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Wine Bloggers Conference

WBC16: Connection & Engagement

By Sujinder Juneja We’ve said this many times before, including in a post directly following the 2015 event, but the Wine Bloggers Conference is more than just a conference, it’s a community. I’ll come back to this idea of “community” in a moment.

Leeann and I from Town Hall Brands attended the 2016 showcase in Lodi, California (August 11-14). This was my fourth conference in a row, and Leeann’s fifth. For the first time though, I was honoured to be asked by conference founder Allan Wright to moderate a panel discussion in front of an audience of 300 or so bloggers, journalists and other wine professionals. Gulp! Yes – I was thrilled to be asked and I was also nervous as heck. But more than that, I knew right away that I wanted to make it special, for both the audience and the panellists themselves.

Sujinder at WBC16

My panel was a dream. I got to moderate the Panel of Wine Blog Award Winners, featuring five winners of the 2016 Wine Blog Awards. The awards have been in place since 2007 (the year before the first Wine Bloggers Conference), honouring excellence in online wine writing. This year’s panellists included Sophie Thorpe from Berry Bros. & Rudd, Mary Cressler from Vindulge, Jill Barth from l’Occasion, Susan Manfull from Provence Wine Zine, and Jerry Clark who received Best Blog Post of the Year.

Within my job in communications, yes, I do get to talk about wine and winemaking all day long, helping to celebrate the stories behind the labels of our passionate winery clients. But any success we have with the media comes down to the relationships and connections we build with the writers, editors, and producers that help share our client achievements. Within this panel and within the audience itself, I wanted to make sure to build that same connection and engagement.

First step: Google “how to moderate a panel.”

Check. This gave me the structure I needed to follow.

Second step: Arrange for some one-on-one time with each of the panellists in advance so that we could get to know each other better and to flesh out ideas for discussion.

Check. This, to me, was the most valuable part of the panel, as it connected us in a way that the audience could see, and that we could feel onstage. In each of our private discussions, we shared ideas, laughs and stories that solidified our personal connections, making us part of that community I mentioned earlier.

I will share that I was personally impressed and inspired by each of the very deserving award-winners, and what I was able to learn from each of them was a gift. Here are some of the gems that I took away from each of them:

WBC Panel Selfie

Sophie Thorpe: Maybe it’s the Brit in me (my mom is from Reading, England) but I LOVE Sophie’s dry sense of humour, which you can see both on the BB&R blog and on her own, Raised on Champagne. She taught me the subtle excellence of opening the curtain to show the personality behind the writer, and how to let her readers know that they’re in on the joke, shared just between you and them.

Mary Cressler: Mary’s love of wine, photography, food and her family (not necessarily in that order) are infectious. The first time I saw Mary’s photos… the light, the texture, the delicious mouth water-inducing amazing-ness of her work, I knew that better was possible. It will take me some time to get even close to Mary’s talent, but she motivates me to try.

Jill Barth: Once you start reading her blog, L’Ocasion, you won’t stop until hours (maybe days) later. In fact, I whiled away about 45 minutes just prepping to write this little intro! Arguably, that is what made Jill a double award-winner this year: the ability to draw in her readers in such a way that they are sucked down this wine-filled rabbit hole of stories and adventures.

Susan Manfull: ‘P’ for Provence and ‘P’ for Passion. Susan has a heart of gold, which is easy to tell by speaking to her, or by reading her work. The tender care that she puts into each article is wonderful. Our first phone call could have gone on for hours, it was such a joy to speak to her.

Jerry Clark: One of my favourite pieces of wine writing, Jerry’s award-winning piece was evocative and emotional. He invited us into an intimate world, which all of us, including non-wine lovers, can relate to. His thrilling use of the written word remains incessantly inspiring.

Overall, the greatest thing I took away from these talented people is that a gifted wine writer, especially an award-winning wine blogger, is one that gives of themselves, that opens up in a personal way, revealing details not only about their subject - whether it be about a particular wine, an international travel adventure – but one who shares details about themselves. It is this, among many of the other things I learned above, that I hope to incorporate into my own blog when it launches this Fall.

See you in Sonoma at WBC17!

Disclosure: In exchange for a reduced rate to the Wine Bloggers Conference, attendees are required to write at least three blog posts about the conference either before, during or after.

Josh Likes Wine - Meet Josh Decolongon #withTownHall

By Leeann Froese Well its a new week to bring you an amazing person to meet #withTownHall!

If you are new to reading this blog or new to our company – we want you to know that we are proud that we have a big network, and we are continually meeting new and interesting personalities.

We want to make the world smaller by introducing people to each other - so sometimes our people #withTownHall are part of our team, sometimes they are clients, and sometimes, like this week, they are just cool people we want to introduce to the world.

This week #withTownHall, we are rolling in on #featurefriday to introduce you to a true #winelover, Joshua Decolongon.

Joshua Decolongon, founder, Josh Likes Wine 02

Josh is a wine blogger and reviewer at his site: Josh Likes Wine and a certified sommelier.

He was given a bottle of wine on his 19th birthday and he figured he should give wine a shot because he is up for everything!

At 23, Josh is a WSET Diploma graduate-the youngest (we know of) in BC. He also too k lead at the UBC Wine Tasting Club.

He loves writing whether it be an article on wine or in his journal and his love of writing brought him to the Wine Bloggers conference in 2014 on scholarship, a conference that Sujinder and I attend each year.

Josh does love wine but he also enjoys photography, science, making music, science, languages and Game of Thrones, as Josh says, "[he's] not just a pretty drunken face."

With all that being said will you help us say hi and welcome Josh to #withTownHall?

Leave a comment below – or go give this post a like or share on Facebook or Twitter

Fearlessness is NOT a thing.

Fearlessness is Bullshit. It's not a thing. By Leeann Froese

I have had fearlessness on my mind for several months now. A new year seemed a fitting time to let my thoughts out, and as a #winelover, I thought what better day than a Wine Wednesday?


It all started last August in Finger Lakes, New York State, during the Wine Bloggers Conference pre-excursion.

An event held at Ventosa Vineyards showcased women and wine – who gathered to speak and illustrate the varying roles of women in the vines, cellars and labs of this cool climate region. The theme of their event was Bold. Fearless. Original.

We heard from Marti Macinski, from Standing Stone Vineyards, who is arguably one of the pioneering vintners in the Finger Lakes wine region. She spoke of the roles she has played in the past and the ones she now plays as a farmer, hospitality manager and vintner, and how her work to establish a wine industry in an unproven region, combined with being a woman winemaker, required fearlessness.

By contrast in age and experience, Jenna LaVita is the 29-year-old winemaker and vineyard manager of Ventosa Vineyards. She has been earning numerous accolades at an early point in her career, working in a field ever-dominated by men. She shared how she had to behave in a fearless way to show her peers and also herself, that as a young woman winemaker she has the capability…

Liz Leidenfrost, the assistant winemaker and tasting room manager of Leidenfrost Vineyards, spoke of the importance of having a champion. In her case, her father is her cheerleader – he advised her that she could do anything, and she will make mistakes, but that is OK. His backing gave her to confidence to face her fears.

The partner and general manager of Three Brothers Winery & Estates, Erica Paolicelli, is also a young woman, and one of the only females on her winery team. She has to show confidence and bust it on a daily basis to make her way with the boys.

Chef Heather Tompkins is a chef serving Finger Lakes wine country, and co-owner of Opus Espresso and Wine Bar. A pioneer herself, she was one of the first interns to open The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, in St. Helena, California.

From these Finger Lakes ladies, they share the traits of passion, being a risk taker, and reinventing rules on their terms. But are they fearless? But I'd prefer to NOT use that word.



“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently.” - Maya Angelou


Towards September, the fearlessness theme continued for me; this time, I turned it inward.

A good girlfriend of mine, Ingrid, wanted to celebrate her birthday by doing the death-defying act of zip lining across a canyon in the Okanagan Valley. She asked me and other friends to join her. The idea of doing this was quite scary and took me out of my comfort zone. When I shared my nervousness, Ingrid said she didn't expect me to be afraid; because I am the most fearless person she knows. She said that it seems like I'm never afraid to do anything.

And even my own team members tell me they see me as somebody who is fearless; Sujinder at one point tweeted something about me being the fearless leader at Town Hall.

I found it so interesting that people saw me this way.

I think a friend of mine could relate. Lynda Steele, a Vancouver broadcaster, made a bold move by leaving a high-profile on camera consumer reporter role at CTV to take on an equally high-profile job with her own show on CKNW news talk 980. Lynda had no formal radio experience to speak of and the thought of making this bold career move after three decades in television was something that she publicly expressed great trepidation and fear about. In the week leading up to her big change, she shared on her Facebook wall that she had a restless night thinking about her move to radio. She said when she finally got up, that seemingly out of nowhere, this image rolled though in her iPhotos:


Lynda said this had to be a message from above. This led to a symphony of comments to follow, with Lynda’s friends cheering her on, stating how they felt she is bold and fearless, and also commenting about worry and fear and how it is healthy and can give you energy.

Lynda’s friends aren’t the only ones who feel that fear can fuel you. Dame Judi Dench has been quoted on this topic.



Within all of these anecdotal examples of strong women an amount of bravery was required, but to me, that is not what fearlessness is.

I actually think the idea of fearlessness is not a thing. It's bullshit. I think people are generally terrified when they get outside their comfort zone, and despite the fear they strive to move forward.

This fear: of failure, vulnerability, of evaluation by others, can be turned inward into an energy, a fire in your belly, that can help push you forward. This could be perceived as fearlessness, but I think it is just fear manifesting itself as strength.

We use the energy generated from fear to give us strength and propel us forward, despite the fact that what we are facing is terrifying, either on a physical, emotional or spiritual level.

In all of these examples of women that I shared, they talked about how they were pushed beyond their comfort zone in order to make some sort of a change; is the bravery required to do this considered to be fearlessness?

I don’t think so. I think fear is real, tangible, gives one physical symptoms, and in some cases can paralyze.

But no matter what we do, even when we are terrified, we need to come to the realization that we need to take risks, do something we are afraid of, so we can stretch and learn and grow.

So as a new year is upon us, and so much has yet to unfold, I recognize that I am terrified every day. Am I doing the right thing as a parent? Is my young business going to be OK? Will my clients be happy? Is my team going to stick with me? How do others see me? All these things creep in as fear and self doubt. There is no way I am fearless.

Despite all this my approach is to feel the fear, and do it anyway. I'll rise to the challenges life hands me, knees shaking, and do the best I can.

And with that in mind, I wish you all a great year, filled with fun, courage and optimism. As I love to say: #gogetit!

Meet Frank Morgan #withTownHall

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 Frank Morgan.


frank morgan

Frank is a wine lover and wine blogger whose blog is called Drink What You Like. He originally started the blog in 2008 order to track his wine experiences, and in the process became part of the blogger community at large. I met Frank at the Wine Bloggers Conference a few conferences back.

He lives with his wife and family in Chesapeake VA, where his day job is working at a large aerospace company. By night and weekends he studies, learns about, and shares his wine experiences.

He is a strong ambassador for Virginia Wines, his home region, but you will read about wines from all over the world on his blog.

Please help us say hello to Frank?

Leave a comment below – or go give this post a like or share on Facebook or Twitter.


Wine Bloggers Conference: It’s more than a conference. It’s a community.

By: Leeann Froese

The Wine Bloggers Conference (WBC) is more than a workshop and a meeting place to discuss everything wine related. It is a gathering of people from all over North America who convene to celebrate each other’s passion, expertise, wine region and most importantly, friendship with one another.

WBC 2015

Hosted at a different wine region each year, the WBC lasts for nearly a week and invites bloggers, industry professionals and the host region's vintners to participate.

Sure, there's definite content: workshops and panels in board or conference rooms with a gamut of wine-centric presentations, AV materials and education, but unlike other wine trade conferences, there's so much more that happens on the periphery.

Attendees include those from visiting wineries and representatives from various wine regions that travel to the event to bring a taste of their wine country to the Wine Bloggers Conference.

Outside of conference rooms, attendees participate in field studies that include: excursions to the host region's surrounding wineries for a meet-and-greet with winery principals. As well, an exclusive sneak peek and tasting of newly or soon-to-be-release vintages. Always, the red carpet is completely unfurled and a grand time is had by all.

One of the best parts about WBC is the “after-hour tastings” hosted in various hotel suites. This is a perfect time for WBC participants to get together, be social, and taste wines that are off the program. As everyone is keen to learn about each other’s wine region and to share a taste of their own, these hotel suites become crowded quickly and force people to literally rub elbows and interact as they mingle and taste.

But no one minds because we are all united by the desire to experience and share as much we can, especially in limited time.

It's a unique community. Even if it means being sleep deprived, the group doesn’t stop stop learning, tasting and socializing for the duration they are at WBC. (And sometimes if you've had too much wine, you might find yourself facing the content of the following day with a headache...)

Happy bloggers rub elbows tasting Canadian wine. Clockwise, from back, center: Ben Heskett, Christine Campbell, Michael Pinkus, Jeff Kralik, Madeline Puckette, April Yap-Hennig, me and Robert Larson

From Portland, Penticton, Buellton and now Corning, this has been the fourth consecutive conference that I've attended WBC. As much as I appreciate and am blown away by the effort, hospitality and welcoming spirit that the host region puts into hosting this conference, the most special part about WBC is its people.

The people that assemble the program from each gracious and passionate region can be summed up as one thing: amazing.

Case in point: most recently in Finger Lakes and Corning NY, we were coordinated by Paul Thomas of Seneca Lake Wine Trail and Beth Peluse from Zephyr Adventures for the pre excursion in Seneca Lake, and Laury Ellen Poland from Finger Lakes Wine Country led the charge with Zephyr for the main conference in Corning. Each of these people successfully "herded cats" to ensure those of us that made the trip were not disappointed.

The workshop content varies each year and so do the wine regions (showing the thumbprint of where they were made), but what's common is the hard work and passion in putting the conference together.

And truthfully, to me all of that does not actually even really matter at its core, because it's what happens outside the bottle that is the most important.

The bond and socialization that wine invites is the most important part for me. I love that this conference experience is shared by like minded individuals.


This conference offers the ability to get together with the same people annually, as we collect from different corners to learn and be united by something we all love. Year over year, social bonds strengthen and long distance friendships blossom, to be nurtured by the in-person gathering WBC invites.

Wine is inherently social, so it's no surprise that the social aspect is a major part of this conference.

I cannot wait for the annual opportunity it gives me to connect with my friends from San Francisco, Portland, New York, and all points in between. Real in person bonds are strengthened and then we stay in touch socially throughout the year before we reconvene at the next year's conference.

After shyly navigating my way through the first conference that I attended in Portland, where I didn't really know what to do or who to talk to, after four conferences I now feel like I have some legitimate, real, strong, and lifelong friendships, and that these people will be with me, and I'm part of a community. And I am very thankful for this. My life is that much richer for it so thank you for that, WBC.

And while I want to express how great it feels to annually see those who are very strongly growing into 'my people’,  it's also worthy to note that there are many new friends joining this amazing community each year.

If you see a face that's not familiar, be sure to go and say hello to them. They might be a seasoned blogger or they might be someone who is encountering the conference for the first time. A friendly face and someone who can help with the lay of the land is appreciated.

And as I settle back into being back at home, I reflect on the notes of others:

Meg Houston Maker noted there is no substitution for in person smiles, and Christine Campbell of Girls Go Grape says, "I love that wine, learning and friendship are all part of the Wine Bloggers Conference."

I could not agree more.


And I am not alone. April Yapp Hennig of Sacred Drop took the picture above and called us her crew, and just today Christine Campbell posted this tweet:


Yes - activate friendship indeed! Until 2016, the #WBC friendships continue to blossom online.

I feel so blessed to have this conference as an annual opportunity to taste and learn, and also continue to build those friendships and the community that is WBC.

Sujinder and I thank you #FLX #WBC15

See you in Lodi #WBC16 #GoWBCCanada #withTownHall!

Compare and contrast: Finger Lakes Wine and BC Wine

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.

Bottled sunshine within the Ventosa Pinot Noir.

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 view towards Seneca Lake.

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.

Fox Run  Vineyards owner Scott Osborn & Town Hall's Sujinder Juneja.

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.

Bob Halifax, April Yap-Hennig, Leeann Froese, Jeff Kralik at James Melendez at Wine Bloggers Conference 2015.

Meet Kristina Manning #withTownHall

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. In time for the 2015 Wine Bloggers Conference this week #withTownHall, we introduce you to Kristina Manning.

#withTownHallKristinaManningKristina is the director of customer relations at and in 2013 created the blog for The International Wine of the Month Club. She regularly contributes to the blog sharing her travel experiences, recipes and tastings. Her love affair with wine has been going on for years which has led to a nice collection of wine.

Kristina loves food, wine, beer, and travel and shares her experience with them through social media.

Kristina is currently at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Finger Lakes, New York where she is on the scholarship committee for the conference.

Please help us say hello to Kristina?

Leave a comment below – or go give this post a like or share on Facebook or Twitter.



Meet Kayla Koroush With Town Hall

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 Kayla Koroush.


Once aiming to be a preschool teacher, Kayla works in the marketing department for a winery in Napa Valley, and she blogs for herself at Barrel Thief, a wine blog (a barrel thief is a glass tube that helps vacuum wine out of bottles so vintners can have a taste.) Her blog is a place where she can document her encounters while she explores the world of wine.

We met Kayla at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Buellton, in 2014, where she was a scholarship recipient to attend the conference, and we will see her at the annual Wine Bloggers Conference again in a couple of weeks when the conference takes place in Finger Lakes New York.

Watch our social media for a hello from Kayla when we meet her again in a few weeks, and in the meantime, please give her a hello, as we did when she recently visited Vancouver's Granville Island.

Leave a comment below – or go give this post a like or share on Facebook or Twitter.

Meet the Drunken Cyclist Jeff Kralik with Town Hall

By Leeann Froese It's Saturday - that means it's time 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 Jeff Kralik.



Jeff is The Drunken Cyclist. He is a wine lover and a wine blogger, who can saber open a bottle of bubble with almost anything. He is known to be a bit of a ham at times...

Jeff is also a Cat 3 cyclist, a husband, and a father of two boys and he lives with his lovely family in Philadelphia. We know Jeff via the Wine Bloggers Conference and want you to know him too - he has more than 45K followers on Twitter!

And whether you already follow or know Jeff or not, please help us support him and say a big hello.

Leave a comment below – or go give this post a like or share on Facebook or Twitter


So A Genie From the Finger Lakes Grants You Three Wishes…

by Sujinder Juneja Following two successful conferences in Santa Barbara, California and Penticton, British Columbia, in August 2015, I will be participating in my third-in-a-row Wine Bloggers Conference #withTownHall; this year in Corning, New York and hosted by the wineries of the Finger Lakes AVA.

Seneca Lake Courtesy of Finger Lakes Wine Country

Although the region has been growing grapes (a mixture of native Vitis Labrusca, European Vitis Vinifera and French-American hybrids) since 1829, it’s still a small and arguably emergent region, with production levels such that few of their wines make it all the way to the left coast. I am very excited to finally get a chance to gain a better understanding of what makes these cool-climate wines, and the Finger Lakes region itself, so unique.

So when I was asked to pick the ‘top three’ things that I really wanted to learn while I was visiting (and tasting), here’s what I came up with:

I Love to Get My Hands Dirty

When people use the word ‘terroir’ to discuss the specific traits of different wine regions in the world, it’s important to note that the concept doesn't just refer to the soil. ‘Terroir’ translates loosely as a “sense of place” and refers not only to the complex geology within the soil itself, but also the geography (aspect, slope), the climate, the weather and even the surrounding flora and fauna that may have an effect on the agricultural crop in question.

Seneca Lakes Courtesy of Finger Lakes Wine Country

Coming from British Columbia, which is also described as a cool climate wine region, one of the first things I want to learn about the Finger Lakes AVA is what makes its terroir so special for the wine that it produces. Both regions share a similar history of commercial wine development, each of them dating back to the mid 1800s when grapes were first planted by the clergy for use in sacramental rituals. Each region experimented with native vines and hybrids before moving towards increased plantings of the European Vitis Vinifera varieties, to varying degrees of success. I want to learn more about the geology and geography that adds to the bright and minerally flavours of the Finger Lakes wines.

The Right Grape for the Right Place

The fact that both British Columbia and the Finger Lakes have shared a similar path in terms of varietal experimentation forces me to think about the reasons some grapes are planted more than others. Some are chosen for their ability to ripen properly in a given climate, while others are chosen because they are more fashionable or commercially viable, even if the resultant wine suffers in quality. The more winemakers, grape growers and soil specialists I speak to, the more I realize that it doesn't make sense to plant consumer-friendly, but slow-ripening varietals, like Cabernet Sauvignon, for example, in regions that simply don’t get the heat units to enable them to fully mature to produce balanced wines. It makes more sense to plant grapes and produce wine that matches the ‘terroir’ of the vineyard.

It’s been noted that the wines of the Finger Lakes region are fresh, with naturally high acid and low alcohol – you’ll have to look elsewhere for wines with rich intensity and depth of fruit. French vignerons are way ahead of the game, having studied their own terroir for centuries. That’s why you don’t see Cabernet Sauvignon in Burgundy and you don’t see Pinot Noir in Bordeaux. The grapes suit the land and produce the best possible wines. So although Riesling and Pinot Noir (both very fashionable varietals) have become the dominant plantings in the region, the second thing I want to experience about the Finger Lakes AVA is these less-recognized varietals which have been developed specifically for the region. When is the last time you sipped a Cayuga White or a Valvin Muscat? It’s my aim to try as many of these unique varietals as I can, hoping to find some new favourites in the process.

A European Invasion

The ForgeCellars Team, LR: Justin Boyette Louis Barruol Rick Rainey Courtesy of Forge Cellars

The third thing I really want to know about the Finger Lakes AVA is: what is it that is so exciting about the region that makes it attract some of the highest profile international winemakers to start their own projects there?

The first I heard about was Louis Barruol, owner and winemaker at Chateau de Saint Cosme in Gigondas (and one of my favourite all-time wineries), who is one of the most acclaimed and respected winemakers in the entire Rhone Valley, if not the world.

He recently partnered with local Finger Lakes investors to create Forge Cellars, a winery in the Seneca Lake AVA that focuses exclusively on Riesling and Pinot Noir. With more than 500 years of family experience making wines from Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre and Viognier in hot Southern France, what made him invest in Riesling and Pinot Noir in cooler upstate New York?

Paul Hobbs and Johannes Selbach Courtesy of Weingut Selbach-Oster

More recently, a joint venture was announced between leading California winemaker and consultant Paul Hobbs and the Mosel Valley’s Johannes Selbach that saw them purchase a 67-acre site on the southeastern shore of Seneca Lake that will ultimately be planted with 45 acres of Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Blanc.

What is it about the Finger Lakes that drew these two titans of the wine industry together? It’s a big question, but I aim to find the answer.

August can’t come soon enough. Very much looking forward to exploring the Finger Lakes wine region from August 13-16 at this year’s Wine Bloggers Conference.

Meet James Melendez With Town Hall

By Leeann Froese It's Saturday - that means it's time 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 we introduce you to James Melendez, otherwise known as James the Wine Guy.



James is a #winelover and a really nice guy. I met him a few Wine Bloggers Conferences ago after forging an online friendship through Twitter, and am happy to share who he is with you here.

His motto is "Demystifying Wine...One Bottle at a Time". He is passionate about wine, food, travel, science & technology, and has been previously named the World's No. 1 producer of wine videos.

He uploads at least with one video per week, if not more often, midweek on or near 'Wine Wednesday'.

Check out James on his blog and  please help us say hello.  Leave a comment below – or go give this post a like or share on Facebook or Twitter.


The year that was 2014 With Town Hall - Part 2

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 winerySummerhill Pyramid WineryMt. Boucherie Family Estate WineryOkanagan 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!

Laurisha makes her selections in the cozy and welcoming Mt. Boucherie wine shop

Of course a #selfie with Laurisha, Summerhill's Ezra Cipes and Amy

...and a #selfie with barman extraordinaire Gerry Jobe and Globe and Mail columnist Alexandra Gill. Alexandra was on assignment to cover the winery's truly innovative cocktail menu being led by Gerry (using ingredients grown and foraged on site, as well as Tibetan singing bowls)

It is so relaxing at the cute outdoor area at Spierhead winery in Kelowna

We arrived at Okanagan Crush Pad just in time to have the girls star in a video with winery owner Christine Coletta and 30 day Adventures travel blogger Marc Smith

Okanagan Crush Pad's Garnet Valley Ranch

Serendipity's Judy Kingston showed us the ultimate in hospitality. Not only did we get a great tasting, she had the three of us as guests in her home. The next morning, she made us an incredible breakfast before we hit the road.


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.

15 teams gathered and the winner was House of Q, who then went on to win for the World’s Best Ribs from the World Food Championships in Las Vegas!

House of Q

A free family event, the BBQ OFF the Bypass offers everyone's fave: bacon!

A few thousand BBQ lovers gathered on a beautiful day in Langley for the BBQ OFF the Bypass 2014


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.

Celebrity Dim Sum


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.

Jurgen 70th birthday


Fall Colours

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.

Summerhill Pyramid Winery CEO Ezra Cipes shows off his latest releases to the trade

Amy Hollenbach and Alison Scholefield offer tastes of Haywire wines


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.

Let's hear it for The Girls Wine - 100% proceeds to charity

The Girls Wine founder Bill Lui and CTV's Lynda Steele



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.

With a hat tip to the area history, Monte Creek Ranch will open in 2015 in Canada's newest wine region: Kamloops


Monte Creek Ranch


Samanatha Syrah

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.

Samantha Rahn

Samantha Rahn launches her Okanagan Crush Pad wine at CinCin

SamanthaBottle 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.

Skills N Spills 2014 Judges

Skills N Spills 2014

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.

Cipes Ariel



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.

One Faith Vineyards founder and aspirational vintner, Bill Lui


Wild Sweets

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.

At the Atelier in Richmond, DC Duby's pop up retail space, Cindy and Dominique Duby (in the white coats) are joined by Michael, Rebecca Coleman, and Regina Chen

Dominique and Cindy make an appearance on Global TV to make creme brulée with Jay Durant and Lynn Colliar


#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.)

This is our 2nd year in a row participating in 30 Days Of Kindness. I am so proud of my hard working and generous-spirited team. Check out our little video and the post with detail on Marc's site

Sujinder, Amy, Laurisha, me, Ritika, Andrew

Act of Kindness 04


Wrapping Up


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!

The year that was 2014 With Town Hall - Part 1

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.

Haywire was the 1st BC winery to release a wine specific for the Lunar New Year


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.

French Wines Event


Dawn Chubai goes Under the Covers

14 years after her award-winning début album, vocalist turned TV personality Dawn Chubai releases Under the Covers. Our design team was proud to do the layout on her album cover.

Under the Covers by Dawn Chubai



Pure Chablis

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.

Roger Maniwa of Hawksworth is the winner of the Chablis wine pairing competition

Christophe Cardona and Françoise Roure of Chablis congratulate winner 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.

The darling trio from Summerhill Pyramid Winery at their booth: winemaker Eric von Krosigk, founder Stephen Cipes and CEO Ezra Cipes

Star-studded sommelier lineup includes (back row) Mark Taylor, Neil Ingram, Brent Hayman, Jason Yamasaki, Terry Threlfall, Mike Bernardo and Emily Walker (front row) Barb Philip, Mark Davidson, Kurtis Kolt and Tom Doughty

Ellen's has nothing on this sommelier-#selfie!

2012 Sommelier of the Year Terry Threlfall (left) and 2014 Sommelier of the Year Mike Bernardo (third from left) stop by the Okanagan Crush Pad table to say hello to Christine Coletta, David Scholefield, and Alison Scholefield

My #selfie with the Okanagan Crush Pad team: Matt Dumayne, Alison Scholefield, Julian Scholefield, Mike West and Whitney Law


Kosher Wine from BC

Canada's first uncooked Kosher wine was created by Summerhill Pyramid Winery with the release of Tiferet (loosely translated, means beauty).


wax sealing


Eight unique curries compete

In another first, the inaugural Curry Cup took place on behalf of the Chefs’ Table Society of British Columbia; eight chef teams competed and the winner was chef Taryn Wa of Savoury Chef.

Taryn Wa of Savoury Chef  is the inaugural Curry Cup Winner



Vancouver Dining gets Social with Serendipity

Serendipity Winery is the exclusive wine partner for the second annual #DinnerpartyYVR. Hobby chefs prepared meals in their homes with all proceeds to charity.

Annika Reinhardt and Crystal Henrickson of #dinnerpartyyvr



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.

Dish N Dazzle offfered great food options  from top chefs and suppliers, all for a good cause


Lauren Mote, Sophie Lui and Natalie Langston enjoy Dish N Dazzle

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.

Treve Ring leads an entertaining and educational tasting of Portuguese wines to the delight of  Michaela Morris, Judith Lane, Park Heffelfinger and Tim Pawsey


27 vintners from Portugal wowed the Vancouver trade


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.

Chefs Chris Whittaker of Forage and Robert Clark of the Fish Counter lead the charge in sustainable seafood.

Chefs Table Society member chef Vikram Vij of Vij's serves Spot Prawns


Wine In the Garden

The Bottleneck Drive Winery Association from Summerland held their first event in Vancouver: Wine in the Garden, at the beautiful VanDusen Gardens.


Bottleneck Drive wineries in Vandusen Gardens



Provence Rosé

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.

François Millo and Viktorija Todorovska



Preparing BC wineries for Fame

I was joined by DJ Kearney and Kathy Michaels to present a media training session to the BC Wine Institute member wineries.

Media training BC wineries


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.

Christine Coletta and Styeve Lornie, Okanagan Crush pad Winery owners, welcome the Wine Align judges

#selfie time with Okanagan Crush Pad winemaker Matt Dumayne and Brad Royale, wine director for Rocky Mountain resorts, and Wine Align judge

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.

Run #seflie with Jamie Goode #gogetit


Welcome Calvin

Our Felicia had a baby! Welcome Calvin! 9lb 2 oz and 100% cute!

Our team welcomes Calvin



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.

I get a #selfie with Sujinder at the top of the world in Paso Robles

Tasting BC Wines with the bloggeratti


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.

darryl Weinbren Anthony Gismondi, and BCHF chair Richard Carras


Joining Us

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.


Cristina, Paula and Paul Brunner, owners of Blue Grouse Estate Winery

A #selfie with the smart and lovely Judy Poole of Raymond James


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!

Meet Tom Plant With Town Hall

By Leeann Froese It’s Saturday – that means it’s time to introduce you to a new personality #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 we introduce you to Tom Plant. Can you please say hello?


"We're not snobs, we just like good wine"

This is what Tom's motto is, for his company Wineormous.

Tom's intent is to introduce others to wineries and winemakers he and his wife Laura have found, as well as good restaurants with good wine lists, lots of photos and some good stories. He and Laura also offer intimate wine tasting tours in Temecula for up to seven people.

We got to know Tom at the last two Wine Bloggers Conferences, and we found him to be a most likeable man, so we hope that one day you can meet him too.

Can you please say hello to  with a comment – or go give this post a like or share on Facebook or Twitter.

Meet Mikael Sigouin with Town Hall

By Leeann Froese It’s Saturday – that means it’s time to introduce you to a new personality #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 we introduce you to Mikael Sigouin. Can you please say hello?


When not making wines for Beckmen Vineyards, Winemaker Mikael Sigouin is busy making amazingly delicious wines for his own label Kaena.   Kaena was launched in 2001 to showcase Mikael’s deep passion for Grenache. Kaena is a boutique winery that sources from Tierra Alta Vineyard and Larner Vineyard in the Ballard Canyon AVA , primarily.  Mikael who is part Hawaiian and raised on the Oahu shores, uses a shortened version of his given name for the brand – Kaena – which means “potential for greatness”.

We met Mikael in the summer when we attended the Wine Bloggers Conference in California.

Can you please say hello with a comment below – or go give this post a like or share on Facebook or Twitter.

Harvest Time in Paso Robles Wine Country a Great Weekend Getaway

By Leeann Froese IMG_6114

As the month of October heads to its mid point we are now in fall's official season, and all that it will bring. With the cooler evenings here in Vancouver where I live and the longer shadows, summer has now slipped away from us like the beach sand through our fingertips.

But the sun keeps making a fighting return, not to yet be outdone by a rainy day or two. It's at this time that we can start to daydream about what autumn might offer, while grasping onto the days of summer. I have an idea for a last-minute fall getaway that I want to share, that was inspired by my summer trip to California with the Wine Bloggers Conference.

Make a fall getaway to California wine country and visit Paso Robles wine country.

Fall is a perfect time to visit because the weather is beautiful, the grapes are ripe and in the midst of being harvested, and from October 17 - 19, 2014, wineries are set to host events.

Harvest20Wine20WeekendHarvest in Paso Robles Wine Country, like in other regions, is a time of excitement shared by winemakers, growers, and tasting room staff alike. It is the culmination of a successful year of hard work in the vineyard, and is a glimpse into what the new vintage holds. Harvest Wine Weekend 2014 celebrates with more than 140 Paso Robles wineries inviting wine lovers to their tasting rooms, vineyards and wineries for tours, special tastings, live music, winemaker dinners and much more.

Wineries get creative during this annual celebration, presenting varied events, educational opportunities and hands-on fun such as wine and bacon pairings, grape stomps, and blending sessions.

As far as visiting, I had been to Napa twice, but never to any other wine regions in California so I was very curious to see what Paso Robles brings. So before Sujinder Juneja and I attended the Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Barbara this past July, we spent two days in Paso Robles on a pre-conference excursion.

We left Vancouver on an early morning flight and after an easy stopover in Seattle we flew into the San Jose International Airport by lunch time.

When we was there, it was a whirlwind two days, and we were lucky enough to taste wines from a large handful of wineries, and take in much of the beautiful countryside.

What I was most stricken by, however, was the people we met. As has been my experience in every other wine region I have visited, the hard work and passionate approach by the people of the area are its heartbeat. There was a lack of pretension, a genuine pride in the work being done, and hospitality surrounding the wines being made.

The vintners we met were keen to share their Cabernets, Zinfandels and the smaller production of Rhone based wines.

I loved the beautiful, grassy countryside striped with vines, and the rolling hills that make way to lavender fields and stunning vistas. There is a tranquility to the open skies, and settling into a shady patio with a glass of wine from Paso Robles as you take it all in is the way to go.

If this is not enough notice for you to make a quick getaway, the Paso Robles wineries have an excellent visit planner on their website as well as a mobile app. Start planning your trip to Paso Robles now.

I'll be headed back there in November 2014 for the Wine Tourism Conference, and I can't wait. Stay tuned for more on Paso Robles, the discoverable wine region located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco; there's so much more to share.





Winemaker Tyler Russell of Nelle Winery