Special Features

John Duval Wines and Yalumba Wines

by Vic Harradine

John Duval Wines, sourced in Barossa Valley and Eden Valley, South Australia

The iconic John Duval was Penfolds’ Chief Winemaker 1986 – 2002 responsible for making the 1990 Grange capturing the Wine Spectator, ‘Wine of the Year’ award. Penfolds’ premium red wines—Bin 407, Bin 138 and RWT—were developed on his watch as was the ‘White Grange’ project that eventually developed the über-premium Yattarna Chardonnay and led to the Reserve Bin A Chardonnay. In 1989 John was named, ‘International Winemaker of the Year’ and later in 1991 and 2000 named, ‘International Red Winemaker of the Year’. (information courtesy Penfolds’ website)

Read more: John Duval Wines and Yalumba Wines

Jim Barry Wines and Pikes Wines, Clare Valley, South Australia

by Vic Harradine

The Clare Valley is a cooler-climate Geographical Indication (GI) wine region in the state of South Australia. It’s marked by a Mediterranean-like climate with afternoon sea breezes, an exceptional diurnal temperature variation and lengthy hang time for fruit. Some of the oldest Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz vines in the world survive here along with numerous 4TH, 5TH and even 6th generation family-owned growers and wineries. The primary white grape planting is Riesling with Clare considered its Australia home along with Chardonnay and others. Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz are the two most popular red plantings along with others including some very old Grenache vines.

Read more: Jim Barry Wines and Pikes Wines, Clare Valley, South Australia

Jip Jip Rocks winery in Padthaway, South Australia

by Vic Harradine

We begin our journey through Australia’s fine wine regions along the famous Limestone Coast, a place where a profusion of fruit is sourced for some of Australia’s finest wines. Join us in visiting and tasting with a family-owned winery proud to display their origins. Jip Jip Rocks may be familiar to those who shop the LCBO as we stop in Padthaway, a geographical region of South Australia (SA), visiting the Bryson family at their family-owned vineyard where fruit is sourced for their ‘Jip Jip Rocks’, ‘Morambro Creek’ and ‘The Bryson’ wine brands. The present Bryson brothers and their family members are 5th generation South Australia agriculturists.

Read more: Jip Jip Rocks winery in Padthaway, South Australia

Marimar Estate Vineyards & Winery

by Susan Desjardin

Born into the Torres wine family, Marimar Torres has been immersed in the industry all her life. With degrees in business, education in oenology and a facility for languages, she was the ideal ambassador for Torres wines in her early career. After establishing her home in California, she focused her energies on increasing awareness of Spanish wines in North America. Ten years later, the sale of Torres wines in the U.S. had grown ten-fold, and Marimar was ready for the new challenge of establishing Marimar Estate Vineyards & Winery.

Read more: Marimar Estate Vineyards & Winery

Rodney Strong – Dedicated, Passionate Craftsmanship

by Susan Desjardins

Located just south of the quaint Sonoma County town of Healdsburg, the Rodney Strong Vineyards tasting room is surrounded by some of the founder’s extensive original vineyards. Not only can you take a self-guided tour, or taste flights of wines on the terrace, Chef Tara Watchee has developed a finely balanced wine and food pairing experience where both components shine. As an example, the lively red fruit flavours of the 2015 Rosé of Pinot Noir were complemented by a salad of watermelon, grilled corn, basil, Black Pig bacon, verjus and estate olive oil.

Read more: Rodney Strong – Dedicated, Passionate Craftsmanship

Gallo Winery Estates

by Susan Desjardins

We planned visits at two Gallo estates, and then made a quick stop at Louis M. Martini given its long history in the Napa Valley. Although the Gallo family has purchased a number of wineries and vineyards over the years, one of the themes that came through during our visits is their focus on retaining the unique character of the wines produced at each of the estates, while investing in the infrastructure and equipment that will honour and maintain the legacy of the original founders. E.&J. Gallo Winery remains a family business with goals of being a leader in the U.S. wine industry and a leading supplier of California wine internationally.

Read more: Gallo Winery Estates

Mission Hill Tasting at Social Restaurant and Bar, June 2016

by Susan Desjardins

Darryl Brooker has recently assumed the mantle of chief winemaker from the legendary John Simes, who is taking on a role that will allow him to focus on the Von Mandyl Family vineyards. Darryl’s winemaking career began in Australia with Mountadam Vineyards followed by a stint with Villa Maria in New Zealand. He moved to Canada in 2003 crafting award-winning wines with several Niagara wineries including Flat Rock Cellars, Hillebrand and Thirty Bench. He moved to the Okanagan in 2010 to take on the role of winemaker at Cedar Creek Estate Winery which was recently purchased by the Von Mandyl Family Estates. Darryl is clearly enthusiastic about his new role, and pleased that he has had the opportunity to continue to draw on John Simes’ expertise and knowledge regarding earlier vintages and the extensive Okanagan Valley vineyards.

Read more: Mission Hill Tasting at Social Restaurant and Bar, June 2016

Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery

by Susan Desjardins

Chateau Ste. Michelle, the largest producer of wines in the State of Washington, is located just north of Seattle, in Woodinville, on historic property previously known as Hollywood Farm. The farm was established in the early 1900s by lumber baron, Frederick Stimson, who decided to create a state-of-the-art dairy farm to supply the burgeoning city of Seattle. He established his family home there and his wife became well-known for her extensive thriving gardens from which she soon was shipping cut flowers to Seattle. Chateau Ste. Michelle includes the original homestead surrounded by century-old trees and beautifully maintained gardens.

Read more: Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery

Discovery in the County

by Susan Desjardins

I was visiting a friend near Wellington in Prince Edward County last weekend and discovered the farmhouse in which we stayed was walking distance to a couple of wineries. We wandered down the road and up the drive of Hubbs Creek Vineyard and into the modest winery building housing a small, well-staffed tasting bar, behind which are fermentation tanks, barrel and wine-making premises. John Battista Calvieri, joint owner, winemaker and viticuluralist with brothers Nick and Joe, was front and centre radiating a warm welcome and pride in this family undertaking. Of the 5 wines on the chalkboard, 2 are already sold out. We tasted his 2014 Pinot Gris, 2014 Chardonnay, and 2012 Pinot Noir. Get in your car now, drive to the County, and get some of these amazing wines – Hubbs produces only 800-1000 cases annually.

Read more: Discovery in the County

Washington and Oregon

by Susan Desjardins

Dry Falls

If you enjoy wine, food and cataclysmic geology, then a trip from the South Okanagan through Washington state to Portland, Oregon will delight you.

Read more: Washington and Oregon