The 2013 BC Icewine Harvest – Info from the BC Wine Institute

Yes it was cold enough to freeze grapes this past week, and ice wine flowed!  Well at least frozen grape juice, but the wonderful ice wine is soon to follow.  The BC Wine Institute issued the following press release about the latest ice wine harvest, and I am passing it along to you.  Enjoy!

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January 18, 2013 (Kelowna, BC)

Tantalus Vineyards ice wine harvest 2013

Tantalus Vineyards ice wine harvest 2013

The Icewine harvest has returned to British Columbia!

After last vintage’s second-earliest start on record on November 19 and 20, 2011 the majority of the Icewine harvest in the Okanagan was on January 11 and 12, 2013. Harvested at minus 8°Celsius or below, the wine made from these frozen grapes must reach quality standards including 35 brix of sugar to be called true Icewine.

While some Icewine was harvested in the early morning hours of  January 1, 2013, the majority of the Icewine harvest continued just a few weeks later from 10:30 PM on January 11, continuing to the early morning hours of January 12, ending at about 5:00 AM. The BC Wine Authority noted that 27 of the 31 potential wineries picked that weekend, collecting approximately 450 tons of frozen grapes. Temperatures during harvest ranged from minus 9°to minus 14° Celsius, and the harvest was spread around the Okanagan Valley, from north to south.

Summerhill Pyramid Winery in Kelowna picked 6.25 tons of Zweigelt for Icewine at the Summerhill Vineyard and Eidse Brothers Vineyard on Friday night, beginning at 12:00 AM in minus 11° weather. The grapes were at 42 brix at pressing – much above the requirement of minimum of 35 brix. Unfortunately, the winery was too late for their Chardonnay Icewine grapes. Summerhill’s CEO Ezra Cipes explained that “deer and birds ate our entire crop of Chardonnay Icewine this year, despite netting the grapes to protect them.” The wildlife also reduced the amount of Zweigelt Icewine available as they ate about three quarters of the potential harvest. Cipes explained that the winery has no deer fencing to protect the grapes and also has a nature preserve on the property – perfect for a family of deer.

Van Westen Vineyards in Naramata began picking their Icewine at 2:00 AM on January 12. With temperatures at -11°, the inner cluster berries were thoroughly frozen. By 4:00 PM that day, the temperature had warmed to -6°and the team was still pressing frozen grapes. The winery picked about 1.7 tons of Icewine overall.

Oliver’s Tinhorn Creek Vineyards picked their Kerner Icewine at 5:00 AM on Saturday, January 12. The winery reports that they also picked their Icewine on the same day in 2012 – January 12.

The Icewine varieties picked are diverse in the Okanagan Valley, ranging from aromatic whites to tannic reds. January 11 and 12 saw the following grapes picked for Icewine, in order for highest tonnage: Riesling (132), Merlot (77), Cabernet Franc (36), Pinot Gris (35), Chardonnay (35), Zweigelt (34), Viognier (33), Pinot Noir (25), Sauvignon Blanc (25), Ehrenfelser (8), Cabernet Sauvignon (4), Kerner (3.5), Oraniensteiner (1.5), Syrah (1), Lemburger (1), Pinot Blanc (1), Pinot Auxerrois (1), Semillon (0.5), and Muscat (0.5).

With the Icewine harvest begun, palates across BC can look forward to new Icewine releases in 2013.

For updates on the harvest, follow @winebcdotcom, #Icewine and #BCwine on Twitter.

About British Columbia Wine Institute

Since 1990, the BCWI has played a pivotal role in taking BC’s wine industry from a vision to an internationally recognized niche region producing premium wines and providing quality wine tourism experiences.

Representing 133 member wineries throughout the province, the BCWI supports and markets the Wines of British Columbia (BC VQA), which gives consumers assurance they are buying a wine that is 100% from BC. The BCWI also markets the Wine Regions of British Columbia; delivers quality trade, media and consumer tastings; and acts as the voice of BC’s wine industry by advocating to government on behalf of its members. Find more at www.winebc.com.

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A Few Value Wine Finds at New Westminster Liquor Store

I had a chance to drop by the New Westminster BCLDB Liquor store at the bottom of Royal Ave yesterday and saw a few wines on sale and other interesting wines. Here are a few quick snapshots from my camera on the wines. I think you should be able to pick them up at the same price at other BCLDB stores. Enjoy!

Viu Manent Malbec 2011

Viu Manent Malbec 2011 – An outrageously cheap price.

Oyster Bay Pinot Noir and Chardonnay

Oyster Bay Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Always good quality from New Zealand.

Picpoul de pinet

Picpoul de pinet – an interesting white grape from France. Exceptional price.

Alive Red and White

Alive Red and White. Two quality organic wines from Summerhill Winery.

Vancouver Foodster and the Best Burger Challenge

Best Burger ChallengeFrom November 5 – 30, 2012 you can taste the burger creations from 29 restaurants in Vancouver and Burnaby, then vote from November 28 – December 3 for your favourite. Visit www.vancouverfoodster.com/burger-challenge/ to find out all the restaurants and how to vote.

I had an opportunity to visit 3 of the participating restaurants with Media last week.  The burgers were all very different in their style, which I think makes the challenge interesting.  Find what you like.  The three restaurants we visited:

  • Max’s Burgers (521 West 8th Ave, Vancouver)
  • Luke’s Kitchen (2996 Granville St, Vancouver)
  • Whet (1517 Anderson St, Vancouver)

Max’s Burgers

Max’s Burgers produced a “local” burger, where all the ingredients are local.  Plus the hamburger bun is produced on premises. The beef comes from the Honest Butcher on Broadway and the bacon comes from Woodland Smokehouse.  Amber Ale white cheddar for the burger comes from the Okanagan. We were told that since they created this burger it is their top selling burger in Max’s. People like local!  I enjoyed this burger. It was well put together.  I liked the bacon in that it was not too smoky or salty, and the burger was not dripping in sauce.  The patty looked to be 1/2″ thick. Some other Media people mentioned how much they liked the home made hamburger buns.

Max’s also made their version of a Whisky Sour to go with our burger, called “Pomme de terroir“. It is a blend of local Spicebox Whisky mixed with roasted & pureed local Gala apples, and some sugar. A shrub vinegar was also added, and to top it off with R&B Cream ale foam. The baked apple mixed with the sweet spice from Spicebox Whisky was really very tasty.  I’d order it again.

If I were to pair a wine with this burger it may be a California Chardonnay, or maybe Summerhill’s ALIVE Organic Red.

Max's Burgers

Max’s Burgers

Max's local burger

Max’s local burger

Luke’s Kitchen

Luke’s Kitchen also went local but with a twist. They produced a home made veggie burger patty. They spent 2 months with 3 different consulting chefs to create the burger we tried that evening. Some of the ingredients that went into this patty included quinoa, toasted almonds, black beans and more.  To complement the burger they topped it with southern fried beer battered dill pickles and jalapeno peppers and dressed it with home made Granny Smith Chipotle ketchup. Wow. The pickled peppers and ketchup added zing to this burger. The patty had nice texture to it, and you don’t miss that it is not beef.

If I were to pair a wine with this, I may go with a rose wine, maybe from Joie or Haywire.

Luke’s Kitchen is taking local to another level as they will soon be growing their greens onsite, and talked about also raising their own fish at the restaurant too. Very cool and very local.

A side of deep fried pickles and jalapenos

A side of deep fried pickles and jalapenos

A cross section of Luke's veggie burger

A cross section of Luke’s veggie burger

Whet

Our last stop for the evening was Whet on Granville Island. They created a beef burger for this challenge and their twist was a Latin spice influence. They use local ingredients as well, such as the buns from Le Baguette on Granville Island. The beef was mixed with oregano, cumin and other spices.  AAA beef was used for the patty and it came 1/2″ thick on the bun. A Dominican style chimichuri slaw was served on the side.  The beef was very juicy and lots of flavour.  I in particular liked the cumin flavour, plus the actual taste from the grill marks on the patty.  I did not taste the grill from the other 2 burgers. The other thing I really liked was the cheddar cheese that was layered on the burger really stood out.  I like the sharpness of the cheddar.

I’m partial to Latin flavours, and this was my favourite burger of the evening.

They served an R&B Bitter with the burger.  It had nice orange, cherries and spice flavour. It was light body with medium bitterness.  A nice beer to enjoy with this burger.

If I were to have a glass of wine with this, I think I would go with a Ravenswood Zinfandel.

Whet's beef burger

Whet’s beef burger

Give these burgers a try, or try some of the other restaurants, then vote for your favourite burger. Enjoy!

The Grand Opening at Tap & Barrel

Tap and Barrel main floor

Tap and Barrel main floor

This past week was the grand opening of Tap & Barrel in the Athletes Village area in Vancouver (that is just west and south of the Main Street Skytrain station).  The event was hosted by City TV’s Dawn Chubai with guest speaker and ribbon cutter Vancouver City Councillor Raymond Louie.

The venue has two levels and is waterfront situated, with a superb view of downtown and BC Place Stadium.  The Tap & Barrel has a patio on the main level and a balcony overlooking the downtown on the upper level. The main level is maybe more high energy with many large screen TVs showing sporting events, 23 beers on tap, and more by the bottle. If you prefer a bit more quiet time, go to the 2nd floor and enjoy the Barrel level, which has 6 white wines and 7 red wines on tap.  I did sample from both the beer and the wine levels.  On the beer side, I tried the Whiskey Jack Ale and for wine, the Blasted Church Hatfield’s Fuse (Chardonnay, Viognier blend).  While beer by the glass is common, having more than 1 house red and white wine is usually not available.  I like having the choice of wines to sip by the glass. Tap & Barrel also provides you with the option of 6oz or 9oz pours, or a full bottle (750ml). The wines are quality BC wines. Besides Blasted Church, you can also sample:

  • Le Vieux Pin,
  • Laughing Stock,
  • Nichol Vineyards,
  • Summerhill,
  • Okanagan Crush Pad (Haywire), and more.

On the beer side, all are BC brewed, and include 5 Lagers, 5 Ales, 4 Pale Ales, 3 Bitters, 4 Wheat Ales, and 2 Stouts/Porters on tap.  Besides all the tipple, there is also a selection of food items for you.  We had nibbles of their fish & chips (the tartar sauce is really good. It has a fair amount of horseradish in it), pretzels, burgers and pizzas. Things you would expect from a pub.

I think it would be a fun place to get together with friends after work, or when we have some nice sunny days (I know that might not be for a while now with our rainy season).  Probably fun too for upcoming Christmas parties!  Enjoy the pictures from the event.

Tap and Barrel upper floor balcony view

Tap and Barrel upper floor balcony view

Whiskey Jack Ale

Whiskey Jack Ale

Fish and chips

Fish and chips

Barrels of wine

Barrels of wine

2 kinds of pretzels with moustard

2 kinds of pretzels with mustard

A Good Time for Ice Wine

With snow falling here in Vancouver, I thought I’d talk a bit about Ice Wine. Ice wine’s origin is in Germany where it is called Eiswein. Eiswein production began in the late 1700s and more fully in the 1800s in Germany. The first Canadian ice wine was made in BC by Walter Hainle in 1973 at the Hainle Vineyards.

How is ice wine made? The short answer is the wine is made from frozen grapes, but of course there is more to it than that. The grapes are typically a white varietal, such as Riesling or Vidal, but you can now find some red ice wines, from Pinot Noir and other grapes. Riesling is the traditional grape for ice wine due to its high level of acidity. This high level of acidity is important to balance the high sugar content from the concentrated grape juice. The high acidity made the ice wine refreshing instead of cloyingly sweet (imagine drinking maple syrup).

There are rules for when a grape can be picked for ice wine. As I mentioned the grapes have to be frozen before being picked, but the temperature at the time of picking has to be at least -8 degrees Celsius. Any warmer and you legally cannot call the wine, ice wine. Grapes harvested at say -6 degrees Celsius can be called Late Harvest. Late Harvest wine tastes very much like ice wine, but is less aromatic and sweet. Some people prefer Late Harvest, plus the price of Late Harvest is usually half the price of the same size of Ice Wine.

Ice Wine and Late Harvest are more expensive than a traditional bottle of still wine, but it takes many more grapes to produce these wines. Whereas it could take one bunch of grapes for a bottle of wine, it may take 8-10 bunches of grapes for one bottle of ice wine or late harvest wine. Imagine how hard these grapes are when they are being pressed. As the water in the grape is frozen, just a small amount of concentrated grape syrup is left. I think of it like someone trying to squeeze water from marbles. Very hard!

Some wineries in the BC Okanagan that produce ice wine:
Mission Hill (their 2006 Reserve Riesling Ice Wine won the International Wine Challenge in London in Sept 08 as the Worlds Top Ice Wine)
Quail’s Gate (their 2006 Reisling Ice Wine won a Bronze Medal – Canadian Wine Awards 2007)
Gray Monk Estate Winery (Kerner ice wine – a white grape)
Summerhill Estate Winery (Pinot noir, zweigelt, chardonnay, and riesling ice wines)

And last but not least, every January, there is an Ice Wine Festival at Sun Peaks Resort in the Okanagan! The next festival will be January 13 – 18, 2009. You can try a wide range of ice wines, together with learning about ice wines, join in some wine dinners, and if you have any energy left, go skiing. You can contact Sun Peaks Resort at 1-800-807-3257 about the Ice Wine Festival, or go to the Ice Wine Festival website http://www.owfs.com/festivals/winter_festival.html

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!