Abbotsford Harvest Dinner setting at Mt Lehman Winery

Abbotsford Harvest Dinner – Wine, Beer, Main Dishes and Dessert

Circle Farm TourMany of us aspire to the 100 mile diet.  Keeping our food local.  Supporting our farmers.  But here in Vancouver, have you considered that those farmers, might be a 30-45 minute drive away in Abbotsford, in the Fraser Valley?  I was invited as part of the Circle Farm Tour to experience an Abbotsford Harvest Dinner, and was pleasantly surprised by the bounty of food, wine and beer that is available.

The dinner starting with chatting and sampling local beer from Ravens Brewing Company.  This brewery just opened earlier this year and collaborates with local growers and suppliers to craft artisan beer.  I tried their English Dark Mild.  It was indeed dark, with a charcoal and dark malt flavour to it, but not too heavy, so that you can enjoy more food and wine.

The dishes we enjoyed were:

  • Campbell’s Gold honey roasted, local delicata squash with pumpkin seeds, Abbotsford goat cheese from Mt. Lehman Cheese (appetizer)
  • Maple Hills Farm’s chicken roulade with creamy polenta and kale chips (appetizer)
  • Lepp Farm Market’s pork loin wrapped in bacon with savory shallot and plum marmalade (entree)
  • Yarrow Meadows’ duck breast with balsamic pearl onions (entree)
  • Roasted local beets and parsnips (entree)
  • Organic Fraser Valley rice risotto with roasted shiitake mushrooms (entree)
  • Birchwood Dairy’s vanilla ice cream topped with Gojoy Berries’ goji berry compote (dessert)
  • Onnink’s chocolate blueberry bonbons (dessert)

I must say that it was nice to meet, or have the farmers from Abbotsford introduce themselves to us as we sat at a beautifully set table in the barrel room of Mt. Lehman Winery.  Thanks also to Chef Jeff Massey from Restaurant 62 who prepared all these dishes for us.

The farmers supplying our food and drink are:

The dishes come from fresh ingredients from the vegetables, to the pork, chicken and duck.  A few standout dishes for me were first the honey roasted local delicata squash with pumpkin seeds and goat cheese.  Creamy sweetness from the squash, with creaminess from the cheese and a bit of crunch from the pumpkin seeds.  The Lepp Farm Market’s pork loin wrapped in bacon was also outstanding for me.  The bacon comes from Lepp, and is smoked by them.  No artificially aged bacon here.  The flavour of the bacon was really outstanding and makes you think about the industrial bacon you buy in grocery stores.  No comparison.  If you have never tried roasted beets, give them a try.  I really like the earthiness of the beets.  And the blueberry bonbons are also a very tasty way to end dessert.  Good quality chocolate mixed with blueberries.  You cannot go wrong with this combination.  All the dishes were very good, and I present to you pictures of these dishes for your visual consumption below.  If any of this food or wine sparks your interest, drive out to Abbotsford and buy from these farmers.

I must especially thank winery owner Vern Siemens for opening bottles of every white and red wine I think they make, for us to experiment and pair with all the dishes at our Abbotsford Harvest dinner.  I in particular liked Mt. Lehman’s Pinot Noir and Unoaked Chardonnay, and felt they made good pairings with many dishes.

Mt Lehman Unoaked Chardonnay Pinot Gris Pinot Noir and Merlot Reserve wines

Mt Lehman Unoaked Chardonnay Pinot Gris Pinot Noir and Merlot Reserve wines

Ravens Brewing Company English Dark Mild beer

Ravens Brewing Company English Dark Mild beer

Campbells Gold honey roasted local delicata squash with pumpkin seeds, Abbotsford goat cheese from Mt Lehman Cheese

Campbell’s Gold honey roasted local delicata squash with pumpkin seeds, Abbotsford goat cheese from Mt Lehman Cheese

Maple Hills Farm's chicken roulade with creamy polenta and kale chips

Maple Hills Farm’s chicken roulade with creamy polenta and kale chips

Roasted local beets and parsnips

Roasted local beets and parsnips

Yarrow Meadows' duck breast with balsamic pearl onions

Yarrow Meadows’ duck breast with balsamic pearl onions

Organic Fraser Valley rice risotto with roasted shiitake mushrooms

Organic Fraser Valley rice risotto with roasted shiitake mushrooms

Lepp Farm Market's pork loin wrapped in bacon with savory shallot and plum marmalade

Lepp Farm Market’s pork loin wrapped in bacon with savory shallot and plum marmalade

Birchwood Dairy's vanilla ice cream topped with Gojoy Berries' goji berry compote

Birchwood Dairy’s vanilla ice cream topped with Gojoy Berries’ goji berry compote

 

Advertisements

Trying Wellbrook Winery’s Fruit Wines with Dione’s Chocolates

Dione with her chocolates

It was just last week that I went with a friend to attend the Wellbrook Winery Wine and Chocolate tasting.  The chocolates were hand-made by artisan chocolate maker Dione Costanzo of Dione’s Chocolates from Crescent Beach, BC.  I had not yet been to Wellbrook Winery, but had heard about their wines.  They produce a range of fruit wines, with the fruit coming of course from Beautiful BC.  It was a rather informal affair, where you walked about and chatted with the other attendees, sipping wine, nibbling chocolates, and finding out each other’s favourite pairings.

Our Wine and Chocolate Pairings

  • Kangaroo with fruit compote paired with Wellbrook’s Reserve Blueberry wine.  There is dark chocolate mixed in with the fruit, so this is still a wine and chocolate pairing.  The kangaroo was quite tender, and went very well with the fruit & chocolate compote.  The Reserve Blueberry wine had a bit of smokiness to it, and toned down blueberry flavour.  Quite dry, but without the tannins that you would get in a red grape based wine.  The fruit in the wine with the compote meshed together well.
  • Chicken Mole tart paired with Wellbrook’s Reserve Blueberry wine.  The chocolate in this pairing is in the Mexican mole sauce.  This tart had a wonderful smoky chipotle flavour and medium spice.  I think the consensus amongst the group was that this was the better of the two pairings.  The smokiness of the wine and the chipotle made the magic happen.
  • Wellbrook’s Rhubarb wine paired with Strawberry Delights, and Gourmet bark white chocolate with BC cranberries.  The rhubarb wine was light in body and flavour.  I was expecting this wine to have lots of sourness, but was pleasantly surprised that it was not there.  On the pairings, half of the people liked the strawberry delights and half liked the white chocolate with BC cranberries.  I think the tartness of the cranberries, the creaminess of the white chocolate and the lightness of the rhubarb wine worked well together.
  • Wellbrook winery peach apricot wine

    Wellbrook’s Peach Apricot wine paired with Autumn Spice Ganache, and Gourmet bark milk chocolate with crystalized ginger.  I really enjoyed this wine. It tasted like dried apricots and had a high level of acidity without making you pucker.  It was very fruity and I’d place it as medium bodied. I preferred this wine with the Autumn Spice Ganache.  I liked the sweet spices from the chocolate mingling with the stone fruit flavours, plus the acidity from the wine made the chocolate and spice more flavourful.  The ginger was ok for me, but it did not have enough ginger flavour for me.  I know others mentioned that there was too much ginger for them.

  • Wellbrook’s Ice Apple wine paired with Crescent Beach truffle caramel with sea salt, and green apple truffles.  The ice apple was not as thick and syrupy as a grape-based ice wine, but it still had more body, apple flavour, and sweetness than I would expect from a dry, apple wine. Everyone really liked this wine with Dione’s Crescent Beach truffle.  I think this may be her signature chocolate.  It was also a hit at the previous wine and chocolate tasting I did with her. The green apple truffle was a bit too sour for my taste and did not mesh well enough with the ice apple wine.

At this event, we also had their new wine maker, Mr. Laurent Lafuente, to talk about the fruit wines, and his experiences around the world.  He even gave us a sip of their newly fermenting cranberry wine.  It was quite interesting to taste a wine in mid-ferment.

If you have never been to Wellbrook Winery, they are located at 4626 88th Street, Delta, BC.  I have been told that they have lots of fun tastings and food events during the winter and summer.  Try to get on their email list. And don’t forget Dione’s Chocolates. Probably both are good presents to grown-up friends and family.  Enjoy!

Lulu Island Winery Grand Opening

 

Today, July 3, 2009 was the grand opening of the Lulu Island Winery in Richmond. There was an official ribbon cutting with federal, provincial, and municipal dignitaries there in abundance. I was there of course for the wine. This winery I believe was previously called Blossom Winery and have now renamed themselves as Lulu Island Winery.

Blossom Winery was well known to me as producing non-grape, fruit wines. But with Lulu Island Winery, they contracted with grape growers in the south Okanagan to produce a range of grape wines. The wines that are currently available from Lulu Island winery are:

Chardonnay $14.95
Gewurztraminer $16.75
Sauvignon Blanc $13.95
Merlot 2008 $18.95
Riesling / Chardonnay Ice wine 2007 $69
Merlot / Pinot Noir Ice wine 2007 $95
Raspberry $15.95
Blueberry $18.95

I did not record a vintage for all the bottles, so only listed the vintages I knew.

On the white wines, I particularly enjoyed the Sauvignon Blanc. It was medium lemon in colour, and had a light grapefruit nose. Good acid, with honey and grapefruit flavours. There was only 1 red, which was the Merlot and was also quite nice. This wine was deep purple in the glass. It had oak, vanilla, and black plum aromas. It was medium body , medium tannins, with plum and cherry fruit flavours. Both ice wines were very unctus and can be enjoyed either on their own or maybe with cake or fruit. Finally I quite liked their blueberry wine. Although it was listed as a sweetness of 4, it had good acidity to balance the sugar and keep the wine refreshing. Lots of blueberry aroma and flavour.

Lulu Island Winery is located at 16880 Westminster Highway in Richmond, BC. Their tel is 604-232-9839. A nice place to visit on a weekend for those of you that live in the Vancouver lower mainland.

Fraser Valley Wineries Association 2nd Annual Wine & Culinary Extravaganza

var gaJsHost = ((“https:” == document.location.protocol) ? “https://ssl.” : “http://www.”);
document.write(unescape(“%3Cscript src='” + gaJsHost + “google-analytics.com/ga.js’ type=’text/javascript’%3E%3C/script%3E”));

try {
var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(“UA-3295479-2”);
pageTracker._trackPageview();
} catch(err) {}Today was a beautiful day for the Fraser Valley Wineries Association 2nd Annual Wine & Culinary Extravaganza in south Langley. A large tent was set up, wines were chilled, and hot & cold appetizers were plenty. Some of the wineries offered grape based wines, which most of us think of, but there were also several fruit berry wineries. On the grape-side we had:
– Domaine de Chaberton Estate Wine
ry
– Lotusland Vineyards
– Pacific Breeze Winery

– River’s Bend Winery


On the fruit berry side there was:
– Westham Island Estate Winery
– Wellbrook Winery
– Sanduz Estate Wines

– The Fort Wine Company

Some people say they get headaches after drinking red wine from grapes. This could be due to the tannins in some of the heavier reds, such as from syrah, cabernet sauvignon, and merlot. There are lighter bodied reds, with less tannins, such as gamay and pinot noir. But there is also another route that these red wine suffers may want to take, and that is to drink red berry wine. At today’s event, I was able to try wine made from blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, red currant, and black currant. I enjoyed the currant wines the most, as they were the closest to grape wine for me, but I can appreciate the other wines as well. There was also dessert (sweet) fruit wines to sample. One I enjoyed was the Sanduz blueberry dessert wine. It was almost porty.

On the grape side, I was very happy to find out that Lotusland Vineyards is an organic winery and also uses wild fermentation (that is using the native yeast in the vineyard to ferment the wines. The other method is to purchase specialized yeasts for fermentation.) Their gewurztraminer had a lychee / pear nose was light bodied and had a delicate flavour. Their pinot noir and merlot was also very nice. I unfortunately did not have a tasting sheet to make notes, for these wines or the other wines, but I do remember which wines I enjoyed the most. If you like big Rhone style or Bordeaux style wines, Pacific Breeze Winery, was pouring a Vin de Gariste and a GSM (Grenache / Syrah / Mouvedre) blend. They also had a very full bodied, creamy chardonnay. Another winery I enjoyed was River’s Bend. They had a very nice white blend called Flaxen, a Viognier, and a Pinot Gris. On the red side, their 2006 Black Horse, a blend of Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc, was nice paired up with the pulled pork sandwich from Memphis Blues Barbeque.

There were several other local restaurants, such as Coza Tuscan Grill and Sonoma Grill serving up appetizers to go with the wines. The event was overall run very well. I’d recommend people to attend next year’s event so you can also try out these wines, or take a 1-day weekend trip to visit each winery.