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After a hiatus that was somewhat out of my control, I have decided to return to the world of blogging. The spring was busy with too much going in the world or work which allows me to pay for my growing wine habit. Since my last blog, I have been taking advantage of our favourable exchange rate and purchasing a fair amount of wine from Oregon and California and having it shipped to my mailing address. Canada Customs still sucks but I have become hooked on Pinot Noir and while Burgundy may be the birth place of pinot, the wines are either too expensive or I get lost in attenpting to decipher the labels and Cru systems used in France.

I have moved my mailing address to Point Roberts as the Blaine border lineups are getting plain stupid and bringing wine across the border is no longer a full day event.

My wine partner and I also spent a memorable week in Oregon, hanging out in Portland and the Willamette Valley. Oregon wine country is closer than you think and the Pinots kick butt on anything made in BC.

In future blogs I am going to chat a little more about the exchange rate, bringing wine into Canada, our trip to Oregon, US wine clubs and explore the topic of whether of Van City is actually a good “wine town”. Here is a hint: because of a variety of reasons, I do not think it is that good of a vino town….Shock, horror, “but what about the wine festival?” “But we have Burrowing Owl?” Blah, Blah, Blah, I say. All smoke and mirrors and not much substance.

I am off for now, but hopefully the continued musings of a wine geek will interest a few of you sitting out in the vast world of the web and bloggers universe.

My tip of the week: Head to Marquis Wine Cellars or Liberty Wine Merchants and ask a clerk to point you in the direction of a nice Oregon Pinot. Yes… they are not cheap by the time they get here, but buck up and spend the $30-$40, throw some Wild BC Salmon on your BBQ, saute some wild BC mushrooms, chill your Pinoit, yes, drink it slightly cold and let me know what you think. In my humble opinion, that is the Pacific Northwest in all its glory and perfection sitting on your table.

My good friend Raj Sodhi sent me a link today to CNN about making your own wine. Now, we are not talking about going to the local U Brew and getting a carton of juice. In the wine mecca of San Francisco a savvy entrepreneur has come up with a great idea.

He has developed a custom crush business, where the curious, serious, wine geek or adventurous can make as little as 1 barrel of wine. They provide everything, crush facilities, wine maker, access to quality grapes, bottling and storage facilities. The great thing about this is if you live in the USA, you do not even need to reside in San Fransisco. You can pay your fee, have the wine made with your assistance and have your finished product shipped to you if your state allows it.

Of course, in Canada we are not as forward and liberal thinking as our friends to south. After experiencing the gong show of what has become the Vancouver Wine Festival, it is clear there are many avid wine drinkers or over indulger’s if you will. Assuming that our archaic liquor laws will allow it, an entrepeneur in these parts could probably stand to start a similar business up in the Okanagan and be very successful with it. With wine prices continuing to go up in BC, this could be an opportunity to make quality wine and avoid the plonk of U Brew Its and escalating prices of BC wine.

Hmmmm, maybe the wine snob is onto something? So nobody steal my idea, ok? You can read more about the virtual vino service here.

Vancouver Wine Festival Vancouver Wine Festival

There are many things that make Vancouver one of the best cities in the world: The people, the beauty, the food, the Canucks, and the WINE FESTIVAL! For those of us who are lucky enough to live in this beautiful city, we get a special treat every March after it has rained every day since Christmas.

This year the festival is very exciting as the “host” country is Australia. While I do not know the exact stats, I can tell you that Australian wine is very popular in these parts. Everything from “critter” wine (see that crap Yellow Tail) to high end Penfolds Grange sells well in this market. While one could argue that Aussie Shiraz and Chardonnay’s are all starting to taste the same and if you stick to the big producers, you might encounter this. There are plenty of Aussie wineries producing unique and fabulous wines.

I encourage you to check out some of the smaller wineries or wineries that may have corporate money backing them, but are left alone to their own devices. Try different varietals and blends. Things like Grenache, Reisling, GSM’s, Sauv Blancs, “Sticky’s” and Cab’s. There is more to Australia than Shiraz with Yellow Labels and Penguins on the bottle. Some of my favourite Aussie wineries that will be at the festival are:

So enjoy the festival, try some old favourites and something different and I look forward to hearing about your hits and misses.

Vino Wine BarFolks, I am back from my tropical vacation and see I have received some traffic, for which I say Thanks! Raj, thanks for the link from your blog. Yes folks, it is possible to order wine at a restaurant to impress the boss or that new prospect.

So, I went to Hawaii and did very Hawaiian things like, sit on my lanai, take naps, go golfing, watch wales, swim in the ocean and drink wine?

I am not a hard liquor or tropical drink fan except in Vegas, when “G&T’s” are involved, so I was determined to find good wine that I can’t buy in Van City. After discovering that Longs Drugs has better booze than Safeway? Go figure, “Prozac on isle 4, Mr. Wine Snob and a bottle of cheap chianti to wash it down on isle 5,” I started asking around. A bar tender at a wine bar called Vino in Kapalua, said, “Go find Mr. Wine in Lahaina.” Having eerie Homer Simpson “Mr. Plow” flashbacks, I tracked down Mr. Wine.

Situated off of the main drag next to a Radio Shack was a non-descript store, but inside their were treasures abound. Pinot Noirs from Hartford, Flowers, Ancien, Foxen (See the movie Sideways for reference), cult cabs from Napa, if that is your thing and other hard to find treasures from the west coast of the USA. All reasonably priced and get this, only 4% sales tax!

Sigh, my suitcase was full with our clothes and I could not haul any wine back. Homeland Security allows you to bring a Pineapple on the plane, but any liquids on deck are a no-no, so I could not carry any vino on board. I guess this means I will get on some winery waiting lists and see if my name is called.

More importantly, has anyone been to any “non-wine” destinations and discovered a surprise wine find? Would love to hear from you!

Here we go, my first entry in the world of blogging. I need to thank my good friend Raj, who set me up as I am a bit of techno neophyte who thinks buying concert tickets on line means I am Internet savvy. There is a link to his blog on my site. If you are interested in the world of marketing and business, check his blog out.

I decided to start this blog as I speak constantly about the good and the bad of the wine industry and what I like to drink and not to drink. While I will let you know what I am drinking right now and what my favorites are. This blog is also going to delve into wine tourism, food, the BC government monopoly, bringing wine into Canada, the BC wine industry and lots more….. I do not profess to know everything, so I want to hear from you. Let me hear what your opinions, thoughts, likes and dislikes are. If you agree with me, I want to hear about it. If you disagree, I want to hear about it even more!

So to gets things going here are some comments to think about…

  • For you Vancouver locals… I think Burrowing Owl Wines are over rated and will tell you why in a future blog
  • My favourite grape is Zinfandel, followed closely by Pinot Noir
  • I hate the BC Liquor Store and how they control what wines I can purchase
  • I belong to 3 wine clubs in California and pay obscene amounts of duty to bring in wine to BC that I can’t buy here
  • My favourite wineries in no particular order are Ridge, Blue Mountain, Meeker, Gary Farrell, Hartford, Argyle, Provenance & Henschke. Other than Henschke in Australia, I have been fortunate to visit all of these wineries and will write about them in future blogs.
  • My favorite restaurant in Vancouver for fine dining is the Rain City Grill. My favorite hang out place is Stella’s on the Drive.
  • My favorite place to go for a wine trip is to Healdsburg, Sonoma Valley. My favorite west coast city, other than Van City is Portland.

So, you have something to chew on. I am off on vacation for 2 weeks in Hawaii (my 1st time since I was a kid) and will tell you about my wine experiences when I am back. If I have time before I leave, you may see a blog, you may not.

The goal is write something at least once a week.

Thanks for checking me out…

Chris aka the wine snob