Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, said "change is the only constant in life." How right was he..
Haywire, Garnet Valley, Solvero & More
When the sun rises over the eastern mountains of the Okanagan Valley, it showers warmth across the western shore and brings life to West Kelowna, Peachland, Summerland and Kaleden. The sounds of bees, birds, babies and tractors signal the return of life and another growing season. The question on everyone's mind is “will there be grapes?’ Here in the heart of wine country the answer is yes. There will be grapes. There are also new wineries to visit and new styles of wine to taste. In Summerland, with it's recently established sub-appellations, the new beginnings include the re-visioned Haywire Vineyards and Winery, (previously Okanagan Crush Pad), Garnet Valley Ranch and Solvero Wines. The excitement is real and tasting rooms are ready to welcome visitors.
La Crema de la Crema - the best of the best - showcased South America wine like never before. The event kicked off Saturday April 29th at 5:15 pm with hometown wine guy Anthony Gismondi and South American wine expert Evan Goldstein MS (@evangoldsteinems) who lead us on a journey travelling from Chile and Argentina to Uruguay and Brazil.
Top Wines of South America Tasted at VIWF 2023
The "La Crema de la Crema" panel was complete with winemakers, brand ambassadors and business leaders who provided insights and experiences from a fine wine perspective that countered the $10 wine bargain - somewhat synonymous with this region over the past decade. In fact, there was a definite wow factor and tasting proved it. The conversation got off on the "dulce de leche" foot and despite the popularity of football and empanadas, passions flared. It seems that Uruguay's dulce de leche is the best.
The Vancouver International Wine Festival 2023 kicked off the week with a renewed sense of vibrant celebration. It feels like Covid never happened. The celebration of food, wine and theater kicked the doors of international wide open counting down in Portuguese as South America features as the wine region of focus. Not to be overshadowed, Brazil makes wine too!
The Global "Cru" Seminar Wine Review 2023
The traditional Grand Tastings and seminars are back and totally switched on to what’s new and what’s happening in the wine world. Seminars are a great way to continue your wine education and discover the best wines of the event. In this seminar, The Global Cru, the discussion focused on meaning. Is a "cru" wine something more delicious? Or more expensive? Cru is a French word with no real translation and it refers to a site or single vineyard that is unique in some way making extraordinary wine versus the plot of land just around the corner.
My taste buds sense vibrancy and energy. This is “good wine”.
Passion, Tradition & Music
At Winemaker’s Cut melodious tones echo through the vineyard and winery. Classical masterpieces play filling air as well as the vines and wines with energy and vibrancy. Without Michal and Marina Mosny, originally from Slovakia, finding joy in their work and bringing their passion for music with them, this would never have happened. The team of Michal as winemaker and Martina viticulturist, demonstrate the power of teamwork, attention to detail and impact a delicate touch of tradition can have. This ethos has shaped the last 11 years in the Okanagan Valley for this dynamic duo. The wines offer a distinct BC character and a sense of place here in the heart of the Okanagan Valley. If you haven’t yet visited Winemaker’s Cut or tasted their wines, check out the modern tasting room at District Wine Village in Oliver, where you can experience the Winemaker’s Cut portfolio from vibrant and fresh sparkling whites and roses to bold flavourful red.
The Best Wines of South America or "La Crema de la Crema" at the Vancouver International Wine Festival 2023
La Cream de la Crema was the final seminar of the Vancouver International Wine Festival Saturday evening from 5:15 pm to 6:45 pm. It featured a 10 member panel and two fabulous moderators demonstrating that power and profile of wines from South America. This show stopper was not only tasty but funny and familial as these vignerons brought favorite topics to the room including football, empanadas and "dulce de leche". Summed up, it was fantastically insightful and of an unanticipated calibre. South America is producing world class wine at a fraction of the price. See the wines tasted below.
The Best of the Best of South America
The best of the best showcased South America wine like never before. The event kicked off
Saturday April 29th at 5:15 pm. Hometown host Anthony Gismondi and South American wine expert Evan Goldstein MS (@evangoldsteinems) lead the discussion traveling from Chile, Argentina to Uruguay and Brazil.
To say that I am jealous of my wine friend Alena is an understatement. She studies, works and lives in the greatest wine region in Italy, maybe the world! Where is that you ask? Tuscany? One might think so, but no. She calls Mussotto home and is busy with research for her PhD thesis in the vineyards of La Morra, 10 kilometers south east of Alba in the hills of Bricco Rocca. This story introduces Alba, the International White Truffle Festival of Alba, a couple of fine restaurants and E. Molino wines made by one of Italy’s top enologists, Sergio Molino. If you are planning to visit Italy, make sure you have Alba on your list of stops. You’ll need a week and still not be ready to leave.
A Reason for B.C. Riesling!
In British Columbia, Riesling calls Lillooet in the north to Similkameen Valley in the south, home.
"To reach the end - or the final result of something" is only part of the meaning behind "culmina". In fact, aiming for the highest achievement is the other layer to this story. While the Culmina Family Estate Winery marked the final hands on wine chapter for the Triggs family, it marked some firsts for BC. The Culmina legacy continues today under the Arterra Wines Canada umbrella. If you want to know more about the interesting naming conventions, BC's first sub-appellation and the family behind it, keep reading. Why not pick up a bottle for some added pleasure to your afternoon?
Valtellina: Nebbiolo Mountain Wines
A Wine LIst from Tasting Valtellina Wines in Sondrio
Without a doubt, visiting the vineyards of Valtellina was one of the highlights of 2022! This small, under the radar, quality wine region, located in the alps of northern Lombardy, produces stunning Nebbiolo wines from steep terraced vineyards left by the Romans more than 1500 years ago. The breathtaking views, the pristine mountain air and the fantastic wine and food will inspire you to put a pin in your travel map on the village of Sondrio. If you want to know more, keep reading. If you missed part one, here is the link.
Valtellina: Remarkable Vines, Views and Vistas of Mountain Viticulture in Northern Italy
I had the chance to visit Valtellina this fall. This story and these pictures were captured October 2nd & 3rd of 2022, on the last excursion that was part of the Wine Media Conference 2022. The stunning views, breathtaking vistas and fantastic food and wine were second only the our Valtellina hosts. These winemakers and proprietors were humble, generous and hard-working folks who have a big mission and vision - to share the story of Valtellina with wine lovers around the world.
But where is Desenzano del Garda?
When Zephyr Adventures announced that the Wine Media Conference 2022 would be hosted on the shores of Lake Garda, I was like - yes please! After 2 years of no travel, all I could think about was four glorious weeks in Europe with three of them dedicated to Northern Italy - a place I had never visited. Desenzano del Garda here I come! But where is Desenzano del Garda?
"To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it." -- Kurt Vonnegut
Do you have a creative outlet? Do you dream of bringing your inner desires into reality? When I was young, my mom encouraged me to write. Whether a travel journal from a trip to Disneyland or personal diary of daily observations, there was a culture in my family about writing things down.
BC Wine vs The World - Taste Challenge 2022 (with the amazing Shanyn Ward, DipWSET)
When it comes to tasting wine - blind tastings rule!
If you love wine and you haven't participated in a blind tasting yet - now is the time! The reason it matters is because ultimately in your wine journey, your goal is to be able to determine whether the wine in the glass is good wine, representative of a place and a variety that is a classic expression. Being a wine nerd includes having the ability to assess wine, a skill that makes all the other wine marketing noise silent. Tasting wines blind removes bias. It's a great way to develop your sensory skills. Plus there's a bonus - its creates new pathways in the brain (science says so). IMHO building reflexive brain function is one way to stay young and active.
When & Where was Noir Fest?
On June 25, 2022, the first annual Noir Fest was hosted at Averill Creek Winery in the heart of Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island. With the easing of Covid 19 restrictions, wine events are back. Two years is a long suffering period – from missed tastings to missed social interaction so it’s no wonder the energy and excitement behind Noir Fest 2022 hosted at Averill Creek winery in Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island the last weekend in June. Not only was the event well attended by Pinot Noir producers – internationally, locally and regionally –but consumers found their way to this off the beaten path location in an up and coming wine destination.
June 30th is behind us. They say the Supermoon will arrive soon and I'm still searching for wine. That's why British Columbia is such a gift - wine country is not just in the Okanagan Valley - it's on the island, in the Kootenays, the Fraser Valley and along the Thompson to Kamloops and Lillooet. This is my summer of wine and while it is cooler than last year, I'm happy that fire season is below the radar and air quality is good. Covid is still in our midst so please be vigilant.
In Search of Wine
May was a wine month. TopDrop was a highlight although the follow up by Wines of Portugal presenting "vinho verde" was exceptional because it was a sit down tasting, accompanied by a three course meal (loved) and Treve Ring was bright and precise which made for a quick trip through northern Portugal. It did bring back memories of my trip to Lisbon in June of 2018.
Wine, Wine and more Wine!
Welcome to a journal of my favorite wines from TopDrop. Spring in Vancouver presented many opportunities to taste wine. Thanks to everyone involved. Great event. As of June 1 I am officially in Wine Country BC for the summer! What a great opportunity to visit local wineries and put together winery offers. Stay tuned. More to come. Hope you enjoy this post! Please leave your comments below.
The first sip and I was hooked. You can taste the careful hand work, healthy soil and delicious grapes. Top of the heap and had not tasted for a while, this wine lives up to its reputation. Put Prichard Hill Napa Valley 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon on your steak night list. You'll spend some more here but its worth it.
Wine dreams from the wild one! If you love wine then read on. Tastings from Vancouver Island and Portugal are below. It's a lot of info. Any questions - message me. Don't forget to leave a comment or share with your network. Life is short. Drink good wine. MUAH!
How to Learn "Wine"
Good Wine Gal - The Learning Never Stops!
Follow Your Passion
Since I fell in love with wine, that decadent, hedonistic elixir that lift spirits and accentuates a meal, I have been asking the question - how can I serve? Service has something to do with my strict Catholic upbringing which has faded with time, but it also has to do with my love of community. Considering that wine is my a mistress to my first love - food - it seems right that I find ways to inspire others to the delight that I have found from my wine life. That's why I chose to teach and share my passion.
Like many of you, I chose to study to help make sense of the confusing and overwhelming experience of wine not only in the liquor store but also in the restaurant - staring at a multilingual list of bottles and names I knew nothing about. After two years of collecting pictures and considering experiences, I enrolled in the WSET program in Vancouver. Here I experience my first ah ha moment - wine is a giant story with deep history filled with legendary characters from which a kaleidoscope of color, flavours and delight could be found. Not only this but also meeting others who were as inspired with whom I could discuss and even study. In 2012 I completed WSET level 3 - challenging for sure, and then found myself enrolled in 2015 in Diploma. After 18 months of sweat, writers cramp, flash cards, study groups and palate amelioration I passed. I swore that was it - never again.
No, there are no shortcuts! Wine is about sensory analysis. It's good if you already enjoy food with the nose and palate for a wide variety of aromas, flavours, textures and of course appearance. Wine must be tasted. For those who are serious about a wine life - taste, taste, taste. If you haven't taken a sensory course, consider it. It will light up your cerebral cortex and inspire more exploration. You may even decide to buy "Le Nez du Vin". Joining a wine club or a tasting group is also a great way to keep your palate engaged and developing.
Listen to Wine Stories
There is so much wine information. One only has to look to the Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson to realize it. The challenge part of it all - remembering. Recalling information is paramount to mastering wine. One of the best ways to remember details is to recall a story - whether to repeat or just to contextualize. History after all is based on facts - like Phylloxera - can't be denied. Stories can come from friends who share their wine experiences and of course listening to a wine podcast winemaker video or hanging out on a zoom call a great way to keep learning. You might find out that wine production for a particular vintage makes the wine in your glass even more precious. Information is a moving target and in wine - every year we have news.
Read About Wine
There are many wine writers, classic wine books that every wine lover should have and wine publications both on and off line that are there for the taking. Just because you have completed your Diploma in wine does not mean that you are finished. In all likelihood you realize that the more you know - the more you don't know. And that is why I continue to taste, listen and read. In fact, now I write for publications and for myself. It's one way to stay relevant and up to date with wine.
One of the most interesting places to find characters in the wine space sharing their passion is YouTube. That's where I discovered the "unknown winecaster" (love him) and my most recent interest Konstantin Baum, a recent Master of Wine who talks and tastes wine with attitude.
You can now find Good Wine Gal's recorded wine sessions on YouTube.
Malbec World Day - April 17th
Are you celebrating? Here are some things you might not know about Malbec and wines that you may want to consider after reading this. Cheers!
Life is short. Drink good wine. That's my email signature. OK maybe I took license ... but it's true. And while I don't drink wine every day, I make time to search for, find and enjoy good wine.
What's Up Wine People?
How are you? I hope you are surviving 2022 - it was supposed to be the best year yet. Let's hope things turn around.
In the last few weeks I've covered some ground. Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna and a thousand kilometers later I'm no worse for wear. I love the open road. Between my playlists on Spotify and the scenery, road trips never fails to inspire me. Not only that but seeing friends and family as things start to open up is a great feeling. I'm staying with that positive feeling for the time being. That and pondering the idea of buying an RV and taking it on the road. As you know, my journey includes celebratory meals and good bottles of wine. Here are some bottles tasted and meals enjoyed.
Are we there yet?
Covid Challenge? I said I would not color or cut my hair until the threat of Covid had passed. LOL!
What was/is your Covid Challenge?
World Wine Days Calendar
35 dates. 12 Zoom Wine Events. It's Global & Local. Free to attend. Bottles not included. No subscription required. English spoken here. Welcome to 2022.
If you haven't downloaded it yet, now is the time. It is easy.
Click the button and it will present the file in a pdf format. Click to download et viola!
Happy New Year Winelover!
This blog post offers three things:
1. thoughts about the experiences in 2021 hopes for 2022;
2. top wines for 2021;
3. a link to building community in 2022 with the World Wine Days.
Download a copy of the World Wine Days calendar. Link at the end of this post.
I need more wine!
These are extraordinary times. It's the global pandemic. Our days are filled with data, action and reaction. There is a climate crisis to boot. Flash - the province on fire. Then - the province drowning. How does one maintain personal balance when all seems to be upside down? I keep pivoting, pondering and reacting. Looking back over 2021, its been a rollercoaster. It went from great to good to wtf? From elation to trembling, soul-sucking shock with many layers in between. I'm so glad that wine has been consistent as have my amazing wine community. In this year of crazy, here are a few take-aways that I'd like to share with you. I'd also like to share a few bottles of wine worth sipping.
Meet Winemaker Stephanie Stanley.
Stephanie Stanley, a seasoned winemaking professional originally from the Okanagan, is shaping the future of whites, roses and sparkling wine in Lake Country. Having trained under Howard Soon, after many years with Peller Estates along with several winters in the southern hemisphere, she found her path leading back to the Okanagan Valley where she commissioned the new Fitzpatrick winery and ultimately arriving here at O'Rouke's Peak Cellars.
So what is happening in Lake Country? Hear Stephanie tell the story of Carrs Landing, new initiatives and plantings at Peak Cellars Winery. She's making single varietal wines from Riesling, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Gruner Veltliner and Gewurztraminer. It's starting to sound like Alsace, non?
What does you wine glass say about you? Does it say "I like the finer things in life"? Does it say "I know my wine"? If you prefer a flute then you are looking for streams of fine bubbles. If you tend towards a coupe or the shape of Marie Antoinette's breast, then you are looking for fun. If it's unique shape for each grape variety then congrats - you appreciate the sensual elements of wine. If it's generic suiting all wine and washable in the dishwasher, then way to save money and time. For the record, here is my short take on wine glasses.
I'm Good Wine Gal.
I blog about "good wine" and how to find it!
Join me on my adventures of finding beautiful wine loving places, people and those special bottles we all get excited about.