Raise a glass to these two women who balance motherhood and winery work

FacebookCover-MothersDay2017
FacebookCover-MothersDay2017

There is no one more brave, strong or influential in our lives than our mother. We know how much mothers do for us. They wear many hats. Our mothers are teachers, housekeepers, rule enforcers, book keepers, landscapers, nurses, chefs, counselors, taxi drivers and more. Not only are they all of these things, but their job never ends. 

We checked in with two amazing ladies we work with, to learn what motherhood means to them and how their role at the winery may be similar to their role as a Mom...

Laura Preckel of Singletree Winery, and her family
Laura Preckel of Singletree Winery, and her family

Laura Preckel, Singletree Winery, Abbotsford, BC

Our Q: Is your role at the winery anything like motherhood?

Laura: Yes. I take care of the weddings and events. Each bride and groom that comes and books with us is like having a new baby. My job is to guide them, just as I would in motherhood. My brides need to know what rentals they need, what deadlines to meet. I try to ensure all my brides have everything they need from me to have the most magical wedding and the best experience possible. In motherhood, I try to ensure my kids have a memorable childhood. I provide them with the tools to have a successful, fulfilled and happy life. 

Our Q: What is your favourite thing about being a mom?

Laura: Being a mom is scary! I say to myself all the time, am I doing this right thing? My favourite thing though is when I get hugs, cuddles and they say "I love you." Nothing makes my heart melt more. When my son reaches up to hold my hand, I know I made the right decision to become a mom. I never really knew how motherhood would change my life. It's the best thing that ever happened to me. I love my little creatures and family more than anything in the world. 

Jenny Garlini, Blue Grouse Estate Winery, and her family
Jenny Garlini, Blue Grouse Estate Winery, and her family

Jenny Garlini, Blue Grouse Estate Winery, Duncan, BC 

Our Q: Is your role at the winery anything like motherhood? If so, how?

Jenny: Yes. I’m behind the scenes making things happen.  There are so many things that I do in my role at the winery that no one knows that I do.  From ordering lunch for a team meeting to keeping track of inventory at four different locations, to submitting PST returns.  

It is the same as motherhood – all the behind the scene jobs….making lunches, signing up kids for camps, getting rid of the outgrown clothes and toys, etc. 

Making the home and winery run smoothly- that is my job.  

Our Q: What is your favourite thing about being a mom?

Jenny: Knowing I can always make my kids feel better.  They come to me for hugs, cuddles, kisses on ouchies, or a talk.  My words and comforts make their tears go away.  Nothing is better than that.

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These two ladies provide only a small window into the work of working moms, all over the world. Happy Mother’s Day to all the super awesome, inspirational, hard working moms out there.

And to the dads who are raising children by being both a Mom and Dad, Happy Mother’s Day to you too! 

Blue Grouse Estate Winery Offers Bed & Bottle Retreat

Client News Grouse House now open for reservations

Blue Grouse Estate Winery announces the highly-anticipated opening of Grouse House, an exclusive 'Bed & Bottle' retreat for wine lovers, exquisitely set within the heart of the historic estate vineyard.

Grouse House at Blue Grouse Winery

Located within minutes from the quaint seaside community of Cowichan Bay and less than an hour from downtown Victoria, the Cowichan Valley wine experience has never been better.

The two-bedroom suite sleeps four, making it ideal for couples or a small family. A modern kitchen is the perfect place to create meals made from the treasures picked up at the Duncan Farmers Market. The panoramic outdoor patio space offers a barbecue and a place to lounge while enjoying a complimentary bottle of wine from Blue Grouse Estate Winery.

Other amenities include luxurious linens and towels, a gas fireplace, air-conditioning and complimentary WiFi. The Grouse House is perfect for wedding and honeymoon stays, family adventures, or small corporate retreats. Escape today and enjoy the very best that Island wine country has to offer.

For available dates and rates, email stay@bluegrouse.ca

Book online at www.vrbo.com/997490

Photos of the Grouse House for media found here.

Grouse House accommodation on Vancouver island

About Blue Grouse Estate Winery:

Family-owned, sustainably-farmed and award-winning, Blue Grouse Estate Winery is located in Duncan, in the heart of the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island. The winery and surrounding vineyards are a sought after destination not only for sampling the winery's portfolio of award-winning wines, but also for evens, picnics, and family adventures.

The inspired winery facility was but with many sustainable elements including locally-sourced construction materials, the use of geothermal energy, onsite water collection and treatment, as well as other features that reduce energy consumption.

The Blue Grouse tasting room is open year round with season hours. For the hours when you plan your visit, visit bluegrouse.ca.

If you have any additional questions about Grouse House, please feel free to contact us at Town Hall Brands. 

 

 

Call for aid to victims of Peru flooding

Posted by Leeann Froese Lend a Heart for Peru

Town Hall Brands is based on the west coast of Canada in a rain forest environment, and so we are no strangers to seasonal rain. At times the precipitation can be heavy and we sometimes see some flooding, but never even close to the scale of what is happening in Peru.

It's with that shocking reality of how good we have it here and those that need our help so much, we must share this news from our BC one clients and also share that they are inspiring others to take action - Leeann

Blue Grouse Estate Winery appeals to the public to help those affected by the rains and flooding in Peru. People are encouraged to donate here: gofundme.com/DonationsForCrisisInPeru

peru-floods-1

An Island Winery with Strong Peruvian Ties

Peru is special to the owners of the winery. The Brunner family, who purchased the pioneering Island winery in 2012, call Peru home for half of the year. Cristina Brunner is Peruvian and has deep roots, with many family members there. Paul and Cristina's daughter Paula, 22 and currently studying in Scotland, has established the online fundraiser with the goal of raising £5,000.

Paula, having experienced a mudslide or "hauyco" first hand, knows how terrifying the experience can be. She has leaped to help; saying "Peru is a poor country; it is my country, and from my heart I want to help."

Effective immediately, and until the end of April, all Blue Grouse Estate Winery tasting room fees collected will be donated to the cause, and the Brunner family will match those donations.

A State of Emergency in Peru

Due to the effects of 'El Niño', which have been exacerbated by climate change, the country of Peru has seen some of the heaviest rains in its history since December. Over the last two weeks, flooding has intensified. Torrential rains have triggered destructive mudslides along the coast of Peru from north to south, and the death toll has reached at least 75 people. A state of emergency has been declared across half the country and at least 100,000 people have been left homeless.

The highly unusual rains follow a series of storms that have struck hard along Peru's northern coast. This has damaged or destroyed more than 100,000 homes, collapsed 117 bridges and paralyzed countless roadways. The running water treatment systems are clogged, leaving people with limited access to safe drinking water.

The Brunner family's GoFundMe proceeds will go directly towards helping families and communities affected by the floods to overcome the challenges they are currently facing in the areas of food, water and clothing.

The damage is tough to grasp. The sheer volumes of water that whip away the hillsides, railways, roads and bridges,is captured for the world to see live.

This video from Climate State provides a compilation of video footage of the disaster:

Mobilizing a Community

And the Brunners have inspired action in others.

When Summerhill Pyramid Winery owner Stephen Cipes saw what Blue Grouse was doing, he too leaped into action.

Cipes has a long history of being a friend to people from all over the globe. He says, “Let's do something wonderful for those brothers and sisters who need it most! Rapidamente!”

At the Kelowna winery, watch for wine and dessert features, with partial proceeds collected to go to Peru as well.

Heavy rains expected until the end of April

Blue Grouse Estate Winery owner Paul Brunner notes “Let's get some perspective on the seriousness of this problem. If you were to superimpose Peru over Europe there would be continuous floods, landslides and heavy rains from Amsterdam all the way down to Rome. That’s the Pacific Ocean side of Peru’s tragedy!

Now let’s look at the Amazon (Brazil) side of Peru. These same events are affecting an area from Munich down to Sarajevo, with heavy rains are expected to last well into April. Your help is needed and appreciated!”

map

 

Notice from Global Affairs Canada

And as a last note, and public service announcement:

Global Affairs Canada shares the following notice to Canadians

Global Affairs Canada advises against non-essential travel to the departments of Ancash, La Libertad, Lambayeque, Piura and Tumbes due to flooding, landslides, and mudslides resulting from heavy rains.

The Government of Peru has created an interactive map indicating the affected areas. Widespread damage to infrastructure, including roads and bridges, is causing disruptions to transport and communications. The Government of Peru has declared a state of emergency for the main highway (Carretera Central) connecting Lima to the east. All major airports in Peru are operating; however commercial flights could be suspended without warning.

Free evacuation flights from some affected areas are being offered by the Peruvian Air Force; consult their Facebook page for flight schedules. There are shortages of food, potable water and fuel in the affected areas. Other regions of Peru, including Lima, are rationing potable water or have limited access to water. Water- and insect-borne diseases may also become a threat. Medical facilities in affected regions are overburdened. There remains a high risk of further flooding throughout the region, as rainfall is predicted to continue until mid-April.

If you are in the affected area, ensure you have adequate emergency supplies and an emergency kit. For assistance, contact the Embassy of Canada in Lima or local authorities at IPeru (01-574-8000; iperu@promperu.gob.pe). Monitor local media for the latest developments and follow the instructions of local authorities. Verify your travel plans with your airline or tour operator.

We encourage you to stay connected with the latest travel advice and advisories, via the web at http://travel.gc.ca, our mobile TravelSmart application, available at http://travel.gc.ca/mobile, and our RSS feeds at http://travel.gc.ca/rss. You may also follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/travelGoC or find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/travelGoC.

For emergency assistance after hours you may communicate with the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa (EWRC) by calling the Embassy and following the instructions. You may also reach the EWRC directly by dialing (collect call where available), +1-613-996-8885 or toll free 001-800-387-3124 or by email at sos@international.gc.ca

Canadian citizens requiring emergency consular assistance can contact the Embassy of Canada in Lima at 319-3200 or lima-cs@international.gc.ca.

 

Celebrating International Women's Day #WithTownHall

Happy International Women's Day! 

With a number of our clients and team members being women, we want to celebrate International Women’s Day by highlighting the leadership and dedication of the women in Town Hall Brands' circle. Most of all, we invite you to help us celebrate and recognize these incredible women for their hard work and achievements.

Thank you ladies for everything that you do! Here is what the women #WithTownHall had to say about being a woman in the work force, what International Women's Day means to them, and why it's important to celebrate this day together.


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"To me, the meaning of this day is as diverse as the individuals who celebrate it. It's about giving recognition to the women who inspire us, reflecting on our past struggles and achievements, planning for positive change in the future, and making the commitment to invest in the untapped potential and opportunities for future generations of women."


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"The biggest challenge is the pressure I put on myself to exceed my own expectations in all aspects of my life. Trying to not only balance, but exes, in the multiple businesses, industry boards, volunteer activities, and family obligations, sometimes leaves very little time to take care of myself."


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Can you imagine not being able to vote? No, me either! International Women's Day reminds us where we've been and how far we've come, it celebrates all women, especially those that blazed the trails and fought for gender equality."


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"International Women's Day is hugely important to me because it acknowledges that the fight for women's equality is far from being over. The community that has risen from today's feminist movement has not only inspired me to lift up other women, but to never stop learning about women's struggles around the world instead of focusing on issues solely on issues solely in my own line of vision."


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"International Woman's Day is a remind that our fight is not over, and that we cannot take our rights for granted. I think this is incredibly important, especially in today's political climate. Women around the world still do not have social, political, and economic equality. Violence against women is not only a problem abroad, it is also not being adequately addressed in our own country. I believe it is essential to have a day dedicated to confronting and finding solutions to these issues."


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"International Women's Day is a day to celebrate all women - all of the accomplishments we have made, as well as the work that still needs to happen to be seen as equals." 


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"My biggest challenge of being a woman in the workforce has been having my voice heard and sticking to a good work/life balance."


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"I find it disheartening at times that we still need a day to call attention to our worth. That said, it means we have an official day to gain attention and celebrate women and their accomplishments the world over. It is a time to reinforce the love for the sisterhood."


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"International Women's Day is a celebration of every step that we have taken in bringing equality to not only women but every individual in our society. As well, a reminder that together, we are stronger and we can make a positive difference in each other's lives."

Mirabel Pinot Noir "of wondrous beauty" publicly launched

Mirabel Vineyards

Note from Leeann Froese:

If you follow us on social media, you will note that our design team has been working on a beautiful new label with an illustration from Darrell Underschultz, for the Reimers, a lovely Kelowna couple, for their new Mirabel Vineyards Pinot Noir.

This limited release Pinot made by Matt Dumayne is both bold and silky at the same time, and with only a few cases made, is sure to go quickly.

We are very proud to also handle the publicity for this new wine, and here is the official press release.

Mirabel Vineyards Announces Debut Release Reimer Family focused on terroir-driven Pinot Noir

Doug and Dawn Reimer are pleased to launch their inaugural Mirabel Vineyards wine with the release of the 2015 Pinot Noir, sourced exclusively from their South East Kelowna hilltop estate and vineyard overlooking the Okanagan Valley.

Mirabel, meaning "of wondrous beauty", perfectly represents the Reimer family's stunning South East Kelowna hilltop estate and vineyard overlooking the beautiful Okanagan Valley.

The sustainably-farmed Reimer Family Vineyard was planted in 2006 on a steep hill with both southwesterly and northwesterly aspects. Grapes were planted at high elevations over complex soils. Analysis of the terroir suggested the estate was best planted to specific clones of Pinot Noir, to be blended together for optimum colour, flavour, acidity, tannin and length. The yield is cropped at a low 2.5 tons per acre and harvested by hand. One-and-a-half acres of Chardonnay will be planted this spring.

The family's commitment to quality is realized with this first vintage release of 237 cases of a luscious, elegant, sustainably-grown Pinot Noir.

The 2015 Mirabel Pinot Noir ($70.00 for 750ml, $160 for 1500ml Magnum) was aged 11 months exclusively in French oak (30% new). Gentle handling, including gravity transfer from barrel to bottle, helped to maintain the subtle texture, rich fruit, soft spice and generous length. As the Reimers do not yet have a winery, this wine was made at Okanagan Crush Pad by chief winemaker Matt Dumayne.

Mirabel Vineyards was founded through Doug and Dawn's shared love of travel, and the belief that the creation and sharing of wonderful food and incredible wine is one of life's greatest joys. Following a vacation to the Okanagan in 2004, the couple purchased an exclusive piece of property that was ideal for growing grapes. The fruit was previously sold to other wineries, but it will now be reserved for the Mirabel Vineyards label.

Initial praise for the Pinot Noir includes a review from noted BC wine authority John Schreiner, who described it as having "great purity of fruit". A saignée-method Pinot Noir Rosé and a Chardonnay will be released later this year. 

"We believe that what is in the bottle is more than just wine; it is a place and time; a snapshot of the vineyard. We invite you to join us, as we pursue our dream." - Doug and Dawn

Those seeking access to these limited-production wines are invited to sign up at mirabelvineyards.com.

If you are a member of the trade seeking an allocation, please contact info@mirabelvineyards.com.

For media, or anyone who wants to know more about the Mirabel Vineyards story, download the information kit HERE.

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4 BC Wineries to Discover at the Vancouver International Wine Festival

4 BC WINERIES TO DISCOVER The wine world convenes February 11-19 for the Vancouver International Wine Festival.

In 2017, the wine world celebrates Canada in its 150th year of Confederation. Meet BC wine pioneers and stars that continue to shape the industry and taste their amazing wines.

DOWNLOAD a PDF: Four BC Wineries to Discover at VIWF

SummerHill Vineyard

3 Story Starters

1. Industry disruptors, who carve a path for BC wine, then and now Christine Coletta | Stephen CipesHarry McWatters

2. Trends in BC Wine Sparkling Wine | Organic | On site experiences | City Winery

3. Organic Okanagan Stephen Cipes' 2020 vision - great plans for the health of the Okanagan Valley

Meet the wineries...

1) Haywire 

OCP-Christine-Coletta-6-Credit-Lionel-Trudel

Discover The ‘New’ Okanagan okanagancrushpad.com | @Haywirewine | @OKCrushPad

Industry icon Christine Coletta & husband Steve Lornie built Canada’s first custom-crush facility on Switchback Organic Vineyard. With the input of lauded international consultants Alberto Antonini and Pedro Parra, winemaker Matt Dumayne is turning heads and garnering acclaim for his natural wines made using state-of-the-art concrete tanks, native yeast and minimal additives. With the help of Pedro, the team is working hard to shape a new direction by understanding terroir.

  • Natural wines that celebrate the land
  • Made at Canada’s first custom-crush facility
  • Award-winning leaders in innovation for BC wine
  • Rock star team with international consultants who bring global perspective to Okanagan terroir.

Talk to: Christine Coletta – co-owner, one of Canada’s most astute wine marketers Matt Dumayne – winemaker Pedro Parra – internationally–lauded terroir expert

2) Summerhill Pyramid Winery

Stephen Cipes, Summerhill Pyramid Winer

Leading the Organic Movement summerhill.bc.ca | @SummerhillWine

Summerhill Pyramid Winery has led the BC organic movement since the Cipes family purchased the vineyard in 1986. The winery was certified organic in 2007, with biodynamic certification for its Kelowna vineyard following in 2012. Winning national and international awards for its pyramid-aged wines, Summerhill is Canada’s foremost producer of sparkling wine and is BC’s most visited winery. A tireless change maker, founder Stephen Cipes is at the helm of the Okanagan 2020 initiative to transition the entire valley to 100% organic by the year 2020.

  • Committed to organic and biodynamic winemaking since 1986
  • Aims to transition to Organic Okanagan by 2020
  • Pyramid cellar-aged wines
  • Known globally for award winning sparkling wines

Talk to: Stephen Cipes - founder Ezra Cipes - CEO and a BC wine leader Eric von Krosigk - winemaker

3) Evolve Cellars

Christa-Lee McWatters Bond, Evolve Cellars

Welcoming Wine Country with Celebrational Approachability evolvecellars.com | @EvolveCellars

Evolve Cellars is a celebration of BC’s next generation, Christa-Lee McWatters Bond, daughter of industry pioneer, and chair of the BC Wine Institute, leads Evolve Cellars in embracing the traditions of BC wine industry to create today’s winery experience. Whether it’s a picnic on the sun-drenched patios with lakefront view or an onsite meal at E Restaurant, Evolve Cellars will leave you with an experiential journey to Okanagan Wine Country. Start yours with a glass of its approachable and affordable wines.

  • Bright, delicious, approachable and affordable BC wines that celebrate BC terroir.
  • An experiential journey to Okanagan Wine Country.
  • Breathtaking lakefront view and onsite E Restaurant.

Talk to: Christa-Lee McWatters-Bond – oversees the winery; chair of the BC Wine Institute Nadine Allander – winemaker Tristan MacLaggan – hospitality director

4) TIME Winery

Harry McWatters

Complete Winery Experience in Downtown Penticton timewinery.com | @TimeWinery

Led by president and CEO Harry McWatters, a 50-year veteran of the British Columbia wine industry. Harry has done many firsts in his career: founding the BC Wine Institute, introducing VQA to BC, and bringing Meritage to Canada, for a few. Throughout his career, he has celebrated that winemaking is about time and place. Now the TIME is to innovate and do another “first”: a heritage theatre is being revitalized into a fully-functional winery and experience centre in downtown Penticton.

  • Winery home of Harry McWatters, pioneer of BC wine industry since 1967 — this year marks his 50th vintage!
  • Fully operational winery in the heart of downtown Penticton, in the former Penmar theatre.
  • Makers of Meritage wines.

Talk to: Harry McWatters – president, grandfather of the industry Lawrence Buhler – winemaker

These are only a few ideas; let us help you with stories.

To arrange interviews with the winery principals, for images and more information, please email Genevieve Dufresne or Amy Chen or call the Town Hall Brands office at 604-321-3295

 

Events to Plan for in the Lower Mainland: 2017 Edition

Want be in the know for Vancouver's amazing events this year? We find the best way for you to know about a client or project is to meet them in person, and the best way to do that is told an event, so everyone is hosting something. 

We have gathered all of the events in Vancouver and surrounding areas that we are aware of for 2017 thus far. The calendar is for planning purposes and will definitely change - so check back often! 42-18155351-hi-Vincor

January 20 - February 5: Dine Out Vancouver Festival

January 29: The 44th Vancouver Chinatown Spring Festival Parade

February 11: Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction 

February 11- 19: Vancouver International Wine Festival 

February 16 - 26: Talking Stick Festival 

February 16 - March 13: Chutzpah! Festival

February 17: Winefest Edmonton Private Industry & Trade Tasting Session

February 22 - 25: BC Home + Garden Show

February 24: Winefest Calgary Private Industry & Trade Tasting Session

February 24 - 26: Winemakers Cup

March 2: Brunello di Montalcino 

March 3 - 5: Festival du Bois

March 6: Chef's Table Society Curry Cup

March 7: BC Wine Institute Member Meeting & Dinner

March 7: BCWI Spring Town Hall Meeting

March 9: Flourish - VCC Foundation Gala

March 15: East Side Beer Fest

March 19 - 21: ProWein (Dusseldorf, Germany)

March 20: Victoria IVSA New Product Salon

March 21: Vancouver IVSA New Product Salon

March 20 - 21: Grocery and Specialty Food West 

March 30 - April 23: Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival

April 1 - 28: Capture Photography Festival

April 4: Canada Media Marketplace: Closing Ceremony Celebrating Canada's 150th Birthday at the Grand Hyatt NYC

April 5: James Beard House Media and Trade Lunch and Consumer Dinner

April 6: BC VQA Wine Trade and Media Tasting at Terroir Tribeca Wine Bar

April 5: Okanagan Falls Winery Association Spring Tasting

April 8: BC Distilled

April 9: Barn Burner BBQ

April 11: Colour Your Palate

April 19: Meet & Greet with Distributors/ Importers, Media, Trade and Wineries Canadian Consulate Seattle 

April 23 - 25: Harrison Uncorked Wine Fest

April 23: Sun Run

April 24-25: California Wine Fair 

April 28: Wine for Waves

May 1: Rosé Revival at Bridge's Restaurant

May 4 - 14: DOXA Documentary Film Festival

May 10: BC VQA Spring Release Tasting & ChefmeetsBCGrape Calgary

May 16: In-Market Events (London, UK)

May 18: Dish 'n Dazzle for the BC Hospitality Foundation

May 23: Bloom BC VQA Spring Release Tastings & ChefmeetsBCGrape Victoria

 

May 25: Bloom BC VQA Spring Release Tastings & ChefmeetsBCGrape Vancouver

May 25 - 28: ART! Vancouver

June 3 - 4: Vancouver Craft Beer Week Festival 

June 5: Wines of Portugal Grand Tasting

June 8: BC Wine and Seafood Collaborative Multi Chef Dinner 

June 15: Night at the Aquarium

June 19: Wine Australia 2017 Roadshow

June 23 - July 2: Vancouver International Jazz Festival

July: Deighton Cup

July 6: Champagne and Caviar at the Vancouver Rowing Club

August 12: SeaWheeze Half Marathon

August: Diner en Blanc

October 5: Port and Chocolate at the Vancouver Rowing Club

October 14 - 15: Art of the Cocktail

September 23-24: Victoria International Wine Festival 

November 6 - 11: EAT! Vancouver + Food Cooking Festival

November 13: Fall into the Market at Bridge's Restaurant

What Foods Will Trend in 2017?

Wish you had a crystal ball to predict 2017's hottest food trends? BBQ champion and culinary expert Angie Quaale of Langley's Well Seasoned Gourmet Food Store has compiled a list of her predictions of the foodie fads for next year. 1. Reduction of Food Waste

  • Using everything from bones to vegetable stems, tops, and peels, Quaale suspects that this eco-friendly trend will skyrocket in 2017.

2. Coconut Flour

  • This item is going to gain popularity, and not just for people with gluten sensitivity. It is delicious and will appear in kitchens as a more widely used flour option.

3. Soup

  • From simple bone broth to zesty gazpacho, soup's popularity will contribute to the reduction of waste while simultaneously feeding your soul.

Cauliflower Cheddar Soup

4. More Veggies

  • Meat isn't going anywhere in 2017, but veggies as sexy sides are going to get more attention - especially if they're charred.

Simple Roasted Roots

5. Fried Chicken

  • There are many types of fried chicken, but Quaale predicts that the Nashville Hot variety will specifically be more visible next year. This particular variation is super crisp and soaked in hot sauce - not for the faint of heart.

Pretzel Crusted Oven "Fried" Chicken

6. Avocados

  • Avocados keep getting bigger and bigger - and not size. They are showing up in breakfast and as the main feature in desserts, used to thicken sauces and add texture and richness to countless dishes. Avocados aren't going anywhere in 2017, especially Mexican because they are available every season of the year!

Avocado Fries. You're Welcome!

7. Big Bowls

  • Soups, salads, noodles, acas - big bowls are easy to eat, and can usually be made well ahead of time, making them super convenient. They are also usually fast and fresh.

8. Craft Cider

  • Step to the side craft beer, craft cider is hot on your heels!

9. Iced Tea

  • In 2017, Quaale foresees the rise of this classic beverage brewed from real tea, tweeted naturally with honey and fruit juices; also made into cocktails.

10. Pimento Cheese

  • The caviar of the south. If it isn't a trend in 2017, it should be and it will be in Canada soon... it is too delicious not to start popping up!

What are your food predictions for 2017? Let us know below!

So your child has collected too many treats...

halloween-treat-and-wine-quoteBy: Amy Chen As the clock strikes midnight on November 1st, we said goodbye to Halloween 2016 and hello to the piles of chocolates and candies that your child has collected in the few hours of trick-or-treating.

Instead of trying to give away the mountains of Halloween treats to everyone in the office or anyone that you see in the next few months, why not turn it into a fun #WineWednesday pairing!

Yes, candies and chocolates paired with wine.

It's inexpensive and fun. Everyone will love you and actually accept your leftover treats. It'll also save you from the headache of dealing with your child's sugar-high or melt-down from discovering that you have secretly taken from their stash of treats. It's a win-win for all.

If you're (un)lucky enough to not have piles of treats at home or a coworker who has brought in a stash of Halloween treats (secretly taken from their child), there is still time for you to head over to your local grocery store and stock up on those heavily discounted candies and chocolates.

Here's our suggestion of chocolate and candy pairings but feel free to experiment and let us know what pairs well or not.

Halloween and wine pairing

  • Sugar coated chocolate- Such as Smarties and M&Ms
    • Pair sweeter chocolates, especially ones that are sugar-coated, with reds such as Cabernet Franc, for a classic aroma with firm but approachable tannins to balance off the sweetness.

Leave a comment below or tweet us your pairing @TownHallBrands, using the hashtag #WithTownHall.

TOWN HALL BRANDS JOB POSTING: Agency Administrator and Marketing Assistant

  TH-Hiring

JOB POSTING: Agency Administrator and Marketing Assistant

UPDATED November 20:

Thank you to all who have submitted applications.

We will contact only those selected for interviews.

Good luck, and thank you for your interest in Town Hall Brands.

 

posted October 17, 2016

BACKGROUND:

Town Hall Brands is a full service agency specializing in beverage, food and hospitality. Services include strategy, branding and graphic design, packaging, media relations, social media outreach, and special events. With a specialization in beverage, food and hospitality, we deliver projects that inspire and celebrate the good life.

We are hiring for an agency administrator and marketing assistant:

town-hall-brands-admin-marketing-job-posting

Please download the posting above.

If you want to work in east Vancouver with a small team of professionals, send us your resume with salary expectations.

Please send a cover letter and resume by November 18, 2016 to Amy@townhallbrands.com

We hope to find a person who would like to grow with us. Thank you for your time in reviewing the post for this position.

Only those selected for interview will be contacted.

SO YOU THINK YOU KNOW RHÔNE?

By Leeann Froese

Do you know Rhône Valley wines?

It turns out, I know less than I thought.

Thankfully, at a trade event earlier in September at Vancouver’s Maenam restaurant, Michelle Bouffard, president of the local chapter of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS), hosted and presented a discovery workshop and tasting, to help bring some Rhône knowledge back to the forefront.

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40 industry professionals: sommeliers, retailers, and media representatives alike, were joined by representatives of the Rhône Valley, Laure Vaissermann and Virginie Charlier, marketing and communication director of Inter-Rhône. Upon arrival to the event, each guest cracked open a fortune cookie, and inside was the name of one of five teams named after a few of the region’s famous varietals: Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Marsanne and Roussanne. Once randomly teamed up we tasted 12 wines from the Rhône Valley during a blind taste test. Our goal was to guess the appellations or varietals as part of an interactive challenge under the evocative theme “So you think you know Rhône?”

It turns out, I do not.

I was on Team Grenache, with notable trade #winelover -s including Noel Hollet, Rachel von Sturmer, Iain Philip, Ron Wilson, and Si Man Lee. I was impressed by the tasting ability and knowledge at my table, although the table discussion revealed that my team members, like me, were also not 100% confident.

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Created from a range of 21 different varietals, Rhône Valley Wine wines are renowned for their depth and distinctiveness. The reds range from round and fruit forward, to full bodied and structured; the whites are floral and fruity or full bodied and deep, and there are dry rose wines as well, that range from fresh and bright to spicy.

It’s all about the blend; and while there are many varietals, for example, most blended reds are a combination of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre. The wines’ blends and flavour profiles depend on what area or village they are from and the related terroir, as well as the laws from each area as it relates to how much % of varietal is allowed in each blend.

Once we heard from Michelle about the regions, blends and laws, we blind tasted and were quizzed, with our answers submitted electronically and then displayed on a screen for all to see. I was not doing well at all, and my teammates were doing only slightly better.

I did OK on identifying the building blocks of the wines; identifying the acid, alcohol and tannin characteristics, but that is where my success ended…

Luckily the results were collected and posted by team, so no one saw that I only got a few of the questions right. I am sure that I brought my team’s score down, and here I publicly apologize to them!

Where I really fell down was aligning the wine characters to their origin. Related: I have a lot of dusting off of my WSET notes to do!

Even seasoned experts can still learn something new about Rhône Valley Wines,” said Michelle Bouffard.

I wasn’t alone; there seemed to be collective groans in the room each time an answer was revealed. The fact that so many of us got responses incorrect provided a great chance to discuss why – for example why Ventoux in the foothills offers wines so different from the full-bodied and round Gigondas wines from further south.

Some other teams did much better, voting as a group and doing very well. Congratulations to Team Marsanne on earning bragging rights!

Bouffard adds “The region’s diverse appellations, soil types and flagship varietals make it a key wine region. What really turns heads are the wines’ versatility, as they pair wonderfully with a wide range of dishes, such as Maenam’s Asian specialties.”

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After the tasting and quiz was done and the whole room seemed collectively deflated, our moods were revived by the chance to taste these wines again and openly discuss, this time knowing what we are reaching for, and also now accompanied by hand-passed bites from chef Angus An.

KEY STATISTICS ABOUT THE RHÔNE VALLEY WINES

  • Ranks 2nd among French AOC vineyards in terms of volume;
  • 388 million bottles sold in 2015;
  • Over 50% of total production is certified organic;
  • 1 bottle of Rhône Valley Wines AOC is enjoyed worldwide every 12 seconds;
  • Over 10 years, the volume of Rhône Valley Wines exports to Canada has increased by 41%;
  • In 2015, 11% (in volume) of French table wines in Canada is from Rhone Valley Wines. An overall 20% increase in BC sales of Rhone Valley Wines during 2015 to 2016.

Disclosure: As a member of CAPS BC, I was an invited guest at this event, and I thank Rhône Valley Wines for the chance to taste and learn. For more information on Rhône Valley Wines, visit www.vins-rhone.com

 

Ghosts in the Original Grandpère Vineyard

"There's history in those vines, that tell the story of  Amador. There's ghosts in that vineyard." - Marc McKenna, winemaker, Andis Wines As part of the 2016 Wine Bloggers Conference held in Lodi, California, some of us were able to secure a spot in the Amador County pre-excursion. Among many other delicious wine and winery events, we were treated to a speed-tasting session in Plymouth, at the original Shenandoah School House, built in 1876. Surrounded by rows of dusty vines, eight wineries poured special flights of wines that showcased the best of Amador wine country. Within these selections were three old vine Zinfandels from three different producers, sourced from one vineyard that pre-dated the schoolhouse itself, Shenandoah Valley’s Original Grandpère Vineyard.

WBC16 Andis Grandpere

County records suggest that the site was first planted to vine in 1869 (although some speculate that it may have been planted as early as 1865), but give or take a few years, this planting features the oldest living Zinfandel vines in the state. Originally planted by members of the Upton family, the vineyard changed hands over the years, eventually ending up in the hands of Terri and Scott Harvey, who purchased the site in 1984. At the time, the pair were married, and Terri tended the vines while Scott was a winemaker for a number of local wineries, including Santino, and later Renwood, where he utilized some of the Original Grandpère Vineyard’s low-yielding fruit. While at Renwood, cuttings were taken from the old vines and grafted to phylloxera-resistant rootstocks to create what is now known as the Grandpère Vineyard. Scott departed Renwood in 1995, and his marriage to Terri ended shortly thereafter as well. A trademark dispute ensued between Terri and Renwood, but once the Amador dust had settled, Terri was allowed to maintain the legacy of the site by naming it the “Original” Grandpère Vineyard.

Even though the fruit was sold to various commercial and amateur wineries for White Zinfandel in the 1980s, vigorous pruning and careful vineyard management drastically reduced the vineyard yields, while increasing its potential quality. Today, in a unique arrangement I’ve not heard of anywhere else, just four wineries are allowed to source grapes every vintage – Scott Harvey Wines, Andis Wines, Vino Noceto and C.G.Di Arie Winery. What’s most interesting is that each winery does not have one specific parcel or set of rows they are allocated to use, therefore their lot rotates every year.

WBC16 Scott Harvey 1869

I compare this civilized collaboration to the out-dated French Napoleonic laws of succession and inheritance, where an individual’s assets are divided between each child in equal shares, resulting in smaller and smaller parcels of land being passed to the next generation. Coupled with sky high federal inheritance taxes, the situation in premium winegrowing areas of France has become challenging and confusing. But the spirit of collaboration in Amador (even between divorced, but now friendly couples) results in some of the most complex and tasty wines in California.

Of the four wineries currently producing wine from the Original Grandpère Vineyard, we tasted selections from three. The Andis Wines 2012 Original Grandpère Zinfandel was first: delicate, but with rich tannic structure, this Zin showed notes of raspberry, black pepper and grilled red meat. I liked the way it showed now, but thought that a few more years in bottle would bring out lush fruit flavours. From the same vintage, we next tried the Vino Noceto OGP Zinfandel. Winemaker Rusty Folena suggested that the wine has a mind of its own, and he favours non-interventionist winemaking techniques, allowing the vintage to express itself. Quite frankly, this philosophy was shared among the other Amador wineries, who also respect the vineyard enough to let it do its own thing. I thought that the Vino Noceto wine was similar to the Andis Zin, but with notes this time of a more pungent white pepper, balanced with sweeter red fruit flavours. Finally, we tried the 2008 vintage of “1869” from Scott Harvey Wines, poured by Scott himself. “Every layer of soil gives the wine a different dimension,” he said. Indeed, this expression cast off overtly spicy notes in favour of fresh, bright flavours of pomegranate, cherries and sweet earth, as if still wet from a recent rainstorm.

WBC 16 Vino Noceto

Special thanks to the Amador Council of Tourism, the Amador Vintners Association and to all the wineries for allowing us to taste the living history of this special region.

Coffee and Town Hall Brands

By Kathleen Beveridge Today is National Coffee Day or as Howard Schultz would say, "I can't imagine a day without coffee."

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That being said I am not a coffee drinker, my choice of hot beverage has always been tea BUT there is something to be said about the smell of coffee brewing, the sounds of a coffee shop and the time spent with a warm mug in hand with friends, family and co-workers.

What I've noticed since joining Town Hall Brands last year is that our team loves coffee and that coffee is integral to our creative process to ensure we provide the best work for our clients. Whether creative design or communications you can bet each team member has a cup of coffee on their desk bringing focus and creative stimulation.

Now there has been studies that say coffee does not increase creativity however, for the team here I'll respectfully disagree. Coffee keeps us fueled up and when we need those mental breaks the walk to the coffee shop usually clears the mind enough that productivity is when returning to our desks.

In case you were wondering here's how the each team member enjoys their coffee!

Leeann

I like my coffee with just a little bit of milk and I like it to be strong. When I have a latte I like four shots of espresso and soy milk. No sugar. I'm sweet enough.

Andrew

Depends on whether it’s good coffee or not. If it’s good coffee it’s black.

Felicia

Often. With lots of cream.

Sujinder

With two (almost) vegans and one with dairy allergies in the house, we rarely have regular (cow’s) milk in the fridge, even though that’s my personal preference. That, and half a teaspoon of brown sugar. Always brown. I rarely get a hot cup of coffee at the home office, but my Stanley mega-thermos keeps it hot enough for the commute to Town Hall HQ. Other than that, I have a Nespresso ‘pixie’ which has served me well for years. My favourite pod is the Arpeggio. It’s intensity is 9/10. Just like me. And for the record, being environmentally-conscious, we scoop the grinds in the compost and recycle the aluminum. Love you, mother nature!

Laurisha

COFFEE IS MY EVERYTHING. IT DESERVES ALL THE ALL CAPS. I need it to be piping hot, fresh ground, and something like Kickinghorse, Ethical Bean or Salt-Spring. I like cream and sugar in it (not too much of either).

Amy

Americano black.

Kathleen

Tea please! Any and all kinds. Or if I have to choose a coffee make it sickly sweet-Pumpkin Spice Lattes, Mocha's, Carmel Machiattos. I may love the smell but the taste not so much.

Grace

Office coffee with 2 creams every morning. Sometimes with sugar if I’m feeling lazy and go to a café.

Genevieve

I like plain Jane drip coffee with almond milk and HONEY.

Cheers to National Coffee Day! May your day be filled with your favourite brew.

Five Reasons to Love Okanagan Crush Pad Winery

Okanagan Crush Pad is Five today!

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1. Summerland

This winery is located in beautiful Summerland, heart of the Okanagan Valley, and is one of the Bottleneck Drive wineries. The surrounding views are breathtaking and the hospitality and community are so welcoming in this small town.

The view from Okanagan Crush Pad.

2. Respecting history to make wines of today

Since constructing its state-of-the-art winemaking facility and visitor center in 2011, Okanagan Crush Pad Winery has been regarded as one of the most innovative wineries in Canada. One of these reasons is because of its return to yesterday's wine making techniques using the science and knowledge of today. The use of concrete tanks and clay amphorae really work to bring out the terroir of their Haywire and Narrative wines, which personify where they are grown.

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3. International insights

The Okanagan Crush Pad Winery team has pulled in consulting minds from Alberto Antonini and Pedro Parra, who have used their global perspective to help the Okanagan Valley shine.

 

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4. For the love of the earth and all of its animals

Switchback Vineyard, where Okanagan Crush Pad Winery is located, is certified organic. Garnet Valley Ranch, where vines are grown for Okanagan Crush Pad Winery, is also organic from day one. There are animals onsite, including chickens, ducks, dogs, sheep, cows, worms and bees, which help to keep the biodiversity alive.

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5. A dream team

Owners Christine Coletta and Steve Lornie have assembled an amazing team around them: Christine, Steve, David, Alison, Matt, Julian, Jordan, Megan, Tyler, Theo, Duncan, Kristina, Mike, Lisa, Rebecca, Amy, Rebeka, Paula, Alberto, Pedro, and many more, and we are proud to be part of it!

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Congratulations to the entire team at Okanagan Crush Pad Winery on your fifth birthday; we are so proud of all of you.

2016 BC Grape Harvest In Full Swing

  Would you like images, an interview, or to learn more? Contact Sujinder Juneja for assistance.

According to the BC Wine Institute (BCWI), BC’s cool-climate grape crop is on track for another excellent vintage this year. Hot and dry conditions in the spring led to the earliest bud break on record and the earliest harvest ever for some wineries in the Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island and the Okanagan. The low average temperatures and high rainfall allowed BC grapes to have more time to ripen on the vine and to accumulate flavour and aromatic compounds. This contributes to wines that are fresh, complex and balanced with higher acidity that make them versatile food pairings.

On Vancouver Island

Bailey Williamson, winemaker for Blue Grouse Estate Winery in Duncan on Vancouver Island, is expecting another excellent harvest at the Cowichan Valley estate. A strong growing season in April and May, followed by a cooler June and July than the previous year, led to an elongated flowering and fruit set cycle and allowed the grapes to mature and ripen to classic levels. The Blue Grouse harvest started on September 10, beginning with the popular Siegerrebe, an aromatic white varietal which tends to ripen earliest. After that, there will be a break in harvest until the end of September, when the rest of the grapes will be harvested in earnest. Compared to all the vintages since 2012, this year’s harvest started within a week of normal.

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In the Fraser Valley

Conditions on the mainland were similar to Vancouver Island. Andrew Etsell, GM and viticulturist of Singletree Winery in Abbotsford notes that with the warm and dry August, the grapes developed beautiful flavours with balanced acids and sugars. Singletree began its harvest on August 25 – one full week earlier than 2015, and the winery’s earliest harvest on record. “We started with our Siegerrebe, which is evolving into one of our most popular wines,” Andrew shares. “We’re also keeping a close eye on our estate Pinot Noir, which we have just harvested for our first-ever estate sparkling wine. Other estate varietals, such as our Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Grüner Veltliner and Sauvignon Blanc, will follow after that. This year’s harvest will not yield as much fruit as 2015, yet the fruit will be clean and very high quality."

It's harvest time at Abbotsford's Singletree Winery.

In the Okanagan - Naramata Bench

After an unseasonably warm spring, followed by an early summer, Serendipity Winery’s Katie O’Kell was concerned that the harvest would take place much earlier than normal at her estate Naramata vineyard. However, the cooler, wetter weather moved in, which allowed the grapes to mature a more moderate pace.

Serendipity’s harvest started on August 29 with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and continued on August 31 with Viognier. With a dry and cool climate, the phenolics (flavour and aromatic compounds) will eventually catch up to the brix (a measure of potential alcohol) that is currently sitting in the low 20s.

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Okanagan – South

Likewise, Lawrence Buhler, director of winemaking for ENCORE Vineyards, which produces wines under the TIME Winery, Evolve Cellars and McWatters Collection labels, is also in the middle of an active harvest. Compared to last year, Buhler and his winemaking team saw a two-day early start to the season on August 17. Harvest has almost been completed for the still whites, with additional harvests to take place in the next two to four weeks for red varietals.

Regarding the balance of the 2016 harvest, Lawrence says the reds are maturing well and the cooler weather is excellent for proper fruit development and sugar accumulation in the berries.

Harry McWatters, president and CEO of ENCORE Vineyards said recently to Global Television, “we had record-breaking temperatures in April and the earliest bud break that I’ve seen in my history in British Columbia. This is my 49th vintage in the wine business and I’ve never seen a harvest this early. What it does is even in the fringe areas, where the grower may be pushing their limit as far as what they’re growing or the amount of crop they’ve got, it gives them a bit bigger window to mature that fruit to its optimum level. It’s a good thing.”

Indeed it is, Harry. And although the wineries – from Vancouver Island to the Fraser Valley to the Okanagan – are right in the middle of an exciting harvest, we already can’t wait to taste the finished wines starting next spring.

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Town Hall Brands: Specializing in wine, food and hospitality

Town Hall Brands, based in Vancouver BC, build brands and promotes them. We offer marketing strategy, graphic design, packaging, promotional campaigns and PR, and social media outreach.

Can we help you with a story? If it comes to a story in need in wine, we can help or send you to the right place.

BCWI Colour 2016

British Columbia Wine Institute's Fall VQA Tasting, Colour, is on the horizon. An event for trade and media to mingle with winery principals and winemakers while tasting new releases. Later on, at "ChefmeetsGrape" the public will be able to taste the new vintages, accompanying delicious food pairings from hot restaurants.

TRADE: In order to plan your strategy for tasting your way through the day, Town Hall Brands is going to give you the inside scoop on each of our PR clients that are attending and what you can taste from them.

Since the tasting will be organized alphabetically (we hope), let's start at the top:

Evolve Cellars

Evolve Cellars

Evolve Cellars, located in Summerland, offers a lineup of wines that are fruit-forward and approachable.  Believing every choice has intention Evolve encourages everyone to #raiseaglassto those who inspire them.

Principals attending: Christa-Lee McWatters-Bond, director of sales and marketing

Wines being poured:

  • Pink Effervescence - NEW bubbles!
  • Effervescence - NEW bubbles!
  • Pinot Blanc 2015
  • Riesling 2015
  • Cabernet Merlot 2015

Okanagan Crush Pad

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Located in Summerland, Okanagan Crush Pad is home to Haywire and Narrative Wines. The winery team's aim is to produce distinct, terroir-focused super-premium wines from the Okanagan Valley.

Principal attending: Christine Coletta, owner

Wines being poured:

  • Haywire Switchback Vineyard Pinot Gris 2014
  • Haywire Canyonview Pinot Noir 2013
  • Narrative XC Method NV
  • Narrative Rosé 2015

Serendipity Winery

Serendipity-Vinessmall

Nestled among the rolling hills of the picturesque Naramata Bench, a visit to Serendipity is about discovery, surprise and warmth. The journey began in 2005 following a serendipitous turn in the road made by owner Judy Kingston, and continues with each new vintage of wines crafted to be paired with food and shared with loved ones. Judy, a former lawyer, brings her smarts and wit to the wines and their labels. Each bottle has a story.

Principal attending: Judy Kingston, owner

Wines being poured:

  • Next Step 2012
  • Sauvignon Blanc 2015
  • Rosé 2015

TIME Winery

Wine making is about time and place, and that’s what TIME Winery proves with each new vintage. As what will be Penticton's first urban winery, spearheaded by industry pioneer and icon Harry McWatters, these wines are complex yet approachable.

Principal attending: Harry McWatters, owner

Wines being poured:

  • Cabernet Franc 2014
  • Meritage (white) 2014
  • Meritage 2013
  • McWatters Collection Chardonnay 2013

These applauded BC wines call for an Encore!

Hot Client News! Encore Family Shot

We're taking a moment heading into the long weekend to #raiseaglassto one of our amazing clients and their winemaker Lawrence Buhler. The results of the NorthWest Wine Summit are in and it's safe to say that ENCORE Vineyards, parent company of Evolve Cellars, McWatters Collection and TIME Winery, and their winemaker deserve a round of applause for their recent landslide of awards.

The Superlative Awards

"Best" Category - Evolve Cellars Riesling 2015

Evolve View and Wine-Chris Stenberg-6599

Jerry Mead Awards:

Best Value Wines: Evolve Cellars Rosé 2015, Evolve Cellars Riesling 2015

Gold

Evolve Cellars

  • Riesling 2015
  • Rosé (Merlot & Pinot Blanc) 2015

McWatters Collection

  • "HMC" Chardonnay 2013

HMC Family

TIME Winery

  • Meritage (39% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc) 2013

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Evolve Cellars

  • Gewürztraminer 2015

McWatters Collection

  • “Meritage” 60% Cabernet Sauvignon (three clones) 20% Merlot (two clones), & 12% Cabernet Franc (one clone) 2012

TIME Winery

  • Cabernet Franc 2014
  • Chardonnay 2013
  • Meritage (white blend: 68% Sauvignon Blanc, 32% Sémillon) 2014

Bronze

Evolve Cellars

  • Cabernet Merlot 2014
  • Pinot Blanc 2014
  • Pinot Gris 2015
  • Sauvignon Blanc 2014

 

ENCORE Vineyards Ltd., is a progressive Okanagan-based company, and home to TIME Winery, Evolve Cellars, and McWatters Collection.

The ENCORE team is led by president and CEO Harry McWatters, a 49-year veteran of the British Columbia wine industry. Christa-Lee McWatters-Bond is the ENCORE director of sales and marketing, offering lifelong wine industry insight. Lawrence Buhler is ENCORE’s director of winemaking, who has experienced more than 16 vintages in Ontario, British Columbia, Chile, Argentina, and Australia. He will oversee the company’s growing portfolio of premium British Columbia wines.

Congratulations winemaker Lawrence; the Town Hall Brands team awaits your encore!

WBC16: Connection & Engagement

By Sujinder Juneja We’ve said this many times before, including in a post directly following the 2015 event, but the Wine Bloggers Conference is more than just a conference, it’s a community. I’ll come back to this idea of “community” in a moment.

Leeann and I from Town Hall Brands attended the 2016 showcase in Lodi, California (August 11-14). This was my fourth conference in a row, and Leeann’s fifth. For the first time though, I was honoured to be asked by conference founder Allan Wright to moderate a panel discussion in front of an audience of 300 or so bloggers, journalists and other wine professionals. Gulp! Yes – I was thrilled to be asked and I was also nervous as heck. But more than that, I knew right away that I wanted to make it special, for both the audience and the panellists themselves.

Sujinder at WBC16

My panel was a dream. I got to moderate the Panel of Wine Blog Award Winners, featuring five winners of the 2016 Wine Blog Awards. The awards have been in place since 2007 (the year before the first Wine Bloggers Conference), honouring excellence in online wine writing. This year’s panellists included Sophie Thorpe from Berry Bros. & Rudd, Mary Cressler from Vindulge, Jill Barth from l’Occasion, Susan Manfull from Provence Wine Zine, and Jerry Clark who received Best Blog Post of the Year.

Within my job in communications, yes, I do get to talk about wine and winemaking all day long, helping to celebrate the stories behind the labels of our passionate winery clients. But any success we have with the media comes down to the relationships and connections we build with the writers, editors, and producers that help share our client achievements. Within this panel and within the audience itself, I wanted to make sure to build that same connection and engagement.

First step: Google “how to moderate a panel.”

Check. This gave me the structure I needed to follow.

Second step: Arrange for some one-on-one time with each of the panellists in advance so that we could get to know each other better and to flesh out ideas for discussion.

Check. This, to me, was the most valuable part of the panel, as it connected us in a way that the audience could see, and that we could feel onstage. In each of our private discussions, we shared ideas, laughs and stories that solidified our personal connections, making us part of that community I mentioned earlier.

I will share that I was personally impressed and inspired by each of the very deserving award-winners, and what I was able to learn from each of them was a gift. Here are some of the gems that I took away from each of them:

WBC Panel Selfie

Sophie Thorpe: Maybe it’s the Brit in me (my mom is from Reading, England) but I LOVE Sophie’s dry sense of humour, which you can see both on the BB&R blog and on her own, Raised on Champagne. She taught me the subtle excellence of opening the curtain to show the personality behind the writer, and how to let her readers know that they’re in on the joke, shared just between you and them.

Mary Cressler: Mary’s love of wine, photography, food and her family (not necessarily in that order) are infectious. The first time I saw Mary’s photos… the light, the texture, the delicious mouth water-inducing amazing-ness of her work, I knew that better was possible. It will take me some time to get even close to Mary’s talent, but she motivates me to try.

Jill Barth: Once you start reading her blog, L’Ocasion, you won’t stop until hours (maybe days) later. In fact, I whiled away about 45 minutes just prepping to write this little intro! Arguably, that is what made Jill a double award-winner this year: the ability to draw in her readers in such a way that they are sucked down this wine-filled rabbit hole of stories and adventures.

Susan Manfull: ‘P’ for Provence and ‘P’ for Passion. Susan has a heart of gold, which is easy to tell by speaking to her, or by reading her work. The tender care that she puts into each article is wonderful. Our first phone call could have gone on for hours, it was such a joy to speak to her.

Jerry Clark: One of my favourite pieces of wine writing, Jerry’s award-winning piece was evocative and emotional. He invited us into an intimate world, which all of us, including non-wine lovers, can relate to. His thrilling use of the written word remains incessantly inspiring.

Overall, the greatest thing I took away from these talented people is that a gifted wine writer, especially an award-winning wine blogger, is one that gives of themselves, that opens up in a personal way, revealing details not only about their subject - whether it be about a particular wine, an international travel adventure – but one who shares details about themselves. It is this, among many of the other things I learned above, that I hope to incorporate into my own blog when it launches this Fall.

See you in Sonoma at WBC17!

Disclosure: In exchange for a reduced rate to the Wine Bloggers Conference, attendees are required to write at least three blog posts about the conference either before, during or after.

Okanagan Crush Pad partners with PNE Prize Home Lottery

Okanagan Crush Pad is proud to partner with the PNE Prize Home Lottery to raise funds for variety of non-profit programs. This year’s Grand Prize Home features one of the biggest Prize Homes yet, with a large open concept and patio space perfect for entertaining. It is adorned with stylish furniture, modern appliances, an outdoor hot tub and sauna and a floor-to-ceiling wine cooler.

Global TV's Kristi Gordon infant of the home's wine cooler

This West Coast modern home will be perched on a breathtaking lake view property right on the Naramata Bench, looking across Okanagan Lake to Summerland.

Overlooking Summerland from across Okanagan Lake

How fitting that Okanagan Crush Pad, a Summerland winery, located on a 10-acre Switchback Organic Vineyard, is playing a role in the grand prize package. The winner and new neighbour will receive a personalized VIP tour and tasting at the winery to welcome them to the community and give them a chance to fill their wine cooler.

In Summerland, the winner will get a chance to enjoy a unique winery experience. At Okanagan Crush Pad, a spectacular guest center and private upstairs tasting lounge are built into the heart of the winery, offering an in-depth view into the art of winemaking. Visitors wander past large concrete tanks, clay amphorae, sparkling wine cages, barrels and a small still, to learn how vineyard inspired natural wine and spirits are made. Here time-honoured, generations-old winemaking techniques are married with the most advanced technology with stunning results.

And the wines: the critically-acclaimed Haywire and Narrative wines celebrate the distinctive beauty and exceptional growing region.

The PNE is on now until September 6 and the exhibition’s crowd favourite has people dreaming of what life would be like if their winnings swept them away to the rich landscape of valley vineyards and desert hills of the Okanagan.

Tickets can be bought at the fair, or onsite here.

Finding Wine Culture in Amador

By Leeann Froese Finding Wine Culture in Amador

Amador County landscape

I feel pretty lucky that on the eve of my 20th year in the wine industry that I've had the chance to taste wines from all over the world, and had the pleasure of visiting wine regions in a few different countries. What I am focused on these days as I look at the different regions is to see how they build their culture, welcome wine visitors, and how the people live and work.

For a pre-excursion leading up to the 9th Annual Wine Bloggers Conference, I was delighted to visit and learn about Amador, a region I previously knew nothing about. I am pleased to share brief impressions of the Amador County wineries.

Wine Bloggers Conference Pre Excursion to Amador and our amazing driver, Chip

A flight to Sacramento puts you within an hour’s drive to this small region, which is relatively unexplored by Canadians, but definitely belongs on a wine tourist’s map. The landscape is peaceful, with grassy foothills and winding river canyons, all backed up by the Sierra Mountains.

The towns in the Shenandoah Valley have a gold rush heritage look

The Amador Vintners have 45 member wineries with tasting rooms in the Shenandoah Valley, the historic towns of Fiddletown, Sutter Creek, Amador City, and other surrounding areas. Each of these small towns have an ‘old timey’, historic feel, as the region first rose to notoriety in congruence with the 1849 gold rush.

Families (or young men) from all over Europe came to California to settle and seek fortune. One of the major demands of many primarily young, single men was a steady supply of alcohol. In response, farmers of Italian, Serbian, Iberian, French, and German background planted grapes. Vineyards emerged, and several wineries sprouted up - many of whose vineyards are still in use by wineries today.

Amador Vineyards - head trained

As this region was founded, there were many languages spoken, common diligent work habits developed, and one thing was for sure: they all shared a passion to turn the grapes that the granite-rich, sandy loam soils gave them into delicious wines to be enjoyed by all.

While the wines were plentiful and appreciated, the Amador wine region took a huge downturn, as most wine producers in the USA did during Prohibition. Fortunately, the region squeaked through. Home winemakers, permitted to make 200 gallons of wine each, kept the grape growers above water. All available grapes were scooped up and sold off nationwide, but times were lean.

According to Amador historian and author Eric J. Costa, between the repeal of Prohibition and the late 1960s, most grapes grown in Amador wound up in large tanks in bulk wine production, and only a small percentage of the grapes grown were kept and vinfied by small family wineries as premium wine.

This is still the case with many grape growers today but in 2016, the industry has evolved to have second and third generation owners, and those who have moved to the region for investment or second careers, all with an eye to excellence in wine production. Amador wineries’ acreage in 2016 is around 3,800 acres of vineyards with varying production numbers each year. The 2015 grape crush totaled 3,867,710 tons, down 7 percent from the 2014 crush of 4,144,534 tons.

The Birthplace of Zinfandel

Well suited to the sunshine and soils, Zinfandel has dominated Amador plantings from the beginning: Amador County is home to the oldest Zinfandel wines in America, with documented plantings dating back to the 1850s. Included in this is the Original Grandpère Vineyard, planted in Amador to Zinfandel before 1869, making these vines more than 140 years old. This low yield, 10-acre vineyard is home to the oldest documented Zinfandel vines in California, and today’s owner, Terri Harvey, supplies grapes only to a select few Amador wineries.

Throughout the region, there are other plentiful plantings of the American heritage Zinfandel, as well as varietals from all over the world, reflective of those that settled the region, including Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Barbera, Grenache, Petite Sirah, and more.

Community Club

As far as Amador’s wine culture is concerned, with a relatively small geography and a shared goal to grow the best grapes they can, there is a strong level of cohesion among wineries. In order to keep the community connected, wineries hold industry nights, community potlucks, and other activities that bring together the people who live in all these little towns throughout the valley.

A vintner we met, who stood out for sharing best practices, is Dick Cooper.

Jeri Cooper Swift and Dick Cooper

Dick Cooper, 77, was encouraged in the late 1970s by his father Henry “Hank” Cooper to get into grape growing. The Cooper family originally arrived in the foothills in 1919, and had a long history of farming tree fruits and nuts. So what started with five acres of Barbera grew to become Cooper Vineyards, and over the past 35 years Dick has worked to share all that he has learned along the way with those around him. In addition to his own vineyards, he has designed, planted and managed at least another dozen vineyards in Amador and El Dorado County. Known locally as the “Godfather of Barbera”, he has made many friends and earned the respect of the industry. Dick has provided cuttings, grapes and advice for much of the Barbera grown in the foothills, was an instrumental person in the establishment of the Amador County Wine Grape Growers’ Association, and has written a book on the relationship between viticulture and Amador County soil. This helpful openness to others, and willingness to share resources has helped build the community, and unified Amador growers.

Cooper’s daughter Jeri Cooper Swift, who was our tour guide on our excursion bus, recalls the ways in which the community and culture grew up with and around her. “The Shenandoah school house is the local meeting place once a month (but not during harvest),” she shares. “My grandmother Ruth Deaver Cooper, my grandfather Henry Field Cooper, also my father, Dick Cooper, and all of us kids, along with all the other farmers and their families - would go to a potluck dinner once a month. We called it ‘community club’.”

Shenandoah School House

Our wine bloggers conference pre-excursion visited this one-room heritage school house for a meet and greet with several of the area winemakers. It was special for us to have a peek at this historical location, experience the community vibe and get a sense of the cohesive nature of the winery personnel.

Also in attendance at the meet and greet was a winemaker who openly shared his practices and experimental techniques: Mark McKenna from Andis Wines. On the flipside of nearly a century of the Cooper’s farming is the comparatively new Andis Wines, who bring a modern approach to Amador County's winemaking region. Using both traditional and innovative winemaking approaches, such as wine aged in concrete (an old world practice made new), McKenna has quickly garnered huge scores with critics, and is leading a New World approach to make modern wines, with an integrated respect for and knowledge of, classical tradition and style. Sourcing grapes from the onsite estate vineyard as well as from several growers in the area allows Mark the opportunity to relationship build and share.

my selfie with Mark McKenna at Andis wines in front of their concrete egg fermenter

So whether it is several decades of farming like the Coopers, or new practices in the cellar such as at Andis, the winemakers of Amador work together to grow, learn, taste and celebrate each other. This region may be small, but the culture is strong.

Have you noticed a camaraderie and strong culture in any of the regions you visited? Please, tell me about it...

 

Wines tasted:

2012 Andis Wines 1869 Original Grandpere Vineyard Zinfandel

Planted in 1869, the Original Grandpere Vineyard is the oldest documented Zinfandel vineyard in America, with only four wineries having access to its crop. This is a bold wine, with prominent ripe red fruit, pepper and spice. Only 150 cases made.

2013 Cooper Vineyards St. Peter’s Church Zinfandel

This consistently awarded wine offers subtle fruit on the nose and a medium-bodied layered palate of berry and spice with balanced acid and tannins, and long finish.

Disclosure: In exchange for a reduced rate to the Wine Bloggers Conference, attendees are required to write at least three blog posts about the conference either before, during or after.