2013 Vancouver International Wine Festival.
After the morning Blind Tasting Challenge, the kind people at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts called a taxi for me. They bundled me up with a bag and a bottle of Mission Hill wine. Away I went, back to my hotel. I dropped off a few items in my room, put the bottle of wine in the fridge for later and prepared to meet a BC wine friend for lunch.
Weeks before the Vancouver International Wine Festival (VIWF), I began engaging with Canadian bloggers and wine tweeters. Specifically, those going to the VIWF, those going to the 2013 Wine Bloggers Conference in Penticton, BC and those tweeting about BC Wine.
*Note: I used the following twitter names and hashtags to connect with the locals: @VanWineFest #VanWineFest #WBC13 #BCWineChat.
Twitter has become my favorite tool for making friends in the wine world. Literally, I have wine friends around the globe. My efforts with twitter paid off in Vancouver. I was able to make several connections with British Columbia locals before I arrived in Vancouver.
Wednesday afternoon I was registered for the 2 – 5 pm Symposium: A Growing Culture, Wine Marketing. Using twitter I connected with an employee of Take Aim Media, who was also attending the symposium.
|photo: Lunch at Meat and Bread.|
Lunch at Meat and Bread.
We agreed to meet for lunch before the symposium. We also thought it would be fun to each bring a bottle of wine to share at lunch. Great minds do think alike.
We met at the Meat and Bread on Cambie Street (my time spent exploring downtown the day before made it easy to find). Isn't that a great name for a casual restaurant? Meat and Bread really nails down the concept and menu.
My friend was at the door waiting when I finally arrived. Good thing too, the queue was out the door. Bring an appetite when you go to this place; the bread is large and thick and the servings of meat between are large too. No plates here, just planks of wood with a sheet of wax paper for your large “sandwich” and a dollop of mustard please. The special changes so check the website or follow them on twitter @1meatandbread for the daily special.
My friend is friends with the owner of Meat and Bread, so we were not charged a corkage fee for our two bottles of wine. Thank you. I brought a bottle of NorthStar 2008 Merlot and my friend brought a bottle of LaFrenz 2010 Merlot Rattlesnake Vineyard. His choice was more food friendly than mine I thought. Mine was more suitable to a fireplace and after-hours conversation. I enjoyed lunch and our conversation. He's in the media business and very conversant on music. Of course he's a huge fan of wine – so we had a great deal to discuss. We drank about half a bottle of wine each, the rest we left for the owner of Meat and Bread to enjoy. Then we hustled out the door to the Wine Symposium.
|photo: Symposium, A Growing Culture, Wine Marketing.|
Symposium: A Growing Culture, Wine Marketing.
The symposium was hosted at the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, Simon Frasier University. This was one the more impressive venues for a symposium I've had the honor to attend. It reminded me of the United Nations, it was round, large and felt rather formal.
The discussion began with the “culture of wine.” Influences of wine tasting and wine writing.
Over the last 20 years there's been a big change in the acceptance of wine and how wine is presented and consumed. The way our parents drank wine is different from how we drink wine today. How do wineries serve their wine? As any winery should say, “We'll never show our wines in crappy glasses ever.”
Our first speaker recommended the new book by Jancis Robinson, Wine Grapes: A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties, Including Their Origins and Flavours. He said, “Everyone should have that book, it says a lot about the culture of wine and your wine business.”
Vancouver has a fabulous wine culture. There are excellent restaurants with beautiful stemware, properly stored wine and the proper environment. This applies to running a proper wine business. Everything must be in order, everything must be perfect. You must have the basics right. Everything affects the wine, the room, stemware, website, blog, music, your staff. You must ask yourself, “How does that affect the wine?”
Okay, there was a great deal of discussion dealing with Canadian and British Columbia wine legislation over the years. The sale, distribution and taxation of wine has not been a smooth road for Canadians. The 34th Vancouver International Wine Festival has been important in wine education and the development of BC wine culture. Over the last 34 years, the festival has helped bring together trade and consumers. It remains about engaging business and celebrating wine, food and the sensory experience. Which is why it's important to maintain the presence of the winery principals at the Vancouver Wine Festival tasting and events. Certainly a key part of the festival I appreciated.
The floor was opened to Q&A and a lot of open discussion about selling and marketing wine in Vancouver. I'll avoid the sensitive topics of British Columbia wine/alcohol sales, taxation and distribution issues. You can ask the BC wine folks about those issues. It was an interesting symposium from the Canadian perspective. Anyone interested in accessing the Canadian wine market would have benefited from this symposium. This symposium seemed relevant to me since it tied together concepts discussed at the Wine Tourism Conference I attended in November.
|photo: Wine tasting reception after the symposium.|
|photo: Reception after the symposium.|
Afterward, a well presented wine and food tasting was presented for attendees. As you can tell from the above photo, it was a strong crowd. The bags I was carrying for notes, camera and lenses made it difficult to navigate. It was easier to stand on the side and take photos.
By now it was raining again. I know, big surprise in Vancouver. Always expect rain when you visit. Thankfully, I enjoy walks in the rain; umbrella in hand I headed back to my hotel room. Three blocks from my hotel I was approached by a CTV news crew. Efforts to sneak by were thwarted by a well groomed reporter. For the remainder of my stay, I saw my quick comment on sequestration played over and over again on Canadian TV.
Back in my room I took a break before cooking dinner in my room. My dogs were barking.
As I mentioned on Day Two: Gone Walking I had purchased 200 grams of prawns at the market. Also in the room fridge was a beef medallion I purchased on day one. My hotel room was equipped with a full kitchen so it was no trouble cooking dinner in my room. It was a grand feast.
|photo: Dinner, surf and turf with Mission Hill wine.|
Dinner was surf and turf. I cooked the beef medallion in the oven with carrots. On the stove I sauteed the whole shrimp with pea pods, ginger and green onion. That's how I roll. Bonus, I had the bottle of Mission Hill wine I was given in the morning. It was now well chilled.
Tasting Notes: 2011 Mission Hill Rosé
Mission Hill Family Estate – Five Vineyards 2011 Rosé – Okanagan Valley BC VQA
Color: Clear, pale watermelon pink.
Nose: Wild strawberry, floral element with cinnamon.
Palate: strawberry, watermelon, tart, creamy into a clean finish.
Winemaker: John Simes
Closure: Screw cap
Dinner was gratifying. If only I had had someone to share my meal with, then it would have been perfect. It was a very satisfying day, First the Blind Tasting Challenge, then lunch at Meat and Bread with my new friend, and an engaging two+ hour symposium on wine culture and marketing, then a TV interview and finally a huge dinner with a delicious BC wine. What more could I ask for?
|photo: #bcwinechat and Meyer Family Vineyards Pinot Noir.|
Somewhere among the conversations and sips of wine, I had been invited to attend the first “actual” #BCWineChat wine tasting. #BCWineChat is usually a virtual twitter wine tasting held every Wednesday at 8pm, similar to the #WineChat virtual wine tastings I enjoy on Wednesday at 6pm also hosted on twitter.
My friend I had lunch with reminded me to attend this in person wine tasting. Silly me, I did not have the location or time of the #BCWineChat. My hotel room wi-fi was not working reliably, so I could not look it up before dinner. After dinner my wi-fi was working again, that's when I saw the message about the location and time for #BCWineChat.
“8 pm #BCWinechat at 4 seasons red wine and fish.”
It was 7:30 pm when I read this message. Although I was thoroughly content, stuffed with prawns, steak and wine, I thought “What the hell, when will you get to do this again?” I hauled myself off the couch and down the rickety elevator, out into the rain in search of a taxi to take me to the Four Seasons hotel for more wine.
|photo: #bcwinechat under way at the Four Seasons Hotel.|
Usually #bcwinechat is held every Wednesday at 8 pm PST on twitter. If you want to play along, you need a twitter account, some wine, and then you join the conversation using your computer, tablet or smart phone. However, the February 27th #bcwinechat for the first time ever, was hosted in person by Sandra Oldfield, winemaker at Tin Horn Creek Winery.
It was a British Columbia red wine and seafood pairing! While I had eaten too much at dinner – I still had room for wine. There's always room for wine.
|photo: #bcwinechat Tinhorn Creek Cabernet Franc.|
When I arrived at the Four Seasons, I was greeted by a happy group of BC wine fans, wine shop owners and winemakers. Smiles all around. Several of the people present I knew from twitter, so we were not complete strangers. I told you I like social media.
|photo: Rolf de Bruins of Fort Berens Winery.|
Conversation was lively and everyone seemed friendly. The wines were all very good. It's gratifying to learn that the people you friend on twitter, are just as affable in person. Now that made for a complete day in Vancouver. Thank you all for a lovely time.
|photo: Corner Robson and Bute and Blenz Coffee.|
Looking back at my notes: I enjoyed a brisk walk back to my hotel room. The weather while cool and slightly damp, felt refreshing. My feet were sore from all the city walking. I love walking in the city, it's a compulsion to explore. The next morning I took a long soak in the tub. Had a light and leisurely breakfast of coffee and yogurt. Searched yelp.com and made plans for lunch at Hida Takayama. Ramen looked good to fuel activities for the damp day.
|photo: Day four - Thursday morning view from my room.|
Up next: Day Four – great lunch, writers hangout and the International Tasting of New Zealand wines.
It's likely I will have to address the International Tasting of New Zealand wines in a separate post. There is just too much territory to cover. It is taking me longer than expected to complete my writing about my week long visit to Vancouver – there is so much I want to share. It has been a busy, exciting year of wine. Thank you for reading.