Archive for the ‘All About Wine’ Category

Vancouver Winefest 12th Annual Awards Lunch


As a part of the Vancouver International Wine Festival, on February 22, I attended this 12th annual awards lunch with an Australian theme, that was full of restaurateurs, sommeliers, wine makers, and other industry peers.






Guests enjoyed a meal prepared by Vancouver Convention Centre executive chef Blair Rasmussen, showcasing Australia’s culinary evolution and fusion trends, and toasted trade competition winners with a stunning line-up of highly scored Australian wines.


The Spirited Industry Professional Award honours an individual who makes significant contributions to the sales, service or promotion of wine in British Columbia. The ninth annual SIP Award goes to industry veteran Howard Soon.

Howard Soon, a born and raised Vancouverite, has been a trailblazer in the wine business for 35 years beginning with Andres Wines, then Calona Vineyards, and for the last several years as head winemaker at Sandhill Estate Wines. An enthusiastic mentor to other winemakers, Howard has also selflessly shared countless nuggets of knowledge to others in the industry. He is one of a select group of certified wine educators in Canada and has served on the panels of several major wine competitions in Canada and the US. Howard has an impressive series of firsts to his credit: the first BC winemaker to release a series of single vineyard designated wines, the first to produce a Super Tuscan blend and the first to receive Red, White and Winery of the Year at the Canadian Wine Awards in 2009.

The Sommelier of the Year Award recognizes working sommeliers who consistently demonstrate an outstanding passion for marrying wine with food and a dedication to exceptional service.  This year, the winner was selected through a hands-on competition organized by the BC Chapter of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS). On November 3, 2014, Jason Yamasaki was recognized by CAPS as the “Best Sommelier in BC” and the VIWF Sommelier of the Year. Jason will now represent British Columbia in the “Best Sommelier in Canada” competition in Ontario in the spring of 2015, and could potentially represent Canada at the world competition.

Jason Yamasaki proudly declares his vision to be one of the world’s top sommeliers began before his first job. While completing a Bachelor’s Degree of Hospitality Management, he absorbed a wealth of industry experience at some of Vancouver’s most storied establishments. In 2008, eager for perspective beyond Vancouver, Jason joined the team at the Michelin-starred Avenues Restaurant in The Peninsula Chicago. Upon returning to Vancouver, Jason teamed up with Chambar, where he powered through virtually every dining room position while completing his formal wine education through the International Sommelier Guild and the Wine & Spirit Education Trust. He also fortified his passion for the vine by joining Austria’s Heidi Schrock for the 2011 vintage.

Celebrating the best food and wine pairings in the business, restaurants throughout British Columbia and Alberta have been recognized for creating wine lists that complement their establishment’s unique menu and concept. Candidates submitted their wine and menu lists, and were then visited by judges who reviewed their programs. The key judges were Tom Doughty, DJ Kearney, Iain Philip, Treve Ring, and Terry Threlfall. The top restaurants were awarded Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze, or commended with an Honourable Mention. The Wine Program Excellence Awards are sponsored by Vancouver Magazine.


Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar – Consistent Excellence
Hawksworth Restaurant

Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar – Best New Entry, Vancouver
Burdock & Co
CinCin – Greatest Gains
Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill & Enoteca
Gotham Steakhouse & Cocktail Bar
Provence Marinaside/The Wine Bar
Zest Japanese Cuisine

Brix Restaurant & Wine Bar
Edible Canada at the Market
Homer St. Café and Bar
Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House
My Shanti
Nicli Antica Pizzeria
Tableau Bar Bistro
West Restaurant

Fable Kitchen
Farmer’s Apprentice Restaurant
LIFT Bar Grill View
Salt Tasting Room
YEW seafood + bar

Honourable Mention
The Fish House in Stanley Park
Tap Restaurant
Tramonto at River Rock Casino Resort
Via Tevere

Alta Bistro

Araxi Restaurant + Bar
Rimrock Cafe

Little Jumbo Restaurant & Bar (Victoria)
Wolf in the Fog (Tofino) – Best New Entry, Vancouver Island

Honourable Mention
AURA Waterfront Restaurant + Patio, Inn at Laurel Point (Victoria)
Grand Cru Restaurant and Lounge, Grand Hotel (Nanaimo)
The Pacific Restaurant & Terrace, Hotel Grand Pacific (Victoria)

Onwards to next year and to more award winners.

By: Richard Wolak

Vancouver international Wine Festival on sale January 6

Canada’s premier wine festival runs from February 20 to March 1 at the Vancouver Convention Centre and other venues across the city. The spotlight is on Savour Australia as the 2015 theme country, with a global focus on Syrah (aka Shiraz). The festival will feature 170 wineries from 14 countries, attracting 25,000 participants to 53 events over eight days.

For full program details, visit and click on the interactive Festival at a Glance to learn more about each event or download the brochure. Net proceeds support VanWineFest’s charitable partner, Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival.


This year’s theme country offers a dynamic look at the history, evolution and revolution of Australia through 55 award-winning wineries in the Acura Tasting Room. Attendees will sip and savour their way through regional zones, Shiraz intensives and an interactive tasting station themed around cool-climate, modern Australia, the Chardonnay revolution and the Epicurean Way. Winery dinners, wine seminars with iconic flights, the Savour Australia “Lounge Party”, a gourmet Restaurant Australia grazing lunch, and trade events will take festival-goers on an epicurean journey across Australia.

Tickets go on sale Tuesday, January 6 at 9:30 a.m. for all public events at the 37th annual Vancouver international Wine Festival, presented by The Vancouver Sun. Forty-three events are available for wine lovers, including dinners with international vine stars at top Vancouver restaurants, wine seminars, minglers, lunches, the ever-popular Vintners Brunch, and four International Festival Tastings, where the wine world will gather.


Savour Australia

Engage your senses at the Savour Australia Lounge Party. Indulge in sultry Shiraz and sophisticated white wines; delight in artisanal late-night bites provided by Dirty Apron; chill to the DJ’s beats and bask in the moody lounge setting.

Geological Gems

Deep dive into Australia’s soil and rock beds. Savour their influence on the wines to discover Australian regionality through the lens of its geological landscape. Explore effects of intense Terra Rossa soils, ancient sand deposits and prehistoric beds of slate and limestone.

Restaurant Australia

You’re invited to Restaurant Australia, where you’ll experience how Australia is serving up the best food and wine experiences in remarkable locations every day. Meander through market stalls, relax and lounge, sip and savour your way through this unique culinary adventure.

Mod Oz

Embody the adventurous spirit of Australia through the wines of ‘Mod Oz’. You will come to ‘expect the unexpected’ after exploring Australia’s winemaking evolution and revolution. Discover alternative and Mediterranean varietals; contemporary examples of traditional varieties; and unusual and innovative winemaking techniques emerging in Australia today.

All About Syrah

Found throughout the wine world, from the Rhône Valley to the Barossa Valley to the Okanagan Valley, Syrah (aka Shiraz) is popular as a varietal, in a blend, or even co-fermented with some Viognier. Festival sommelier Terry Threlfall will take you through the many facets of Syrah and Shiraz, with representation from wine regions around the world.


The Acura International Festival Tasting Room offers a unique opportunity to taste rare bottles and discover new treasures, as well as the chance to meet vine stars from around the globe. Every winery in the room will have a senior winery executive behind the table, identified by a royal blue lanyard, there to answer your questions about their wines. Nowhere else in the world will you find such an amazing gathering of talented women and men pouring wine and answering questions. Take this opportunity to learn about your favourite wine from the experts. Both the Saturday matinee and Thursday evening tastings will have a guaranteed 30% lower attendance, leaving more room to move and more opportunities to chat with international vine stars.


Kicking off the festival this year on the Friday night before festival week is the highly anticipated Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction on February 20 – 36 years to the day of the very first festival – at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. A sparkling wine reception is followed by an elegant dinner of five courses paired with nine wines. During the reception guests are invited to place their bids on tantalizing silent auction items: unforgettable culinary experiences, one-of-a-kind excursions and highly prized collector’s items. Single tickets to the Gala are $395 or a table for eight is $3160. Raffle tickets to win a trip for two to Australia valued at nearly $12,000 are also available. For further information about the Gala, call 604-637-3098 or email [email protected]


Sip, save and stay safe! Festival partner has a terrific deal for wine lovers. Book a room at one of 35 participating downtown hotels, and you’ll get ONE FREE TICKET to your choice of four International Festival Tastings. Quantities are limited and last year’s program was very popular, so book early. Bookings must be made by February 10 for a stay by March 5.

Tickets may be purchased online at, in person at 305-456 West Broadway, or by phoning the box office at 604-873-3311 or toll-free at 1-877-321-3121. Tickets for 10 events in the Trade Days Conference, the wine business portion of the festival, go on sale to those in the food and beverage and hospitality industries on January 27.

Wine in the Garden

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On May 29th, I attended this wonderful evening of wines from the Summerland region along with delicious food prepared by Truffles Fine Foods and music from Dawn Chubai and her trio.

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VanDusen Botanical Gardens was the setting for the first ever Wine in the Garden fundraiser event. Summerland area wineries from the Bottleneck Drive Winery Association were in Vancouver to raise funds for one of Vancouver’s most treasured spaces.

8th Generation Vineyards

8th Generation Vineyards

8th Generation Vineyards

8th Generation Vineyards

Dirty Laundry

Dirty Laundry

More than 75 wines from Summerland’s Bottleneck Drive in the Okanagan poured alongside food pairings from Truffles Fine Foods.

Dawn Chubai and her trio

Dawn Chubai and her trio

Vocalist Dawn Chubai, performed songs from her new album ‘Under The Covers’ with her trio.

If you are planning a visit to the Summerland region and want to check out some of the wineries, you may want to visit them online at

By: Richard Wolak

Bloom Spring Release Tasting

Margaret Van Westen - Van Westen Vineyards

Margaret Van Westen – Van Westen Vineyards

I attended this annual celebration of BC Wines on May 22, the tasting featured wines from many of the wineries across all regions in BC.

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This afternoon trade tasting was held at the Vancouver Convention Centre where guests I had a chance to sip and mingle.

Owners of Sage Hills Organic Estate Vineyard

Owners of Sage Hills Organic Estate Vineyard

Sage Hills Pinot Noir

Sage Hills Pinot Noir

Van Westen Vino Grigio

Van Westen Vino Grigio

Thornhaven Estates Winery Rose

Thornhaven Estates Winery Rose

Here are some of the wines that I liked from the wide selection that were poured. The annual Wines of British Columbia Spring Release Tasting will showcase over 90 BC wineries and 300 premium BC VQA wines, while highlighting the highly anticipated 2013 vintage. Come and mingle with the winemakers as you taste the flavours or their new spring releases.

If you are planning a visit to any of the wine regions in British Columbia and want to check out some of the wineries, you may want to visit them online at

By: Richard Wolak

Inception Wine Launch

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Mark Anthony Group of Companies hosted to a wine party recently at Brix restaurant where they launched Inception Wines into our area to a large group of trade and media.

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Light appetizers were served made by the chefs at Brix Restaurant to pair with the wine which had notes of chocolate, vanilla, mocha and spice. The wine is from South Africa and now available locally for around $14.99 a bottle at at BC Liquor stores.

By: Richard Wolak

Naramata Bench Spring Release Tasting

Garron Elmes - winemaker and President at Lake Breeze Wines - with his Tempest 2010

Garron Elmes – winemaker and President at Lake Breeze Wines – with his Tempest 2010

I attended the annual Naramata Bench trade tasting that featured wines from many of the wineries in the Naramata Bench Winery Association.

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This afternoon trade tasting was held at the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver where guests I had a chance to sip and mingle.

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Here are some of the wines that I liked from the wide selection that were poured.

If you are planning a visit to the Naramata Bench region and want to check out some of the wineries, you may want to visit them online at

By: Richard Wolak

Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers Launches in BC

Michelle Bouffard (President) and Roger Maniwa (Secretary)

Michelle Bouffard (President) and Roger Maniwa (Secretary)

This afternoon I attended a bubble party to celebrate the launch of The Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers in British Columbia. This Canada-wide association will bring new opportunities, connections and forums to our province.  CAPS have been active in Quebec, Ontario, Atlantic Canada for many years now, and is affiliated with the prestigious Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI) headquartered in Paris.

Held in the York Room at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia, Michelle Bouffard, President of the association, welcomed all the sommeliers, trade and media marking this exciting launch.

The CAPS-BC Mission Statement:

•           To raise awareness of the Sommelier profession and its value in the hospitality industry and to the general public.

•           To enhance the role of the Sommelier and promote the culture of wine through instruction, competition, accreditation, and events.

•           To provide a professional forum to encourage community, networking, and education for our members.

Here’s CAPS-BC Board:

Michelle Bouffard – President

Barb Philip MW – Vice-President

DJ Kearney – Vice-President

Roger Maniwa – Secretary

Johnathan Lai – Treasurer

Mark Davidson – Education

Sebastien Le Goff  ¬- International Relations

Keith Nicholson – Communications & PR

Mark Taylor – Events

Terry Threlfall – Competitions & Language Specialist

Lesley Brown – Membership

Since its inception in 1989, CAPS has promoted the profession, notably by its participation in the Best Sommelier of the World Competition.  Quebec’s Veronique Rivest came 2nd in the world in 2013, putting Canadian sommeliers firmly on the map.  Now that we have established a CAPS-BC chapter, we too can be part of the global competition process.

By: Richard Wolak

Vancouver Winefest 11th Annual Awards Lunch

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As a part of the Vancouver International Wine Festival, on February 28, I attended this 11th annual awards lunch that was full of restaurateurs, sommeliers, wine makers, and other industry folk.

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The Rhone Valley region of France was featured at the lunch with a selection of wines available for tasting as well as a wonderful array of dishes prepared by the chefs of the Vancouver Convention Centre. My favourite dishes were the Duck Confit Croque Monsieur, the Tuna Chickpea Salad and the Chicken Squash Ravioli.

A couple of prestigious awards which are handed out each year were awarded to Mark Davidson (Spirited Industry Professional Award) and to Mike Bernardo of Vij’s Restaurant (Sommelier of the Year).

The Spirited Industry Professional Award honours an individual who makes significant contributions to the sales, service or promotion of wine in British Columbia. The eighth annual SIP Award goes to industry veteran Mark Davidson. Mark is education director for Wine Australia USA, and was the BC representative for the creation of a Canadian National Standard for Wine Service. In 1993, he co-founded the Vancouver Wine Academy (VWA) and has worked with the BC Wine Institute to create a Train the Trainee module for educating restaurant and wine industry staff. Mark placed third in the finals at the 1990 Sopexa Best French Wine & Spirits Sommelier and was the winner of the 2001 BC Restaurant and Foodservice Association Sommelier of the Year. The SIP Award is sponsored by the Vancouver International Wine Festival.

The 15th annual Sommelier of the Year Award recognizes outstanding wine knowledge and wine service. The Sommelier of the Year is awarded based on votes by key members of the. This year’s award goes to sommelier Mike Bernardo of Vij’s Group. As the wine director at Vij’s and a contributor to Vancouver magazine, Mike’s expertise lies in the often challenging pairing of spicy, layered dishes with the perfect wines. Focusing on fresh, crisp white wines and medium-bodied, low-tannin reds, Mike also enjoys the challenge of combining bigger, bolder wines with Indian cuisine. Sommelier of the Year is sponsored by the Vancouver International Wine Festival.

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The delicious wine (Esprit Barville 2011) served at our table was wonderful as was the wine focused conversation with Matthew Presidente, Tim Pawsey and others. The annual wine list awards were handed out celebrating the best food and wine pairings in the business, restaurants throughout British Columbia and Alberta have been recognized for creating wine lists that complement their establishment’s unique menu and concept. Candidates submitted their wine and menu lists, and were then visited by judges who reviewed their programs. The judges are Michelle Bouffard, Tom Doughty, DJ Kearney, Iain Philip and Terry Threlfall. The top restaurants were awarded Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze, or commended with an Honourable Mention. The Wine List Awards are sponsored by Vancouver Magazine.


Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar
Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill & Enoteca
Hawksworth Restaurant

Chambar Restaurant
Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House
La Pentola della Quercia
Tableau Bar Bistro
The Wine Room at Joey Bentall One
Zest Japanese Cuisine

Burdock & Co. – Best New Entry, Vancouver
Campagnolo Roma
Edible Canada at the Market
Homer St. Cafe and Bar
Nicli Antica Pizzeria
Provence Marinaside & The Wine Bar
Salt Tasting Room

Lift Bar Grill View
The Observatory

Honourable Mention
The Fish House in Stanley Park
The Oakwood Canadian Bistro
Tap Restaurant
Tap & Barrel Coal Harbour
Tramonto at River Rock Casino Resort
Via Tevere Pizzeria

Alta Bistro
Araxi Restaurant + Bar

Rimrock Cafe


The Restaurant at Painted Boat Resort Spa & Marina (Madeira Park)

Little Jumbo – Best New Entry, Victoria
The Pacific Restaurant & Terrace at the Hotel Grand Pacific
Stage Wine Bar

Honourable Mention
Aura Waterfront Restaurant + Patio at the Inn at Laurel Point

Onwards to next year and to more award winners.

By: Richard Wolak

Artisan SakeMaker Sake Release Tasting

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On January 15, I attend the  Fraser Valley Junmai Sake – Series Two release tasting which also celebrated Artisan SakeMaker’s 7th Anniversary.

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These sake are part of the regional Osake series made from 100% organically grown sake rice in Abbotsford, BC.  Series Two consists of 730 bottles of Fraser Valley Junmai and 120 bottles of Fraser Valley Junmai Nigori. They are available for purchase by private liquor stores and restaurants.

You can visit Artisan Sakemaker on Granville Island at 1339 Railspur Alley, Vancouver or on twitter @ArtisanSake

By: Richard Wolak

Interview with Wine Sommelier David Stansfield

David Stansfield

David Stansfield

A couple of weeks ago David Stansfield gave a talk at my Food Talks Vol 10 event about Wine, it struck me as how knowledgeable David was. Hence it was high time I interviewed him, we first sat down at Cuchillo in Railtown to enjoy some appetizers which David paired with his favourite wine, I had a glass of water. We then hopped into a cab and headed over to Tap & Barrel in Coal Harbour, to enjoy some more dishes and wines.

David Stansfield is an independent sommelier – wine nerd for hire – currently working as the in-house Sommelier for the Vancouver Urban Winery and as an ambassador of wine-on-tap for FreshTAP, the country’s leading packager of premium wines in kegs. He also works as the corporate Sommelier for the Daniel Hospitality Group and consults for local restaurants Bestie and Cuchillo.

In his 15 year career in wine, David has worked as a cellar hand, tour guide, and Director of Sales for Summerhill Pyramid Winery; launched an online wine distribution service for BC wines; ran the wine programs of two award-winning Gastown restaurants; lectured as a guest instructor with the Wine & Spirits Education Trust through the Art Institute of Vancouver; gave presentations on behalf of the BC Wine Institute; gained accreditation as a French Wine Scholar; created and hosted the Sunday School series of wine classes at Vancouver Urban Winery; and spoken to anyone who will listen about the joys of drinking good wine.

Albacore Tuna Ceviche

Albacore Tuna Ceviche

Albacore Tuna Ceviche

Paired with Unworth Vineyards – Allegro blend of Pinot Gris, Petit Milo and Blanc Noir 2012 (from Mill Bay, Cowichan Valley).

What drew you to wine?

I moved to the Okanagan when I was 14 years old and lived in Kelowna. I went to high school with Ezra Cipes (now CEO of Summerhill Wines). At 17, Ezra and I went to have a drink at Steven Cipes house (Ezra’s father and owner of Summerhill Wines), we grabbed a bottle of wine, pulled the cork and downed ¾ of the bottle. Steven Cipes walked in and looked at us kids drinking who were underage. I was pretty drunk and catty, Steven offered me a job and he was serious. I ended up taking the job and worked in the cellar at Summerhill, once I turned 19 I was promoted to the Tour Guide of the winery. At 24 I became Director of Sales of Summerhill Winery. I then became a Sommelier while I was working at Summerhill.

What goes into creating a wine list for a restaurant?

1)      1st is the theme of the restaurant

2)      I write wine programs

For example at Cuchillo – the food is Neuvo Latino (flavours of latin America and Spain but made with local ingredients. The wines are BC, Spain, Portugal, Chile and Argentina.

3)      I do the list at Cuchillo with Chef/Owner Stu Irving and we talk about his dishes, ingredients and flavours.

Vs Tap & Barrel

1)      It is all BC wine focussed with local food

2)      I have to love the wine

3)      Every wine has a job to do – each wine has to be distinct from the other wine ( I like small wine lists)

What inspires you when you are curating a wine list?

I try to write wine lists that I would be excited to encounter as a customer. I drink heavily at the restaurants I work for, I want their wines to be ones that I want to drink time and time again.

Then the subsidiary inspiration. I like to introduce people to new wines and regions that people haven’t heard of. Telling the story, I am a local boy and I want to promote whats good in BC.

What was your training like to become a Sommelier?

My formal training, I went through the WSET program, I also did the French Wine Scholar Program at WSET level 4. Then 17 years on the job (cellar, vineyard, retails, sales and restaurant).

Tell our readers where you have worked in the past 10 years?

  • Summerhill Pyramid Winery
  • Wine Barrel VqA store in Victoria
  • Cobre Restaurant
  • Dictionary of Canadianisms at UBC
  • Self employed Wine Consultant

Who are your clients currently?

  • Daniel Group
  • Vancouver Urban Winery
  • Cuchillo Restaurant
  • Bestie Restaurant
  • Chicha Restaurant
  • Private tastings for private clients

Who are your mentors?

Michael Bigatini

Lamb Albondigas Tacos & Corn Bread

Lamb Albondigas Tacos & Corn Bread Aioli

Lamb Albondigas Tacos

And Corn Bread Aioli with guahillo chili butter

Paired with Nichol 9 Mile Red 2011 – a blemd of Saint Laurent and Pinot Noir (from Naramata)

Tell us about Cuchillo, what type of wines did you showcase on their wine list?

  • 8 BC wines on tap by the glass
  • Selection of 25-30 Central and South America, Spanish and Portugese by the bottle
  • Wine style-focus on terroir and preferably lesser known and more exciting wines of the terroir (place).

Tell us about Tap & Barrel, what type of wines did you showcase on their wine list?

  • BC Wine on tap
  • Then represent as many different sub regions of BC that I can. Ie (5 different regions of Okanagan), then all the valleys (Fraser, Cowichan etc)
  • I want the wine to be indicative of the area.
Steelhead Salmon Tacos and Local Wild Mushroom Pizza

Steelhead Salmon Tacos and Local Wild Mushroom Pizza

Steelhead Salmon Tacos

Paired with the Poplar Grove Vionier 2012 (exclusive to Tap & Barrel Coal Harbour)


Local Wild Mushroom Pizza

Paired with Meyer Family Vineyards single barrel Pinot Noir (exclusive to Tap & Barrel Coal Harbour)

What wine are you drinking currently?

  • De Martino (Chile) Organic – Cinsault – made in ancient clay pots called Viejas Tinajas
  • Cru Beaujoulais Gamay from South Burgundy

If you weren’t a Sommelier what would you be doing?

I would be working to become a professor in literature or a street mime.

What does a wine that tastes like dirt mean exactly?

Made from the terroir (place) of the vineyard. Small lot, specialty of place.

What are the top 3 types of wine (your favourites) would we find in your home Wine collection?

1)      Lots of sparkling wines

2)      Cold rose

3)      Beer

Take us on a tour of Vancouver’s wine bars and restaurants with good wine lists that aren’t you’re clients. What are your favorites?

1)      Lisa Cook at Joey Wine Room

2)      Kurtis Kolt’s wine list at Bao Bei

3)      Brooke at Wildebeest

4)      Natural wines at Burdock & Co

5)      A pint with Nigel at the Alibi Room

What do you look for on a Wine List when you dine out in a Restaurant?

Something I have never seen before.

Tell me about Sunday School that you recently hosted at the Vancouver Urban Winery

A series of irreverent wine seminars that I host with Lisa Cook. It’s a wine school where the emphasis is on the wine but not on the school. Starting in January we will be doing them monthly.

By: Richard Wolak

New Zealand Meets Asia

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On October 21 I attended a wonderful event at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Gardens presented by House Wine featuring over 50 wines from New Zealand paired with Asian dishes from 6 Asian restaurant in Vancouver.

Chef Angus An - Maenam

Chef Angus An – Maenam

Malang of Prawns - Maenam

Malang of Prawns – Maenam

Sommelier/Executive chef Tatsuya Katagiri (R) of Zest Japanese

Sommelier/Executive chef Tatsuya Katagiri (R) of Zest Japanese

Salmon Kiwi & Autumn Roll -Zest Japanese

Salmon Kiwi & Autumn Roll -Zest Japanese

Chef Lisa Henderson (L) - Union Bar

Chef Lisa Henderson (L) – Union Bar

Asian Seafood Ceviche - Union Bar

Asian Seafood Ceviche – Union Bar

Sura Korean Royal Cuisine with their Beef Skewered Pancake and Seafood Skewered Pancake

Sura Korean Royal Cuisine with their Beef Skewered Pancake and Seafood Skewered Pancake

Palki Restaurant

Palki Restaurant

Aloo Tiki & Samosa

Aloo Tiki & Samosa

Fresh and pure, the wines of New Zealand have established themselves as incredibly food friendly. Home to some of the world’s best Asian food, Vancouver is blessed with a colourful and diverse palette of flavours. Some of the city’s top Asian restaurants each created a dish to pair with the vibrant  wines of New Zealand. Kingyo Izakaya, Maenam, Palki Restaurant, Sura Korean Cuisine, The Union and Zest Japanese Cuisine were the restaurants featured.

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From Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling to Pinot Noir and more, it was a chance to explore a variety of combinations at this stand up, grazing event. Kia ora and Kanpai!

House Wine presents many wine events through out the year, you can find them online.

By: Richard Wolak

Languedoc Wine Bar Crawl

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Last week I took part in an exciting tour with some other invited media guests around the city that wined and dined us at four of Vancouver’s top wine bars. Travelling by a bus limo we made our way around the different venues to taste a couple of Languedoc wines along with some food selections at each of the spots.

From now until November 14th, four of Vancouver’s best wine bars will feature a wide assortment of Languedoc wines by-the-glass: BrixSienaThe Wine Bar, and Seasons In The Park.

Visit any one of the 4 wine bars during the promo and you’ll find a ballot to win your own wine bar crawl for two. Or Tweet @LanguedocWines or Facebook about it (#LanguedocVan) for other ways to win gift certificates & more.

Thanks to its coastal location, Languedoc is one of France’s most ancient viticultural regions, producing a diverse selection of high quality wines of many styles – red and white, dry and sweet, still and sparkling.

French bread and a selection of Oysters

French bread and a selection of Oysters

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During the wine bar crawl our 1st stop of the night was to The Wine Bar (1177 Marinaside Crescent, 604-681-4144) @TWB_TheWineBar (twitter) in Yaletown where we treated to French bread and a selection of Oysters. The wines here are: Sieur d’Arques, Première Brulle, Limoux AOC (2011) and mussels with the Château Pech-Celeyran, Cinquième Gérération, and Languedoc AOC La Clape (White, 2011).

Goat Cheese Creme Brûlée  & Grilled Cheese

Goat Cheese Creme Brûlée & Grilled Cheese

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Our second stop was to Brix (1138 Homer St., 604-915-9463) @brixvan (twitter) where we were served a delicious flaming Goat Cheese Creme Brûlée pairing. The white wines here are the: Domaine Delsol, Picpout de Pinet AOC (2012), and red is the Gerard Bertrand, Terroir Minervois AOC (2010)!

Tuna Salad

Tuna Salad

On to the third stop to Seasons In The Park (Queen Elizabeth Park, Cambie St & W 33rd Ave.,604-874-8008) @SeasonsInQEPark (twitter) where I had a Tuna Salad. Featured Wines at Seasons In The Park: Ormarine, Picpoul de Pinet AOC, White, 2011; Domaines Paul Mas, Estate GSM, Coteaux du Languedoc AOC, Red, 2011; and Saint-Saturnin, Le Clocher, Languedoc AOC, Red 2010.

Chocolate Hazelnut Torte and a selection of cheeses

Chocolate Hazelnut Torte and a selection of cheeses

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The last stop of the night was to Siena (1485 W 12th Ave., 604-558-1485) @SienaVancouver (twitter) for their delicious Chocolate Hazelnut Torte and a selection of cheeses. The wines here are the: Antech Cuvée Expression Crémant de Limoux AOC sparkling and the Domaine de Babio Minervois AOC Red 2009.

Remember from now until November 14th, these four of Vancouver’s hottest wine bars will feature a wide assortment of Languedoc wines by-the-glass – a great opportunity for active Vancouverites to discover the flavour of the South of France! Languedoc is proud to shine a Vancouver-wide spotlight on their premium quality wines from now until November 14th.

This wine bar crawl was a lot of fun and I learned quite a lot about Languedoc wines which you can read about here as well.

By: Richard Wolak

West Restaurant Launched OWEN Cab Franc Wine

OWEN Cabernet Franc

OWEN Cabernet Franc

Okanagan Crush Pad recently released Owen for West Restaurant, a BC VQA Cabernet Franc, this is the second wine release from BC’s Okanagan Crush Pad’s Okanagan Wine Campus program, created by 2011 Vancouver Sommelier of the Year and West wine director Owen Knowlton.

Owen Knowlton (R), Christine Colleta (M)

Christine Colleta (M), Owen Knowlton (R)

Owen Knowlton, Vancouver’s Sommelier of the Year 2011, releases his 2011 Cabernet Franc, aptly named “Owen”. The wine was made with Okanagan Crush Pad chief winemaker Michael Bartier from grapes grown on the Black Sage Road. You will be impressed with the result.

Tomato on bread crumbs

Tomato on bread crumbs

Pork Belly with cherry

Pork Belly with cherry

Beet with fromage

Beet with fromage

West Restaurant hosted invited media recently for this launch, I tasted a variety canapés showcased to pair with this wine.

This limited release is set to sell quickly, with proceeds donated to the BC Hospitality Foundation.

To Order: call 604-800-0601 or have a glass when dining at West Restaurant in Vancouver.

By: Richard Wolak

Touring Krause Winery and Farm

A few weeks ago I was invited for a tour of Alf and Sandee Krause brand new Estate Winery at Krause Berry Farm. I have toured Krause Berry Farm on previous trips, this time I had a chance to see some of their new exciting developments.

I enjoyed touring their new wine room where they offer tastes of all their fruit wines as well have a retail store for picking up wine accessories as well as souvenirs.

This summer SKY Helicopters is pleased to provide a spectacular flight over the Fraser Valley with lift off from the Krause Estate Winery for a panoramic view of Krause Berry Farm and the Cascade mountains. I experienced this first hand by taking one of their tours the day I visited in my first ever Helicopter ride, state of the art helicopters and it was magnificent.

I had a nosh on delectable treats from the Krause Berry kitchen, and got the scoop on the upcoming Cooking School at Krause, seasonal offerings and special events in the works.

I even took a tractor tour around their farm to see some of the crops that have been planted this year. Spend a few hours or spend the day with a visit to Krause Berry Farms and Estate Winery located at 6179 248th Street in Langley, BC.

By: Richard Wolak

New Zealand Passionate Pairings

The Boathouse Chef Brent Fisher

Each year when I attend the Vancouver International Wine Festival there are a selection of events that I attend. My friend and fellow food writer Cassandra Anderton is from New Zealand and is not only a wine aficionado she is also a great promoter of New Zealand wines each time they presented in Vancouver. She invited me to attend this event which took place towards the end of this years wine festival. Held at The Boathouse overlooking Kitsilano Beach on a dreary winter day where the wind was blowing strong, guests filled the room with glasses in hand to sip and swirl.

Oyster Shucking

Making Risotto

Each of the New Zealand wines presented were paired with dishes created by each of the local Boathouse Restaurants and their chefs and each were represented at this grazing lunch event.

Heirloom Vegetables Risotto

Herb Crusted Lamb Lollipops

My favourite dishes were the Heirloom Vegetables Risotto with tarragon and basil oil, along with the Herb Crusted Lamb Lollipops with Dijon jus.

Attending Passionate Pairings was a great way to enjoy some of New Zealand wine and pairings.

By: Richard Wolak

Wine for Waves

On April 26th I attended a food and wine pairing tasting that not only featured a large selection of wineries from all over the Naramata Bench area, it also featured a selection Naramata region restaurants.  The Four Seasons Vancouver Hotel ballroom was the venue for this stellar tasting event and they featured their own spectacular Seafood station in the centre of the room.

Shana and Gavin Miller — co-own Upper Bench Winery

Richard of Misconduct Wine Co

Stephanie at D’Angelo Winery

All of the wineries were pouring their line-up of wines for guests to sip and swirl and to spit if they so desired.

Purple Potato Chips & Clam dip by The Peking Room & pairing with Red Rooster Winery

Spicy Seafood Perogy from Vanilla Pod Restaurant pairing with Poplar Grove Winery

Halibut Sausage Roll & Pairing from Lake Breeze Wines

Rainbow Trout Terrine & Pairing from Hillside Wines

Guests I had a chance to taste the best of the Naramata Bench wineries while sampling tantalizing culinary offerings from Naramata Bench’s own Hillside Winery Bistro, Lake Breeze Vineyards The Patio restaurant, Red Rooster’s P. INC. restaurant, Poplar Grove Winery’s The Vanilla Pod, Misconduct Wine Co’s The Kitchen, and Upper Bench Winery and Creamery.

Canadian Maple Wine from Lang Vineyards

The Four Seasons Hotel, presented this wonderful event in partnership with the Vancouver Aquarium in support of its national sustainable seafood program Ocean Wise™.

By: Richard Wolak

Tasting at TASTE Washington

I had heard about TASTE Washington though never had a chance to visit until Visit Seattle invited me to Seattle to experience there #2DaysInSeattle They suggested a visit would be in order for me to attend this esteemed food & wine festival. Since I love food and wine I took them up on the offer and obtained a Media Pass to visit the festival on Saturday March 23.

As I mentioned I do love wine and food, this festival featured 225 Washington wineries pouring their favorite wines and more than 65 Northwest restaurants serving specially-prepared bites.

I decided that I would focus my tasting on the food alone and not partake in any sipping, swirling or drinking at this festival. There was plenty of restaurants serving up a large selection of bites, along with many other non-alcoholic beverages sampling to be had.

Chef David Buchanan of Tulalip Resort Casino

I tasted canapés, salads, seafood, meats, pastas, risotto, burgers and all sorts of desserts during the afternoon of walking the aisles of the event. Some of the highlights were meeting Chef David Buchanan of Tulalip Resort Casino and tasting his Dungeness Crab Salad in a cucumber wrap – tasty and stunning.

Pastry Chef Kim Mahar of RN74 (on the left)

Chevre Cheesecake with toasted almonds, and compressed apple from RN74

I met Pastry Chef Kim Mahar of RN74  with her delish Chevre Cheesecake with toasted almonds, and compressed apple.

The owners of Tude Juices

One of the refreshing beverages that I sampled was the lineup of Washington produced apple juices at the Tude Juices booth. The owners explained that their juices are made with Washington grown apples, my favourites were the Fuji’tude and Gala’tude.

Beecher`s Cheese

Smoked Octopus by Trace Restaurant

Chocolate Zepole at Cantinetta

Salted Caramel Butterscotch Pudding by Yardhouse

Prawns and more by the Washington State Convention Centre

I love Beechers Cheese which I often try when I am at Pike Place Market on visits to Seattle so I was happy to try more cheese at this festival. The Smoked Octopus by Trace Restaurant was a treat as was the Chocolate filled Zepole from Cantinetta along with the delicious Salted Caramel Butterscotch Pudding by Yardhouse Restaurants.

Chefs team of Barking Frog at Willows Lodge

Prawn & Berkshire Pork Dumpling by Barking Frog at Willows Lodge

Tasting and tasting ….

Pastry Chef behind Pie

Salted Caramel Peanut Waffles from Sweet Iron Waffles

It seemed like there was a never ending supply of sweets every turn I made around the gigantic convention centre space, I also loved the Key Lime Pie at the Pie booth along with the Salted Caramel Peanut Waffles from Sweet Iron Waffles.

Celebrity Chef Stage

Washington State Ciders

Loved my first #TasteWA experience, a huge festival with many restaurants, tasters, chefs, vintners, wineries and more. If you love food, wine and cider then make sure you visit them next year at Taste Washington.

By: Richard Wolak

Vancouver International Wine Festival 2013 the Scoop

Celebrating its 35th year of bringing the world of wine to Vancouver, the 2013 festival welcomes California as its Theme Region and puts the Global Focus on Chardonnay. The festival runs from February 25 to March 3. One of North America’s most exciting gatherings of leading winemakers and their wares, this year’s festival will feature 176 wineries from 15 countries, attracting 25,000 participants to the Festival’s seven days of tastings, dinners, seminars and wine minglers at the Vancouver Convention Centre and top restaurants, hotels and venues.

Tickets go on sale on Tuesday January 8th and you will want to get them early for all the events  and especially for the dinners that often sell out quickly.


California will once again star as VanWineFest’s Theme Region, as it did most recently in 2004, and at the festival’s inception in 1979. While that first event featured only a single exhibitor, Robert Mondavi Winery, 63 of this year’s 176 wineries hail from the Golden State. With appellations ranging from coastal, to mountainous, to desert, California boasts an extensive range of terroirs that produce wines of unsurpassed excellence. Whether personal taste leans towards a complex Pinot Noir, a creamy Chardonnay, a rich Cabernet Sauvignon, or a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, festivalgoers will have the opportunity to sample these favourites and many more, showcased by wineries from California’s 12 AVA regions.


A Tour of California – Monday, February 25

California is home to some of the leading vintners in the world, capable of translating nuances of diverse terroirs into wine that is vibrant and complex. This winery dinner, held at the renowned MARKET by Jean-Georges, will take you on a taste-tour of California’s most iconic wine regions and up and coming areas. Sip on famed California varietals and hidden gems only sold directly from the wineries (Edna Valley Vineyard, Bridlewood Estate Winery, Louis M Martini and Apothic), while enjoying a beautifully paired menu prepared by Executive Chef Wayne Harris.

California Cruisin’ – Tuesday, February 26

Kick start your Festival experience the Cali way with an evening of sipping, snacking and socializing with some of California’s biggest wine stars at Vancouver’s chicest dual establishment, Brix Restaurant and George Ultra Lounge. With over 20 of California’s top vintners pouring a selection of their finest wines, specially created California themed tapas by Executive Chef Chris Bisaro, and beats you can’t help but dance to, this event promises to be the ultimate wine mingler experience.

Regional Superstars of California – Friday, March 1

Wine educator DJ Kearney surveys the diversity of California’s wine growing regions and leads you on a tasting to explore some of California’s highest quality wines. Join a panel of esteemed vintners whose goal is to craft wines that fully reflect the different terroirs California offers through wines that express both their origin and identity.

Savour California Flavour – Saturday, March 2

This wine-tasting, food-grazing spectacular in the Theme Region section of the Tasting Room is an excellent way to experience the best VanWineFest has to offer, West Coast style. Nosh, sip and mingle your way around this gastronomic showcase while admiring the magnificent backdrop of the North Shore Mountains and Burrard Inlet. Meant to be a full sensory experience, exceptional wines from over 60 California wineries, exquisitely prepared canapés and lively music and entertainment will create an event to be reminisced about for years to come.


Chardonnay is arguably one of the most popular varietals in the world. An incredibly versatile grape, it can be rich, fruity, buttery and bright and pairs wonderfully with a wide range of foods. Malleable and responsive, Chardonnay lends itself well to a range of styles, such as crisp, dry examples from France’s famous Burgundy region, bold, fruit-forward New World representations from California, and elegant, savoury Blanc de Blancs bubbles from Champagne. Thanks to its adaptability, Chardonnay remains a varietal that is grown and enjoyed the world over.


All About Chardonnay – Thursday, February 28

Winemaking is an art, and this comparative tasting is designed to show off the versatility of Chardonnay and the impact a winemaker’s personal approach has on the finished product. Countless variables contribute to the representation of the varietal, from growing conditions and techniques to production methods and aging procedures. During this seminar, differing styles are tasted side by side in order to appreciate the adaptability of this grape.

A Chardonnay Kitchen Party – Saturday, March 2

Don’t the best parties always end up in the kitchen? That’s the idea behind this celebration of all things Chardonnay, held at the stylish Miele Showroom. Join Hired Belly Tim Pawsey and Chef Dana Reinhardt as they introduce guests to beautifully prepared foods to pair with Chardonnay. Designed as a marketplace mingler, attendees are encouraged to browse the stations and get a comprehensive sense of the impressive versatility of this grape.

Tickets to the ever-popular Vancouver International Wine Festival, presented by The Vancouver Sun, go on sale January 8, 2013. Beginning at 9:30 am, tickets may be purchased online at, in person at 305-456 West Broadway, or by phoning the box office at 604-873-3311 or toll-free at 1-877-321-3121. Many of the festival’s coveted 55 events are expected to sell out in the first few days of onsale, so wine lovers are encouraged to buy early.

To view this year’s participating wineries visit

Full festival details are online at  and on twitter @VanWineFest.

A passionate supporter of the arts, VanWineFest is proud to have the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival as its charitable partner.

By: Richard Wolak

Stag’s Hollow Tasting Lunch at Lift

Winemaker Dwight Sick (L) & Owner Larry Gerelus (R)

A few weeks ago I was invited to the Stag’s Hollow Fall wine release at Lift Bar and Grill in Coal Harbour. With a stunning view on a gorgeous end of summer day, the chef’s team paired a 4 course luncheon with the wines from Stag’s Hollow.

First Course:

Roasted Weathervane Scallops with Chanterelle & Leek Risotto

paired with Viognier 2010, GVM 2011, Renaissance Pinot Noir 2010

Second Course:

Mesclun Greens, Caramelized Pear Vinaigrette, Candied Pecans, Chevre Crumble

paired with Renaissance Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Con-Fusion 2011

Third Course:

Cannon of Beef and Bacon-Wrapped Venison Loin, Celery Root Puree, Fondant Potato, Glazed Carrots, Braised Cippolini Onions, Marchand de Vin

paired with Cabernet Franc 2010, Heritage Block 2009, Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Syrah 2010

Fourth Course:

Truffles & Biscotti

Lunch was delicious and I was very impressed by the menu pairings, it was the best meal I had at Lift Bar & Grill in years, kudos goes out to the chefs in that kitchen. My favourite wine was the Cabernet Franc 2010 ($27.99 bottle) and the pairing was full of blackberries and morello cherries mingled with smokey oak notes.

Stag’s Hollow is located in the South Okanagan Valley.

Lift Bar & Grill is located at 333 Menchions Mews in Coal Harbour.

By: Richard Wolak

Apothic White Soiree

Down at District 319, the new Apothic White wine was launched recently at an affair that was filled with canapés, chocolate, wine and Ballet BC performance art.

Performance Art

Delicious fare was served by the Moveable Feast Company and well paired to the Apothic White and Red Wine.  I loved the and most of all loved all the chocolate treats including the chocolate cones. The MC for the evening was Fred Lee.


Chocolate Mousse filled Cones

DJ Amy Spins

Apothic White is an approachable blend that combines Chardonnay, Riesling and Moscato to create a luscious, vibrant wine in the bold style of Apothic. Intense flavors of peach, pineapple, honey and vanilla spice make this smooth white blend unforgettable.

Their latest release brings tropical aromas and flavors together with hints of spice, creating an enchanting white blend.

By: Richard Wolak

Photos Credit: Kenji Maeda

Red Rock Winery‘s Malbec Launch Party

Every once in awhile a gem of an invite will arrive in my inbox and this was one of them. A journey to West Vancouver to celebrate the launch of a new wine in the Vancouver area, this wasn’t just any ordinary wine, this was Red Rocks. We were whisked out of downtown out to a private waterfront residence in West Vancouver where a rocks artist had assembled Red Rocks.

Serving Canapes

Stone Grilled Pizza

We feasted on mini bacon grilled cheese sandwiches, stone cooked meats, and other savouries that accompanied our glasses of red wine.

Chocolate Truffles

Rounding up the evening we were served chocolate treats paired with more of the Red Rock Winery 2010 Reserve Malbec.

By: Richard Wolak

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