the region and Pinot Noir will be the wine.
As a result, my main squeeze Township 7 will be in attendance and I'll be there to press the flesh and dispense the stuff. So mark your electronic calendar devices now! March 23 -29, 2009.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Keep a breast of the sexy wine world.

In my tireless search for informative and educational items for my readership I have to look at a lot of schlock before the true gems are revealed.

Here is a gem.

This is a forum devoted to the wine industry professionals of the world and if you're at all interested in what we talk about, if you seek the truth, check it out.

You can probably join even if you're not hip deep in pomace every fall.

Notice I've loaded the title for maximum hits. I was tempted to put NASCAR in there too.

Friday, January 25, 2008

San Pellegrino and my grape photos.

Every once in awhile something amusing happens on this internets thing.
Some photos I took of Gewurztraminer out in the vineyard here are now appearing on a San Pellegrino website. My people were contacted by their people and requests were made and permissions were granted. No lunch invite yet, though.

I check this morning and I was able to scroll through a few dozen nice photos accompanying a story about the Italian "traminer" version of the Gew.

Just checked again and had some trouble accessing the story properly but you may have better luck.

Check it out!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Staff Training - Terms Explained

There's always new staff to train in a growing organization. It helps to have a manual or training book with wine and vineyard terms explained from your company's viewpoint.

A little humour always helps.

Here's an excerpt:

Naturally-occurring or commercially prepared yeast (a genus in the kingdom of fungi) strains (usually Saccharomyces cerevisiae or Saccharomyces bayanus) prefer sugar (complex carbohydrates) to complete their life cycle. The by-products of their activity include alcohol and carbon dioxide. Saccharomyces cerevisiae is also used in the production of ale and stout. Another yeast, Saccharomyces pastorianus, is used for lager. Molson Canadian is a lager. If you notice, pastorianus has the word “anus” embedded in it which explains why Molson Canadian tastes like ass.

Malolactic Fermentation
Primarily used for red wine and Chardonnay, the ML fermentation is a bacterial infection that takes malic acid and converts it to a form of lactic acid. Human taste receptors perceive malic acid as sharp and tangy (think Granny Smith apples) while lactic acid, prominent in dairy products, is softer and ‘creamy’. In conjunction with other factors present, a wine that has gone through ML and barrel aging will be considered to be smoother and more complex. Aroma is also altered. Descriptors can include: corn, cream corn, banana, popcorn, caramel, butter, cheese. ML in white wine (Chardonnay) has been on the decrease in recent years.

They get their name from the tanning of animal hides. This was done by using an acidic solution sourced traditionally from oak bark that stopped the decomposition of the hides. Tannins in wine are complex astringent polyphenols that help stop the decomposition of the wine. Tannins are sourced from the grape skins, grape seeds and the wood of the barrel. Care must be taken to not extract too much tannin during production, especially from the seeds which can supply particularly harsh tannins. Tannins combine with substances in wine such as proteins and other macromolecules to form strong and heavy complexes that often precipitate and are seen as sediments in aged wines. The best way to describe the effect of tannin in wine is to have the subject drink from a cup of cold, strong tea. Tea contains a lot of tannin and there are few other flavours to confuse the palate. The effect will be a ‘furry’ tongue sensation. The tea should be sipped with the cup handle grasped between the thumb and the forefinger and the pinkie finger raised.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Assistant Wine Maker Wanted.

You may recall we were looking for an assistant wine maker for Township 7 back in November.
We received some good response. Unfortunately our short list evaporated due to head-hunting, family committments and other things beyond mortal control. So the talent search had been re-launched.

Assistant Winemaker Required:
Township 7 Vineyards and Winery requires well-rounded individual to perform all cellar duties and some vineyard tasks associated with the production of top end wines at their 10,000 case facility in Penticton, BC.

Candidates should have two years related experience, some academic training in the enology or viticultural fields and a willingness to excel.

Physical requirements include an ability to lift and carry 22 kg. The job requires working inside and outside exposed to the elements at hand. Many work days require being on your feet for the entire shift.

Preferred skill sets would be (but we will train as required): forklift experience, familiarity with common cellar equipment and bottling lines, computer and common software friendly.

Personal attributes would include: attention to detail, punctuality, open-mindedness. Some travel required.

Salary negotiable.

Respond with a cover letter and CV to: