Newsletter November

100G-6640 Vedder Road Chilliwack, B.C. V2R 0J2


The view from Red Rooster Estate Winery, Naramata Valley. Fall 2011

November Newsletter – my trip to the Okanagan and my discoveries!

It’s November already and as much as the sun feels like it is still shining and summer just left, I feel that winter is not far away since the scarves and toques are out!

I have just returned from an inspiring four day trip to the Okanagan Valley. Our first stop was Hester Creek Estate Winery and I was so pleased to be seated next to the new GM, Mark Sheridan. Mark hails from Australia and it was so interesting to hear him speak of the difference between British Columbia and Australia wine country. We are so lucky because our industry is so young and has so much growth potential so you can still sit and speak to the wineries and taste handcrafted small lot wines. We are still a far cry away from the millions of litres of wine produced in Australia.

Watch for Hester Creek’s release of their 2007 Blue Label Reserve Merlot – delicious! As well, for the dessert wine lover, their beautifully packaged Late Harvest Pinot Blanc for the holidays.

Next stop, Le Vieux Pin. LOVE this winery! A French-inspired winery in Oliver this winery whose name depicts “The Pine Tree” that stands in their vineyard. They have recently acquired a wonderful French Winemaker. Please look for the VQA EXCLUSIVE 2007 Merlot that is only available at VQA stores this holiday season – mmmm….reminds me of blueberry pie!

Look at this view! Red Rooster Estate Winery with the beautiful vines turning a crimson colour and grapes are still hanging on the vines, waiting to ripen.

At Red Rooster Estate Winery we tasted the wines of Peller Estates as well as Sandhill but also had the pleasure of meeting the winemaker, Karen Gillis as she pressed the juice and started the 2011 fermentation of her whites. We also had a sneak peek of first ferment Riesling – it was tantalizing so I do think our whites in 2011 will be first class.

Update on the 2011 Harvest:

Well, I will tell you that the 2011 Harvest is all over the place. Not one winery has completed harvest. Most of them are only looking at being 50% done. The grapes are still left to hang, even in the Black Sage Bench (Oliver) area.

One thing I have never seen – “icing the vines” – the wineries are trying to keep the frost off the vines by protecting them by freezing so the heat stays in, risky business because once you stop the freeze, the grapes have to be able to dry out completely to harvest them.

End result: The wineries and vineyards that were working hard in the vineyard to adjust to this vintage, meaning pulling off crop when the grapes weren’t showing any ripeness, letting the sun hit the grapes that were left on, leaving all nutrients to ripen the remaining fruit -will be okay.

The wineries/vineyards that left full crop will be disappointed and this vintage we will probably see some not make it through to the next vintage.

Next stop was Lake Breeze, then lunch at Poplar Grove. Lunch was fantastic and catered by Joy Catering.

This was my first introduction to the 2009 Poplar Grove Chardonnay. Rich butter, full of delicious pear on the palate, one of my favourite Chardonnays in British Columbia. We also tasted the new Monster line “2009 Monster Cabs” – this wine is a rich, brambly blend of mostly Cabernet Franc with some Cabernet Sauvignon on the back end. For a price of $20, this wine is well worth a try.

On we went, Dirty Laundry – well worth a stop next time in the Okanagan, then Sumac Ridge Estate Winery.

Sumac Ridge treated us like Royalty and I love the 2009 Black Sage Merlot. This wine is earthy, big and bold – smooth so smooth on the palate. For under $20, a must to have in the house. I did also love the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon – for a price of $22.99, this wine is a wonderful rich luscious cherry Cabernet.

Exhausted, we checked into the Cove in West Kelowna, had some “Bubbly” and laughs with some fellow VQA Store owners and a good sleep was had by all.

The next morning we hit Mission Hill. This stop hit me hard with the video of the original dream of Anthony Von Mandl, Proprietor of Mission Hill.

It was his visionary in the late 1980’s to see the Okanagan Valley as one of the top wine growing regions in the world. This vision was so profound so many years ago when the industry was so young.

I was in the industry then, in the early 1990’s when the original Mission Hill winery was just starting out. To see the vision that Anthony had for the industry and to appreciate what he did and the winery he built in early 1992 just amazed me. The architecture, the details of every inch of that property is told in every bottle of Mission Hill Winery Wine. John Simes, their winemaker has been with them for 20 years and that has to say a lot about Anthony and being able to be a part of Mission Hill Winery. Every wine I tasted was delicious.

Organics – off to the other side of the water to visit Summerhill Estate Winery, my original place of employment in the industry. Always environmentally conscious, Summerhill is commanding all of the vineyards that grow for them do so to their environmental standards, nice to see.

Pick up a bottle of their 2007 Certified Organic Cabernet Franc, which just beat out International and California wines for the “Best of Class” award at the Los Angeles International Wine Competition.

Ending our tour was Cedar Creek, Arrowleaf Cellars and Gray Monk – all outstanding wineries and all of the wines were reasonably priced and delicious!

As I reminisce the entire tour I go back to the original thought when speaking with Mark Sheridan at Hester Creek – from the smallest likes of Dirty Laundry, Poplar Grove to the medium Cedar Creek, Arrowleaf to the largest of wineries, Mission Hill and Vincor – I learned through my touring this trip, that even the largest of British Columbia wineries are still small in comparison from the size of the large wineries around the world.

We are truly drinking all 100% British Columbia hand-crafted wines and there is something very special about that.


Kim Murphy

Please join us Friday, November 4th with the owner of Clos du Soleil winery, Spencer Massie as he pours his beautiful wines (they are all truly beautiful) from 3-6pm at the store.

Saturday will be our first in a series of tastings. For the first three Saturdays in November, we will taste the award-winners from the Fall Okanagan Wine Festival. This Saturday from 3-6pm we will begin with the Bronze medal winners. 3- 6pm.