Archive for the ‘All About Wine’ Category

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

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