By Nikki Bayley
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