|Before I had the opportunity to make a limited bottling of my own wine last year, I’d always wondered if that chance would come my way. I’ve been a city restaurant and wine guy for so long that I’d pretty much resigned myself to the fact that all of my creative output would be city-driven.I am totally a city guy, I love Vancouver. I even tried out country living once, spending five months living in a tiny cabin in the Okanagan’s Naramata wine country a couple years ago. Boredom reigned. It was a time that, though romantic and enchanting and all of that, I was reminded of how much I love city amenities, plenty of people around, and no shortage of things to do.I really thought that since I’d decided I had no desire to trade in my current Mount Pleasant life for one on Lake Okanagan, odds were quite low that I’d be harvesting grapes for my own release an time soon.
A funny thing happened though, that had me doing just that…
A colleague who’d become a friend over the last few years had been straddling those two very distinct lives. Christine Coletta runs a very successful wine marketing business in Vancouver, but would occasionally zip out to her ‘country place’ in Summerland. Never one to sit idle, the country had agreed with her so much that a couple years back she’d decided to plant those country roots a fair bit deeper by building and running a winery, now known as Okanagan Crush Pad. It’s not just any winery, though. Okanagan Crush Pad is also a custom crush facility where others can make wine with their own grown or purchased grapes, by either using their equipment or using the ultra-skilled hand of OCP’s winemaker, Michael Bartier.
Through a mix of different events, a touch of luck and a perfect alignment of the stars, I ended up making a hundred cases of white wine from the Semillon grapes that grow beautifully in a sunny Oliver vineyard by the lovely Cerqueira family, Portuguese immigrants who’ve minded vines for many years. Flying back and forth a few times over the summer to check in with the grapes, plus with a host of phone calls, texted photos and various social media sharing with winemaker Michael Bartier, I managed to do what I thought was pretty much impossible; live the city life, but feel engaged and absolutely connected with Okanagan wine country as well.
I’ve come to envy my friend Christine much more since this experience as she bridges her country and city life full-time now, balancing her time between Vancouver and Summerland. I find it fascinating that while you can be running from meetings in the office and dashing to some hot Gastown restaurant to entertain clients, the next day’s vine pruning and irrigation could be just as top of mind.
The reason all of this is top of mind is because I get to release the wine I made at this Tuesday’s edition of my East Van Wine Academy at the Waldorf Hotel. I’m really stoked to share my stories of how this all came together, and also to catch up with my friend Christine, who’s coming into Vancouver for the event. Kicking up dirt in the vineyard one day, clinking glasses in the East Van scene the next.
You’ll have to excuse her if there’s a little mud on her shoe. I hope one day to get a little more on mine.
Here’s the scoop, I’d love to see some of you down!
East Van Wine Academy: “Sem And The City”
Tuesday, June 5th | 7:00 pm | $20 | The Waldorf Hotel
Semillon, or ‘Sem’ as it’s casually known, is a golden grape with roots in Bordeaux but is known the world over for making a dynamic array of wine styles. From the high-acid, bone-dry citrusy versions found commonly in Australia’s Hunter Valley to the rich, butterscotch-laden peachy style of Washington State’s legendary L’Ecole No. 41, the grape enjoys a devoted cult following around the globe.
“Sem And The City” launches Kurtis’ 2011 Wild-Ferment Semillon, an Okanagan Crush Pad release that’s part of their Wine Campus series, along with a global tour and tasting of a half-dozen notable Semillons from France, Australia, B.C. and more.
This event will be a stand-up, casual affair with a killer live soundtrack spun by Rico Uno of ‘The Freshest’, interactive visuals by Jesse Robinson Williams, and a host of artisanal snacks to illustrate Semillon’s food-pairing potential.
Partial proceeds from the event, already half the price of regular EVWA evenings, are going to the BC Hospitality Foundation.
Click here for tickets!