ENCORE Vineyards is elated to announce that Kelley Michael Schaefer has returned to the Okanagan to join their team as hospitality manager, from April 2019.
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, 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
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
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
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
Town Hall Brands Client News Contact Sujinder Juneja 604-367-6745
Urban Winery Coming to Downtown Penticton
Former PenMar Theatre complex to take on new life as a winery & hospitality centre
[Penticton, BC] - ENCORE Vineyards Ltd., home to TIME Winery, McWatters Collection, and Evolve Cellars, announces it has purchased the former PenMar Theatre Complex (361 Martin Street, Penticton) and will be transforming it into an urban winery, the first in the South Okanagan.
The subjects have now been removed on the sale, paving the way for ENCORE to begin modifications on the building that will see it ready for wine production of the 2016 vintage.
The restored building will be home to a brand-new winery production facility, including a crush pad, barrel cellar, custom fermentation hall, lab, warehouse, and administrative offices. When open to the public, the visitor experience will include a tasting bar, a small plates lounge, a 40-seat outdoor patio, as well as a retail wine shop.
An onsite commercial kitchen will give the winery the ability to host public and private events. Banquet facilities and other offerings are being planned for the future.
In keeping with the community's desire to showcase local performing arts, ENCORE will maintain one of the theatres as a 75-seat movie, performance and event space for concerts, private functions and non-profit uses. Ultimately, this destination, multi-purpose winery, bistro and theatre will help to attract visitors to the area and assist with the revitalization of the downtown.
The PenMar is a historic site with a long history of arts and culture. Built in 1956, the theatre closed in 2012 after its then-current owners, Landmark Cinemas, moved into a multiplex location. An organization named the PenMar Community Arts Society attempted to raise enough money to restore the building, but was not able to raise the funds required. ENCORE Vineyards, who coincidentally contributed to the society's fundraising efforts, is pleased to be able to help preserve this historic building and contribute to the community.
Harry McWatters, president and CEO of ENCORE Vineyards says, "We are excited to share the next chapter of ENCORE Vineyards with our Penticton neighbours. Our aim is to create a downtown destination that the South Okanagan can be proud of, while preserving the legacy of this vibrant cultural landmark."
About Encore Vineyards:
ENCORE Vineyards Ltd., a progressive Okanagan-based company, is home to a number of wine brands, providing a host of wines and hospitality service. The ENCORE team has developed an unparalleled opportunity for investors to participate in the growth of its existing enterprise, substantial brand expansion, and premium brand acquisition opportunities. By consolidating certain operating, management, and marketing and sales strategies of multiple wineries, ENCORE will improve financial returns in what has the potential to be a high-margin industry. Learn more at encorevineyards.ca.
ENCORE has amassed an impressive team, poised to help define the next generation of Okanagan winemaking via its production of premium wines in the Okanagan Valley. The company is known for its labels including TIME Winery, Evolve Cellars and McWatters Collection. In 2016, ENCORE Vineyards expands, with new projects that further celebrate the spirit of the South Okanagan.
The ENCORE team is led by president and CEO Harry McWatters, a 48-year veteran of the British Columbia wine industry. Christa-Lee McWatters-Bond is the ENCORE marketing director, offering lifelong wine industry insight. Lawrence Buhler is ENCORE’s director of winemaking, who has experienced more than 15 vintages in Ontario, British Columbia, Chile, Argentina, and Australia. He will oversee the company’s growing portfolio of premium British Columbia wines.
by Sujinder Juneja #TownHallOnTour
#FLXWine vs #BCWine
We have been lucky enough to attend the 8th annual Wine Bloggers Conference, a gathering of bloggers (naturally), industry professionals and wine lovers. This year, the event was held in Corning, New York with a focus on the great wines, producers and the people of the Finger Lakes AVA.
A diverse, progressive and passionate industry, the Finger Lakes wine region shares many similarities with that of British Columbia, where we are happy to call home. Here are a few of our observations on the connections between the two regions, for your reading pleasure:
Cool Climate Viticulture
The Finger Lakes and British Columbia are both described as ‘cool climate’ wine regions and on average, share a similar amount of degree growing days. However the Finger Lakes region experiences a highly variable climate, with cold winters, cool to warm summers and a short growing season. While there is diversity of climate within the five main BC wine regions (Okanagan Valley, Similkameen Valley, Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island, Gulf Islands), the climate is less extreme overall and degree days are higher on average.
Planting Grapes To Site
The most established wine regions in the world plant grape varietals that are best suited to that particular site or climate. The most planted grapes in the Finger Lakes are Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc along with a selection of lesser known Vitis vinifera (Blaufränkisch, Saperavi, Sereksiya Charni), native Vitis labrusca (Catawba, Niagara) and French-American hybrids (Traminette, Vidal, Seyval Blanc, Valvin Muscat) that suit the climate and produce balanced and delicious wines. By contrast, the top white grape varietals in BC are Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer and Merlot, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon for the reds. Other crosses and hybrids such as Ortega, Marechal Foch and select Blattner Hybrids are also planted to produce successful wines. The Finger Lakes and BC wine industries began with native and hybrid varietals with the belief that they would better suit the climate, but consumer preferences in the Fingers Lakes and British Columbia are favouring the more popular vinifera varietals.
What’s Wrong With Hybrids Anyway?
Nothing. If a hybrid grape is grown on a site which allows it to mature to full ripeness, and in the hands of a talented winemaker, they can produce wines that are both balanced and delicious. It’s worth noting that hybrids sell for significantly less by the ton, compared to vinifera varietals, which can affect a winery’s bottom line. Add to that the fact that hybrids are generally less well-known and often hard to pronounce, and therefore market to consumers. One of the most vocal debates during Friday’s Introduction to Finger Lakes Wine Country panel discussion swirled around the contentious use of crosses and hybrids in the region. Consider this: if a hybrid varietal, developed specifically for a particular climate, can produce tasty wines, should they not be celebrated, granting uniqueness to the wine region as a whole? Not all winemakers are convinced. But if you ask someone like Art Hunt at Hunt Country Vineyards, he’ll tell you that his varietally-labelled Seyval Blanc and Valvin Muscat are among their most popular wines. “Millennials want to try new things,” he says. “You can taste 100 Rieslings from the Finger Lakes, but wine drinkers want experience something unique.”
Judy Wiltberger at Keuka Spring Vineyards is proud to show off her Vignoles, a French-American hybrid that sells out every year. In her experience, the key is to market regionally, get people into the tasting room where people can try the wines in person. 70-75% of her sales are through her cellar door and challenging her guests with distinct varietals is a way to excite their palates with something new.
A Sense of Community
Unlike other more competitive regions in the global wine world, the Finger Lakes and British Columbia both enjoy a strong sense of community and partnership. I know firsthand that winery owners and winemakers in BC regularly collaborate and share information and ideas that make the region stronger as a whole. The same is absolutely true for the wineries of the Finger Lakes. If you had the chance, for example, to taste the Tierce Riesling, made by Fox Run, Anthony Road and Red Newt, you’ll know that the wine – and the wine region – is greater than the sum of its parts.
A Window to the World
The Finger Lakes and British Columbia wineries both face the double-edged sword that most of their wine is consumed in their local areas. The challenge offered by the locavore movement in North America means that major cities such as New York and Vancouver consume most of the wine produced in each respective region. Add to that the high tourism rate that each region enjoys means that most wine is sold via the cellar door, limiting the chance for export and global distribution. What this means is that fewer consumers internationally have the chance to taste the wines and understand what the region is all about. At this point, allocation to outside markets becomes a critical path to increasing the prestige and recognition of the regions as a whole.
With Open Arms
At the end of the day and at the end of this conference, the greatest impression left on us about the Finger Lakes wasn’t the wine. It was the people. It wasn’t just the wineries and winemakers that opened their arms to welcome us, but also the restaurants, shops, hotels and the community at large. From our first day in Keuka Lake, throughout the expertly-organized pre-conference excursion and to the last day of the conference itself, there was an excitement and overall warmth that was impossible to ignore, and wonderful to be a part of. When the wine bloggers visited Penticton, British Columbia for #WBC13 it was a similar experience as well. Community, a sense of place, and the celebration of diversity were as much a part of the 2013 Wine Bloggers Conference as they are in 2015.
See you in 2016 in Lodi, California.
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!
By Leeann Froese It’s Saturday – that means it’s time to introduce you to a new personality #withTownHall
This week please say hi to Judy Poole of Poole and Associates Wealth Management of Raymond James.
Judy is based in beautiful Penticton, BC, where she is a wealth manager and financial planner with a difference: you see, Judy specializes in helping women in life transitions, including inheritance, divorce, helping aging parents, or if widowed.
Judy's approach is calming, taking money stress away when a transition occurs. Judy will coach you through the transition, first by listening, analyzing, understanding, and then by helping you plan, setting you up for success.
As a woman in business who understands life transitions herself, we want more people to know Judy. Can you please say hello with a comment below – or go give this post a like or share on Facebook or Twitter.