April 6, 2018

On the Vine: Wine on your doorstep

Dozens of Lower Mainland wineries are hiding in plain sight

By  John Schreiner

This may surprise you as much as it surprised me: Did you know there are 44 wineries and cideries spread between Vancouver and Chilliwack?
They are hiding in plain sight, doing limited promotion even though they have a massive wine-consuming population at their doorstep. Only five, including the three largest, are members of the Campbell Valley Winery Association. There is not even a convenient list of the Lower Mainland wineries other than the Government of B.C.’s list of licensed wineries, which is an Excel spreadsheet.
By contrast, most of the 40 wineries along Naramata Road belong to the Naramata Bench Wineries Association, which hosts a tasting in Vancouver every spring and a tailgate party in the Okanagan in late summer.
Twelve of the Lower Mainland wineries are in Langley or Langley Township, including Township 7 Vineyards & Winery, Backyard Vineyards and the largest of them, Chaberton Estate Winery, which opened in 1991. Chaberton winemaker Andrea Lee crafts first-rate Bacchus and Siegerrebe with grapes from the estate vineyard and bold reds from Okanagan grapes. These wines, which are widely available, are best enjoyed with the classic French cuisine in the winery’s popular bistro.
The seven wineries near Abbotsford include Singletree Winery, a champion of Siegerrebe and Grüner Veltliner wines. The two Chilliwack wineries include recently opened Whispering Horse Winery, whose white wine from the Acadie Blanc grape has had very strong reviews.
There are numerous fruit wineries as well. I like to visit Krause Berry Farms & Estate Winery near Fort Langley. The unusual tasting room seats resemble riding saddles (when you fall off, you have had enough). The winery also has a bistro and retail store with pies, breads and preserves. The fruit cake at Christmas is exceptional.
You can get to the seven wineries in the city of Vancouver by public transit. Cityside Winery in Olympic Village also has a restaurant. At Artisan Sakemaker at Granville Island, owner Masa Shiroki makes amazing sake beverages. These are just a few samples to whet your appetite.

Three to try

Backyard Blanc de Noir Brut NV $24.95
This sparkling wine is made with estate-grown Pinot Noir. The slight blush in the hue adds to the appeal of the wine. It has aromas and flavours of citrus and apple. The finish is crisp. 90/100

Chaberton Cabernet Franc Reserve 2014 $29.95
Made with grapes from Black Sage Road near Oliver, this wine rewards decanting. Time to breathe opens the brambly aromas and flavours. The wine, aged 22 months in oak, is rich and intense. 92/100

Singletree Winery Siggy 2016 $19.04
This is the winery’s flagship Siegerrebe white wine. It may be sold out, but the 2017 is about to be released. Beginning with spicy and fruity aromas, it delivers a basket of tropical fruit flavours. The finish is dry and refreshing. 90/100

Invest in fine stemware for better-tasting wines

Good wine stemware makes a difference. Riedel, the Austrian wineglass producer, offers a large selection of glasses specifically engineered for varietal wines. The Pinot Noir glass has a different bowl than the Riesling or Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon glasses. Each shape enhances the aromas and flavours of that individual varietal. And all wine smells and tastes better in Riedel than in, say, the Dollar Store stemware so many settle for.
Riedel stemware is sold in most good cookware stores. riedel.com

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