Okanagan Wine Harvest in Full Swing

Press Release – September 22, 2013

For Immediate Release. Media Contact:
Leeann Froese | Town Hall – 604.321.3295
Sujinder Juneja | Town Hall – 604.367.6745

2013 Vintage Looks Good to Vintners

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Early reports signal a promising 2013 #BCWine vintage, say @OKCrushPad @Winespiration @PerseusWine @Bartierbros @Haywirewine

The Story:

Okanagan Crush Pad co-owner Christine Coletta holds grapes from Switchback Vineyar

Okanagan Crush Pad co-owner Christine Coletta holds grapes from Switchback Vineyar

(Summerland, BC) The Okanagan grape harvest is in full swing, and many wineries are currently harvesting grapes destined for sparkling wine, in addition to white varieties such as Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. Early reports suggest that 2013 will be an excellent vintage with great quality potential.

Penticton resident Michael Bartier, who is the chief winemaker at Okanagan Crush Pad, has harvested Gewürztraminer from a Summerland vineyard owned by his brother Don Bartier, to be used for their Bartier Brothers wine. “We harvested this vineyard a full three weeks earlier than last year, and the quality of the fruit looks very good. Prepare for a great 2013 vintage from the Okanagan,” notes Bartier.

Christine Coletta, co-owner of Okanagan Crush Pad, where Haywire wines are made, expects to process 420 tons this year, from vineyards as far north as Kamloops and as far south as Osoyoos. “Grapes are ripening quickly and the fruit flavours on these early picks have been exceptional. But it is not over until it is over, so we are cautiously optimistic that harvest will continue to be a smooth sail.”

Matt Dumayne, who moved three years ago from New Zealand to make wine in the Okanagan, noted the vintage was shaping up to be the best he has experienced in the valley. Dumayne, who is the consulting winemaker for Penticton winery Perseus, is preparing to process Pinot Gris from the winery’s Lower Bench Road vineyard within the next two weeks.

Vineyard manager Scott Ingram, with a little "help", reviews grapes destined for Perseus wines.

Vineyard manager Scott Ingram, with a little “help”, reviews grapes destined for Perseus wines.

Scott Ingram, the vineyard manager for Perseus, notes that high temperatures and a lack of rainfall in the peak of summer had growers anticipating an early harvest and a great 2013 vintage for all of the Okanagan. Post Labour Day rain caused some concern for growers, but he shares that everything is still on track for an exceptional early harvest this year.

Judy Kingston, owner of Naramata’s Serendipity Winery offers, “2013 promises to be a great vintage at the winery.

Serendipity Winery owner Judy Kingston tends to her Naramata vineyard

Serendipity Winery owner Judy Kingston tends to her Naramata vineyard

Lots of spring rain paired with hot days and cool nights made for ideal growing conditions, so we are two weeks ahead of schedule. The grapes taste phenomenal right now,” she continues. “It will be a solid year for Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier, our two estate whites. The reds are coming along well, but we’ll need some dry weather coming into October. It should be an early year for everything, and we’re looking forward to the spring, where customers can enjoy the delicious fruits of our labour”.

British Columbia’s harvest will last for many weeks yet, and as mentioned, some 2013 wines will be available as soon as spring 2014. For additional facts on the Okanagan wineries and more, media can visit The Wines of British Columbia website.

CLICK HERE to view a PDF of the press release.

Town Hall revealed at #WBC13 – pre conference fun

By Leeann Froese

With a career in wine that has led me to this place, it seemed fitting to me that the first post I should make With Town Hall is about the 2013 Wine Blogger’s Conference, Wine Bloggers' Conference - Penticton BC 2013 Participantwhich was held in Penticton BC in June 2013. This was the first conference located in Canada, and local Penticton organizers worked extremely hard to make it happen. A special shout out goes to Allison Markin from All She Wrote, who drove this effort for two full years and worked with various groups to make the conference happen.

@TOWNHALLBRAND ♥'s BLOGGERS

@TOWNHALLBRAND ♥’s BLOGGERS

The 2013 Wine Blogger’s Conference was the first place that we revealed ourselves as Town Hall, so I have decided my first few posts before this blog gets all serious *wink* will be to recap the conference experience. At the conference, we shared the news of our emergence as a company with the attendees and our colleagues in the trade.

The positive feedback and support has been totally overwhelming and we are now at the point where we can formally reveal ourselves, and we will do this with regularity via this blog.

But first, let’s recap the @townhallbrands ♥’s bloggers experience from the Wine Blogger’s Conference 2013.

A road trip #selfie taken with Sujinder Juneja and Kathleen Rake

A road trip #selfie taken with Sujinder Juneja and Kathleen Rake

I attended the conference along with Sujinder Juneja from our team, and we car pooled to the conference with Kathleen Rake of Between the Vines who was also a conference presenter.

It so happened that we were travelling to the conference on my birthday, so I was treated extra special. I joked that it was nice of the folks at Zephyr Adventures to throw a conference just for my birthday…

The view from my & Kathleen Rake’s room at the Penticton Lakeside Resort

The view from my & Kathleen Rake’s room at the Penticton Lakeside Resort

The conference took place at the Penticton Lakeside Resort. The central location and lake views made it a terrific way to show off our southern wine region to the bloggers who came from all over North America.

Jeannette Montgomery gives a smile from her M gallery | book

Jeannette Montgomery gives a smile from her M gallery | book

When in Penticton we stopped in at M gallery | book. The owner, Jeannette Montgomery, also a writer and blogger, established M Gallery Book in 2012 to showcase work from emerging Canadian talent who are redefining Canadian art and literature. She does all this with a welcoming smile. Since it was my birthday, I bought myself a piece of art. It is a collage piece from Canadian artist Lucas Glenn.

Kathleen Rake enjoys a flight of soup at Brodo Kitchen

Kathleen Rake enjoys a flight of soup at Brodo Kitchen

Also when in Penticton, it was deemed vital to stop in and eat at chef Paul Cecconi’s new Brodo Kitchen. Brodo offers fresh, simple food. Our group enjoyed a flight of soups, and sandwiches, and there are also salads. As a special treat, chef gave us strawberry shortcake made with fresh, local strawberries, in honor of my birthday. We also enjoyed a glass of Haywire wine as we dined at their communal table.

This little tour and taste on Penticton’s main street was a great way to get our energy levels up and taste buds tickled for what was to come at the conference.

Next post… details of the first day of the conference.

Town Hall revealed at #WBC13 – The Opening Reception

By Leeann Froese

As mentioned in the previous post, the Wine Blogger’s Conference 2013 | #WBC13 was held in June 2013 in Penticton; in Canada for the first time. This was the second Wine Blogger’s Conference that I attended. My first was in 2012 in Portland.

Sujinder Juneja and I attended on behalf of our team, and though we had not formally made the transition yet, this conference was the first time we shared our collaboration moving forward and the upcoming launch of Town Hall as a company.

Tony Munday and Sarah Lefebvre of the Oliver Osoyoos Winery Association.

Tony Munday and Sarah Lefebvre of the Oliver Osoyoos Winery Association.

The conference, held at the Penticton Lakeside Resort, opened with a Trade Show that was an exhibition of conference sponsors. Conference attendees moved throughout a ballroom and met people from the Oliver Osoyoos Winery Association, who poured a selection of wines from the region. They were cheerfully represented by Tony Munday and Sarah Lefebvre, pictured.

Other highlights in the room included the exhibit from Tourism Penticton, where they were rolling out their You Are Here campaign, and a very fun photo booth from British Columbia that allowed attendees to take photos featuring different BC landscape backgrounds.

We are loaded onto buses and taken to our secret location for the opening reception.

We are loaded onto buses and taken to our secret location for the opening reception.

From here, attendees piled on to buses for the #WBC13 Opening Reception with Great Estates of the Okanagan. We were driven to a secret location, which was revealed to be See Ya Later Ranch, a property I know well, from when I was on the team that launched this winery. (A note for readers of this blog who are new to me: while working with Coletta & Associates I was the communications person for Vincor Canada (now Constellation) for 10 years (1999 – 2010), and represented the wineries that make up the Great Estates of the Okanagan. It was actually our team at Coletta that worked with the hospitality team to design, create, and brand the Great Estates program. There is more to tell on all of this, but not here.) Needless to say, I was very excited to visit!

The opening party is hosted by Constellation at See Ya Later Ranch.

The opening party is hosted by Constellation at See Ya Later Ranch.

I have always thought that See Ya Later Ranch winery has the best view of all wineries in BC, and I was feeling proud that Constellation decided to use this winery to welcome all the bloggers and really give them a ‘wow’ factor. And they did not disappoint!

As soon as we got off the bus, we were welcomed with a glass of Steller’s Jay sparkling wine from Sumac Ridge Estate Winery paired to oysters and other bites. We knew the night was off to a great start.

The opening party at See Ya Later Ranch was catered by Joy Road Catering. The food was creative and outstanding!

The opening party at See Ya Later Ranch was catered by Joy Road Catering. The food was creative and outstanding!

All of the food pairings for the opening reception were created by Joy Road Catering. Joy Road is owned by chefs Cameron Smith and Dana Ewart, and the two of them and their team are widely known for the magic they work with local, region ingredients and their skill in imparting memorable flavours. Another classy treat from Constellation to have the bloggers get to try Joy Road.

@JoyRoadCatering #WBC13

@JoyRoadCatering #WBC13

The property was dotted with stations that attendees could walk to at their own pace and try the wines from the rest of the Great Estates wineries: Inniskillin, Jackson-Triggs, And Nk’Mip Cellars paired to inspired dishes from Joy Road.

At the opening party at See Ya Later Ranch those that wanted to try a hand at riddling were timed and the best time would win a magnum of sparkling wine. Josie Heisig from Tourism British Columbia has a go.

At the opening party at See Ya Later Ranch those that wanted to try a hand at riddling were timed and the best time would win a magnum of sparkling wine. Josie Heisig from Tourism British Columbia has a go.

However before we could go past the sparkling wine, Constellation had a fun challenge for us. Those that wanted to try a hand at riddling sparkling wine were timed, and the best time would win a magnum of sparkling wine. We caught Josie Heisig from Destination BC doing a great job.

My time riddling was 15.88 seconds. Like a boss! I am sure I have won. Little did I know that moments earlier, Sujinder did it in 12 seconds!

Leeann's Time

Leeann’s Time

As we progressed through the event and tried all the delicious foods and wines, it was fun to see the winemakers and other members of the team I used to work with and say hello, as well as commiserate with the other bloggers on how amazing the setting, food, and wine was.

Scott Trudeau from the Penticton Herald Newspaper with me and Sujinder

Scott Trudeau from the Penticton Herald Newspaper with me and Sujinder

It was nice to catch up with the bloggers I met in Portland last year, as well as see local bloggers and media.

Radishes in "dirt" by Joy Road Catering at the opening party at See Ya Later Ranch.

Radishes in “dirt” by Joy Road Catering at the opening party at See Ya Later Ranch.

One inventive dish that has to be mentioned is the radishes in ‘dirt’ – radishes in jars with goat cheese and crumbled hazelnut ‘dirt’. It was beautiful in presentation and delicious.

The sun went down, and we saw a stunning dusk view.

The incredible view from See Ya later Ranch, overlooking the Okanagan Valley and north to Skaha Lake.

The incredible view from See Ya later Ranch, overlooking the Okanagan Valley and north to Skaha Lake.

Then, full, tired and wowed, we headed back to get ready for the formal conference opening on Friday.