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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

smallOKCrushPadsept2015-Mike West kneeling in Switchback Vineyard-credit Taryn Liv Parker

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

Naramata Winemaker Brings International Experience To BC

Note:Katie O'Kell is available for interviews. To schedule, please contact Sujinder Juneja | 604-367-6745 .

Serendipity Winery’s Katie O’Kell has just returned from a three-month stage at New Zealand’s ultra-modern Delegat Wine Estate, where she worked harvest for the 2016 vintage. This new winemaking experience falls on the heels of O’Kell earning her winemaking certificate from UC Davis in California, where she received an impressive 100% on her final exam. O’Kell brings this newly-acquired knowledge and experience to the cellar at her family-owned, Naramata-based winery.

In Bloom

Katie New Zealand Crew

Becoming a winemaker was not O’Kell’s first career choice, but this role has evolved naturally since her mother Judy Kingston purchased the land on what would become Serendipity Winery in 2005.

O’Kell was born and raised in Toronto and received her BSc in Biology with a specialization in microbiology and pathogens at Hamilton’s McMaster University. After ruling out medical school, O’Kell was accepted into law school, but during a break between her undergrad and the start of the next session, she traveled to Naramata to assist her mother. She had already spent a few summers helping at the winery, so knew what she was getting into… almost. O’Kell ended up loving the work at the winery so much that she deferred her law school acceptance and stayed on at Serendipity full time since 2011.

Adopting the role of ‘second in command’, O’Kell wears many hats: at the winery, vineyard, and at the wine shop. While she prefers to spend time in the cellar, she has also conducted tastings, acted as a sales representative for the winery, delivered cases of wine to stores and restaurants, and has managed the popular wine club as well as on-site winery events. But since winemaking is her greatest passion, she knew that she needed more than just hands-on experience to truly make her mark.

California Dreamin’IMG_3921

Most budding winemakers recognize that the winemaking certificate from California’s UC Davis is one of the most thorough and respected programs in North America. For the past 18 months, taking breaks only during the BC harvest, O’Kell worked in her spare time to complete the program, designed for those that already work in the industry. The course focuses on quality control and sensory analysis, viticulture, the history of winemaking, and the biology of wine. O’Kell attended video lectures three times per week, successfully handed in weekly quizzes, and completed a new winemaking assignment every two to three weeks, with a final exam for each course. Averaging 95% on her course work, O’Kell scored 100% on her final exam, which she completed in March 2016.

The Land of the Silver Fern

O’Kell wished to further expand her range of experience beyond the Okanagan’s borders, hoping to work a harvest in another wine region. She initially set her sights on Australia so that she could work a harvest during spring in the Southern hemisphere and return in time for the fall vintage in BC. Eventually, she chose New Zealand as its climate and grape varietals are very similar to British Columbia. Proving the apple doesn’t fall far from the pear tree, her mother had also trained at a winery in New Zealand. Ultimately, O’Kell chose Delegat Winery in Blenheim, within the Marlborough region on the South Island, the centre of New Zealand’s wine industry. She was interested in working at an ultra-modern facility that processed varietals similar to those that she worked on at Serendipity, including Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. She also wanted to learn processes that are not widely used in BC, including environmentally progressive clarification and filtration methods.

“I specifically requested to be put on the flotation team at Delegat,” O’Kell says. “It’s a process for removing suspended solids in the wine, using micro-bubbles of food-grade nitrogen injected into the must. It allows a winemaker greater control over the degree of desired clarification, and can improve the efficiency of filtration and water usage. It’s a new technology that’s just beginning to be implemented in the Okanagan, and I want to make sure we’re ahead of the curve.”

Since mid-March 2016, O’Kell worked 12 and-a-half hours a day, with one day off every eight, with a crew that consisted of 12 full time staff, along with 66 international winemakers from France, the Ukraine, the USA, Australia, and Russia; which gave her additional insight on winemaking techniques from across the globe.

“There were some international winemakers finishing up their PhD studies while I was there,” O’Kell notes. “Even though I was focused on one aspect of winemaking, I spent as much time as I could learning about their particular areas of expertise. For example, I learned a lot about new methods of extraction in red wines, efficient cellar management techniques, as well as creative solutions for pump overs, racking, and how to effectively manage tank space. These ideas will be integrated into the work that Bradley [Cooper, Serendipity’s head winemaker] and I do in the cellar this vintage.”

While on this group international experience, each of the visiting winemakers brought a bottle of wine from their home country for comparison and discussion. O’Kell shared Serendipity’s terroir-driven 2014 Rosé, a blend of white and red grapes from her estate vineyard, purpose-planted exclusively for rosé wine.

Home Sweet Home

O'Kell in front of Serendipity Winery's emblematic cellar door.

Now, armed with valuable international experience and her winemaking certificate, O’Kell plans to fully-integrate what she has learned to the winemaking program at Serendipity, while sharing new tips and tricks with her fellow winemakers on the Naramata Bench. Working alongside Bradley Cooper, O’Kell is putting the final touches on the first vintage of Sparkling Truth, a traditional method sparkling wine made from the 2014 vintage, which has been O’Kell’s pet project. Watch for the Sparkling Truth to be released in August 2016.

Looking forward to the forthcoming harvest this fall, O’Kell says, “I have had the privilege of working with many young winemakers from around the world, and I am inspired by their techniques, and I’m looking forward to bringing new methods and practices to the table at Serendipity. After all, I’m a scientist at heart, and experimenting with new ideas is the most exciting thing about what I do.”

Serendipity Winery & DinnerPartyYVR are the perfect pairing

serendipity dpyvrOn Saturday, April 9, 2016, Serendipity Winery will support the charitable DinnerPartyYVR (#DPYVR) for the fourth consecutive year. The Naramata winery is generously donating their BC VQA wine to simultaneously-hosted dinner parties across Vancouver with over 500 anticipated home cooks and diners. 100% of ticket sales from each dinner is donated to a charity of the hobby chefs’ choice. To date, Serendipity has helped participating hobby chefs raise more than $30,000 for charities across BC. Founded in 2013, DinnerPartyYVR has connected hundreds of hobby chefs, diners, charities, and partners around dinner tables across Vancouver for great conservations, marvellous meals, and a whole lot of fun. This year, more hobby chefs than ever will be invited to host dinner parties in their homes while raising funds for their favourite charity. 100% of ticket sales are donated. After dinner, everyone gathers to celebrate at an after party featuring live entertainment, treats and more opportunities to mix and mingle with new friends and charity representatives.

What: DinnerPartyYVR (#DPYVR)

When: Saturday, April 9, 2016

Dinner: 6:00 - 8:00 pm with over 500 anticipated home cooks and diners

After Party: 8:30 - 11:00 pm @ location TBD

Tickets are on sale now at dinnerpartyyvr.com. There you can search the various dinners and locations and buy tickets, which will move quickly. Every year to date has sold out in advance, so don’t delay.

“We’re thrilled to again be supporting DinnerPartyYVR,” says Judy Kingston, owner of Serendipity Winery. “It’s a wonderful experience meeting all the hobby chefs and pairing one of our wines to suit their meal. Giving back to the community is what we’re all about.”

Follow along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest updates.

serendipity dpyvr 2

Colour BC and ChefMeetsBCGrape To Showcase SpierHead Winery and Serendipity Winery

On September 16th, the British Columbia Wine Institute will host Colour BC VQA Fall Release Tasting and ChefMeetsBCGrape at Canada Place to showcase VQA wines of British Columbia. To learn more about these two events, please visit our earlier post here. On each day leading up to the events, we introduce you to wineries in attendance with unique stories and flavours that you will not want to miss. Today, we would like to introduce two wineries to you: SpierHead Winery in Kelowna, and Serendipity Winery in Naramata...

 

SpierHead Winery, Kelowna BC 

View from SpierHead vineyard

  • Enjoy the amazing award winning wines that have made this young winery one of the best in the Okanagan.
  • Learn how Bill Pierson, winemaker, and his team’s commitment to showcasing specific terriors of the central Okanagan Valley have shaped the way they produce site specific wines.
  • Explore the fresh VQA wines behind this relatively new winery that has garnered international attention and an award winning wine catalog.

SpierHead Winery is named for its stunning location along Spiers Road on the benchlands in South East Kelowna. Part of the East Kelowna Wine Trail, also known as the Fab Five Wineries, SpierHead has been turning heads since opening in 2010, and was named “Best New Winery” at the 2012 BC Wine Awards. The winery’s focus is on wine produced from a combination of sustainably farmed, estate-grown grapes, and premium fruit sourced from vineyards in the Okanagan. Their focus on single vineyard Pinot Noir is paying off, with accolades from the press and public alike.

To Learn More:

www.spierheadwinery.com | Twitter: @spierheadwinery | Instagram: @spierheadwinery

 

Serendipity Winery, Naramata BC

Serendipity winery vineyard

  • See why the international wine community has had such a positive reception of this marvelous young winery, including their success at the New York and San Francisco International Wine Conferences.
  • Learn more about the mother-daughter team behind Serendipity, this is a family operated winery in every sense of the term.
  • Acquire an understanding of the intriguing life stories behind each bottle of wine. 

Serendipity Winery was conceived during a serendipitous moment that occurred while owner Judy Kingston embarked on a holiday wine tour of the Okanagan with the intention of finding a retirement property and instead, ended up finding an old orchard in that would become the home of Serendipity Winery.

In the spring of 2006, the orchard was completely re-landscaped to provide optimum slope and orientation and Kingston selected wine varietals to suite the micro climate and the vineyard’s four distinct soil types. All of the hard work and toil put into the land paid off when their first harvest in 2009 was of exceptional quality and cemented the winery’s dedication to producing quality of quantity, a tradition that has led Serendipity winery to be named BC Winery of the Year at the New York International Wine Competition.

To Learn More:

www.serendipitywinery.com | Twitter: @winespiration | Instagram: @serendipitywinery

 

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