To say that Harry McWatters is a legend in the Canadian wine industry would be an understatement. Harry, who celebrated his 51 vintage in 2018, is widely considered to be the foundation of the BC wine industry, the ‘grandfather’ of BC wine.
Get out your stretchy pants, Vancouver, because the 17th annual Dine Out Vancouver Festival kicks off today!
Over the next 17 days (until Feb 3) Vancouverites will be able to try dishes and drinks from the best chefs and producers in the region and we have a handful of BC winery clients whose amazing wines are featured in menus around town.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
By Leeann Froese It’s a new week to introduce you to one of the fabulous personalities in the world #withTownHall!
This does not mean they work as part of our team, or are our client (although sometimes they are).
We just interact with so many amazing people that we want to expand networks and introduce them to you, and you to them. This week #withTownHall, we introduce you to Dino Pascoa.
After more than 20 years in the restaurant business Dino joined the wine industry in 2007 and trained through the ISG Sommelier certification as he made the move to sell wine from all over the world. He is a sales representative with Vancouver-based agency The Wine List.
Next year Dino will celebrate his 10th year in wine sales. Over the past decade he has proven his expertise in wine, food and service, and has a strong reputation for loyalty and a desire to go above and beyond for his customers. He prides himself on the solid relationships he has created.
A side note about these wineries - their wines are featured all weekend at the 10th Anniversary of the Chefs' Table Society of BC Spot Prawn Festival.
With all of that said about Dino, will you please help us give a big hello to him?
By Leeann Froese It's a new week to introduce you to one of the fabulous personalities in the world #withTownHall!
This does not mean they work as part of our team, or are our client (although sometimes they are).
We just interact with so many amazing people that we want to expand networks and introduce them to you, and you to them. This week #withTownHall, we introduce you to Christa-Lee McWatters Bond.
She's been in the BC wine industry ever since she was born, and loves every aspect of promoting British Columbia's wine and food.
After growing up in her family's winery, Sumac Ridge, which is now owned by Constellation Brands, Christa-Lee went on to open a restaurant with her husband Cameron Bond which is now one of the most popular restaurants in the Okanagan Valley, Local Lounge | Grill.
And if that isn't enough, her hands are very full of these days as she is the marketing manager for Encore Vineyards, which is the parent company to TIME Estate Winery under construction in Oliver BC, her family's legacy label the McWatters Collection, and the brand-new Evolve Cellars in Summerland BC.
Please help us say hello to Christa-Lee?
By Kathleen Beveridge Saturday is Food Day Canada, which means we get to celebrate by eating delicious Canadian cuisine.
And we share it @FoodDayCanada with #CanadaISFood #FDC2015
Canada is known across the globe for a variety of things: saying “sorry” and “eh”, maple syrup, and being cold (although that idea is out the window lately), but what is often forgotten is how delicious and diverse our local food is across the country. And let’s be honest, that’s silly, considering we eat every single day.
At Town Hall we couldn’t be more proud to have clients that are a part of this movement, from Langley’s Well Seasoned Gourmet Food Store’s owner and local food queen, Angie Quaale, who buys local whenever she can and uses it in her recipes; to the members of the Chefs’ Table Society who all stand behind sustainable and local foods, to our winery clients who produce wine sourced from BC grown grapes.
We also have some clients who source locally and sustainably for their restaurants, including Summerhill Pyramid Winery’s Sunset Organic Bistro, the new restaurant at Evolve Cellars, and the soon-to-open Perch Restaurant, located in the beautiful new AMS building at UBC. These restaurants support local farms and are Ocean Wise.
Top this list off with our client, the BC Hospitality Foundation, who supports those working in the Food and Beverage industry with financial support for industry workers when the need arises, keeping the Canadian food and beverage movement on its feet.
It’s more important than ever to buy local and support Canada’s economy, but more importantly the people, who put so much into growing and creating nutritious food to fuel us through each day.
Now I’ll go celebrate by picking local blackberries and raising my glass (full of BC wine) to Canadian cuisine.
How will you celebrate Food Day Canada? In Kelowna, celebrate at Summerhill Pyramid Winery's Sunset Organic Bistro, one of the 250 participating restaurants in Food Day Canada.
Try wine from one of these BC wineries this Food Day Canada:
The Vancouver International Wine Festival, Canada’s premier wine event, will be returning for its 37th year with wine tasting, performing arts and delicious food to create a super fun event from Friday, February 20 to Sunday, March 1.
The festival will showcase 170 wineries from 14 countries, pouring more than 1750 wines and hosting 53 events throughout the city. This year, the focus of the festival is Australia, with Syrah at the heart of all festivities. The event promises to be educational and entertaining for all visitors.
We encourage all attending public, trade and media to stop by the following wineries to experience what BC wine has to offer your taste buds.
Journalists and bloggers: Interview opportunities are available with visiting winery principals listed below and Alan Sacks of the BC Hospitality Foundation.
BC Hospitality Foundation
Of special note:
- Visit the BCHF booth to get your digital caricatures done courtesy of Cruelty Free Cartoons, available throughout the trade tasting days: Thursday 1:30-5pm, Friday 1:30-5pm.
- In 2014, with the support of a number of dedicated volunteers and partners, the BCHF raised more than $85,000 to support current and future industry members.
Who will you meet:
Alan Sacks has worked or been involved in the Hospitality Industry for over 30 years. Educated in the UK he has an Honours Degree in Hospitality Administration. His Canadian Hotel career with Delta Hotels and Resorts included positions as General Manager of three properties and Corporate Director of Food and Beverage. Alan formed his own business in 1991 and has worked exclusively within the hospitality industry providing a variety of services focused on procurement and project management. He joined the BCHF team in October 2009 and now serves as executive director.
Formed in 2006, the British Columbia Hospitality Foundation is the industry's charity of choice, providing support to individuals within the hospitality community in their times of financial need as they cope with any extraordinary health or medical conditions. The BCHF raises funds through various fundraising events in order to support the industry’s next generation by providing scholarships to selected students enrolled in hospitality, culinary and wine programs in partner post-secondary institutions in BC.
Summerhill Pyramid Winery, Kelowna BC
Of special note:
- Summerhill Pyramid Winery will pour Cipes Brut, awarded Best Sparkling Wine in Canada at the All Canadian Wine Championship.
- The winery is known for organically and biodynamically growing grapes from the pristine Okanagan Valley.
Wines to taste:
Who you might meet:
Ezra Cipes is proud to carry on the family legacy at Summerhill Pyramid Winery as CEO. Like his father Stephen, Ezra has a multitude of passions and talents. At Summerhill Pyramid Winery, Ezra Cipes is responsible for day to day operations, marketing, and leadership. He is a talented musician, and has completed courses in vineyard management and in permaculture design.
Eric von Krosigk is winemaker and viticulturist at Summerhill, and as the winery’s first winemaker, has been associated with Summerhill since its inception. Leading the winery’s organic growers, von Krosigk works with some of the Okanagan’s best grapes to produce world-class wines. Despite the fact he wins numerous awards each year, Eric remains one of the most approachable and humble BC vintners. Also notable is that Eric is president of the Okanagan Wine Festival board.
About Summerhill Pyramid Winery
Summerhill Pyramid Winery, located in the Lakeshore district in Kelowna, BC, is Canada’s largest biodynamic and organic winery, producing more organic wine than the rest of the Canadian wine industry combined. In addition, Summerhill is Canada’s most visited winery and foremost producer of sparkling wine. Winemaker Eric von Krosigk oversees the portfolio of BC VQA wines that earned the winery the Canadian Wine “Producer of the Year” trophy at the International Wine & Spirits Competition in London, England in December 2009 as well as a trophy for “Best International Bottle Fermented Sparkling Wine” from this same competition in 2010. The winery, owned by the Cipes family, is also home to Summerhill’s organic Sunset Bistro, serving food grown and raised by local organic producers, including an onsite permaculture-style vegetable garden. The mission of the entire Summerhill team is to produce exceptionally good tasting wines organically, support local organic food growers in the bistro and provide unforgettable experiences for all its guests.
Haywire Winery, Summerland BC
Of special note:
- Okanagan Crush Pad is the first winery in Canada to extensively use concrete tanks during fermentation, and carry the raised in Concrete designation.
- The Haywire Canyonview Pinot Noir 2012 was recently featured in Wines in Niagara and was awarded 92 points by wine expert Rick VanSickle.
- Haywire is co-owned by Christine Coletta, who is leader in BC's wine industry.
Wines you will find at the Haywire table:
- Haywire Canyonview Pinot Noir 2012
- Haywire Syrah 2012
- Haywire Sauvignon Blanc 2013
- Haywire Switchback Pinot Gris 2012
- Haywire Free Form 2013
Who you might meet:
Alison Scholefield is arguably the youngest winery principal you will find in the room and she has been in the wine industry since birth. Now as the winery ambassador and sales team liaison for Haywire, it's her job to communicate with customers, the public and wine club members. You can ask her about where to find the wines, and anything that's happening at the winery. Also find out why she has Haywire’s Sparkling wine the Bub named after her.
Julian Scholefield is the operations manager at the winery, and also president of the Summerland area Bottleneck Drive winery association. Julian oversees the coordination in the cellar of Haywire, Bartier Scholefield, client Bartier Brothers as well as several other client wines, including bottling, deliveries, on-site activities, as well as liaising with the vineyard teams, including the team that is planting the new Garnet Valley Vineyard.
Matt Dumayne is the winemaker for Haywire. Originally from New Zealand, and with 25 vintages under his belt crafting award-winning wine in Central Otago, California, Australia, and Oregon, Matt brings unparalleled insight and passion to the winemaking program. You can speak to Matt about the ways that he is approaching the Haywire portfolio, as well as some of the special projects he's working on which *sneak peek* include an orange wine…
You can also meet their enthusiastic sales representatives including Mike West, Amy Hollenbach, Rebeka Eriksson and Whitney Law.
Haywire is an old Canadian term that refers to wire once used for baling hay, which tended to tangle in a chaotic way. It is also an apt description of Christine and Steve’s transition from the city to owning a vineyard and winery. The learning curve was steep, but as the first wines hit the market (in 2010) it became apparent that the journey was the reward. Since planting the 10-acre Switchback Vineyard, Christine and Steve have gone on to open Canada’s first purpose-built custom crush facility (Okanagan Crush Pad Winery in 2011) and are now getting ready to plant the first 20 acres of vines at their 312-acre Garnet Valley Ranch. Haywire is committed to crafting wines that tell the story of the New Okanagan.
TIME Estate Winery, Oliver, BC
Of special note:
- All TIME Estate wines are grown and made on Canada's most-awarded, Sundial Vineyard in Oliver, BC.
- Harry McWatters, owner, will launch the inaugural TIME Estate Syrah at the Vancouver International Wine Festival. Only 100 cases of the Syrah have been produced.
Wines you will find at the TIME Estate Winery table:
- TIME Estate Winery Syrah
- TIME Estate Winery Meritage (Red)
- TIME Estate Winery Meritage (White)
- TIME Estate Winery Sundial (White)
- McWatters Meritage (red)
Who you might meet:
Harry McWatters is the owner and winemaker of TIME Estate Winery and is a leader in the thriving British Columbia wine industry in which he has been involved for over 40 years. He was the founder of British Columbia's first estate winery and has been the driving force in the development of British Columbia's wine industry. In 1980 he led a group of wineries and local businesses to establish the Okanagan Wine Festival Society and acted as the founding president. Harry was also instrumental in founding VQA Canada, a trade association that spearheaded the development of national wine standards for Canadian vintners and served as the first Chairman.
About TIME ESTATE Winery:
A progressive new building is currently under construction for TIME, which will feature an extensive hospitality centre (including a commercial kitchen) and luxury guest suites, all with stunning Valley and lake Osoyoos views. When completed, the winery will focus almost entirely on Bordeaux-style premium wines created from the estate parcels. Harry's vision to create the very best wines in the Okanagan is about to be realized. Its about time.
For more information
If you are unable to attend the Vancouver Wine Festival but would like to learn more about our clients, please contact Sujidner Juneja at email@example.com or 604-367-6745