After designing more than 50 wine labels, the Town Hall Brands design team is thrilled to share our first cider branding project. In celebration of World Cider Day (June 3) meet BC’s newest craft cidery: Woodward Cider Co.
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
“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
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
“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
"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 "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
By Leeann Froese Picking up from last week's Wine Wednesday, today I finish a recap of what we did in 2014.
I repeat how grateful we are for the support we receive from our clients, colleagues and the trade. You all bring the awesome, and I can't wait to see what 2015 unfolds for us all.
Here we pick up the last half of the year...
Road Trip #withTownHall
As our team grew throughout 2014 two new people with no previous wine experience joined us (Laurisha Bardal and Amy Chen) so a tour & learn was in order. We visited Okanagan Valley clients SpierHead winery, Summerhill Pyramid Winery, Mt. Boucherie Family Estate Winery, Okanagan Crush Pad and Serendipity winery.
Each winery client welcomed our team with open arms and in addition to learning a lot, we had a lovely time!
BBQ OFF the Bypass
Our client, the amazing Angie Quaale, hosted the 9th annual BBQ On The Bypass (it became OFF the bypass after Well Seasoned Gourmet Food Store moved to a new location). The free public event offered music, unique displays, tasty vendors and delicious BBQ samples.
Celebrity Dim Sum
Raising funds for Aids Vancouver was the annual Celebrity Dim Sum. What fun it was to have politicians, media, and other personalities from Vancouver serving up yummy dim sum to an enthusiastic crowd.
Haywire was the official wine sponsor and sneak previewed its next release of the Lunar New Year wines.
Jurgen Gothe Celebration
Our team was proud to help organize the event to celebrate the 70th birthday and achievements of Jurgen Gothe’s lifetime. Many in the industry came together with wine, food, and stories. Our team was thrilled to be part of the planning, event execution and friendship for a memorable afternoon with an unforgettable man and those close to him.
The British Columbia Wine Institute held its annual fall tasting event Colours. A few of our lovely BC winery clients were in town to showcase their newest releases to an enthusiastic crowd of trade and media.
Let's hear it for the Girls!
In time for breast cancer awareness month was the promotion of The Girls wine - a rosé and a red - with 100% sales proceeds of to charity. Note these wines are available year-round and make a wonderful choice for gifting or entertaining, knowing that all proceeds go to a great cause. The red would could be a nice Valentine wine.
Meet Monte Creek Ranch
We were pleased to announce that the wines are now available from Canada's next wine region and the newest winery in Kamloops, Monte Creek Ranch. Stay tuned for summer 2015 when this winery opens its doors.
Each year Vancouver’s sommelier of the year is invited to make 100 cases of wine through Okanagan Crush Pad’s Okanagan Wine Campus program. From this $5,000 is donated annually to the BC Hospitality Foundation to support wine education scholarships. 2013 Sommelier of the year Samantha Rahn of Araxi in Whistler created a delicious Syrah. Our team was proud to do the packaging and the publicity.
We are thankful to the media for the great press for sommelier Samantha Rahn's wine project. This has been the most publicity we have received to date for one of the Okanagan Crush Pad Wine Campus wines. Girls rule!
Previous Wine Campus releases include Kurtis Semillon 2011 (Kurtis Kolt), Owen Cabernet Franc 2011 (Owen Knowlton) and TNT Chardonnay 2012 (Terry Threlfall). In progress and up next is Mike Bernardo (2014).
Skills n Spills
The second Skills N Spills competition benefiting the BC Hospitality Foundation took place. Hospitality trade teams competed for bragging rights and more. Our team's role was media communication and coordinating the amazing media judges.
A New Look for an Older Wine
We were proud to bring to life the new packaging for Cipes Ariel 1998 premier cuvée.
This critically lauded wine now looks as beautiful as it tastes. The artwork and calligraphy were done by Helen Menyes, who also hand painted each of the original Cipes Gabriel 1991 bottles. The layout and design were led by our Andrew von Rosen, and inspiration for the design also came from the winery's winemaker Eric von Krosigk. The artwork depicts the archangel Ariel (lion of god), descending down the cone shaped bottle. On the back, two ethereal lions are nose to nose, creating the impression of angel's wings.
Andrew and I had a bottle of this wine on New Year's Eve (thank you team for the gift!) and it was absolutely delicious. No other way to put it. A truly special BC wine.
One Faith Vineyards
Our team announced the newest project in British Columbia wine: One Faith Vineyards, and not without controversy, so with this project we will expand...
In the past I have been lucky enough to do media work in Canada with Penfolds Grange and Mondavi's To Kalon Vineyard, and I was proud to be the publicist to launch Osoyoos Larose. These wine labels are all bold, high end, aspirational projects. Those in the Canadian wine media might recall that when Osoyoos Larose was launched it was met with skepticism before it earned fanfare. Critics said it showed promise but were slow to get 100% behind the project. In the case of One Faith Vineyards I am suggesting the case is the same. However today, the conversation is more rapid, as in 2001 there was no online platforms for social dialogue. And a tempest in a decanter is taking place because Bill Lui dreams for One Faith Vineyards, an expensive wine, to become a first growth wine for Canada.
Sujinder Juneja from our team, a French Wine Scholar, assembled this text:
"Let’s first talk about what First Growth actually means. Translated as “Premier Cru” in France, the First Growths were established in 1855 when Napoleon III classified the best wines of Bordeaux for the Exposition Universelle de Paris, based at the time on selling price and overall reputation. The top-ranked wines, named the Grand Crus Classés (Great Classified Growths) were placed in one of five categories from first to fifth, each of which carried a high mark of prestige and suggested a higher quality product.
The fact that these classified growths were now perpetually allowed to charge more per bottle than their close neighbours meant that greater financial resources could be potentially allocated to produce the best possible wine, year after year, even in challenging vintages.
Even inside France, the term First Growth is not a regulated term, but remains a title that lends distinction and perceived quality to the associated wine. Premier Cru is now also used in other appellations in France, including Burgudy, Alsace and Champagne, for example. More often than not, the term merely means the top wine (price and quality) of a particular estate.
Outside of France, the term has been used by other wineries who hope to establish a connection to old world traditions or perhaps build a higher reputation for quality in their home country.
In Canada, there is not yet a legal or binding definition for First Growth but it is the vision and the goal of One Faith Vineyards to produce a First Growth-level wine in the Okanagan Valley, an exceptional wine of unparalleled quality. Everything to do with the wine, from vineyard to winery, from grapes to bottle, must be only the very best.
To be fair, Bill Lui, the proprietor of One Faith Vineyards has never said that his wines are Canada’s First Growth. It is only his goal. His ambition. And only time will tell if that honour is given to One Faith in a formal way. And to be sure, Bill Lui has never once suggested that One Faith Vineyards is above the other great vineyards or wineries of the South Okanagan, but rather that the wine represents the fully-realized potential of excellent quality Bordeaux grape varietals, which have been growing in that site for more than 20 years."
Interestingly, many people talking about this wine and Bill Lui have an opinion when they have not met Bill, (a generous, humble, husband and father), or tasted the wine. Bill has invested his retirement resources to the project. Despite this, whatever does not make the final blend of only 144 cases is used in the 100% charitable The Girls Wine project.
How does the 2012 wine show? People might expect a big, extracted, tannic and masculine wine, as it is made from Bordeaux varietals, but the inaugural release of the wine is a delicate, fruit forward blend that expresses the south Okanagan terroir beautifully. With the meticulous care, attention, hand crafting and detail that go into production and the resulting limited quantity made, the wine retails in a custom made bamboo box of three for $495. At the time of this post the wines had been selling steadily, but a few cases remained.
Also in December we were proud to welcome Wild Sweets by DC Duby as a client. I worked with them when I was at Coletta & Associates back in… let's just say it was more than a decade ago. It's fun to reconnect with these two passionate chocolatiers and pastry artists. I encourage you to take a look at their website as their chocolate creations are truly remarkable.
#30 Days of Kindness
Our last project of 2014 was a team one: we took part in #30DaysofKindness
Our team met 30 Day Adventures chief adventurer Marc Smith at the Skytrain station to take part in 30 Days Of Kindness by surprising 20 lucky strangers with the gift of a smile, a positive note and a free ride on Translink. (Just so you know no transit laws were broken in the committing of this act of kindness as we had full approval from Translink.)
It was so nice to end the year on a kind note, making people smile, and spreading good will.
Let me know how YOU enjoyed 2014. Did you attend any of these highlighted events? What were the highlights of your year?
2015 already promises some projects and exciting events to emerge so stay posted. Things are already getting busy in the industry with tastings and events.
If you do not already follow us on social media, we'd love for you to join us. Or sign up to receive updates to see what we are getting up to with our clients. You can do this at the top of the website.
We can't wait to share what else our clients are going to be up to, keep all dialogue going, and I hope we see you in person very soon!
Happy New Year - and on behalf of myself, Andrew, Sujinder, Amy, Laurisha, Felicia, Lindsey, Ali and Ritika, let’s all #gogetit!
Starting the New Year with a look at the year that was… 2014 in review - part one of two long posts... By Leeann Froese
It is remarkable that it is already the first Wine Wednesday of 2015!
2014 had been quite the amazing year for our team at Town Hall. The saying that ‘it takes a village’ is certainly true, especially as you apply it to what we're doing here. It takes a committed team and also a supporting cast of characters to really make all that we accomplish on behalf of our clients possible.
We feel blessed to have a cohesive team that really enjoys each other's company both while at and outside the office, and we love our clients, because as well as quality offerings, they carry so much passion and personality.
Also in the village we rely heavily on social thought leaders, bloggers and journalists to support our efforts to help spread the word on behalf of our clients, and we can't thank everyone enough for their ongoing support and enthusiasm for everything that we're doing here.
There is too much to detail, so to follow are a few highlights from what was an incredible year.
Wine for the Year of the Horse
Haywire Lunar wine launched… and sold out in days. This was an unprecedented program to create a wine for the local market specifically crafted to pair with Asian cuisine, and this wine symbolized the Year of the Horse. Our team did the packaging and PR. The program was a huge success and will be repeated for this year, the Year of the Sheep.
Wines of France educational seminar
On behalf of Sopexa Canada our team coordinated three days of training for the senior managers and product consultants of the British Columbia Liquor Distribution Branch, highlighting Alsace, Beaujolais, Bourgogne, Languedoc-Roussillon and Rhône Valley wines. On the heels of this, it was so exciting having Wines of France be the theme region for the Vancouver International Wine Festival in 2014.
Dawn Chubai goes Under the Covers
An exclusive dinner format never done before in Vancouver: three up-and-coming sommeliers (Brooke Delves, Jason Yamasaki and Roger Maniwa) competed to pair wines from Chablis to a menu created by chef Jefferson Alvarez of Secret Location. Invited guests to #PureChablisYVR voted by private individual electronic ballot, and the winner was Roger Maniwa.
The International Wine Festival
The 2014 International Wine Festival featured 178 wineries from all over the world, and the theme country was France. Mike Bernardo of Vij's was named the Sommelier of the Year. The wine world gathers to taste and connect. Selfies were taken.
Kosher Wine from BC
Eight unique curries compete
Vancouver Dining gets Social with Serendipity
Dish n Dazzle
The BC Hospitality Foundation and Wines of New Zealand presented Dish N Dazzle with proceeds to support those in the hospitality industry in dire financial need. The event featured New Zealand Wines, a spirits competition and food from top Vancouver restaurants.
Spotlight on Portuguese Wines
For the first time in 20 years (maybe more) vintners from Portugal arrived en masse - 27 in all - to Vancouver, many displaying wines that were not available in Canada yet. We were proud to implement this program, which was a guided tasting led by Treve Ring, followed by a walk-around tasting. We were delighted to see how engaging the vintners are, how well the wines showed and how much the trade appreciated these wines.
Portuguese wines are on the rise globally, and we can see why.
Spot Prawn Festival
Presented by the Chefs’ Table Society of BC, the 8th annual Spot Prawn Festival took place at Fisherman's Wharf. The Spot Prawn Festival celebrates the start of spot prawn season in BC's coastal waters. The event involves many local chefs, and more than 2000 people attend this celebration of sustainable seafood.
Wine In the Garden
We were delighted to present a program on behalf of Wines of Provence, celebrating the wonderful wines and flavours from the south of France. the program included media appearances by Provence's François Millo and Viktorija Todorovska and a tasting for retailers.
Preparing BC wineries for Fame
Finding the Best Canadian Wines
The Wine Align National Wine Awards of Canada judging took place in Penticton, BC. It was a thrill to see the judges, many of whom I have worked with for more than 15 years (!) but never get to see, and help host them at Okanagan Crush Pad.
A huge highlight for me as well was meeting Jamie Goode, a visiting wine author from the UK. He is a marathon runner and kindly slowed down enough for me to join him for a run in paradise.
Our Felicia had a baby! Welcome Calvin! 9lb 2 oz and 100% cute!
The Wine Bloggers Conference took place in Santa Barbara California, following a pre-excursion to Paso Robles. While there we presented a handful of BC wines in a hotel suite, exposing the wines to leading bloggers. We also got to see parts of California wine country and taste some incredible wines from the region, not to mention meet amazing people we now remain in touch with throughout the year.
Golfing to help the industry
The British Columbia Hospitality Foundation’s annual golf tournament took place in Vancouver. Amazing support was shown from the industry.
In July we were also pleased to welcome the Blue Grouse Vineyards and Winery team as well as financial consultant Judy Poole of Raymond James into our roster of clients. Wonderful people with lots to share.
Next week I will finish off from August onward, this post is lengthy enough!
Did you attend any of these highlighted events? What were the highlights of your year?
2015 already promises some projects and exciting events to emerge so stay posted.
We can't wait to tell you what else our clients are going to be up to and I look forward to seeing you very soon!
Happy New Year - let’s all #gogetit!
PRESS RELEASE October 15, 2013 Media Contact: Leeann Froese | Town Hall - 604-321-3295
Best Winemaker in Kamloops goes to Harper's Trail Winery
Suggested Tweet: #Kamloops public votes @harperstrail as the best, via @KamNews #BCwine
(Kamloops, BC) Harper's Trail Winery proudly shares that is has been selected by the readers of Kamloops Daily News, in their annual Readers' Choice Awards Survey, as best winemaker.
Vicki Collett, Harper's Trail winery co-owner, is delighted. "When we first opened our doors, we hoped the community would accept and welcome us with open arms. The people of Kamloops have done this, and well beyond our expectations. We are blown away, " she continues, "and so thankful for the ongoing support from our community."
The entire Harper's Trail team, while in the thick of the 2013 harvest now, would like to thank everyone who supported this winery thus far, and visited this summer.
The 2013 visitor season has now ended, and Harper's Trail is open only by appointment over the fall and winter. Please contact the winery at 250-573-5855 for operating hours or to schedule a visit.
About Harper's Trail
Harper's Trail, is the first estate winery from Kamloops. Tucked into the city outskirts on the bank of the South Thompson River, Ed and Vicki Collett's vineyard sits among rolling hills of sage and grass, home to bighorn sheep, bears, and myriad birds. The backdrop of limestone, hoodoos, and a natural spring in the vineyard contribute to the biodiversity of this rare place.
The wines, made by Michael Bartier of Okanagan Crush Pad, reflect this emerging region with minerality and crisp acidity. Enjoy the winery's current releases and taste the flavours that will soon be known as characteristic for the Kamloops region. For more information visit www.harperstrail.com