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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…

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. 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…

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. And then this is where the magic happens: Chaberton’s corks are also refined right next to the where the grapes grow. 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…

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. 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…

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…

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. 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…

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” (1row.ca). 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…

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. 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. Sake is a fermented beverage made from rice, water and…

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…

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.…