Completely by chance, we are in Victoria, British Columbia at the time of their annual international wine festival. This has to be a case of serendipity.
After seeing an advertising banner stretched above a main road into the city, we decide at the last minute to book tickets. On another sunny Autumn Victoria afternoon, we head off to explore the wine festival; the first time we have attended this event. Our first impression is amazement at the large number of people there. In a city known to attract retirees, it’s fantastic to see so many young people exploring and enjoying the adventures of wine. It’s clearly party time!
The choice of available wines is extensive although we are surprised not to see more Vancouver Island wines. We decide to focus on red wines, mainly Canadian with a couple of exceptions – it is an International Wine Festival after all!
Stand out wines for us at the festival are mainly Bordeaux style blends (typically Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec in varying quantities and styles, sometimes referred to as Meritage) and include: Gold Hill 2015 Meritage (winner of the Lt. Governor Award of Excellence), Mission Hill Quatrain (for special occasions price-wise), Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin and Sunrock Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon.
On the International side, we enjoy an italian Sangiovese, La Mora Morellino di Scansano and particularly enjoyed the spanish rioja, Baron de Ley series, especially Baron de Ley Rioja Maturana, both good valu
What really caught my eye are innovative artisan wine products made in the Okanagan Valley from the wine crush. Grape seeds and grape skins are dehydrated, ground and added to such products as cheese and sea salt, which are infused with the rich flavours from the wine grapes. We tasted The Winecrush Gamay Goat Cheese, and the Malbec and Herb Sea Salt: both are delicious. The Gamay Goat Cheese has been nominated for a Canadian cheese award. I can imagine serving the Malbec and Herb Sea Salt with quails eggs, as one example. It’s exciting to see new concepts and value added wine products being made by BC entrepreneurs.
We also discovered a new bistro to try on another visit to the Island: Artisan Bistro in Broadmead Village, which is on the outskirts of Victoria.
We are big fans of Vancouver Island and the capital city, Victoria with its colourful gardens, cheerful water taxis ferrying people around the harbour communities and interesting local history well described and highlighted throughout the city. Our chance visit to the Victoria International Wine Festival was an added bonus.
References : Winecrush www.winecrush.ca
Artisan Bistro. www.artisanbistro.ca