Wine Archives - WestCoastFood



By Kristi Alexandra

With sprawling greenery, idyllic farmland, and wild brambles flourishing in the sub-rural town of Langley, it’s no wonder it’s is home to so many winery vineyards — and a couple breweries, too.

Spring is in the air to thaw the frost of winter, and with that comes new berries, new grapes, and new spirits. Enter a new season of sipping.

From mead to wine to beer, here’s where you can find fresh new bottles to imbibe in Langley.

Festina Lente Estate Winery

21113 16th Avenue

From King Arthur’s court to Game of Thrones, the ancient art of mead has always been a tasty one. Festina Lente Estate Winery brings traditional honey wine to the present day with their “modern, sophisticated twist.” This year, they’re introducing two new wines whose names harken back (perhaps) to when mead was a dinnertime staple.

Venus Melomel is aptly named after the Goddess of Love, and the heart of a melomel is adding fruit to honey wine; in this case it’s blackberries right off the bramble. It’s a floral and fruity mead fit to be poured into a goblet or wine glass –  drinker’s choice.

Minerva Metheglin is named for the goddess of knowledge and medicine, and this spicy wine is just what the doctor ordered. With a spicy, crisp ginger taste keeping you alert, this metheglin (a spiced variety of mead) is the zingy pick-me-up that’ll wake you out of your winter funk.

Image courtesy of Festina Lente

Trading Post Brewing

20120 64th Avenue

This relatively young brewery comes with an old soul. Setting up shop in one of BC’s most historic communities, Trading Post Brewery gives a nod to Fort Langley’s original fur trade post. This year, the brewery celebrates its second birthday and we’re in for a surprise.

At the brewery’s birthday party in February they released Hoppy Birthday Bock to celebrate! You’ll have to visit to find out just what this tastes like, but you bet it’ll be fresh.

After the birthday lines run dry, keep sipping on their Dear James SMASH Saison. In keeping with the town’s roots, this is a farmhouse-style saison that recalls orchards of apricots, and the zingy taste of citrus and spice. It’s a golden straw-coloured refresher fit for taking a break at the farm.

Trading Post Brewery | Image by Ashley Lockyer
Trading Post Brewery | Image by Ashley Lockyer


21152 16th Avenue

Small batches of top-flight wines are what Township7 is known best for. The family-owned winery creates complex, flavourful and well-balanced wines for the sophisticated palate – and plays host to wine tours, pairings and painting on plein air in the late spring and summertime.

Don’t miss their Seven Stars Sparkling wine, just released.

Image courtesy of Township7

Dead Frog Brewery

27272 Gloucester Way (Aldergrove, BC)

When this brewery hit the scene in 2007, a few years before the big craft beer boom, they boasted the slogan “nothing goes down like a cold, dead frog.” While it may not have been the most appetizing of slogans, it somehow begged to be challenged. Here are a couple beers from the brewery you can expect in spring that are guaranteed to taste better than your backyard pond or amphibian’s terrarium.

The Obsidian Dagger is an IPA Noire made from tropical hops and a deep, dark roasted malt. Complex and strong, this beer is made for only the most daring of palates and is available in April.

Tropic Vice, on the other hand, is an easygoing tropical fruit ale. Made of golden white wheat and a juicy mango and passionfruit taste, this spring and summer beer hits shelves and taps in March and sticks around until the end of September.

By Catherine Dunwoody

From one of Vancouver’s favourite scenester hot spots, the Lobby Lounge, to gorgeous new and acclaimed Botanist bar and restaurant, this woman in the wine world is a true game-changer.

The Botanist | Image courtesy of the Fairmont Pacific Rim

Where were you born and where did you study to be a sommelier?

Jill Spoor: [I was born in] Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. I studied in Vancouver at the Art Institute, studying the WSET program.

What was your most rewarding experience in your earlier days?

Spoor: Hosting a series of Italian wine seminars when we had our Italian wine bar here at the Fairmont Pacific Rim.  I absolutely love being on the educational side of wine and seminars, which allows me a platform in which to share my passion.

Are you involved with any new projects or collaborations at the restaurant or elsewhere?

Spoor: It’s been a very exciting year and I have had the honour of collaborating on many projects.  I released my own wine with the Okanagan Crush Pad this past February with all proceeds going to the BC Hospitality Foundation. I have also participated in All About Me, Ellevate, and Women in Wine which have been all female wine events. Most recently Botanist hosted its first Visa Infinite Dinner.

What were your biggest challenges as a sommelier?

Spoor: In my hotel world, it has been bringing wine programs to the forefront and communicating their importance.  It has been my mission from day one to elevate the quality, education and service of wine across the board.

What are a couple of your favourite wines?

Spoor: Just a couple, so many treasures to choose from! Well I will choose red then for the time of year:

  • BLANKbottle, The Life of a Black Valentine / Syrah / Cinsault / Grenache / Mourvedre / Western Cape, South Africa, 2015
  • Piaggia, Il Sasso, Sangiovese / Cabernet Sauvignon / 120Cabernet Franc / Carmignano / Tuscany, Italy, 2014
The Botanist | Image courtesy of the Fairmont Pacific Rim

Tell me about your all-female sommelier team at Botanist.

Spoor: Dreams really do come true! Not only do I have the first sommelier team at any Fairmont in BC but I have three superstars! It’s so exciting to be working with an all-female team that share the same passion that I do. It was really important to me to have the opportunity to mentor and develop young women in the industry. There is nothing more rewarding then being a leader and role model.

Photos by Michele Mateus

Words by Alexis Baran

Go to Part 1: Breakfast at Milsean

Go to Part 2: Lunch at JD Farms

A day spent trekking around farms and adding soil to your treads deserves a meal that takes all of what you’ve seen and wraps it into a smooth and elegant finish. And by that of course, I mean that wine pairings are imperative.

At the Chaberton Estate Winery you can explore the vineyards and then head to the Bacchus Bistro for selections of wine made right there, alongside rich French cuisine using local ingredients.

Wine in it’s infancy.

And then this is where the magic happens:

What glistens above is Tartrates or “wine diamonds.” When potassium and tartaric acid (both naturally occur in grapes) bind together they form crystals.

Chaberton’s corks are also refined right next to the where the grapes grow.

Because we certainly couldn’t have the wine leaving the winery naked, this clothing is for their Bacchus wine, which is their bestseller.

Once you’ve seen all the work that goes into the bottle, it’s time to work on getting it out of the bottle at Bacchus Bistro.

The menu has a diverse selection of fresh seafood, local meats, and flavourful salads done with French inspiration.

The Bacchus salad is thinly sliced smoked salmon over greens with tuna rémoulade sauce.
Chicken Dijonnaise: Free-range chicken breast braised in white wine and cream with Dijon mustard.
Fraser Valley Duck Leg Confit
Pomme Dauphinois

Deserts change daily – and no matter what they are, you’ll want to save room. 

On your way out, pick up a few bottles of your favourites at the tasting room.

Not sure what to take with you? Taste a few more!

Chaberton Estate Winery & Bacchus Bistro
1064 – 216 Street
Langley, BC

By Kristi Alexandra

Tucked away in South Surrey on the near-rural Colebrook Road, a stone’s throw away from Highway 10 (and just 15 minutes from the Canada-USA border), are acres of fertile vineyard. Rows and rows of grape varieties at Vinoscenti Vineyards give Vinoscenti wines their flavour – but they’re also the focal point of the winery’s other offerings: guided winery walks, wine classes, and private events.

Dr. Clinton Lee is the owner of the newly re-opened Vinoscenti Vineyards. Affectionately known as “Doc” around the winery, he hails from South Africa.

I visited the thriving winery to find out more about their 20+ year-old vines and to see how the business’ recent makeover (the winery was formerly known as River’s Bend but re-opened in July 2017 as Vinoscenti under new ownership) is a growing renaissance.

If you’re looking to peel off the road and enjoy a leisurely stroll through the vineyards, complete with a wine tasting and a slice of mango cake in the tasting room, you won’t miss the big oak barrels welcoming you to Vinoscenti Winery.

Vinoscenti also offers an array of options for private parties, and they are able to accommodate up to 80 people for dinner on their patio and outside yard. Smaller gatherings can be accommodated in their private room, and they welcome weddings.

The focal point of the winery is not necessarily the tasting room and amenities however, but the rolling 22-year-old vineyard with several grape varieties. Tasting room supervisor Davide Piccolo says his favourites are the Cabernet Franc grapes.

Cap off your visit to the vineyards with your very own tasting. The winery boasts two whites, six reds and two late harvest wines – not to be confused with ice wine. Tastings range from three one-ounce tasters for $8 or four one-ounce tasters plus the winery’s flagship merlot for $11.

Most recently, the business teamed up with King George aviation to offer a flight over the vineyard and wine tasting package. Contact for details.

Find out more about Vinoscenti’s events at

Vinoscenti Vineyards
15560 Colebrook Road
South Surrey, BC

By Winnie Tam

Is there ever a combination better than food and wine? I think not.

On November 4 -5, you can sample local and international foods and more than 200 wines from around the world all under one roof at the inaugural TriCity International Food & Wine Festival.

Taking place at the beautiful Westwood Plateau Golf & Country Club in Coquitlam, the festival features two tasting rooms – an Italian-themed room that will have wines from 15 Italian wineries plus an array of Italian food such as bruschetta, cheeses and cannoli; and an international tasting room with wines offered by 50+ wineries from over 10 countries including Argentina, France and Chile, and yummy nibbles like tuna poke, beef sliders and sweet and savoury breads. Guests can walk through the two tasting rooms and sample to their hearts’ content.

The festival’s all-inclusive entry fee means that there are no painful decisions to make about what to sample and what to leave out – you can enjoy all the food, wine and beverage samples offered in the two tasting rooms without the need to buy additional tokens.

Event organizers have carefully positioned the vendors with food and wine matching in mind so you’ll have a nice balance of both as you move through the two rooms. If all of this doesn’t give you enough reason to go, the TriCity International Food & Wine Festival is a charity fundraiser in support of Team Taylor with the Ride to Conquer Cancer, one of the top fundraising teams for the BC Cancer Foundation.

To get your tickets to this delicious event or for more information, visit

Images by Michele Mateus
Words by Alexis Baran

Seven years ago, Teresa Townsley and her husband Bill bought a 5-acre hobby farm in Langley, and got to work on delighting the palettes of wine lovers in BC and any visitor lucky enough to find them. From an unfenced grown-over lot next door to Campbell Valley Regional Park, the two of them have cultivated the land to mind horses; chickens; and best of all (for the rest of us), colonies of honey bees, which happen to help make some of the region’s most delicious varieties of mead.

The tasting room welcomes guests daily May – November

Festina Lente’s specialty is mead, or honey wine. Although it’s made by fermenting honey, the end result is not necessarily sweet. Varieties are smooth and crisp, some with herbal and fruit infusions.

The unique coffee-infused mead, “Zephyr” and the lavender-infused “Flora” are absolute must-try flavours. Far from novelty, these meads are as sophisticated as their most traditional variety (which is the “Nectaris Deorum” mead, which translates to “nectar of the gods”).

The nectar of the gods that goes into this mead is produced on site by thousands of honey bees.

A visit to Festina Lente can also mean a visit to meet their lively horses and their chickens who are dressed up in black and gold feathers.

Herbs grown on-site are used to infuse the mead, such as the fresh ginger in “Minerva Metheglin” which pairs deliciously with many South Asian dishes, such as pad Thai.

Teresa and Bill Townsley, owners

Festina Lente Estate Winery
21113 16th Ave, Langley BC

By Anna Black

Award winning wine with hand-selected grapes from the Okanagan Valley can be found in a tasting room as refreshing and modern as their extensive selection just a ten-minute drive from the USA-Canada border in Surrey, BC.

1st R.O.W. Estate Winery’s delicious and unique dessert wines are a Canadian specialty. Combining a perfect blend of Chardonnay, Muscat, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier, the Winery’s 2013 Late Harvest White “displays [an] excellent balance between sweetness and acidity with fresh and lively flavours” of citrus, honey apricots, and a candy apple finish” ( For those craving a warm, tropical touch to contrast the frozen grapes, the 2013 White Gewürztraminer Ice Wine has aromas of ripe pear and lychee paired with tropical fruits. For intense strawberry richness, try 2014 Red Merlot Ice Wine to complement chocolate dessert or fresh fruit.

The winery offers wine aficionados a diverse selection of white and red wines ranging from $15.61 CAD a bottle up to $62.00 CAD in a slick and bright tasting room where you can choose your take-home favorites.

If want to enjoy their amazing line-up of wines from the comfort of your own home, you can also join their Wine Club. Members of the club receive six bottles of wine quarterly (can either be shipped or picked up in person at the winery) for 15% off the normal retail price, advance notification about upcoming wine specials and new vintage releases, 10% off regular priced wines, and industry tips on everything from food pairing and recipes to cellaring.

1st R.O.W. Estate wines are also available for purchase at select restaurants, wine and liquor stores, hotels, and VQA Save-On Foods stores in the Greater Vancouver area as well as in the Interior.

1st R.O.W. Estate Winery
104-2762 190th Street
Surrey, BC Canada V3Z 3W6

By Joanne Sasvari

If you think sake is a boiling hot beverage that tastes like turpentine, well, you clearly haven’t tasted Masa Shiroki’s handcrafted sakes.

Since 2007, when he became Canada’s first producer of premium craft sake, he’s been making rice wines that taste delicately of citrus, apple, pineapple and brioche, with notes of spice and touches of herbaceousness.

Not a hint of turpentine anywhere.

A couple years after he started producing his Osake brand, Shiroki started growing his own rice in the Fraser Valley, making his rice wine a truly local and sustainable product.

Rice growing in a field in the Fraser Valley for Masa Shiroki, Artisan Sake Maker on Granville Island | image courtesy of Masa Shiroki
Rice growing in a field in the Fraser Valley for Masa Shiroki, Artisan Sake Maker on Granville Island | image courtesy of Masa Shiroki

Now he’s heading up Vancouver’s first (and, he hopes, annual) Sake Fest. On Sept. 29, 2016, when 21 producers will gather at the Imperial in Chinatown, where they will pour some 100 different types of sake. Kampai!

“It’s been a long time coming,” Shiroki says.

Masa Shiroki, Artisan Sake Maker, at his facility on Granville Island | image by Joanne Sasvari
Masa Shiroki, Artisan Sake Maker, at his facility on Granville Island | image by Joanne Sasvari

Sake is a fermented beverage made from rice, water and “koji,” or rice malt. It has a distinctive umami or savoury flavour profile, and it can be enjoyed cold, room temperature or hot.

“Chilled is my preference, but it depends on what you’re eating,” says Shiroki.

Becoming a sake master was not exactly Shiroki’s original career choice. Back in Japan, he worked in banking, which is what brought him to Canada in 1974. He later moved on to transportation, then government. In 2000, Shiroki was working with the B.C. government when, he recalls, “We all got pink slips and I said to myself, ‘What can I do at age 50?’”

Rice for making sake by Masa Shiroki, Artisan Sake Maker, at his facility on Granville Island | image by Joanne Sasvari
Rice for making sake by Masa Shiroki, Artisan Sake Maker, at his facility on Granville Island | image by Joanne Sasvari

The answer was: Import sake. In 2001, Shiroki brought in his first sake imports. But the pricy products were a hard sell, especially in a market obsessed with local ingredients.

“I thought if we made it here, people would feel a sense of ownership. It was a bit of a bet,” he says.

In 2007, he opened Artisan Sake Maker in a compact 1,000-square-foot space on Granville Island. It is at once production facility, retail store and tasting bar, a favourite stop for visitors to the island.

In addition to sake rice, Masa Shiroki, Artisan Sake Maker, also grows table rice, which he sells at his shop on Granville Island | image by Joanne Sasvari
In addition to sake rice, Masa Shiroki, Artisan Sake Maker, also grows table rice, which he sells at his shop on Granville Island | image by Joanne Sasvari

He was the first, but has since been joined by about a dozen other sake producers across North America, including two in Canada: Y3K in Richmond and Ontario Spring Water Sake Company in Toronto.

Today, Shiroki produces about 1,000 cases of sake each year, and 10 different styles, including three sparkling sakes and the new, award-winning Renaissance, which has a flavour similar to a grape wine.

“This Renaissance is a completely different style of sake,” he says. “We have to produce something that caters to the palate of our market now.”

And, he admits, it’s more appealing to his palate, too, after so many years in North America: “My palate has completely changed and maybe I have a dual palate now.”

Shiroki also has 18 acres of rice growing in soggy bits of the Fraser Valley. “There is always a portion of the land a farmer doesn’t use because it doesn’t drain and everything rots,” he notes. That’s the bit that’s perfect for rice.

Last year, he harvested 15 tonnes of rice, half of it for sake and half for table rice, a short-grain variety perfect for risotto, which he sells for $9 per two-pound bag.

Rice growing in a field in the Fraser Valley for Masa Shiroki, Artisan Sake Maker on Granville Island | image courtesy of Masa Shiroki
Rice growing in a field in the Fraser Valley for Masa Shiroki, Artisan Sake Maker on Granville Island | image courtesy of Masa Shiroki

Besides sake and rice, he uses the byproducts from sake making – also known as kasu, fermented rice lees that are high in amino acids – in fruit juices, condiments and a line of skin care products. The kasu itself he describes as “an instant flavour enhancer . . . like natural MSG.” It is a favourite among local chefs, who use it as an umami-rich marinade.

Outside the Railspur Alley storefront of Masa Shiroki, Artisan Sake Maker, on Granville Island | image byJoanne Sasvari
Outside the Railspur Alley storefront of Masa Shiroki, Artisan Sake Maker, on Granville Island | image byJoanne Sasvari

“We do so many things because we have to do so many things,” Shiroki says. “But I’m glad to say it has grown from where we started.”

Three Local Sakes You Must Try

Osake Junmai Nama, $16
Artisan Sake Maker’s signature product is a classic, unfiltered rice wine that is fruity, herbaceous, vegetal and a bit grainy in flavour.

Mirai Traditional Method Sparkling Sake, $42
This crisp, clean bubble was made with the help of Summerhill Pyramid Winery in Kelowna. It is pleasantly dry, with notes of brioche and apples and a long, umami finish.

Osake Renaissance, $25
On the nose, this sake has bready notes, but on the palate, it is fruity and tart, surprisingly similar to a grape wine. A new product for Shiroki, it is already winning awards.

Artisan Sake Maker is located at:
1339 Railspur Alley on Granville Island
Vancouver, BC

By Kristi Alexandra

When wine connoisseurs in BC want a sip of the perfect cabernet sauvignon or a pinch of pinot, they usually look no further than the Okanagan Valley, Canada’s proclaimed wine country. With rolling country hills and miles and miles of ripening vineyards, anywhere from Kelowna to the Naramata Bench to Osoyoos is the prime destination for a carafe of the best wine on offer to British Columbians — or so we thought.

Enter Pacific Breeze, Canada’s first garagiste winery located in the most unlikely of settings. Owned by Maurice Hamilton and Frank Gregus, Pacific Breeze sits in an industrial sliver of New Westminster located behind the waterfront quay and a busy set of train tracks, with no vineyard to speak of.

“The garagiste concept is very much the idea of being a small, independent operator who doesn’t necessarily own this giant vineyard, but is buying a small portion of it,” communications manager Daniel Simmonds explains.

Image by Kristi Alexandra
Image by Kristi Alexandra

Since the urban winery’s inception in 2005, a handful of other gargistes have popped up across the province prompting its own wine festival. Every April, the wine makers gather at Vancouver’s Heritage Hall for Garagiste North, “the small guys’ wine festival.”

Garagistes are these unconventional spaces,” Simmonds says. “In the ‘90s, the original garagistes [were] working in garages, barns, and basements and it’s really hands-on, labour intensive work. It’s more like the rise of craft brewing, where you have these really small breweries where they produce a handful of different beers and literally about three or four people could run the entire operation.”

So what makes the urban winery unique beyond its unconventional setting? Pacific Breeze separates the viticulture (grape growing) from the oenology (wine making).

“As a wine maker, you might never be able to own a vineyard, so what you do is find out who’s got what for sale and you make it yourself,” Simmonds says, noting that the operation frequently sources fruit and grape from California and small amounts from our own Okanagan.

Image courtesy of the Pacific Breeze Winery blog
Image courtesy of the Pacific Breeze Winery blog

“One of the important things is that what we buy is the most premium fruit you can get your hands on,” he stresses. “There’s a lot of fruit in BC and we get offers to buy, but we’re really selective about which vineyards we actually buy from. If you can’t get the best fruit, then you can’t make the best wine.”

Currently, Pacific Breeze has 17 wines on its roster, with its Killer Cab—a red Bordeaux-Cabernet blend— and AssaZin—a California Zinfandel with aromas of blackberry jam and toasted vanilla—among the best sellers. And though those wines might make a sommelier’s mouth water, don’t expect to be able to pick up a bottle at just any BC Liquor Store.

Any BC-made wine sold in BCL’s are required to be BC VQA, meaning most of the grapes have to be sourced from within the province.

“I don’t know of anyone else who really brings in grapes and does what we do in Canada,” says winemaker Dylan Hamilton. Joined by his partner Devon Stewart, Hamilton is one-half of the winemaking team at Pacific Breeze.

“Why we do what we’re doing is if you’re going to go into the States and buy a bottle of wine and bring it back, for BC, it 127 per cent duty plus sales tax,” he says. “We can make the same product from the same grapes and we can bring it up here and make the same quality product.”

While still a Canadian product, Pacific Breeze wines source enough of their grape from outside the country that they can currently be seen at independent wine merchants and liquor stores — and of course at their own shopfront on Stewardson Way.

Pacific Breeze Winery
6 – 320 Stewardson Way
New Westminster, BC

By Nikki Bayley

How about some walnut wine, artisan jam and a picnic under a shady tree? There’s plenty to explore in south Langley and the Vista d’Oro farm makes for a fun day out for all the family.

Since taking over an ex-dairy farm in 1997, Lee and Patrick Murphy have created a beautiful 10 acre farm on Campbell Valley Park in the heart of the Fraser Valley, just four blocks from the US border. Growing a mixed bag of orchard fruits such as apples, pears, plums and cherries, there’s a vineyard onsite too, producing their estate-grown Marechal Foch wine. We spoke to co-owner Lee about what’s happening on their farm and why it’s a must-visit for foodies.


“We’re part of the Campbell Valley wine route,” says Lee, “There ‘s a great little micro-climate out here; it’s pretty small, just four of us, but people seem to love it. One of our specialties is the walnut wine we make from our trees which are almost 100 years old, planted by the farm’s original owners. It’s a red wine blend fortified with green walnut brandy. We pick the walnuts in early July when they’re more fruit than nut, then macerate them in brandy for nine months. It’s more of a dessert style wine and very popular.”

Visitors can try before they buy at the farm gate shop where you can also sample Lee’s artisan preserves – all made from fruits from the farm. “We wanted to be sustainable; it makes way more sense to add value to fruit we grow ourselves. We use the fruit when it’s perfectly ripe and that makes a better product. Our best-selling preserve is our fig and walnut wine variety; it goes beautifully with cheeses so we decided to offer picnic items to visitors too.” On sunny days you’ll find happy farm visitors curled up under the leafy walnut trees munching on the fresh made picnic platters, all showcasing delicious local produce such as charcuterie from Granville Island’s Oyama Sausages, farmhouse cheeses from Agassiz and bread from Kitsilano’s Terra Breads. “I think that’s what people like,” says Lee, “it’s the first thing they ask when they come in and it’s great to be able to point at everything when they ask what’s locally made. People want to take a piece of the food culture home, I’m the same myself.”


But it’s not just jam and picnics that visitors can enjoy, every year Vista d’Oro holds a walnut festival where chefs from the lower mainland come together to showcase how delicious those nuts are, “they bring their skills and create something amazing with my walnuts or my walnut butter,” laughs Lee. “If you’ve never tried ‘pizz-am’ you’re missing a treat. Seriously! Pizza-jam with our green walnut and grappa jam with salami, arugula and truffles, mmm!”

Live music and entertainment round off the annual event, and this year, Vista d’Oro will be bringing something new to Langley. “We’re launching the Dairy Barn Sessions; we have a 100-year old barn which we want to resurrect to its former beauty and we’re partnering with the Listel Hotel in Vancouver and their talented chef, Chris Whittaker, to do that. We’ll have a local sustainable three-course family-style feast paired with our wines, and also two musical performances: opera and then Broadway hits. We’re so excited, this promises to be a magical and romantic evening”

Vista d’Oro is at 346-208th St. in Langley