Wine Country Half Marathons in USA and Canada

If you are a long distance runner and live in either BC, Washington, Oregon, or California, there is a wine-related race for you.  Details below.  Enjoy!


Destination Races

Destination Races (Image courtesy

March 26, 2015 – Sonoma, Calif. – Destination Races, creator of the Wine Country Half Marathon Series, has partnered with game-changing brands across respected categories to expand its on-course and off-course consumer experience. Newton Running is back for the second year as the series Presenting Sponsor; Alaska Airlines has become the Presenting Sponsor of the Wine and Music Festival; Fitbit as the market leader in connected health and fitness, CamelBak hydration systems, GU Energy Labs athlete nutrition and SOLS’ custom 3D printed insoles are also new to the Series this year and will extend their partnerships to 2016 and 2017. Each sponsor will offer a unique and captivating experience to the Wine Country Half Marathon Series.

Destination Races has attracted a complementary and collaborative sponsor portfolio that will be instrumental to helping heighten the race weekend experience for all participants. The sponsor portfolio reflects the Destination Races brand mission: To deliver unforgettable race experiences celebrating why we run – capturing imaginations, encouraging camaraderie, inspiring courage and fueling passions.

Today’s race event landscape and half marathon calendars are booming, and consumers face a flood of race choices. As a result, sponsor brands are getting lost in the noise. According to Running USA, nearly two million people finished a half-marathon in the U.S. last year, an all-time high and a fourfold increase from 2000. Yet, there are few “destination” races that really capitalize on the local experience around the half marathon event while also creating several intimate opportunities for the racers to interact with the multiple supporting brands.

Sponsors are rethinking their strategies and seeking higher-quality events that offer more than just a start, finish and medal. Destination Races offers sponsors multiple intimate events, receptions and activities in which to interact with key active consumers. The seven wine country half marathons, spanning across prominent wine regions in North America, offer signature, hand-selected settings and tastefully planned schedules that can be experienced over an unforgettable three-day weekend. Destination Races offers the perfect race weekend for runners and food and wine enthusiasts alike, complete with scenic courses, post-race Wine and Music festivals, and exclusive access to renowned wineries, gourmet tastings and local personalities.

Each individual race within the series is set apart and unique to the local region. Destination Races works with the tourism boards and winery associations along with the wine makers themselves to offer the very best of the different wine regions. This also gives participants access to exclusive local hotels and B&Bs during the weekend, often at special rates.

“Destination Races offers a first-class, memorable lifestyle experience that is relatively unique to the endurance industry,” states Destination Races founder and President Matt Dockstader. “We feel it’s important to partner with brands that share our goals and have a passion not only for running, but also the high-touch, wine country experience. We are extremely excited to showcase all these fantastic brands and their creative activations in our series this year!”

Other noteworthy partners of Destination Races include Clif Bar, Kicking Horse Organic Fair Trade Coffee, Purity Organic Juices, Calistoga Olive Oil, RedFox Wireless Headphones, Krave Jerky, Hint Water, ElliptiGO, Zim’s Max-Freeze Muscle and Joint Pain Reliever, Enduropacks Nutrition System, Scharffen Berger Chocolates, Stance Socks, and Lagunitas Brewing

About Destination Races
Destination Races, based in Sonoma, California, is the pioneer producer of the Wine Country Half Marathon Series. Founded in 2004, the Wine Country Half Marathon Series consists of seven races across prestigious wine regions in North America. Offering unforgettable experiences on and off the course, including the popular post-race wine and music festival, runners travel far and wide for these boutique destination races. The race series attracts elite runners as well as food and wine enthusiasts who share their common bond of running and celebration. The Wine Country Half Marathon Series has limited fields in each event to ensure the participants and their guests can enjoy all the race weekends have to offer, including exclusive winery tours, plus receptions and dinners featuring the local bounty at esteemed wineries and other unique venues.

Current races include – Santa Barbara, Northern Virginia, Napa-to-Sonoma, Oregon (Willamette Valley), Kelowna, B.C., Healdsburg, and Temecula Valley, California.

For more information on the event series and Destination Races, go to, friend them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter @winecountryhalf, and see exclusive race images on Instagram

My Quick Winery Picks for Vancouver International Wine Fest

Vancouver International Wine Festival 2013When you step foot inside the Festival Tasting room, time is ticking. There are 1850 wines to taste. Let me give you some suggestions for the theme region, California, and for the rest of the world.  No time in this article to give you any details, but these are wineries I have tried in the past, or I am interested in tasting.  I will visit each of these tables, among other tables.  To find these wineries, when you arrive, your Festival Tasting Room program, p.23, has a map showing the layout of the tables.

California Wineries to Visit

  • Blackbird Vineyards
  • Chateau St. Jean
  • Clos du Val
  • Duckhorn Wine Company
  • Gloria Ferrer
  • Girard Winery
  • Heitz Cellar
  • Joseph Phelps Winery
  • Louis M Martini
  • MacRostie Vineyards
  • Marimar Estate
  • Ridge Vineyards
  • Schug Carneros Estate Winery
  • Silver Oak Cellars
  • Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars

The Rest of the World Wineries to Visit

  • Bodega Catena Zapata Winery, Argentina
  • Las Perdices, Argentina
  • Chapel Hill, Australia
  • Josef Chromy, Australia
  • Tyrrell’s Wines, Australia
  • Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars, BC
  • Fort Berens Estate Winery, BC
  • Meyer Family Vineyards, BC
  • Nk’Mip Cellars, BC
  • Painted Rock Estate Winery, BC
  • Poplar Grove Winery, BC
  • Sandhill, BC
  • Stoneboat Vineyards, BC
  • Tinhorn Creek Vineyards, BC
  • Wild Goose Vineyards & Winery, BC
  • Concha y Toro, Chile
  • Vina Koyle Family Vineyards, Chile
  • Vina Undurraga, Chile
  • Baron Philippe de Rotschild, France
  • Brumont Vineyards, France
  • Dourthe & Thienot, France
  • Chateau de la Gardine, France
  • Georges Duboeuf, France
  • Famille Perrin, France
  • Champagne Pol Roger, France
  • Estates of Antinori, Italy
  • Barone Ricasoli, Italy
  • Fontodi, Italy
  • Akarua, New Zealand
  • Giesen Wines, New Zealand
  • Whitehaven Winery, New Zealand
  • Jose Maria da Fonseca, Portugal
  • Ramos Pinto, Portugal
  • Taylor Fladgate/Fonseca/Croft Port, Portugal
  • Boekenhoustskloof Winery, South Africa
  • Glen Carlou, South Africa
  • IberWine, Spain
  • Miguel Torres, Spain
  • Nathalie Bonhomme, Spain
  • King Estate, Oregon
  • Long Shadows, Washington

I know, its a long list, but worthwhile if you have the time.  Enjoy the Festival!

Portland: A Great Food and Wine Destination

Portland: Island Grill BBQ food cart

Recently I had a chance to travel to Portland, Oregon for a weekend. I had 3 things I wanted to do:

  • Try the food carts
  • Buy some Oregon Pinot Noir
  • Try the restaurants

I did get to try all three. Here is my synopsis.

Portland Food Carts

Portland has a great food cart scene.  Food carts are grouped into “pods”, which are typically around parking lots.  Most of the food carts are downtown, but there are many outside of the downtown core.  I love Cajun food, and Southern BBQ, so I checked out the Food Carts Portland website to narrow down my search.  (Note this website has a set of Google Maps showing the pods and the carts at each pod.) The food carts I eventually tried was:

  • Island Grill Hawaiian BBQ
  • A Little Bit of Smoke

Portland: A Little Bit of Smoke food cart

I also have a soft spot for Hawaiian lunch plates, which are typically some bbq’d meat (in my case Kalua pork), a scoop of rice, and a scoop of potato salad. If you go to Hawaii, look out for Hawaiian lunch plates.  They are always a great value!

At the Island Grill Hawaiian BBQ, I did have the Kalua pork lunch plate, as outlined above.  The pork had a nice smokiness to it, and was very juicy. They have a mini for $5 and a large for a few dollars more.  I enjoyed the mini.  This left me some room for my next food cart.

A Little Bit of Smoke is Carolina-style BBQ.  I ordered their “Hogpile“, which was a bowl loaded with black-eyed peas, pulled pork, slaw and their special red barbeque sauce.  A ton of flavours in your mouth; sweet, spicy, smokey, earthy all in one bite, plus the crunchiness of the slaw!

Oregon Pinot Noir and Wine Stores

Oregon is well known for their wines, especially Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, two cool climate grapes. Just around from my hotel downtown was a fantastic wine shop called Vinopolis Wine Shop (1025 Southwest Washington Street).  Nothing glitzy about this store, just boxes and boxes of fine wine from around the world.  I spent a few hours just walking through this store, checking out wines that I have not seen in Vancouver.  I was tempted to pick up some Rhone wines, but I settled on two Oregonian Pinot Noirs:

  • Belle Pente Belle Pente VIneyard Pinot Noir 2008

    Belle Pente Belle Pente Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008

  • Patricia Green Cellars Olenik Pinot Noir 2009

I picked Belle Pente in part because Burghound had reviewed this winery.  Burghound is best known for his encyclopedic knowledge of Burgundy, so when he spent time to taste and review Belle Pente, that was a hint to me that this is a wine I should consider. You can read about Belle Pente’s wines here.

I also have been hearing many good things about Patrica Green Cellars and knew this is one wine I had to buy.  You can read about Patricia Green Cellars on their website.

I don’t have much to say about these two wines as I did not open the bottles yet.  They have to sit in my cellar for a few years.  I will let you know when I open them!

Portland’s Restaurant Scene

Getting into a restaurant in downtown Portland is a challenge.  Don’t show up at their door, even on a Monday night and expect to get a table.  If you want a table you have to book at least 1 day in advance, at least for the restaurants I tried.  I did go to three restaurants, and enjoyed 3 dinners:

  • Irving Street Kitchen
  • 50 Plates
  • Andina

Irving Street Kitchen has a working kitchen in the centre of the restaurant.  Everything is open, with funky, stripped down, industrial style interior.  My meal was perfectly cooked duck breast served with corn grits.

At 50 Plates, I shared a green chili seafood chowder and a paella.  Seafood chowder made with green chilies is new to me, but it tastes great.  A bit of southwestern flavour mixed with northeast seafood chowder.  The paella was listed as Florida style.  I’m not sure the difference, but the paella was chock full of seafood.

Andina Peruvian Restaurant Draper Chicken with Yam

Andina advertises themselves as novo-Peruvian food.  Peruvian food is described by all South American countries as being the best food in South America.  After trying Andina’s food, I agree.  I was in Chile 2 years ago, and the Chileans recommended for me to try the Peruvian food.  Peruvian seafood dishes are highly rated.  For me though, all the restaurants I visited in Portland had local Draper Valley chicken.  I had to try it, so I ordered the ESCABECHE DE POLLITO CON DUO DE CAMOTE, which is described as  Pisco-brined Draper Valley chicken, pan-roasted to order, and served “escabeche” style; with pickled onions, Botija olives, quail eggs, cherry tomatoes and sweet potato served two ways: crispy quinoa croquettes and huacatay-cotija cheese gratin.  The sweet potato cooked 2 ways  were fantastic.  The quinoa coated yam croquettes were crunchy and had a sweet onion relish.  The huacatay-cotija cheese grain, was paper thin slices of yam piled high and coated with cheese and baked.  The yam had a dill flavour to it.  I couldn’t see any dill in the dish, but it was delish.  I will have to try recreating this on my own.  The chicken was of course cooked to perfection and was very enjoyable when you ate it with mouthfuls of the olives, quails egg, cherry tomatoes… To this dish I had a glass of Graffigna Pinot Gris Reserva from Argentina.  Nice stone fruit and acidity paired perfectly with the chicken.

Of the three restaurants, although all had really good food, Andina was exceptionally good.  If you are planning a trip to Portland, do not miss a visit to Andina!

If you would like to visit these restaurants, here are their websites:


A Pinot Lover’s Dinner with Amity Vineyards

A last minute Tweet to me, asking if I’d like to try some Oregon Pinots, was all I needed to get me to Raincity Grill to try the wines of Amity Vineyards paired with expertly crafted entrees. Our pinot passionate speaker was Myron Redford, President & Senior Winemaker of Amity Vineyards.

Myron Redford of Amity Vineyards

Myron was originally from Seattle and was trained in wine making.  He travelled to Europe and was introduced to Pinot Noir. In 1974 a winery in Oregon was available for sale.  With the help of his mother, $15,000 secured his ownership of what is now Amity Vineyards. The vines were not originally Pinot Noir or Pinot Blanc, but would be over time.  Myron was one of the people on a review board analyzing various clones of Pinot Noir and how they thrived and the type of wines they produced in Oregon. With this knowledge, he selected those clones that would show pinots potential in Oregon, and at his winery.

Our first pairing for the evening was House Cured Wild Sockeye Salmon, barigoule vegetable salad with Amity Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Blanc 2008. The Pinot Blanc was bright in the glass of a medium lemon colour. Red delicious apple with some citrus aromas. Medium body, dry on the palate but with a roundness to it.  More red delicious apple and lemon flavours.   High acidity and a bit of sweet spice.  This was a nice pairing with the lower acidity of the salad being complemented by the higher acidity of the wine.

Amity Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2008 with Thiessen Farms Quail Terrine

The second pairing was Thiessen Farms Quail Terrine (bacon wrapped country-style terrine, house-made brioche and cranberry compote) with Amity Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2008. This pinot was deep ruby in colour.  Nice nose.  Light cherry, raspberry, violets and vanilla aromas. Medium body. Round with spice, cherries, and violets flavours up front and nice acidity, followed by vanilla on the mid-palate. Long length. This is one of Amity’s larger quantities of Pinot Noir, with 4000 cases produced. The grapes come from 7 different vineyards. The grapes are kept separate when picked and are fermented and aged separately.  Finally these separate wines are blended to produce the final wine. The terrine was exquisite with the smokiness of the bacon and the savoriness of the terrine complementing the acidity and violet aromas and flavours of this wine.

Our third pairing was Nicola Valley Bison Flat Iron with plum jus, ‘helmers’ fondant potatoes, hazelnuts, and green beans with Amity Vineyards Winemakers Reserve Pinot Noir 2007. This wine is the top wine from Amity Vineyards.  Barrel selected from the best barrels to drink in the future. This wine is not meant to be consumed yet.  Full enjoyment comes with patience; 10 years if possible. The 2007 vintage has just been released and for the first time has 40% new oak. Past vintages used older, more neutral barrels for aging. This wine truly was a step above of the previous wine.  Deep ruby red in colour.  Violet, vanilla, and raspberries on the nose.  Later on in the glass you picked up some strawberry leaf and smokiness. Lots of vanilla and vanilla up front. Hot and spicy mid-palate.  Dry with tannins and astringency now, which should fade with aging. Medium length.  Round with light body and soft tannins. Protein loves tannins in red wine, and the dark gaminess of the bison paired nicely with this Pinot Noir, making both a bit softer.

Amity Vineyards Pinots and Riesling lineup

Our final pairing was dessert.  Honey roasted apricot tart tatin with thyme ice cream paired with Amity Vineyards Late Harvest Estate Riesling 2007. This wine was made with botrytis affected grapes, which imparts a honey or marmalade flavour to the wine. This wine was light pear coloured.  Petrol, peaches, and honey aromas.  Good acidity on the palate with peaches, honey and petrol flavours.  Medium body with long length.  A tasty wine. The apricots in the tart tatin were very flavourful with the acidity of the late harvest Riesling adding additional lively complexity to this dessert.

You should be able to find the Amity Vineyards wines in the private liquor stores in Vancouver. Enjoy.

Back from Oregon

My blog has been quiet over the last week. That’s because I was out in Oregon trying pinot noir and pinot gris primarily. The coast where i was staying was really wet and cold. Not good grape growing area, but as soon as you move inland a bit, say around McMinnville, the weather warms up nicely. I was able to try wines from the $11 – $85 range, and both ends of the range were excellent. On the main page of i will be providing reviews for the wines that I really enjoyed, but for the moment, to whet your appetite, here are a few recommendations:

Rex Hill Reserve Pinot Noir, 2006. This wine is produced by the winemaker barrel sampling and picking the best barrels to blend. This wine was medium garnet. Violet and plum aromas. Violets, ginger, cloves, and vanilla flavour. US$42

Sokol Blosser Dundee Hills Pinot Noir, 2006. 2006 was a hot year in Oregon so all wineries have very ripe fruit and a larger volume of wine produced. This wine was light garnet in colour. Spicy, strawberry, smoky, vanilla and cherry aromas. Spicy, light oak, with a cherry finish. US$38

Redhawk Vineyard and Winery Redhawk Red. This is a popular table wine for this winery. It is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. This wine was dark garnet in colour. Plum, currant and dark fruit aromas. Sweet black fruits, soft tannins and long length on the palate. US$11 (an unbelievable price)


A quick review of new wines to Vancouver

Last week I attended a Trade Tasting which shows off the new wines coming into the Vancouver, BC market. There were too many wines to try, which is good for everyone, giving us more choices. But without knowing what to pick to enjoy with your bbq or sushi, for example, could be a problem for you. So what were some wines that I think you should look out for? Here they are:

Elephant Hill Syrah, New Zealand, 2007, $25, spec (very smoky aroma, with smoky, cherry flavours and medium tannins)
Delas Cotes Du Rhone, France, 2007, $17.99, spec (another syrah. Cherry and licorice aroma. Cherry, licorice flavours with medium tannins)
Panther Creek, Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir, Oregon, 2006, $31.75 (a fuller bodied pinot noir. Blackberry and vanilla on the nose. Cocoa, orange peel and currant flavours. Smooth.)
Marques de Caceres Rioja Blanco, Spain, 2008, $15.99, spec (Citrusy, green aroma. Lively apple and citrus flavours.)
Pierre Sparr et Ses Fils, Riesling Selection, France, 06/07, $18.01 (Apple/petrol aroma. Petrol, citrus, apple flavour. Light/medium bodied.)
Anakena Single Vineyard Viognier, Chile, 2008, $16.95 (Apricot and ginger aromas. Good acidity. Apricot and ginger flavours continue on the palate.)

Stay tuned for my upcoming trip to Oregon. I’ll be trying lots of Pinot Noir and letting you know the gems I find. Enjoy!

Las Vegas!

February 18, 2009 09:36:51
Posted By Wine With Karl

So you probably wondered why I have not posted lately. The answer is I took a short vacation to Las Vegas. Visited a few new casinos, played some table games, and of course kept my eye out for wine.

If you are looking for a nice wine bar, and nearby wine shop, I’d suggest that you visit the Palazzo. This is the new twin tower for the Venetian casino. It is a really beautiful casino. One of the things I found in the Palazzo is a very nice wine bar called “Double Helix Bar” and beside it is the “Double Helix Boutique”. In the boutique you can buy the wines that you tried in the bar.

From the Double Helix website:

…Double Helix’s nearly 2,100-square-foot space is located within the heart of the shopping center and includes a circular bar featuring more than 50 wines by the glass, available in either 2 oz. taste portions or 5 oz. glass servings. An adjacent boutique offers nearly 300 bottles of rare and hard-to-find labels from all over the world.

Featured wines include: Ken Wright Pinot Noir (Oregon), Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 1999, Sonoma-Cutrer Les Pierres Chardonnay, Gaja Ca’Marcanda Promis (Italy), Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand), and Dom Perignon Champagne (France) to name just a few….

So if you are going to Las Vegas, and need a wine fix, please visit the Double Helix. Enjoy!

Thinking about Pinot Noir

The movie Sideways popularized the Pinot Noir varietal. It is the classic red grape of Burgundy, but is getting competition from around the world, particularly from Oregon and New Zealand. Other countries, such as Canada and Chile are producing some nice Pinots as well. This is a cross over grape, I’d say, for people that primarily drink white wine because they don’t like the tannins from red wines. Pinot Noir grapes have low tannins, and depending on how the wines are produced can be very light, with wonderful red fruit (e.g. strawberries and raspberries) and violet aromas and flavours. There can also be the more “Burgundian” versions of pinot noir that have more of the earthy, barnyard aromas and flavours that some people enjoy.

So if you have someone you want to introduce to red wines, may I suggest a New World pinot noir. It is hard to go wrong with one from New Zealand. Matua, Tohu (aboriginal run), Cloudy Bay, and Villa Maria are some producers you may want to check out. Chile also makes some nice Pinot Noir. Two that I can recommend are: Cremaschi Furlotti and Casa del Bosque. If you prefer to try Canadian Pinot Noir, Mission Hill, Cedar Creek (try the Platinum Series if you can) and Quails Gate produce good examples.

With a lighter style Pinot Noir, you can pair these wines with fish or chicken. Try a roast salmon with pinot noir.


Welcome to my Wine World!

Well, it is said that a journey starts with the first step. I hope this first step is the many of steps that I will be taking with you in the future. I have always be interested in wine and it has led me to be the president of the South World Wine Society here in Vancouver, BC. I have also sought out wineries wherever I have travelled around the world. Some places I have visited wineries are:

– BC Okanagan

– Washington, Oregon, and California State

– South Australia (Adelaide, Barossa Valley)

– Nova Scotia

– Argentina

I will of course be visiting more wineries in the future and I will post my travels here in the blog. Over the next year I plan to visit:

France (Champagne region, Burgundy, Alsace, and Provence)

Argentina (hopefully make it to Mendoza)


Other things you might read in my blog are wine events that I recently attended, what wine I’m currently drinking, and other specials I hear that are wine related. I want to provide you with information that is of interest to you, so please feel free to email me with your ideas!

Starting over again

For those that have followed my blog on, welcome to my new blog site. The old site had a limitation on storage and I hit the limit. So what I am doing is porting over my existing blogs here, then will add to them with my latest wine adventures.

For those that are new to the blog, welcome! I do enjoy travelling to wine regions of the world and telling people about them, as well as local wine happenings in Vancouver, BC, and general wine education. You will see in the upcoming blogs that I transfer about my trip to Burgundy and Alsace in France. Later this year you will read about my trip to Oregon and then about Chile.

I do like answering people’s questions about wine, so do not hesitate to contact me.