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Summer grilling: Chicago Style Steak Recipe

Published in recipe
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chicago styleIt’s the first day of summer and we’re celebrating all things barbecued.  We’d like to share a classic recipe that is fantastic with our Meritage. This dish is courtesy of one of our favourite steakhouses, Gotham. Our full-bodied Cabernet based blend pairs beautifully with the rich and meaty flavours of this well grilled steak.

Ingredients:
lots of butter
canola oil
Kosher salt
cracked black pepper
good quality steaks at least 2″ thick

Directions:

  • Turn bbq on high, put cast iron skillet on grill, close lid and leave it for fifteen minutes. preheat oven to 500.
  • Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper, then brush with canola oil.
  • Scoop pad of butter in pan and let melt, place steak in pan and add more butter. (Expect a great deal of smoke, (this is why you are outside!)
  • Add more butter and flip steak, add more butter and leave for a minute, do not let butter dry up.
  • Remove steak and allow it to rest on the cooling rack
  • Just before serving dinner place all the steaks on the rack in the oven on a cookie sheet and leave it for 1 1/2 minutes, serve.

Join the team!

Published in employment
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VV - double rainbowOur beautiful new Similkameen Valley tasting room is almost ready to open and we’re hiring!  We’re looking for tasting room associates who are enthusiastic, energetic team players and who are passionate about wine and will ensure that all who enter the winery will be treated as family, so they walk away with an unforgettable experience.

This is a seasonal post and you must be able to work weekends as this position is focused on weekends. Full and Part-time opportunities available!

Candidate skills should include, but are not limited to:

  • Outstanding communication and customer service skills with an ability to adapt to diverse levels of guest knowledge
  • Project a polished and professional outward image in both dress and manners
  • Conducting structured tastings for those who come to the winery
  • Operation of a POS system
  • Prior wine knowledge is an asset and a positive attitude is required
  • Ability to work in a team and independently
  • Efficient worker and ability to problem solve
  • Comfortable presenting in front of large groups

Daily Responsibilities (inclusive but not limited to):

  • Maintaining the cleanliness of the hospitality space including tasting rooms, walkways, restrooms, and picnic area
  • Ensuring the tasting bars are well stocked, free of clutter, and ready to receive visitors
  • Communicate Vanessa Vineyard’s winemaking style, operations, and curate a memorable experience to the guest’s knowledge level
  • Act as ambassador for the Okanagan’s wine culture with personal experience and recommendations

Requirements:

  • Customer Service: 1 year
  • Ability to safely lift 40lbs
  • Serving It Right Certified
  • WSET or Wine Certification is an asset
  • Second language is an asset

Do you fit the bill? If so, please apply via email to duane@vanessavineyard.com.

Grape Grower & Vintner Success

Published in News
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Howard Soon in barrel room

Howard Soon in barrel room

We’re honoured that our grapes are so well received by the critics. With 75 acres planted, we’re not able to use all the fruit for our own winery and sell some to a very select few local wineries. Their single vineyard Vanessa wines are achieving incredible acclaim.  This past spring, renowned British wine critic Jamie Goode visited BC for the Vancouver International Wine Festival and had the chance to taste a range of local wines and wrote of the Sandhill Vanessa Vineyard Syrah 2013,

“Sweet and textured with ripe black cherry and berry fruits with some lovely olive and pepper notes. Some dried herbs and spice, with a savoury, mineral intensity to this wine. Warm but with some peppery notes of cool climate. Lovely stuff. 93/100”

Similarly, renowned Canadian wine author John Schreiner recently wrote,

“Sandhill now sources some premium reds from Vanessa Vineyards in the Similkameen. This 100-acre vineyard has relatively young vines but it holds the promise of high quality wines as well. Certainly, the flavour profile differs from Phantom Creek. That simply underlines the Sandhill philosophy of making single vineyard wines that display the terroir and individuality of each and every vineyard…

Sandhill Small Lots One 2016 Vanessa Vineyard (barrel sample). This wine is a co-fermented blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Early in its aging process, this is a promising successor to the previous succession of Phantom Creek wines. The profile seems brighter, with minty and floral aromas and with brambly flavours. 90-92.”

Kudos to Howard Soon, winemaker Sandhill Wines for his repeated honours with our fruit!

An Evening With Rick Hansen

Published in Charity, Events
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an evening with rick hansenWe are proud to support the Rick Hansen Foundation in their gala charity fundraiser this weekend. Vanessa Vineyard is a sponsor of An Evening with Rick Hansen & Friends at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia this Friday June 2. We will be pouring our wines in their International Wine Tasting Room to a sold out room of 250 guests.  The exclusive evening with Rick Hansen is in celebration of the 30th Anniversary of his Man In Motion World Tour and in support of the Rick Hansen Foundation. Festivities include a cocktail reception, sensational entertainment and an opportunity to bid on unique and extraordinary experiences at their live auction. Some of the live auction highlights include:

  • 2018 Super Bowl Package for Two
  • 60th Anniversary Grammy’s In New York City Package For Two
  • London, England, NFL Football and Premier League Football Package for Two
  • 2017 NFL Mexico City Trip for Two
  • Hollywood Movie With A Speaking Role In The Voyage Of Doctor Dolittle Starring Robert Downey Jr.
  • New York City Theatre And Concert Package For Two
  • Seattle Seahawks VIP Game Experience And Dinner For Eight

Proceeds will help advance the Foundation’s mission of access and inclusion for people with disabilities.

Get Paid to Drink Fine Wine!

Published in employment
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VV - Tasting Room Mgr adWe started over a decade ago on the principle of growing and selling high-quality red wine grapes that reflect its terroir. We’ve achieved that goal and are now building a new tasting room in the beautiful Similikameen Valley to showcase our wines from one of the most unique vineyards in Canada, and accordingly are hiring!

We’re seeking a Tasting Room Manager commencing May 1, 2017.   We’re looking for a passionate person with hospitality management experience. Some benefits to the position besides a good salary and fantastic new tasting room:  promote “absolutely stunning” 95+ points wine, work with fun/smart people, plus as Wine Enthusiast Magazine noted — we’re situated in “the next great Canadian wine region” — only 20 minutes from Osoyoos, 15 minutes from Keremeos.  For the full job description please contact Sandeep Sangha.

A Stony Heart

Published in Viticulture
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stone-heartThe world’s best wine growing appellations have relatively poor, inhospitable soils, which while not ideal for most types of agriculture, are perfect for growing vinifera grapes. One of the most important factors in the terroir of a vineyard is the dirt, or should we say rocks? At the heart of our vineyard, it is mostly rocky/stony soil. Due to the quantity of rocks on the site, our vineyard development was initially challenging and actually broke our industrial-sized rock crusher! Although at first viewed as burdensome, the rocks have became a key asset for the soils.

Vineyard soils have a major influence on wine character and taste, hence the French expression, goût de terroir or “taste of the earth”.  Grapevine roots are remarkable, they can penetrate dozens of feet into soil in their search for water and nutrients, and they continue to grow throughout the vines’ lives. This means that the physical properties of the soil are important and its minerality fundamental to growing premium grapes.

Gravel soils allow for superior drainage, which is paramount to the vines and grapes. Winemakers are so convinced of this, some have gone to extremes to study the differences. Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon fame, for example conducted a wacky experiment adding rocks directly to wine to investigate their influence on flavour, which he believes added, “far more complexity and greater persistence on the palate”.  UK wine writer Jamie Goode explores this in depth in his book, The Science of Wine from Vine to Glass.

Although we do not literally add rocks to our wine, the abundant rocks in our soil at Vanessa beneficially act to stress the vines. They also reflect sunshine to the leaves and berries, and allow the day heat to be harnessed and imparted throughout the cooler nights, thereby aiding in the ripening process. Additionally, our gentle sloping hillside and southwest exposure are optimal for the vines as they directly benefit from the afternoon sun, which contributes to the lengthening of the growing season and the production of intensely ripe fruit. With these factors the fruit is able to capture the minerality of the soils on which it grows that are unique to the land, and allows Vanessa Vineyard to produce fruit of the highest quality, with flavours and minerality that are distinctive.

It is this delightful sensation of minerality that is so prized among many wine enthusiasts and with Valentine’s approaching, we love that we have a stony heart…

Veraison to Harvest: A Sweet Time

Published in Viticulture
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vanessa-grapes-veraisonVéraison, the French viticulture term for the change of colour of the grapes, signifies an exciting time in the vineyard — the onset of ripening. Veraison represents the transition from berry growth to berry ripening, and many changes in berry development occur. In addition to the transition in colour from green to purple, throughout the process they also increase in volume, weight, sugar content and softness. After veraison, the berries are pliable, fruit acidity decreases and sweetness accumulates.

We saw veraison start in our Vanessa vineyard last month.  Later in the ripening process flavour maturity will also take place with the formation of flavour and aroma compounds — or “phenolic ripeness”. (Phenols are complex molecules, including tannins, in the grape skins that can contribute bitter flavours. As grapes ripen, they change from green and bitter to pleasantly astringent, to soft and ripe-tasting.) The whole process takes about six weeks with the balance between sugar, acid, and flavour compounds ultimately determining the pick date.

The interval from veraison to harvest is naturally different for each varietal, and is primarily dependent on heat accumulation and crop size. Merlot for example takes fewer heat units to ripen than Cabernet Sauvignon. Knowing the ideal time to harvest begins with tasting. Our winemaker is looking for specific flavours in each variety. In addition to tasting the grapes, we measure sugar levels, pH and acidity to also help us determine when our fruit is ready to be picked.

So far for 2016, the vintage is looking great and we are excited for harvest later this fall.  Renowned local Master of Wine Rhys Pender writes about the vintage:

“It was looking like 2016 might be one of those very hot (too hot) vintages as the early budbreak and then hot temperatures through April, May and most of June had grapes rushing towards ripeness. The growing degree days were ahead of any other year on record. Mother Nature then stepped in and July ended up being the fourth coolest in Summerland and the third coolest in Osoyoos since 1998. This welcome cool weather and some unseasonal rainfall really put the brakes on the ripening and probably turned the vintage from a potentially dangerously hot one to an almost ideal one. The grapes’ flavour complexity seems to develop more if the growing season is stretched out a bit longer, and the cool July helped to do just that. August saw temperatures back to their normal levels and ripening resumed at a steadier pace. Although temperatures cooled down in early September and there were a few showers and some worried farmers, things have picked up again and the forecast for the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys is sun and mid-to-high 20s for the next 10 days at least. That will make the vintage shape up very nicely indeed…”  Read more of Rhys’s comments on the Wine Align website.

A Taste of Similkameen Elegance

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Jamie Goode - Cawston“It may be the best wine appellation you’ve driven through but have yet to visit…”  Anthony Gismondi the wine writer for the Vancouver Sun, commented earlier this month on the elegant wines of the Similkameen.  He along with many other prominent wine writers across the globe have recently had our pristine Valley in their sights.

A similar perspective was reflected across the pond, “The Similkameen Valley is a peaceful yet dramatic place. Running parallel to the Okanagan, it lacks the lakes, but makes up scenery wise by being hemmed in moodily by mountains.  The valley has an almost alpine feel, and I reckon this is one of the most exciting viticultural areas in Canada. As yet, however, its potential is somewhat untapped…” Wow! Jamie Goode, renown British wine critic recently visited the Similkameen and wrote about it’s huge potential. Noting, the uniqueness of our region which due to the lack of a lake effect tends to have a more extreme climate than the Okanagan. The results are larger diurnal temperature swings and frequent strong winds. The benefits of this are low disease pressure and preservation of acidity.  He comments, “This is a huge advantage, because we have here a combination of what looks like quite a warm climate (in terms of growing degree days it’s the same as Australia’s Yarra Valley), with the ability to make wines that are fresh with good acidity.” Jamie concludes, “There aren’t a lot of vines here in the Similkameen – just 600 acres or so – but there’s a lot of potentially fine vineyard land here that’s not planted yet. A region to watch.”

In La Belle Province, Montreal Gazette’s wine critic Bill Zacharkiw had a similar take on the Valley’s terroir, “Another really interesting region is the Similkameen. Just to the west of the Okanagan, it has a completely different feel to the Okanagan. The wines tend to be crisper, more European, and there is very much a “vigneron culture.” You can find nearly every grape there and it seems every winery does something really well. Orofino’s gamay, Little Farm’s riesling, Vanessa Vineyard’s syrah, Courcelette’s Chasselas-based blend, Clos du Soleil’s white Bordeaux-styled — the list is long. The Similkameen is beautiful and the wines are truly worth investigating.”

We’re excited for what the future holds for our Valley.  Stay tuned for more exciting developments for Vanessa (and no doubt in the Valley as a whole) in the coming year!

Judgment of Geyserville

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Judgment of Geyserville 2016We were surprised and delighted to see our 2012 Syrah included in a blind tasting this spring by a small, exclusive group of wine critics in California.  The judges meet annually in the quaint Sonoma wine community of Geyserville for the “Judgment of Geyserville”. Each year they select a theme, then select three examples each from various regions across North America.

This year, the theme they chose for their tasting was cool-climate Syrah, and the judges found superb examples from up and down the West Coast (California, Oregon, Washington State and BC).

They noted one of the most difficult tasks of this particular judging was defining what “cool climate” means. The participants decided that in this case, cool-climate Syrahs come from regions that have somewhat cooler and longer growing seasons but are still capable of reliably ripening Syrah grapes each vintage. The goal was to find examples of Syrah that were not big, rich and overripe. Rather, they hoped to taste Syrahs that showed complexity that goes well beyond the jammy, ripe flavours often found from inexpensive Aussie Shirazes or California Syrahs — i.e. one reason Syrahs grown in France’s northern Rhône Valley are so great is the cooler climate — and the complexity of aromas and flavours that follows.

The participants consisted of :

  • Mike Dunne – longtime wine columnist for The Sacramento Bee and one of the top wine judges in California.
  • Ellen Landis, master of wine, former Sommelier for the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay California, and one of the top professional wine judges in the United States, wine blogger at Ellen On Wine
  • Eric Degerman, president and CEO of Great Northwest Wine, is co-founder of Wine Press Northwest magazine and a regular judge across western North America
  • Andy Perdue, editor and publisher of Great Northwest Wine, is the wine columnist for The Seattle Times
  • Ron Washam – former Sommelier of the Year by the Southern California Restaurant Writers’ Association, a regular wine judge for Bay area competitions, and writes the HoseMaster of Wine blog

We have summarized their interesting results (see the blog links above for the full articles), and we are thrilled that our inaugural 2012 Syrah was honoured with a silver (one of the 12 medalists). They describe the Vanessa Vineyard Syrah as:

“It is rare to find wines from the remote Similkameen Valley, which is west of the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia’s Interior region. This is a classic cool-climate Syrah with aromas of wild mushroom risotto, dried herbs, jasmine and vanilla bean. On the palate, flavors of Marionberry and dusty black cherry are backed by juicy, fine-grained tannins. This will be fascinating to taste again in another half-decade.”

We look forward to many more “judgments” in the coming months and years!

Savouring the Similkameen

Published in travel
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Savoring the SimilkameenWe’re thrilled to be part of a hidden culinary and wine gem.  In honour of Canada’s National Tourism Week what better time than to start planning your trip to the Similkameen?  enRoute Magazine described our area as “one of the world’s 5 best wine regions you’ve never heard of” and Vines Magazine named our Valley “one of the 6 most underrated wine regions in the world.”

Recently, several publications have focused on our “obscure” region, such as SIP Northwest out of Portland which noted, “Yet the striking slopes that surround the valley almost defy belief, and the best wines achieve a degree of complexity that demands they be taken seriously.”

And Vancity Buzz suggested a hike in Cathedral Provincial Park, “Before making your way back home, visit this beautiful green space south of Keremeos. You’ll have the chance to take short or long hikes in areas filled with craggy peaks and stunning azure-coloured lakes.”

Similarly, Naramata’s talented and engaging Jennifer Cockrall-King has just published the ultimate self-guided food lovers’ tour of the ‪Okanagan‬ and Similkameen. Discover our local edible delights in this curated overview of more than 125 artisans, with 15 recommendations for the ‪Similkameen‬, in “Food Artisans of the Okanagan: Your Guide to the Best Locally Crafted Fare“.  One of our faves — Farmersdotter Organics in Cawston — quite possibly the most delicious homemade breads you’ll ever taste.

Heralded as the fruit stand capital of Canada and the organic capital of Canada, Keremeos and Cawston respectively, are bursting with life from the spring through the fall. Come for a visit, stay in the charming nearby lakeside community of Osoyoos and enjoy the bounty of this special little slice of terroir.  (Although we do not have a tasting room open yet at Vanessa Vineyard.  You can still enjoy our wines here. Our Syrah and Meritage are available at Twin Lakes Golf Resort and Local Lounge + Grille.)