Chaberton Estate Winery Siegerrebe 2013 $17.45 +500296 This rare, aromatic, and exotic relative of gewüztraminer—all elderflower and honeysuckle with racy apricot and orange fruit—is right at home in the Fraser Valley. Take a day trip to enjoy it on the winery’s bistro patio ( 1064 216 St., Langley, 604-530-1736. Chabertonwinery.com) with the chef’s pork rillettes or spicy prawns.
Tantalus Vineyards Riesling 2013 $23 +802280 Riesling’s all about the grapes, and Tantalus has the oldest vines in the Okanagan Valley. The 2013, a much warmer year, is more tropical than the searing minerality of recent vintages, but still bursting with pear, lemon zest, and spice.
Lake Breeze Pinot Blanc 2012
$19 +5500322 If B.C. has a signature grape, it could be pinot blanc. With all the flavours of the fruit orchards that dot the Naramata Bench, it’s Lake Breeze’s calling card, wonderfully fresh, crisp, and precise, loaded with apple and citrus. Mission Hill Family Estate Perpetua Chardonnay 2011 $35 +394122 Winemaker John Simes put Mission Hill on the map when he won top chardonnay in the world in
1994, and every vintage since has only gotten better. With its elegant, almost Burgundian finesse, Perpetua is the bottle to convince European friends that B.C. really does make topnotch wine.
Haywire Gamay Noir Rosé 2011 $20 +812693 Haywire joins top B.C. and international talent, including Alberto Antonini of Poggiotondo, at its innovative Okanagan Crush Pad, where wine is made in huge concrete eggs. Old World in style, not afraid of a bit of age, it’s savoury rather than fruity, mineral rather than floral, and utterly delicious.
Joiefarm Rosé 2013
$21 +426551 A decade ago Joiefarm’s Rethink Pink campaign sparked Vancouver’s affection for dry rosé, filling glasses on every restaurant patio. Inspired by the wines of the Loire Valley, the 2013 is a 60/40 blend of pinot noir and gamay, all strawberries, cherries, and spice with racy citrus acidity.
Quails’ Gate Estate Winery Stewart Family Reserve Pinot Noir 2011 $45 +639658 There are more expensive Okanagan pinots, but none quite matches the consistently graceful, elegant Stewart Family Reserve. The 2011 is drinking beautifully, smooth and silky, perfumed with rose petals, lots of morello cherry, and bright raspberry, then a long finish of spice, mushrooms, and leather.
Tinhorn Creek Estate Winery Cabernet Franc 2011 $22 +530717 Cab franc thrives in the Okanagan Valley. A favourite of Tinhorn’s feisty winemaker, Sandra Oldfield, the 2011 shows the characteristic cedar and graphite, but there’s also plenty of woodland smoke, spice, and herbal flavours.
Poplar Grove Merlot 2010 $29.90 +948919 Deep, inky purple, this awardwinner from one of the original Naramata Bench wineries is full of plum, blueberry, and cranberry fruit with the smoky sage back notes typical of the Okanagan. Big and powerful at over 15 percent alcohol, it’s also stylish, well-balanced, and grounded in place.
Clos du Soleil Winery Signature 2012
$40 +474056 enRoute magazine called the Similkameen Valley, where Clos du Soleil is nestled, one of the “world’s five best wine regions you’ve never heard of.” Veteran winemaker Ann Sperling delivers a classic Bordeaux blend, all blackcurrant and vanilla.
Painted Rock Estate Winery Syrah 2011
$40 +13098 The best isn’t good enough for Painted Rock’s John Skinner: he wants the exceptional and he cuts no corners to get it. The 2011 syrah is first-rate, classic northern Rhône in style, with pepper and
black cherry, lovely sweet fruit, and lots of chocolate and coffee.
Nk’Mip Qwam Qwmt Riesling Icewine 2012 $60 +988535 Many a visitor goes home with a bottle of B.C. icewine tucked in their suitcase. If you’ve only got room for one, from this aboriginalowned South Okanagan winery our pick is Randy Picton’s exceptional 2012 vintage for its ravishing flavours of peach and lime with a shock of electric acidity.
Steller’s Jay Brut 2008 $25 +264879 The first and still the best bubble in the province, Steller’s Jay blends chardonnay, pinot blanc, and pinot noir, then adds plenty of bottle age to deliver crisp, fresh acidity. Very lemony, with a nice warm toastiness that lasts through the finish. Pop the cork with B.C. oysters, mussels, or clams.
This newly hip part of Main Street was home to several breweries 100 years ago. After decades without, there are once again four within just a few blocks. Brassneck boasts the expertise of celebrated brewer Conrad Gmoser, formerly of Steamworks, and Alibi Room owner Nigel Springthorpe. The goal for their just-opened and very smart venue ( 2148 Main St. Brassneck.ca): 12 beers, rotating often, to excite adventurous palates.
Bridge Brewing Co.
Co-owner Jason Stratton once devoted his spare time to researching all-natural beer, but things only clicked when he and wife Leigh met brewmaster Patrick Doré, former exec chef at the Fairmont Waterfront. Vancouver’s first nanobrewery opened in mid 2012 ( 115–2433 Dollarton Hwy, North Vancouver, 604-770-2739. Bridgebrewing.com). Explore the Deep Cove area, then their North Shore Pale Ale and Hopilano IPA.
Vancouver’s first and only specialty Belgian-style brewery ( Dageraadbrewing.com) was opened this year by Ben Coli, producing small batches of subtle, balanced beers inspired by Antwerp’s Dageraadplaats. No tasting room.
Four Winds Brewing Company
Worth a detour to the tasting room en route to or returning from the Victoria ferry ( 7355 72 St., Delta, 604-940-9949. Fourwindsbrewing.ca). Look for a mixup of German and West Coast styles when you order this label. The standards are a pilsner, an IPA, and a pale ale, but try if you can the strongly carbonated, tart and juicy Saison Brett, aged in red wine barrels, and one of the best new B.C. craft brews.
Powell Street Brewing
In 2013, their Powell Old Jalopy won Canadian Brewing Awards gold for its atypical malty mouth feel and floral, grapefruity notes. Also in the recipe book: India session ale, a white IPA, and a spice-infused witbier. The tiny— soon to be expanded—tasting room ( 1830 Powell St., Commercial Drive, 604-558-2537. Powellbeer.com) is a Vancouver favourite, so its charms are best enjoyed during off-hours.
HI NT: Wines are available through government stores ( Mattersoftaste.com) and at private shops. Beers are through stores and at the tasting rooms
33 Acres Brewing