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Blue Grouse

Blue Grouse Estate Winery Releases Event Calendar

Blue Grouse is the official winery of a Vancouver Island Summer!

If you’re looking for enjoyable events that pair well with a staycation or Vancouver Island visit, Blue Grouse Estate Winery has you covered from sophisticated evenings to family fun.  

Blue Grouse visitors enjoy a glass in the sun. Photo by Derek Ford.

Blue Grouse visitors enjoy a glass in the sun. Photo by Derek Ford.

Summer Kick Off Party!

May 18 & 19

Celebrate warmer days ahead with music, food, wine slushys, and new vintages!

·      May Long Weekend (Saturday May 18 and Sunday May 19)

·      11-5pm each day

·      Live Jazz both days from 2-4pm

·      Wine Slushys made from Blue Grouse wines

·      2016 Paula Sparkling Release

·      Charcuterie and food specials all day

·      New vintages and a brand-new label look!

 

Friday Night Flights

June 7 – August 30

·      Winery open until 7pm on Fridays – just drop in

·      Order a flight of 3 wines only, or a food-paired flight from a rotating calendar of chefs

·      Our winemaker Bailey Williamson kicks off, by cooking June 7 – also on July 12 and August 2

·      Farm’s Gate Foods creates the pairings June 14, July 5 and August 23.

 

2nd Annual Father's Day Bocce Tournament

Spend the day with dad drinking wine and overlooking the vines, all while supporting the community.

·      Sunday June 16th from 12-3pm

·      Bocce balls provided

·      All registration fees and $5 per bottle of wine will be donated to Nourish Cowichan. Tickets can be purchased here online or at the tasting room.

A Jazz Evening with Misha Piatigorsky

New York resident and famed jazz pianist Misha Piatigorsky will be gracing Blue Grouse with a cabaret-style piano concert in our upstairs lounge. You won’t want to miss this intimate show. 

·      Saturday June 15, 7-9pm

·      Doors open at 6 pm

·      Tickets are $35 + GST

·      Charcuterie, cheese and vegan boards; wine by the glass or bottle are available to purchase all evening.

Concert in the Vines with Heartwood 

Heartwood is the new and perfect pairing of award-winning singer-songwriters Jack Connolly and Genevieve Charbonneau from our own Cowichan Valley. Jack and Genevieve are outstanding performers in their own right, but when their songwriting talents, charisma and musical chops are combined, the result is roots and folk magic. The duo are joined by a band for this special evening of music.

  • Saturday August 17 from 7:30 to 9:30pm

  • Doors open at 6:30pm

  • Tickets are $20 + GST

  • Wine by the glass and bottle available for purchase all evening. 

Cowichan Wine Festival

The Cowichan Valley Wine Festival is a tasting and touring event showcasing the best of Vancouver Island wine from 11 local wineries.

Kick-off Event, August 23rd: Start the weekend off right and join all the wineries for our evening tasting event at Shawnigan Lake School.   

Winery Touring, August 24th - 25th: Spend the rest of the weekend self-touring Cowichan's fabulous wineries with map and passport in hand. Visit the wineries and collect stamps to fill the passport. Collect all the stamps and you can enter the draw for a grand prize!

Tickets will be available for purchase on the Tourism Cowichan website closer to the event date, or simply purchase a festival glass and passport at your first stop and keep it with you. This glass is your ticket and entitles you to 3 free tastings at all 11 participating wineries!

Wine Slushys at Blue Grouse are incomparable!

Wine Slushys at Blue Grouse are incomparable!

Visit bluegrouse.ca for wine festival happenings TBA!

For further questions about these events or summer at Blue Grouse, contact jenny@bluegrouse.ca or look at the event calendar online.

 

About Blue Grouse Wines:  

In the heart of Vancouver Island is Blue Grouse Estate Winery, a family-owned Cowichan Valley gem. 

The estate-grown wines are made by winemaker Bailey Williamson from transitional-organic vineyards, and a second label, Quill, incorporates Island fruit and Okanagan fruit. Varietal wines include Ortega, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, and a traditional method sparkling wine, "Paula" named after winery owners Paul and Cristina Brunner's daughter. The wines are bright, crisp, and well-balanced, showcasing where they are grown.

Visit and pass by a pond with birds, tadpoles, and beehives in the background as you approach the winery. A bright, airy, sustainably-constructed tasting room opens onto a sun-drenched patio; the perfect spot for charcuterie and a glass of rosé. 

The mezzanine and its romantic views make this an essential stop in your Cowichan Valley visit, while the surrounding vineyards offer the perfect setting for weddings or special events. Make a stay of it with luxurious vineyard-surrounded accommodation in the Grouse House, open year-round.

Learn more about this biodiverse, progressive, eco-conscious winery at bluegrouse.ca

Vancouver Island Winery Continues to Lead the Way

Vancouver Island Winery Continues to Lead the Way

In 2012, when Paul Brunner and his family took over the pioneering Blue Grouse Estate Winery on Vancouver island, they could not have predicted what they would undertake over the next seven years. 

Investments include major upgrades to the winery and property, going organic, and now, this season, the evolution of Blue Grouse includes a label refresh

Fall Events to Plan For in the Lower Mainland

What’s Happening this Fall We have been trying to find dates to plan activities for our clients and it has become obvious to us how BUSY the schedule is and everyone's calendar is.

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 to hold an event, so everyone is hosting something.

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We like to use PlanitBC which has a public face as well as an industry planning back end, so we advise anyone who both wants to plan or attend something look there. It's not expensive and helps keep everything in one spot, and then has a way to publicize the events that are public.

For whatever reason, we have found that not everyone is signing up for Planit, so we have gathered everything we know of as of the beginning of August.

Note: this is for planning purposes and will change - check back often.

September 10, Top Drop Vancouver (featuring Town Hall clients Blue Grouse and Haywire)

September 10, Design Event (Story PR)

September 11, Top Drop Vancouver (featuring Town Hall clients Blue Grouse and Haywire)

September 13, BBQ off the Bypass (hosted by Town Hall client Angie Quaale of Well Seasoned)

September 14, Chile Sommelier Challenge (Trade only)

September 15, IVSA New Product Salon (Vancouver)

September 16, Colour BC Fall VQA Tasting (Industry)

September 16, ChefmeetsBCGrape Signature Tasting

September 18, 5th Annual Fraser Valley Cork and Keg, Wine, Beer and Food Festival

September 19, Lilloet Beer and Wine Festival

September 21, Invite Only Trade Wine Event

September 22, Sparkling Wine Event (invite only featuring Town Hall clients Summerhill Pyramid Winery)

September 22, Kate Colley PR Event

September 22, IVSA New Product Salon (Victoria)

September 23, Lifestyle, Fashion, Fitness Event

September 25, Victoria Wine Festival

September 26, Victoria Wine Festival

September 27, Slow Fish Dinner (hosted by Town Hall clients The Chefs' Table Society of BC)

September 27, Victoria Wine Festival

September 30, Lifestyle Event

October 1, Discover BC VQA Tasting (Calgary)

October 1, Lifestyle and Fashion Event

October 1-11, Fall Okanagan Wine Festival (featuring Town Hall clients Summerhill, SpierHead Winery, Mt. Boucherie, TIME, and Okanagan Crush Pad.)

October 5, Town Hall media event-by invitation only

October 5-9, Tourism Vancouver Open House

October 7, Town Hall trade event - by invitation only

October 8, Home and Lifestyle Event

October 15, Town Hall wine media event- by invitation only

October 15, Abbotsford Circle Farm Tour

October 17, BC Uncorked (featuring Town Hall clients Summerhill and Mt.Boucherie)

October 18, CONNECT Food + Drink + Lodging Expo 2015

October 19, CONNECT Food + Drink + Lodging Expo 2015

October 21, Vancouver Magazine Judging

October 22, Vancouver Magazine Judging

October 22, Vancouver Home + Design Show Opening Party (invite only)

October 22, 2nd Annual Tea Sparrow Tea Festival

October 23, Vancouver Magazine Judging

October 26, A Taste of Wines from Italy (Trade)

October 28, Wine, Food & Lifestyle Tasting

October 29, Design & Lifestyle Event

November 7, 26th Annual Fraser Valley Wine Festival

 

Looking Ahead to the Grape Harvest in BC

By Leeann Froese As we ease back into our work week after a long weekend to celebrate this great province, we reflect on how it has been a long, warm spring and summer across BC.

Weather, growing conditions, watering restrictions and threat of fire all could impact the upcoming grape harvest, depending on which grape growing region you are in.

Could this be one of the earliest harvests on record in BC? How are things looking so far?

Laura Kittmer, media relations manager at the British Columbia Wine Institute states “It's been a very hot summer in BC this year; many wineries are reporting their grapevines to be about two weeks ahead right now, which could mean early wine harvest.”

We checked in with our clients in different parts of the province for an update, which follows.

Let us know if you need more info, photos, or wish to interview anyone quoted below. Amy @ townhallbrands.com / 604-321-3295

 

Okanagan - Summerland - Okanagan Crush Pad - Christine Coletta, owner

OCP-Christine-Coletta-4-Credit-Lionel-Trudel“At Okanagan Crush Pad we are more than half way into yet another great season in the Okanagan. But as we like to remember, it isn’t over until it’s over, and the next three months are the most crucial to shaping vintage. Will we get those cooler fall days with cold nights that allow for hang time that creates the phenolic* ripeness and natural acidity that we all crave? Or will there be a quick, sharp finish to the growing year that leaves us with high sugars, resulting in wines with higher than normal alcohol levels? Time will tell.

An early spring and unseasonably warm summer has challenged viticulturists throughout the valley. We did not get the typical rainfall we expect in June and the rest of the summer has been dry and hot. A careful watch on irrigation levels has been required.

Bountiful crop sets with large cluster formations and small berry size should result in some excellent wines next year. The early spring start will guarantee that most crops will finish on time and viticulturists will surely be pleased about that. With veraison** starting we anticipate a late September /early October harvest. Let's keep our fingers crossed and hope that the weather continues to co-operate as we eagerly anticipate yet another outstanding year.

As far as water use goes, vineyards used significantly less water than tree fruits, and vineyards with drip irrigation, even less than vineyards with overhead irrigation. Our home organic vineyard, Switchback Vineyard, used seven inches of irrigation water a year compared to the standard 19 inches. At this point the Okanagan is on water restrictions, but this is an annual occurrence and nothing out of the ordinary as is being experienced in the lower mainland.

From the forest fire situation, there has been absolutely zero impact from fires and smoke in our area. A few people have said on social media that they are concerned that the smoke can impact the harvest. This kind of talk is a little on the sensational side as smoke would have to be within close proximity (not 50 km away) and for an extended period of time (not a day or two) to have any impact on grape quality.”

 

Vancouver Island - Blue Grouse - Bailey Williamson, winemaker

_DerekFord_BlueGrouseportraits1505218765"Many in the Cowichan Valley have long stood by the ideology of dry farming, and this year they may reconsider this dogma.

At Blue Grouse we hope to have drip irrigation throughout the whole vineyard by next season; we have been irrigating where we can, and it shows a marked difference in the vine health.

Smoke has not been an issue for us as the fires are not burning close by or the smoke is blowing the other way.

Our issue is that vineyard labour has always been a huge issue and will be for the foreseeable future. In a small grape growing region it is even more of a challenge because there is no labour pool to draw from: seasonal, foreign or otherwise.

Very often we pick the grapes based on disease pressure, and hope for phenolic ripeness. At this moment the extreme heat has given way to more seasonal averages which could very well have us harvest a bit early, but not super early. If the rain holds off and the grapes are a week ahead of usual we could be picking in the sun rather than the rain. This would be a great boon for both quality and morale.

I generally don't like to count my chickens before they hatch, and Mother Nature always has a trick or two up her sleeve, so I am cautiously optimistic, and hopeful."

 

Okanagan – Naramata – Serendipity Winery – Judy Kingston, owner

Serendipity-Judy-Kingston-6

“At Serendipity we are lucky that there are no water restrictions on agricultural properties in the Naramata bench.

The smoke cover here was far less than in most parts of the province, almost to the point that it was less than normal. We had maybe five days of smoke, and the kind of smoke damage that CedarCreek and St Hubertus had in 2003 is not anticipated at this time. That was a rare occurrence.

We have seen few if any 40 degree days on the Naramata bench, we had a few that were kissing 40 degrees. The south valley has seen a few. We haven’t seen the vines shut down yet, but we have in past seasons. At this point, veraison is just kicking in, showing up in our Pinot Noir field and our Syrah field. Southern regions have veraison in full-swing.

Everyone needs to take a reminder that grape vines are one of the most adaptive species out there. They can withstand stress or difficult conditions.

This year’s harvest looks great. We knew at the beginning of the season that it was going to be an early start to the growing year and a hotter year, so we have taken measures to make sure that the grapes mature properly and not too quickly. Without careful farming practices, there could be a risk that the brix*** accumulate in the berries faster than the phenolics do. This year’s harvest could be fantastic, but it is impossible to say how the harvest is going to be until the grapes are in the press. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

We look forward to picking the Pinot for bubble in the last week of August. Katie is looking forward to harvesting in shorts and a tee shirt, as we anticipate harvest for our regular table wines to start in early September, well ahead of schedule.”

 

Fraser Valley - Singletree - Andrew Etsell, viticulturist

View More: http://typeaphotography.pass.us/onetree

"This year has the potential to be the best year I have seen in a decade. The grapes are 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule. At Singletree our Siegerrebe is already at verasion and the lack of rain has made mould a non-issue. This is the first year I have seen the Fraser Valley grapes keeping pace with the Okanagan. The only issue I foresee is that with so little rain our tonnage will be down from last year, but the quality of grapes will be far superior to what we have seen in the past from the Valley."

 

Kamloops - Monte Creek Ranch - Galen Barnhardt, winemaker DSC_8036 copy"The 2015 at Monte Creek Ranch season got off to a roaring start, bud break arrived 10 days early and an unbelievably hot start to the summer has pushed us 2.5 to 3 weeks ahead of schedule at veraison. The period between veraison and harvest is the most crucial by far, we are hoping for more moderate temperatures so that phenolic ripeness will occur before sugar levels get too high.

Though there have been many water restrictions in the province, we are fortunate that grapes are quite drought resistant. We practice deficit irrigation within our own vineyards and typically only use 20% of our water license in any given season. We have also been quite lucky and have avoided any smoke taint so far - a bit of recent rain should help matters. If Mother Nature can play nice for another six weeks then we should have a phenomenal harvest."

 

So there you have it; no one has a crystal ball, but things are looking good so far for the 2015 BC grape harvest.

 

*Phenolic - are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in grapes, which give a wine its profile; includes tannins that occur in grape skins, seeds and stems as well as other complex chemical compounds that will help to define a wine’s character

**Veraison – a grape-growing term meaning when the grapes change colour – the onset of ripening in the grapes.

***Brix – the measure of sugar

 

12 Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday Season

By: Amy Chen Holiday Tips From Our Experts

The holiday season is always a time of celebration and reconnection with friends and family, but sometime there’s too much glee and not enough reality.

Whether it is gift buying, hosting dinners, paying the bills, or vacation planning, the holiday hustling and bustling can leave us in layers of mayhem and stress that we often don’t realize until the party’s over. To prepare for a healthy, joyful and stress-free holiday season, our financial, food, wine and health experts have offered tips to help you get a head start before the New Year.

Our Financial Expert - Judy Poole:

What are your tips to control holiday spending?

JudyPooleHeadshot

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judy offers three tips:

1. Do what you have said you're going to do every year! Start early. Okay we're too late for early, start NOW.

2. Work with your family to set parameters. Maybe, like us, you give "consumables". Maybe your gifts could be from the thrift shop. If everybody agrees it can be a lot of fun.

3. Set a budget. Stick to it. That's the beauty of starting early... You actually have a chance of paying with cash.

Our Food Expert - Angie Quaale:

Angie-Quaale-Headshot

 

 

 

 

 

 

We (TH) asked Angie a few questions:

What is a fun, must-have tool for this holiday season?

My favourite seasonal tool is a nutmeg grater (photo below). Perfect for topping the NOG, baking, special coffees etc. There really is NO replacement for freshly ground nutmeg.

Well Seasoned-Nutmeg Grinder

TH: What is the easiest dish that will be a crowd pleaser?

Warm roasted vegetable salad with fresh dates & feta (recipe below).

4 small whole red onions peeled and cut in four

4 carrots sliced thick on the diagonal

6 small beets, peeled & cut into chunks

2 small parsnips, peeled & sliced thick on the diagonal

1 kg butternut squash skinned, seeded and cut into 4cm pieces

¼ cup olive oil

100g feta cheese

salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

8 fresh dates – pitted and cut in four

4 tbsp pomegranate molasses

3 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

¼ cup cilantro

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Put the carrot, onion and squash in a roasting pan.  Add the oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to evenly coat all the vegetables.  Bake 30 minutes until all the veggies are tender.  Remove from the oven and transfer to a large serving bowl.  Sprinkle on the dates and the feta.  Drizzle with the molasses and additional olive oil if wanted – toss to coat.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and cilantro – serve at room temperature or warmer.

TH: A tip for the holiday season?

Cook once, eat twice. I call it “Planned-overs”. It is a busy time of the year.  When you are roasting a chicken, roast two – same mess, same fuss only you have a few meals rather than just one. Turn the second chicken into sandwiches, a pot pie, soup, salad… Planning ahead is the ultimate holiday stress reliever!

 

Our Wine Expert - Bailey Williamson at Blue Grouse Winery:

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Your top three wine recommendations for…

1. Host/Hostess gift- Pinot Noir to go well with any holiday dinner, especially turkey.

2. Entertain a crowd- Any whites for easy drinking, such as 2012 Quill White.

3. Big meal - Multiple wines with every course, with lots of glassware so I can have different wines on the go at all times. Suffice to say lots of wines and the menu would dictate varietal and style...

 

Our Health Expert- Darnelle Moore at Eastside Fitness:

Eastside Fitness

 

 

 

What are three realistic, simple tips for healthy holidays?

1. Get outside as much as possible. Try for at least once or twice per day! Don't use the cold, rain, snow or icy conditions to keep you indoors. Even a brisk 20 min walk will be enough to get your blood circulating a little more rapidly through your body, bringing fresh oxygen to your brain and extremities. The cool air will wake you up and refresh you. It does get dark early but this is great time of year to check out the Christmas lights around your neighbourhood. Remember, you don't have to make this complicated. Walk to the mailbox, the corner store, the bus stop.

2. Christmas treats don't have to be bad. Cookies and chocolates are part of the season. So are mini oranges, mixed nuts and popcorn! Keep lots of those healthier treats within reach around your home and work place and you will find that you will snack on them too. Also, have lots of cut up veggies and healthy dips (hummus, tzatziki etc) in the fridge ready for when you have the munchies or guests come to visit. Try having a ratio of three healthy (yet tasty) treats on the table to one tray of chocolates and baked goods.

3. Breathe deeply. Set your watch to remind you every 10 mins. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, stop. Raise your hands above your head while breathing in through your nose. Touch your hands together at the top and hold your breath for one second. Lower your arms and breathe out, audibly, through your mouth (like a sigh). Repeat 2 or 3 times. If you have the time and the space, try doing a Sun Salutation at least once per day. www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IUyY9Dyr5w  One per day can keep the doctor, physio, chiropractor away!

 

Now that you've read these tips, what are your tips to make it through the holidays?