Canadian wine

There's a few nice wineries in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island and a couple of tiny ones on some of the Gulf Islands as well.

Unsworth was one we really liked and Averill and Blue Grouse were also recommended to us. Unsworth has a great restaurant as well.

Sea Star on Pender Insland was another find - a lot of their wines are quite hard to come by outside the tasting room though.
 
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sly_karma

Green Bastard
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Hard to find wine from most of the good producers if you don't go to the cellar door or join their wine club. Production is so small and the impenetrably obtuse interprovincial rules make it almost impossible to establish a national level retail presence. Certain high end shops in the cities have a good range, likewise the wine-forward restos, but BC Liquor Stores demands such a big discount that most wineries consider them the last resort and only sell to them if they've exhausted all other options.
 

skifree

A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe
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Hard to find wine from most of the good producers if you don't go to the cellar door or join their wine club. Production is so small and the impenetrably obtuse interprovincial rules make it almost impossible to establish a national level retail presence. Certain high end shops in the cities have a good range, likewise the wine-forward restos, but BC Liquor Stores demands such a big discount that most wineries consider them the last resort and only sell to them if they've exhausted all other options.


So pretty ordinary guvment support for quality local industry?
 

skifree

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Shouldn't need government support if it is a quality industry.

Support comes in many forms and Sly's report of "impenetrably obtuse interprovincial rules make it almost impossible to establish a national level retail presence" suggests support in the form of reasonable regulation might be nice.
 

sly_karma

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Canadian constitution gives the provinces greater powers than the Australian one gives to states. Among these is sweeping taxation rights and complete control over production, importation and sale of alcohol. In the century since national prohibition ended, the provinces have built up powerful, entrenched liquor control systems and have of course become dependent on the revenue raised thereby. Although there is much public criticism, the provincial liquor authorities continue to aggressively protect their empires. Legally selling across provincial boundaries is a difficult and expensive task for producers. The major beer labels are able to sell nationally because they have set up brewing facilities in each province, but this doesnt work for wine due to geographic and climatic constraints.

So it's not so much a case of government declining support of local wines as other governments maintaining fences that happen to catch wines in their mesh. BC legislated to drop all import restrictions from other provinces in a proactive bid to allow the free flow of wine, but Ontario continues to close its doors to all but the most determined. Their liquor control/retail board, the LCBO, is the largest single-desk purchaser of wine on the planet, so they have a "we're too big to fail" mentality.
 
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sly_karma

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The other factor is sales within BC. Wineries must post their retail prices each month (one day sale pricing not permitted) and then from there they must provide set discounts to the various categories of licensees. For private wine shops, this is just under 25%. Restaurants only receive a 17% price cut. If producers want to sell to the govt owned BC Liquor Stores chain, the discount is 45% off their posted retail. This framework means almost all wineries do their best to move as much as possible through their cellar door and wine club operations because they get to keep all of the retail price, less provincial tax and excise. Next, the reps are directed to sell to restaurants and maybe a little to selected private retailers. Only if there is still unsold volume will the winery permit sales reps to sell to BCLS. (Some higher volume producers will have a proportion allocated up front to govt store sales, but this is rare among the majority small producers).

When I see a wine pitched (and priced) as 'premium' sitting on a govt store shelf, I give a little smile. It means the general market isnt willing to pay $50+ for their "super wine" and now it's being flogged out the door to the govt system.
 

skifree

A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe
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The other factor is sales within BC. Wineries must post their retail prices each month (one day sale pricing not permitted) and then from there they must provide set discounts to the various categories of licensees. For private wine shops, this is just under 25%. Restaurants only receive a 17% price cut. If producers want to sell to the govt owned BC Liquor Stores chain, the discount is 45% off their posted retail. This framework means almost all wineries do their best to move as much as possible through their cellar door and wine club operations because they get to keep all of the retail price, less provincial tax and excise. Next, the reps are directed to sell to restaurants and maybe a little to selected private retailers. Only if there is still unsold volume will the winery permit sales reps to sell to BCLS. (Some higher volume producers will have a proportion allocated up front to govt store sales, but this is rare among the majority small producers).

When I see a wine pitched (and priced) as 'premium' sitting on a govt store shelf, I give a little smile. It means the general market isnt willing to pay $50+ for their "super wine" and now it's being flogged out the door to the govt system.

Free trade as a concept has room for growth in Canada then.
 
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DPS Driver

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For sure. So much small time dick waving between the provinces, most of it to do with revenue flows. You should see the mess that is recognition of professional credentials between provinces. Agh what a mess.
I would imagine that's even smaller in winter.
 
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DPS Driver

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I found a picture of a couple of nice Canadian wines we quoffed. Both from the Okanagan I think.
25594342_10210194304387715_165587579933886020_n.jpg
 
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jabiru

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one of their Rieslings just won an award at the 2019 Canberra Intl Riesling challege

Best Semi Dry RieslingWolf Blass TrophyCedar Creek Estate Winery - 2018 Cedar Creek Estate Riesling(Class 11, Semi-Dry, Okanagan Valley, Canada
 

Bogan Daddy

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Yep,

I will be there in about 8 weeks, I am looking to bring some to Australia. Without a doubt the Pinot Gris is the best I have drunk anywhere in the world, including here. The Cabernet Franc from Niagra is pretty handy too. I found most of the reds out west a bit heavy and without alot of fruit. Too structured. I honestly thought the Pinot would be a little better.
 

sly_karma

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Pinot is pinot, wherever you go: mostly ordinary, but you keep trying them because you know there'll be an occasional stunner.

Will be difficult to find Niagara wines in BC. Stupid interprovincial trade rules.
 

sly_karma

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Another newish winery I still havent been to. Seen the signs but never seem to have a minute to drop in. But ferk me there's so many new ones all the time. I swear they pop up like mushrooms after rain.
 

DPS Driver

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Another newish winery I still havent been to. Seen the signs but never seem to have a minute to drop in. But ferk me there's so many new ones all the time. I swear they pop up like mushrooms after rain.
This is off their website. So not too sure they're new to the scene but looks like they might have several vineyards they source from. I could ask my mate whose wines they were.

"The von Mandl family began their journey over 40 years ago. The first sign of the real potential of the vineyards came in 1994 with a surprise win at the International Wine & Spirit Competition in London for ‘Top Chardonnay in the World.’ The family has developed exceptional vineyards with distinctive Chardonnay and Merlot clones, some of which are now over 40 years old, at what are now CheckMate Artisanal Winery vineyards".
 

sly_karma

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This is off their website. So not too sure they're new to the scene but looks like they might have several vineyards they source from. I could ask my mate whose wines they were.

"The von Mandl family began their journey over 40 years ago. The first sign of the real potential of the vineyards came in 1994 with a surprise win at the International Wine & Spirit Competition in London for ‘Top Chardonnay in the World.’ The family has developed exceptional vineyards with distinctive Chardonnay and Merlot clones, some of which are now over 40 years old, at what are now CheckMate Artisanal Winery vineyards".
Ah I see now. Yet another label from Mark Anthony Group.
 
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sly_karma

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We've had a relatively mild winter in the Okanagan so far, so when a cold front arrived last week, it was time at last to pick grapes for icewine. There was a mild front at the very end of October, but most wineries were too involved with the end of the table wine harvest and ferments to be able to handle it, and the temps only got down to -8 anyway.

Icewine is different from other dessert wine styles. Rather than relying on fortification with brandy (as for port, sherry, muscat, etc), or fruit affected by the botrytis mould, it uses natural freezing to concentrate the grape juice. The mechanism is simple: sugars and acids and other flavour/aroma compounds in the grapes have a lower freezing point than water. When the grapes freeze, the small amount of liquid remaining in them becomes highly concentrated. The grapes are picked and pressed whilst still frozen, leaving the concentrated must; the frozen pulp is usually discarded.

This naturally enriched grape must has at least 35% sugar content, but often exceeds 45% (normal dry table wine grapes are 23-25% sugar when picked). Fermentation is difficult when so much sugar is present, and special yeasts are used. Even so, the ferment often 'sticks' (halts), and it is not uncommon for it to take three months to complete. Even then, the process ends with barely 10% alcohol content, with even this modest amount being enough to sterilize the wine and kill the yeast. This of course leaves a wine with immense natural sweetness, but also with enhanced acid levels, which prevents the sugars being perceived as cloying and flabby. The grapes' natural fruit flavours are also enhanced and heightened, in contrast to bot sem and fortified wines where secondary and tertiary characters from botrytis, alcohol addition and oxidative handling overlay the natural grape characters.

The Okanagan Valley and the Niagara region make Canada the largest producer of icewine in the world, because of the warm summers with long daylight hours combined with winters cold enough for predictable freezing of grapes. The VQA authorities in both regions have strict definitions and trademark protection on the word Icewine. The grapes must be naturally frozen on the vine (no, you can't put them in a freezer), pressed whilst frozen, and achieve a must sugar content of at least 35%. Usually, the temperature needs to be -6 to achieve the 35 brix, but most wineries will wait for -8 weather to hold for 12 hours to be sure they'll make the minimum sugar. Sometimes this necessitates picking under lights in the wee hours of the morning because temps can climb quickly if the sun shines during the day.

Last week, the polar air arrived in the Okanagan with temps of -15 to -18, meaning grapes could be picked in daylight. The low temps also meant that quite high sugar concentrations were achieved, albeit at the cost of even lower than normal yields. It's likely that many wineries would have retained the frozen grape pulp, allowed it to thaw and then re-pressed it to make late-harvest wine.

Yields are minimal with icewine; roughly one 375 mL bottle requires the same quantity of grapes as are needed to make five 750 mL bottles of dry wine. So although the wines seem pricey at $70-100, the winery would still take more revenue if they made the five bottles of table wine and sold them for 20-25 each. And that doesn't account for the risk of further crop losses whilst waiting for cold weather: wind, rain, rot/mould, predation by birds, deer and bears.

We have a reno job at one of the local wineries at the moment so I took this picture last week when they were pressing the grapes. They come in frozen hard as ball bearings and it takes huge force to get the juice out of them. This winery uses an old basket press, although most use beefed-up pneumatic presses. You can see from the small size of container that they're not expecting a lot of liquid. They said later they got almost 80 litres from three press runs. Now it's in a poly tank starting to ferment (hopefully).

20200114_093419_resized.jpg
 

zac150

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@Lady Penelope i knew we forgot to try something, maybe a small bottle could find its way home (maybe place bottle in ski boot).

could be a great new season starter to get everyone around for a BBQ and drink a few bottles collected on our travels.

@DidSurfNowSki consider yourself on notice as well.
 

Lady Penelope

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@Lady Penelope i knew we forgot to try something, maybe a small bottle could find its way home (maybe place bottle in ski boot).

could be a great new season starter to get everyone around for a BBQ and drink a few bottles collected on our travels.

@DidSurfNowSki consider yourself on notice as well.
@skifree has already put me on notice! The Blasted Church Syrah was delicious and I bought a bottle of this today from Save on Foods in Kamloops. Haven’t tried it yet :)

image.jpg
 
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Coffeebeanie

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What does a reasonable bottle of wine start at, price wise? Wondering if it's worth bringing a few bottles of my favourite nz pinot noirs if my luggage allows it.
 

zac150

A Local
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This combo cost about $60, $25 for a very drinkable red and $35 for a decent gin. In Aus I’d say the gin easily a $65 bottle. I’m guessing the taxes are way less.

C5C90EBC-4CDF-411A-8D0A-EF6A075D6A86.jpeg


Also found this stuff, seriously dangerous as you couldn’t taste the alcohol but the boss liked them at spa time.

035EA34B-091A-4ABA-8CA9-70494D773CCB.jpeg
 
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