Widely acknowledged as one of the top wine festivals in the world, the 39th annual Vancouver International Wine Festival takes place Feb. 11 to 19.
The theme of this year’s VIWF is ‘The Wine World Celebrates Canada.’ More than 60 wineries from British Columbia will be pouring samples, along with 10 wineries from Ontario and 6 wineries from Nova Scotia – approximately 1,600 wines from 16 countries
We tend to think of British Columbia’s best wines coming from the Okanagan Valley. There are, however, wineries producing high quality wines in the Similkameen Valley, the Gulf Islands, Vancouver Island, Kamloops, Lillooet and even the Creston Valley.
An early Creston Valley pioneer, William Baillie-Grohman was born in Austria and moved to the area in 1890. Baillie-Grohman had a vision that the area along could be converted into rich farmland. Named in his honour, Baillie-Grohman Estate Winery is leading the charge to establish the Creston Valley as a wine-growing area.
Incorporating Pinot Gris, Schoenburger, Kerner and Gewürztraminer, Baillie-Grohman Recolte Blanche (620716) $17.99 is a white blend full of peach, stone fruit and white flower aromas and flavours. Like many white blends, the synergy of the various grapes adds depth and weight to the wine.
The Bacchanalia Gala Dinner and Auction opens the VIWF on Saturday, February 11 at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. The Trade Days Conference, presented by Sysco, takes place Wednesday, February 15 to Friday, February 17 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.
Situated in the Okanagan Valley in South Kelowna, Tantalus Vineyards began in 2004 when Eric Savics saw the opportunity to acquire one of the Okanagan Valley’s premier vineyard properties. Originally known as Pioneer Vineyards, the site was first planted to table grapes in 1927 by renowned, local horticulturist JW Hughes.
A recent offering, Tantalus Juveniles Chardonnay (521807) $19.99 exudes aromas and flavours of zesty green apple, fresh sliced ripe pear, lemon meringue and lime with just a wisp of vanilla from a very light handed spritz of oak.
Many of the featured BC wineries at VIWF make limited amounts of lovingly hand-crafted wine from grapes grown in their own vineyards. Often found only in private liquor stores, they will be available for sampling at the International Festival Tastings 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm, Thursday, Friday and Saturday with a matinee tasting on Saturday afternoon from 2:30pm – 5:00 pm.
Just outside of Mill Bay on Vancouver Island, Unsworth Vineyards was purchased by Tim and Colleen Turyk in 2009. Their winemaker Daniel Cosman and his crew currently farm 12 acres of grape varieties at Unsworth Vineyards.
Unsworth’s signature white blend Allegro (766055) $20.95 is a blend of 50 per cent Petit Milo and 50 per cent Sauvignette – hybrid grapes developed to thrive in the moist, cool climate of Vancouver Island. Bright and sassy, it boasts a medley of apple, peach and guava aromas and flavours.
As well as featuring imported wines from 15 other countries, this year’s Vancouver International Wine Festival showcases the largest selection of Canadian wineries ever assembled at an international wine festival.
Formerly known as Paradise Ranch and later Soaring Eagle, Bench 1775 produced wines with exceptional balance and extreme elegance. Regardless of the variety or blend, their wines seem to carefully extract the essence of the individual varietals.
From their east-facing vineyard block on the Osoyoos Bench in the South Okanagan, Bench 1775 Syrah (441741) $26.99 adds savoury cool-climate herbaceous notes to the ripe plum, black and blueberry fruit flavours. Subtle notes of fresh cut tobacco leaf mingle with peppery cured bacon in the long finish.
Tickets for the Vancouver International Wine Festival running from Feb. 11-19 went on sale Tuesday Jan. 10. Interested local wine lovers should visit their website at Vanwinefest.ca for details.
Jim and Leslie D’Andrea founded Noble Ridge in 2001 when they purchased 3.5 acre of vines and produced their first wines in 2003. Since then they have planted an additional 18.5 acres and have grown their dream into an award-winning winery.
Be sure to sample Noble Ridge Pinot Noir (874446) $27.with its intriguing aromas and flavours of fresh wild field berries highlighted by a subtle underlying earthiness. Flavours of plum and caramel are balanced well with soft, well-integrated oak. Hints of spice linger on the long finish.
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