Penticton Herald - - WINE & DINE -

Fort Berens Re­serve

With a decade of wine­mak­ing un­der its belt, Fort Berens Win­ery in Lil­looet now has the ex­per­tise and pre­mium grapes to launch its highly an­tic­i­pated high­est tier of re­serve wines.

I had the chance to taste three of re­serves lately and par­tic­u­larly liked the 2017 Ries­ling Re­serve ($23).

Fort Berens made only 213 cases of this lim­ited-edi­tion Ries­ling, which has all the clas­sic Ger­man char­ac­ter­is­tics of off-dry ap­ple, lime and honey with a unique ex­pres­sion of min­er­al­ity from the gravel, loam, river rock and sandy soils of Lil­looet.

Fort Berens is the only win­ery in Lil­looet, which is along the Fraser River in the Fraser Canyon.

While it may be con­sid­ered out of the way for B.C. wine­mak­ing, the cli­mate is sim­i­lar to the Okana­gan.

The 2016 Caber­net Franc Re­serve ($32) is full-bod­ied with soft and ripe tan­nins and opens with cherry flavours that morph to herbs.

Plum and cherry aro­mas and flavours make the 2016 Mer­itage Re­serve ($32) jammy and the oak ag­ing added some smoke, wood and spice char­ac­ter­is­tics.

Fort Berens’ reg­u­lar line is up also very good with the re­lease of the 2016 Pinot Noir, Caber­net Franc and Mer­itage priced a lit­tle lower at $26 each and ex­press­ing va­ri­etal com­plex­ity. Fort Berens is also in ex­pan­sion mode. It has added to the orig­i­nal 20-acre Dry Creek Vine­yard planted in 2009 and has cre­ated a new Red Rock Vine­yard in May with four acres of Mer­lot and five acres of Caber­net Franc.

Plant­ing will con­tinue next year with three-and-a-half acres of ad­di­tional Mer­lot, some Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon and a new va­ri­etal for the win­ery – Gruner Velt­liner.

This sum­mer, Fort Berens also found out a new geo­graph­i­cal in­di­ca­tion for Lil­looet was ap­proved.

So, be­gin­ning with the new vin­tage, it can use the Lil­looet VQA (Vint­ners’ Qual­ity Al­liance) des­ig­na­tion for its wines.

It’s tes­ta­ment to Lil­looet’s his­tory and fu­ture po­ten­tial as a grape-grow­ing re­gion.

Be­sides Fort Berens’ vine­yards, there are four ad­di­tional vine­yards in the re­gion – Fru­gal, Winches Spur, Roshard and Fraser Bench – which all sup­ply Fort Berens.

Fort Berens will soon have com­pany in Lil­looet with Cliff & Gorge about to be­come the sec­ond win­ery in town with its first vin­tages be­ing re­leased with the open­ing of its tast­ing room in spring 2019.


A pre-re­lease party for the wine doc­u­men­tary SOMM3 will be thrown Mon­day at 6 p.m. at Okana­gan Col­lege’s Kelowna cam­pus theatre.

This is the third film in the se­ries us­ing the SOMM term, short for som­me­lier, the des­ig­na­tion earned by wine pro­fes­sion­als.

The orig­i­nal SOMM is the most-viewed wine film on Net­flix. SOMM3 will start stream­ing soon. Made­line Puck­ett, the Seat­tle-based author of Wine Folly: Mag­num Edi­tion and founder of the The crop of new re­leases from Fort Berens Win­ery in Lil­looet in­cludes, for the first time, a spe­cial re­serve tier of wines. web­site, nar­rated SOMM3 and will be at the Kelowna screen­ing.

The film fol­lows the ad­ven­tures of De­canter mag­a­zine ed­i­tor Steven Spurrier, mas­ter som­me­lier Fred Dame and fa­mous wine critic Jan­cis Robin­son.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a wine-re­lated event without some­thing to drink, so sev­eral small winer­ies will be pour­ing sam­ples dur­ing the 6 to 7 p.m. re­cep­tion.

Chef Michael Buf­fet of Start Fresh Kitchen will be pro­vid­ing the small bites.

Pro­ceeds from the $38 tick­ets will ben­e­fit Start Fresh’s culi­nary and farm­ing em­ploy­ment pro­grams. SOMM3 screen­ing starts at 7 p.m. Tick­ets at This wine was lit­er­ally made just weeks ago. It’s the 2018 Cail­leteau Ga­may Nou­veau from West Kelowna’s Quails’ Gate Win­ery.

And it will be re­leased Thurs­day night, 6 to 8 p.m., at a French-in­spired party at the win­ery fea­tur­ing con­tor­tion­ists, ma­gi­cians, passed canapes and, of course, tast­ing the Cail­leteau.

The Cail­leteau is made from red Ga­may, the same grapes the French use to make Beau­jo­lais Nou­veau, the fun and fresh wine that’s re­leased world­wide on the third Thurs­day of No­vem­ber ev­ery year as a har­bin­ger of the vin­tage’s qual­ity.

Tick­ets to the party are $15 for Quails’ Gate Wine Club mem­bers and $25 for every­body else at Quail­

Steve MacNaull is The Okana­gan Week­end’s busi­ness and wine re­porter and colum­nist. Reach him at

Spe­cial to The Okana­gan Week­end

Wine author and blog­ger Made­line Puck­ette, nar­ra­tor of SOMM3, will be in Kelowna on Mon­day for a screen­ing of the wine film, pre­ceded, of course, by some wine tast­ing and ap­pe­tiz­ers.

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