Stand up, sip and ship

Déjà vu all over again?

Almost exactly one year ago, I put out a call to support your restaurants and tasting rooms as they dealt with their first round of closures.

In case you missed it, here’s a brief recap:

  • Buy your beer, cider, wine, and spirits online
  • Take advantage of free shipping or curbside pickup
  • Look for the Buy BC logo on your favourite products, and on restaurant menus to know you’re supporting a local producer or food business
  • Join a wine or growler club
  • Buy a voucher or gift certificate for future use.

Supporting local businesses, culinary or otherwise, has been a mantra for the past year, but there are other ways to show your local love this spring.

April is BC Wine month. Wineries may have adjusted their services once again, so check in advance if you need to book a reservation or tastings have moved outside (dress for the weather).

Many wineries will be releasing new bottles in the coming weeks.

Not heading to a wine shop, but ordering takeout or delivery? Add a bottle of local wine (or another locally made beverage) to your order if that’s an option.

Have you had an excellent experience at a local restaurant? Nominate a restaurant worker for recognition through the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association's #standupforservice campaign

Until May 23, you can visit BCRFA.com and share stories of colleagues, servers, cooks, friends, or businesses who are providing a welcoming and unique dining experience while following best practices to combat COVID-19.

Nominating is easily done online.

Combatting the pandemic-15? Sign up for the BC Hospitality Foundation’s Hospitality Hustle in support of hospitality and tourism industry workers across the province.

A free virtual event, you set a goal to help with your physical and mental health – go for a run, take up unicycling, train your cat to go for walks – and fundraise on your own or with a team by registering. Bonus, there are prizes and discounts.

And speaking of the BCHF, Township 7 has teamed up with the Foundation for its second annual
Support, Sip and Ship campaign this month to raise funds for workers and a new BC Wine Industry Scholarship and Education fund.

or every online order, the winery will donate $10.

And for no cost at all, take a few minutes to leave a positive social media post or Google review for a local business, or post a pic of a favourite memory, and simply say, “Can’t wait to see you when it’s safe.”


Why not wine in a can?

We’re all itching to go out and do something. Anything. Am I right?

And our current pandemic directive is to do our socializing – within the current health orders – outside.

The Okanagan, and most of our province, is a perfect haven to get outdoors. Picnic season is coming, after somewhat of a retro resurgence last year. At one point in 2020 reasonably priced picnic gear was hard to find, along with yeast and home exercise equipment.

But let’s look forward to adventuring out in 2021, with a glass of wine in hand. Where permitted, of course.

Or maybe a can of wine instead?

Inevitably, packing for a culinary escapade at the end of hike means:

  • Coping with the extra weight of a wine bottle or two
  • A debate over proper glassware (fashionable non-tipping reusable plastic glasses are fine in my book)
  • The wine getting too warm
  • Blaming who brought wine with a cork and no corkscrew.

Wine-in-a-can may not have the same panache of uncorking a bottle, but we made it through 2020. Let’s cut 2021 some slack with these choices.

JoieFarm Winery offers several options. Its aromatic blend of Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Auxerrois, and Muscat, known as A Noble Blend, is available in cans for the 2020 vintage.

The 2020 Rosé, made from Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, and its Sauvignon Blanc-Viognier sparkler Tiny Bubbles, are also convenient for a cooler with a cold pack.

Mayhem Wines has both its Pinot Gris and Rosé in 12-pack cans. Sidenote don’t forget to play a game of “Springo”; get a playing card at https://www.mayhemwines.com/club-events/, order takeout or dine in at select restaurants and enter a draw. Their cans of wine and takeout could wine you some tasty prizes (wine purchase not necessary to enter).

Castoro de Oro introduced three wines in cans last year, and The View Winery has had its Bling — an aromatic white blend and a unique rosé available in cans for a few years.

There are a few non-B.C. canned wines out on store shelves, but let’s support local. Several of these options were recently spotted at the B.C. Wine Information Centre in Penticton, but you can also order most in bulk packs or flats directly from the wineries.

It’s convenient, provides a newly discovered chilled option on a hot day by the pool, is environmentally friendly, and is on trend … or so I’m told.

And the “psssch” noise of opening a can of wine is just as satisfying as a beer, cider, or soda.

Celebrate Riesling Day

Have a quick look around the interwebs and you’ll find a celebratory day or month for just about any dish, ingredient, or drink.

Case in point: Saturday, March 13, is International Riesling Day, marking the date in 1453 on which Germany’s most important grape was first mentioned in a written document, the cellar log of one Count Katzenelnbogen in the Rheingau region.

In prior years, Wines of Germany has held Riesling birthday parties around the world for this auspicious occasion. This year? Hashtag #rieslingday or #rieslingbirthday to celebrate virtually online.

Riesling is a versatile grape, ranging from austere, bone dry bottles to lusciously sweet ones. Stone fruits, apples, pears are typical orchard aromas, coupled with honeycomb, citrus zest, and a distinct petrol note.

The latter can make this grape easy to identify, usually, if you’re trying to impress people at a blind tasting.

Perhaps maligned by some for being too sweet — avoid cheap mass-produced imports — it is a remarkable grape that seems to absorb the terroir it comes from.

Line up bottles from France’s Alsace region, Germany’s Mosel, Australia’s Clare Valley, and the Okanagan and it won’t take long to sniff and taste the differences.

Speaking of sweet, Riesling makes a mighty fine icewine; a good bottle begins with lush peach and apricot flavours and finishes with a surprise of acidity.

Suggested food pairings are just as versatile as the grape itself:

  • Tart, citrusy Riesling with a Vietnamese-inspired spicy shrimp and noodle salad
  • Lightly sweet Riesling with baked honey ham or pork chops
  • Full-bodied Riesling with a rich roast chicken dish

Here are a few of my favourites to seek out for Saturday night, or ask your local wine shop staff for a suggestion if these are sold out.

Ask if newly released vintages have arrived for spring. Enjoy!

Upper Bench 2019 Riesling: awarded the 2020 Lieutenant Governor’s award for wine of the year. Slightly
off-dry, yet crisp, with gooseberry and orange zest notes.

CedarCreek 2018 Riesling: a tiny portion of this bright Riesling was fermented in French Oak, giving it a nice, subtle roundness. Juicy acidity on the finish.

Quails’ Gate 2019 Dry Riesling: From 30-year-old vines. A crisp, dry bottle with intriguing minerality. A white wine that is age worthy.

Monte Creek Ranch 2018 Riesling: Lemon zest and floral notes lead to lemon, green apple, and lime flavours with a flinty finish.

Synchromesh 2019 Storm Haven Dry Riesling: One of the go-to wineries for Riesling. Honeycomb and apricot notes on the nose, complex lime, pepper, and apple flavours.

Wild Goose 2019 Riesling: A classic Riesling, beginning with fruit forward and aromatic floral notes, finishing with spice, citrus, and minerality on the palate.

Women of taste

There are many women in the industries of taste – chef-ing, brewing, fermenting, and more – to champion in advance of International Women’s Day on Monday.

This is barely a handful of those in B.C.’s culinary and drinks businesses, but each of these women has been able to successfully pivot, several of them long before the word became trendy thanks to the pandemic.

The Multi-tasker

While her official title could be general manager of Robin Ridge Winery in the Similkameen, the reality is that Caroline Cottrill brings her accounting skills to bear on the layers of paperwork it takes to run a winery

She also has built a trail to attract outdoor enthusiasts in for a tasting, designs labels, updates the website, and works at the Pharmasave in Keremeos.

Therefore, there is no typical day in her world. But she has a passion for organics: the winery has been certified organic since 2018, and Caroline enjoys finding natural alternatives for customers at the pharmacy.

That passion is fitting, as the Similkameen is the Organic Capital of Canada.

The Innovator

For a few years, you could get Winecrush products — edible treats made from the derivatives left after the winemaking process — at some wineries and other locations and pick up.

Those treats have given way to a much bigger picture.

Allie Broddy is part of the team that started the company, which was a recent winner of the Rising Star Award from the B.C. Cleantech Awards.

Winecrush, with Broddy as the application and development manager, is working with leading wine scientists to transform these “leftover” materials into valuable nutrition.

That not only keeps them out of landfills, but also reduces methane emissions and prevents soil contamination.

The Adventurer

Janet Annable is “chief maker” and financial officer of Millionaires’ Row Cider Co., a small cidery on Summerland’s Bottleneck Drive.

She might be grafting trees in the morning, and in the tasting room that afternoon. Why cider? Because it’s a personal favourite beverage, so why not add value to an orchard with a variety of apple trees?

Janet, who arrived in Summerland in 2016, likes all the stages of the cider-making process, from crush to bottle, and loves having a small, family business. Try the Makin’ A Mint (mint, lemon, and hibiscus) if you can find a bottle.

The Problem Solver

Laura Arcangeli, or simply Chef Laura, has catered for the likes of David Duchovny on the set of X-Files, and Duran Duran on tour.

With those gigs mostly gone thanks to the pandemic, what is a chef to do? Make cooking in lockdown easier and tastier for all of us. Enter cheflaura.ca,now home to a growing online shop.

Her spice blends are a good product to start with; beautifully packaged and with tongue-in-cheek names from ‘Don’t Be a Jerk’ to ‘Veg Out’, instead of blending your own and making a mess, use hers in the cooking process.

Look for these in the Okanagan soon.

More Okanagan Taste articles

About the Author

A creative thinker with more than two decades of experience in communications, Allison is an early adopter of social and digital media, bringing years of work in traditional media to the new frontier of digital engagement marketing through her company, All She Wrote.

She is the winner of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association's 2011 and 2012 awards for Social Media Initiative, an International LERN award for marketing, and the 2014 Penticton Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award for Hospitality/Tourism.

Allison has amassed a following on multiple social networks of more than 30,000, frequently writes and about social media, food and libations as well as travel and events, and through her networks, she led a successful bid to bring the Wine Bloggers Conference to Penticton in June 2013, one of the largest social media wine events in the world, generating 31 million social media impressions, $1 million in earned media, and an estimated ongoing economic impact of $2 million.

In 2014, she held the first Canadian Wine Tourism Summit to spark conversation about the potential for wine tourism in Canada as a year-round economic driver.

Allison contributes epicurean content to several publications, has been a judge for several wine and food competitions, and has earned her advanced certificate from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.

In her spare time, she has deep, meaningful conversations with her cats.

She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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