The BC wine icons at the Vancouver International Wine Festival

Words: Henry Yuen    Pix: Eileen - Epoch Times

Meeting the BC Wine Icons at the 39th Vancouver International Wine Festival

Judging by the size and reaction of the crowds at the Canadian wines section during the 39th Vancouver International Wine Festival, Canadian wines clearly shone through with sparkles.
Consistent flows of Q&A and conversations kept the winery principals and winemakers busy, their inquisitiveness and appetite to learn more about Canada wines were explicit, a win-win for both the wineries and those who walked away satisfied with the experience. Participating wineries gained good exposure and that their efforts were supported.

The well-respected Harry McWatters (left) is the winner of this year#s Spirited Industry Award.

The chance to talk to this year’s Vancouver International Wine Festival Spirited Industry Award winner Harry McWatters was the highlight for me. Hailed as the Godfather of BC wine industry, Harry does not need to be introduced. He is not only a pioneer, visionary and leader, but a willing mentor to many who subsequently find success in the wine industry one way or another. His contribution to the BC wine industry is immense and difficult to measure. Crowning him the 2017 Spirited Industry Award is the least we can do to say "Thank You!". As he celebrates his 50th vintage, this prestigious award is very timely. With Time Estate Winery and McWatters Collections currently under his belt, his wines speak for themselves. This industry icon shows no sign of slowing down, and that is excellent news. Stay tune for his next wine project!
Proprietor Chris Coletta and wine-maker Matt Dumayne proudly present the unique wine concepts behind the line-up of wines from Haywire Winery

At the booth of Haywire Winery, I was fortunate enough to find both the principal Christine Coletta and winemaker Matt Dumayne. The significance of Haywire is their innovative and progressive operational concepts, making the winery one of the most noticeable and fastest growing in the valley. Obtaining the certified organic vineyard designation clearly showcased their ability and dedication and how energetic they are in pushing the envelope to pursue their wine-making philosophy. A firm believer in using concrete tanks for fermentation for some of their wines, they have successfully carved a niche market of natural wines that beautifully express the terroir with minimal winemaking intervention and the high absence of chemical in their wines. Matt insists that wine as a beverage should best be left in its most natural state. His wines are made with natural yeast. Oak aging is used sparingly and when employed, is applied smartly to complement the juice. Most of their oak barrels are toasted lightly so only little influence is imparted onto the wine.  All these, allow the natural flavour of the varietals to take centre stage.

Young, energetic but easy-to-approach Evolve Cellars wines

Upon seeing Evolve Cellars, their Summerland winery's lake-view location at the scenic hillside immediately came to mind. Evolve is an up and coming winery producing delicious and fun wines at price points most consumers would find agreeable. Besides the regular lineup, they are crafting a new label called Elevate to cater to discerning wine drinkers. Their idea to craft consumer friendly quality wines to be enjoyed as everyday drinking wines is fitting for those seeking an easy life style. No need to look at the price tag before making the purchase decision, and definitely no need to find an excuse to drink them, while at the same time, they know they are bringing home a easy drinking delicious wine! The team, strong with Christa-Lee Bond McWatters at the helm and experienced winemaker Lawrence Buhler and vineyard manager Nadine Allander taking care of the wine production, is young, intelligent and on the same page. It is brilliant to get on the right track and attend to a segment of the market not particularly focused by others wineries who perhaps pay too much attention to being premium.

Like many at the festival, I would not bypass the opportunity to drop by the booth of Summerhill Pyramid Estate Winery. Their Cipes Brut NV is always a big draw. As a biodynamic & organic certified winery in Canada, Summerhill is hailed to be forward-thinking, diligent, advanced and adventurous, while staying very closed to Mother Nature and the Native lands. A pioneer who has always been avid making the statement on the importance of bio-diversity and the responsibility of caring for the land and the surroundings, Summerhill receives many applause and supports. The father and son team of Stephen Cipes and Ezra Cipes comes out of the same mode as visionaries and true "environmentalist" in their own right to promote organic farming and push for buy-in from other wineries to give back to the lands that they rely upon. Leaders will always take a leadership role in any endeavour and their unwavering efforts never goes unnoticed, and neither are their award-winning wines!

Summerhill's Cipes Brut is a good fit for any occasion