British Columbia’s Okanagan Fall Wine Festival – Virginia Hutton

 I attended the Okanagan Fall Festival this year, along with five other notable Canadian journalists to experience Canada’s premier Fall Wine Festival. This year’s fall wine Okanagan Fall Wine Festival connected wine lovers to winemakers from the region with events designed to celebrate their unique and award-winning wines.

Located in southern British Columbia, the Okanagan Valley is one of the warmest regions in Canada, with an average winter temperature of -8 C and 28 C in the summer – it’s slightly cooler than eastern France. The Valley and its wine industry have matured tremendously over the last 30 years, boasting 280 wineries and offering visitors the opportunity to experience one of the world’s premier wine and culinary destinations.

This year’s Okanagan Fall Wine Festival included the province’s most prestigious and oldest wine competition, The British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards (BCLGWA) held at the historic Laurel Heritage Packinghouse in Kelowna. There were more than 700 entries in this year’s competition. The Wine of the Year Award went to Deep Roots Winery’s for their 2017 Syrah, representing consistency in a varietal and a combination of superb grapes and winemaking.

Also part of the Festival was the Fall WestJet Wine Tasting at YLW in the Carson Air Hangar. It is Kelowna’s largest indoor wine-tasting event, with over 40 wineries serving up their most popular varieties. Guests were entertained by a live DJ and sampled cuisine from around the world from food trucks parked outside the hanger.  Joined by Canadian wine experts and journalists Gurvinder Bhatia, Darren Oleksyn and Tim Pawsey, we sipped our way from Lake Country in the north to Osoyoos – Canada’s only desert, in the south. Our tour included meeting the talented winemakers behind O’Rourke’s Peak Cellars, 50th Parallel Estate, Indigenous World Winery, Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards, Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, Moon Curser Vineyards, Nk’Mip Cellars, Nobel Ridge Vineyard & Winery, Wild Goose Vineyards and Time Winery.

Over 90% of the Okanagan wineries have earned the British Columbia Vintners Quality Alliance, or BC VQA designation – similar to the AOC and DOC systems utilized in France and Italy respectively, which guarantees the origin and ensures qualifying wines meet certain minimum quality requirements. BC VQA wines are made from 100% BC grapes, and are free from certain potential faults, and the labels include where the grapes are grown and the wine is produced. And, many Okanagan winemakers have embraced environmentally friendly, lower-energy wine-making methods and built sustainability and philanthropy into their business models, with many using solar energy, gravity flow to move the juice and composting to replenish nutrients in the soil. 

According to Wines of British Columbia, there are over 80 grape varieties being grown in BC, with 51% being red varietals and 49% white varietals. The most notable reds include: merlot, pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, syrah / shiraz and gamay noir, with top notable white being: pinot gris, chardonnay, gewürztraminer, riesling, sauvignon blanc, pinot blanc and viognier. Several winemakers are taking advantage of the recent growth in sparkling wines and are now producing white and rose varieties. The Region is also is well-known for producing high-quality, award winning icewines, with Inniskillen, Okanagan Estates and Whistler receiving Gold Medals, and Nk’Mip and Jackson Triggs Okanagan being awarded Silver Medals at the 2019 Wine Align Awards.

 

 

With Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter Wine Festivals, it’s always a great time to visit and enjoy world-class award-winning wine and dining experiences. It’s worth the trip to Okanagan Wine Festivals.

 

 

Wineries visited:

O’Rourke’s Peak Cellars 

50th Parallel Estate

Indigenous World Winery

Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards

Burrowing Owl Estate Winery

Moon Curser Vineyards

Nk’Mip Cellars

Nobel Ridge Vineyard & Winery

Wild Goose Vineyards

Time Winery

British Columbia’s Okanagan Wine Festivals
http://www.thewinefestivals.com

15th Annual Grand Cru Culinary Wine Festival breaks fundraising record

The 15th annual Grand Cru Culinary Wine Festival, Canada’s premier wine and culinary fundraiser for medical research and innovation, raised a record-breaking $33 million for key programs funded by Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation (TGWHF), University Health Network (UHN) this past week.

Since its inception in 2005, Grand Cru has raised more than $63 million in support of UHN programs including: Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, Sprott Department of Surgery, Krembil Brain Institute, Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research, Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute, McEwen Stem Cell Institute, Soham & Shaila Ajmera Family Transplant Centre, the Arthritis Program, and the Diabetes Program.

Founded by Todd Halpern, TGWHF board member and UHN board trustee, the 15th annual Grand Cru Culinary Wine Festival, co-chaired by Todd and Ellen Halpern and Cheryl and Rob McEwen, took place from November 1 to 2, 2019. The largest of its kind in the world, the Festival brings together the finest wine, gourmet cuisine, brightest minds in medical research, and UHN donors and sponsors. This year, Grand Cru featured wines from more than 80 vintners from around the world, private gourmet dinners throughout the city prepared by more than 33 world-class chefs, and participation from more than 30 UHN clinicians and scientists who are advancing ground-breaking medical research and innovations.

“Never before have four Michelin-star chefs cooked together for such a worthy cause,” says Todd Halpern. “This event is the largest culinary wine festival in the world. It’s an opportunity for people to unite around food, wine, and great conversation – all while supporting critical medical research. We are proud of how Grand Cru has grown into what it is today: a one-of-a-kind event with big impact.”

“Philanthropy fuels the many advancements we make across care, research and education at UHN. We are so thrilled to have achieved a record-breaking fundraising year that will directly benefit medical research that will help save lives,” says Dr. Kevin Smith, President and CEO, UHN. “A big thank you to all of our participating vintners, chefs, donors, dinner hosts, auction supporters and sponsors, and a special thanks to Todd and Ellen Halpern for their passion and for championing a healthier world.”

November 1 – 5,000 guests attended the bi-annual Halpern Portfolio Wine Tasting and the Grand Cru Live Auction at the Beanfield Centre.

November 2 –  over 800 guests attended the Grand Cru Exclusive Wine & Dine Experience – dinners which took place in 26 private homes and venues across Toronto. Each dinner featured menus prepared by top chefs, paired with extraordinary wines, as well as a UHN clinician or researcher who “served knowledge” on the latest discoveries and life-saving breakthroughs at UHN.

Website:

https://www.tgwhfonline.ca/grandcru/

WSET’s Wine Education Week comes to Canada

RAISE A GLASS THIS MONTH TO WSET’s WINE EDUCATION WEEK!

WSET marks its 50th anniversary with its first-ever international celebration of wine education.

Whether you’re a novice or knowledgeable, mad for Merlot or puzzled by Pinot, the world of wine is one that’s ripe for discovery. Having awarded over 500,000 wine lovers one of its qualifications since it was founded in 1969, the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), the largest global provider of wine and spirits qualifications, is celebrating its milestone 50th anniversary with the first-ever global Wine Education Week. The week, taking place from 9-15 September 2019, celebrates the diversity, taste, and culture of the world of wine with a program of interactive events, all of which are focused on learning about and enjoying wines from across the globe.

Wine Education Week will kick off on Monday 9th September with food and wine pairing launch events across the world at 6 pm local time in 24 countries. Starting with Auckland, New Zealand and ending with California, USA, WSET is aiming for a continuous 24-hour global food and wine tasting session. In the UK the launch event will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for wine lovers to help break a Guinness World Record – for the largest ever recorded sommelier lesson. In Canada, there will be launch events in Toronto (hosted by IWEG Drinks Academy) and Vancouver (hosted by Statera Academy).

Following the launch, Wine Education Week will continue with more than 450 fun, educational events in 46 countries to encourage consumers to learn more about wine and to drink ‘better’. With sessions ranging from ‘Deciphering Wine Labels’ to ‘Matches Made In Heaven’ – and ‘World Wine Monopoly’, the events will help attendees make wiser choices when choosing a bottle and to discover the delights of lesser-known wines they might not have tasted before. In Canada WSET course providers are organizing 15 events in five locations over Wine Education Week:

12/9/19 Calgary Finding the perfect match CO.OP Wine Spirits Beer
13/9/19 Calgary Deciphering wine Labels CO.OP Wine Spirits Beer
14/9/19 Calgary Vine to glass CO.OP Wine Spirits Beer
9/9/19 Toronto Wine Quiz IWEG Drinks Academy
11/9/19 Toronto Cabernet and red blends IWEG Drinks Academy
12/9/19 Toronto Ontario wine masterclass IWEG Drinks Academy
9/9/19 Vancouver Secrets to great food & wine pairing Statera Academy
10/9/19 Guelph, ON Finding the perfect match University of Guelph
11/9/19 Guelph, ON Vine to glass University of Guelph
12/9/19 Guelph, ON Deciphering wine labels University of Guelph
10/9/19 Burnaby, BC Finding the perfect match VinoZen
10/9/19 Burnaby, BC Deciphering wine labels VinoZen
10/9/19 Burnaby, BC Vine to glass VinoZen
10/9/19 Burnaby, BC Mastering maturation VinoZen
10/9/19 Burnaby, BC Wine trivia night VinoZen

WSET CEO Ian Harris comments: “Wine Education Week is a celebration of our mission to inspire and inform wine lovers across the world. With exciting events taking place everywhere from New Zealand to Thailand to Mexico and, of course, our home in the UK, I can’t think of a better way to mark WSET’s 50th anniversary and the progress we have made in wine education over the last half-century.”

Full details about Wine Education Week and the events taking place can be found at http://www.wineeducationweek.com .

New Zeland Wine Exports on Track to Exceed Forecasts

HAPPY SAUVIGNON BLANC DAY!

A recent report released by Dutch bank Rabobank reveals modest growth for New Zealand wine exports, with analysts predicting that the industry is on track to exceed the 2019 forecasts.

Hayden Higgins, senior analyst of horticulture and wine, said: “In early 2019, wine import growth continued the slowdown witnessed in 2018 for both the US and China, while Brexit has been thrown a lifeline, for now”.

New Zealand’s export value and volume is in line to exceed MPI 2019 forecasts. Rabobank expects overall value growth to be around NZ$60 million, representing a 4% year-on-year change.

Higgins said: “Wine export revenue to the US contracted slightly in the 12 months to February 2019 by around 1%, but the US remains our lead market by value.

“Total US wine imports, on a case equivalent basis, contracted by 4% in the 12 months to December 2018, but New Zealand achieved overall growth at the expense of other exporters such as Chile, Australia, Spain and South Africa.

“Total US import volumes contracted again in the first two months of 2019, but at a slower rate than 2018.”

Rabobank expects continuous modest US value and volume import growth for New Zealand Wine across 2019. Although downside risks do exist in 2020, with the potential for a modest US recession looming, New Zealand continues to experience strong wine export growth to China, off a small base.

In regards to Brexit, Rabobank expects importers to run down current inventory levels, and then start rebuilding stocks in the third quarter, prior to the new Brexit date.

The release of the report coincides with International Sauvignon Blanc Day today. New Zealand Winegrowers has launched a promotional campaign, beginning in New Zealand before rolling out to a series of events globally.

Chris Yorke, global marketing director of New Zealand Winegrowers, said: “New Zealand produces less than 1% of the world’s wine production, but Sauvignon Blanc shows huge popularity all over the globe, with the zesty variety making up 86% of all wine exported from New Zealand.

“International Sauvignon Blanc Day gives us an opportunity to enjoy and celebrate the diverse styles of this sought-after variety.”

Sauvignon Blanc was commercially produced on New Zealand shores for the first time in 1979, and is now New Zealand’s most widely planted variety. New Zealand wine exports are currently valued at $1.75 billion, while 98% of New Zealand’s vineyard producing area is Sustainable Winegrowing NZ certified.

 

Sources:  Dutch bank Rabobank

CANADIAN CANNABIS BEVERAGE GROUP FORMS TO DRIVE INDUSTRY REFORMS

A group of alcohol and cannabis companies in Canada have formed an alliance in order to push for industry reforms once marijuana edibles are legalized later this year.

The Cannabis Beverage Producers Alliance, made up of 10 member companies, is calling for changes to the way cannabis-infused drinks are made.

As it stands, Health Canada published draft regulations in December 2018, opening up a 60-day public consultation period which ended February 2019. The final guidelines are expected to be published in the late summer ahead of the legalisation date of 17 October 2019.

Among its demands, the group is calling for the government to change its rules about where cannabis drinks can be produced. The draft regulations stipulate that cannabis-based drinks must be made in a separate facility from where non-cannabis beverages are produced. The CBPA is arguing that the cost of creating separate facilities will prove a “significant barrier” for those entering the industry, particularly those on a smaller scale.

It is also demanding the loosening of guidelines surrounding the marketing of such products, allowing companies to use the words ‘wine’ and ‘beer’ in relation to cannabis-infused drinks. It hopes existing alcohol brand names will also be allowed to be used in conjunction with names for marijuana-based drinks.

The draft guidelines state the following: “It is proposed that the amended regulations would also prohibit all representations that associate a cannabis product, its packaging or its labeling (including its brand element) with an alcoholic beverage. For example, it would be prohibited to use terms related to alcoholic beverages, such as “beer” or “wine,” on cannabis products.

“It would similarly be prohibited for the name or logo of a company that manufactures alcoholic beverages to be used on a cannabis product. In addition to reducing inducements to use cannabis, this prohibition is felt to be necessary given the known health risks associated with the concurrent use of alcohol and cannabis.”

Executive director of CBPA and former premier of Nova Scotia, Darrell Dexter, said: “We’re keen to share expertise honed over decades of producing, packaging and distributing international award-winning products, from alcoholic and non-alcoholic craft beers, lagers and wines to high-quality dried cannabis flowers.”

“As Canada’s cannabis industry continues to grow, each alliance member company also looks forward to collectively employing hundreds more Canadians, adding to a workforce that to date has helped grow the Canadian economy and employ skilled workers from coast-to-coast.”

Members of the group include Truss Beverages, Hill Street Beverage Co., Collective Arts Brewing, CanBev and Province Brands.

Recreational cannabis was legalized in Canada in October 2018, making it the second country after Uruguay, which passed legislation in 2013, to impose such a measure. Edibles, or cannabis-infused food and drink products, will be legalized later this year.

Cannabis drinks sales in the US are set to pass the $1 billion mark within four years, a new report has claimed, as loosening regulation attracts greater innovation and investment.

In Canada, it is hoped legalising the drug will raise C$400m a year in tax revenue.

Among the drinks companies that have already invested in the cannabis sector are Constellation Brands, Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits and Molson Coors.