Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sharing Dreams to Build Connections Between People

Mission Hill Family Estate Winery Commissions First
Canadian Sculptural Exhibition by French Artist Nathalie Decoster

West Kelowna, British Columbia (April 13, 2011) - Mission Hill Family Estate Proprietor Anthony von Mandl announces a collaboration with renowned French artist Nathalie Decoster.

Her first Canadian solo exhibition, to be held at the Okanagan winery June - October, follows recent installations in Paris, France at Avenue des Champs-Elysées, Luxembourg Gardens, and the Bagatelle Gardens. Internationally, Decoster installations are located in a range of settings from London and Vienna to Brazil and Venice.


Over Fifty Decoster installations will be featured on award-winning Okanagan winery grounds

Von Mandl first encountered these magnificent works of art more than eight years ago when he visited an exhibition at Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte winery in Bordeaux's Graves appellation. Since that time, he has held a strong belief that an exhibition at Mission Hill would be a memorable event for winery guests, the Okanagan Valley and the Canadian arts community.

"What immediately struck me about Mrs. Decoster's art were the curved hoops that cradle her human forms to create a strong visual connection between the art and the outside world," says von Mandl. "These curved hoops are akin to the metal hoops that hold together the precious barrels that age our wines and are essential to crafting exceptional wines."

Over the years, von Mandl and Decoster have been in regular contact planning the timing of her Canadian debut and the winery's first exhibition of this magnitude. This year, Over 50 sculptures installed throughout the winery grounds will be enjoyed by guests who stroll the property, visit the wine cellars and taste the various vintages. The Decoster Sculpture Exhibition will be open to the public at no additional charge. The permanent installation of one significant sculpture ensures a lasting legacy for all who visit the winery.

"We hope Mrs. Decoster's work resonates with visitors as she plays with the notion of sharing dreams to build connections between people," says von Mandl. "We believe this same connection speaks to what we are trying to accomplish as winemakers. The parallels are undeniable and we invite art lovers, or the merely curious, to visit Mission Hill to discover the magnificent work of sculptress Nathalie Decoster."

Von Mandl's passion for the arts traces back to his European roots and earliest, fondest memories of his parents who fostered in him a love of arts, music, cuisine and learning. Mission Hill is a family-owned winery with a dedicated staff who shares its founder's passion for wine, food and the arts. Their dedication to wine excellence is coupled with a long-term commitment to support the visual and performing arts, essential components of the Mission Hill guest experience.

About Nathalie Decoster
Decoster lives and works in her converted factory studio in Paris. Her early work with decorative art studios led her to perfect her sculpting technique with an old-school master and the development of personal creations with new skills and materials. The essential mediums of her work include steel, bronze, aluminum, stainless steel and concrete. She employs vocabulary recognizably her own. An "art brut" figure is her messenger represented in minimalist geometric structures which convey philosophical messages about the human condition. With a dash of humour, she makes us conscious of the absurdities in our modern human lives. Helping us identify with these themes presents a password to serenity. Visit for more information.

About Mission Hill Family Estate
Mission Hill Family Estate is world renowned for its award-winning wines, stunning setting, architecture, and Cuisine du Terroir-influenced Terrace Restaurant. The winery's vineyards are located in five distinct growing regions of British Columbia's Okanagan Valley. Reflective of the origin and unique character of the Valley and meticulous 'Vine to Bottle' program, Oculus, its signature Bordeaux-inspired wine, represents the pinnacle in premium winemaking. Proprietor Anthony von Mandl and winemaker John Simes produce elegant internationally acclaimed wines with New World flavours and Old World refinement from this incomparable wine valley. Visit for more information and follow Mission Hill Family Estate on Twitter @missionhillwine.




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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sustainable Local and Regional Food Systems

Rooting Local and Regional Food Systems in Sustainability

ecotrustAt Food Alliance, we think it’s great that people are rediscovering the bounty and beauty of foods grown closer to home. Local food gives people a sense of place, connects them with the broader community, and creates important economic opportunities for small and beginning farmers.

But we must not let our love for “local” eclipse other important questions about our food. Localizing food production and consumption can have very positive benefits,  but regional growing conditions, population density, and land use patterns must be taken into account when considering the sustainability of local food.

Most consumers want to buy and eat a wide variety of foods throughout the year. That means domestic shipping and international trade are here to stay. Given all this, we must consider not only where all our food comes from, but how it is produced, processed and distributed. Through this broader lens a more complete picture of our food comes into focus, giving us information needed to make purchasing decisions that support all of our sustainability goals and concerns.

Following are a few great resources for local/regional/sustainable food and farm advocates:
Find Food Alliance Certified Producers & Handlers in Your Region




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Friday, April 8, 2011

Château Haut-Lagrange, Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux

“It is always the adventurous who accomplish great things”
 Charles de Montesquieu

By Paige Donner

Read Full Article on Local Food And Wine

One early Spring afternoon on a recent trip to the Pessac-Leognan region of Bordeaux, I set off from my hotel on a bicycle in the sunshine. I had not gotten 10 minutes down the pretty grapevine-trimmed country road when the blue sky turned to gray and a drizzle suddenly manifested.

Leaving myself completely in the hands of nature in Montesquieu's childhood region, I took the first gravel-lined road that seemed to lead up to one of the wineries that appeared to have people present.  Not a moment too soon, someone spotted me just as the heavens poured forth the fresh Spring rain and ushered me into the vineyard warehouse where there was some serious bottling underway.

Once they perceived that I spoke English, the lady from the office was called over to welcome me. Her name ended up being Sandrine and she told me that I had wandered onto the Château Haut-Lagrange. Once I explained to her that I had just been out for an afternoon bike ride, she, with all manner of warmth and graciousness, offered to take me on a tour of the winery and allowed me to take pictures. Her English was impressive and she told me that with her husband she spoke Spanish.

She is the Château Haut-Lagrange co-manager and is the kind of person, that when you get the chance to speak with them, like on a rainstorm-Spring-afternoon, you really must count your blessings because not only did she tell me all about the vineyard, she also mentioned her favorite regional delicacy which are "acacia Beignets" or acacia doughnuts that you must eat fresh and which only come around once a year, in early May, when the acacia are in bloom.

AOC Graves

Château Haut-Lagrange is nestled right in with all the other AOC Graves wineries that are so close you can, and ought to, bicycle to them. Though it is one of the newer wineries in this prestigious Bordeaux region, it being the life-long ambition and family-run enterprise ofFrancis Boutemy, whose grandparents were once winemakers of Bordeaux.

Graves, Bordeaux

Graves is the only AOC to take its name from the soil. The soil is a mixture of gravel, pebbles, flint and other stony debris deposited by the Garonne River over the millennia. Pessac-Leognan is part of the Graves area and is the region where Château Haut-Lagrange is (also, Château Haut-Brion) but, technically, the vineyard is not AOC Pessac-Leognan since it was established in 1989, after the 1987 classification.

This is where it comes in handy to know your detailed geography of Bordeaux. If you only looked at the label of this fine wine that sells for about 14 - 20 Euro the bottle, white and red, you might miss the significance of the fact that it shares the same climate, terroir and soil as its neighbors such as Château Haut Bailly and Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte.

If there is a winery in Bordeaux that is high on my list of participating in a harvest, it is this one. Mr. Boutemy has engineered a grape-picking vehicle that allows the pickers to sit as it travels up and down the rows of vines. [Pictured Below].

The white wine is lovely and not afraid to show its fruit. Its top  note is acacia. Yes, add that one to your tasting library. Its strong minerality comes through fully in the mouth and the winemakers here do not subscribe to overly oaking their whites. Only 6,000 bottles of this lovely 50% Sauvignon, 50% Sémillon produced. You must buy a bottle to taste it as they don't have much stock left.

The red is cultivated from 7.5 hectares of Merlot (45%) and Cabernet-Sauvignon (55%). They lay a tier of the juice in new barrels, the rest they leave in the tank. Batonnage is in the barrel. Bottling comes 18 months after the harvest. The vintages available for tasting today are the '06 and '07. It is balanced, elegant, a good wine to accompany with raclettes, Indian food or spicy Antilles cuisine.  50,000 bottles. A good wine to keep for 3 - 10 years, depending on the vintage. It is a great buy. You are getting top Pessac-Leognan wine for about 1/3 of what most of the other bottles in the area sell for.

This winery is a must stop on your Bordeaux wine travels. Friendly, forthcoming Bordelaise wine folk, excellent wines and great prices. They want to talk wine with you.

Château Haut-Lagrange 89, Avenue de La Brède




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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Vancouver Int'l. Playhouse Wine Festival - 8th Annual Awards Lunch Winners

Vancouver, BC, April 1st, 2011 – The Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival announced this year’s trade competition winners at the 8th Annual Awards Lunch on Friday, April 1st, 2011. “The trade competitions give the Festival an opportunity to honour and celebrate those professionals who have developed and enhanced the extraordinary wine and food culture of our region,” says Festival Executive Director Harry Hertscheg. In honour of the awards, guests enjoyed lunch prepared by culinary talent Blair Rasmussen, Executive Chef to the VCC, and toasted winners with wines from Spain, this year’s Festival theme region.

The Spirited Industry Professional Award annually honours an individual who has made a significant contribution to the sales, service or promotion of wine in British Columbia. The sixth annual SIP Award goes to internationally acclaimed food and wine critic, Jurgen Gothe. Gothe has seen his columns run in over 100 publications over the past few decades, and is currently the weekly wine columnist for the Georgia Straight. After 23 years hosting CBC Radio Two’s DiscDrive, Gothe retired as the station’s only double-gold-medal winning program host. Today, he does weekly spots for CBC on everything oenophilic, and can also be found on The Peak FM airwaves commenting on BC’s local flavours.

The 11th annual Sommelier of the Year Award recognizes outstanding wine knowledge and wine service. This year’s award goes to Owen Knowlton for his 500+ wine list at West restaurant, which also took one of the most coveted accolades in the trade competition: the Platinum Wine List Award. Driven to provide West guests wine that is high in value and quality (with a splash of boutique bottles and sommelier favorites), Knowlton has been sipping, spitting, and perfecting his wine knowledge over the last decade. The Sommelier of the Year is awarded based on votes by key members in the industry and is also included in the May Restaurant issue of Vancouver Magazine.


The Wine Professional Challenge gives sommeliers and wine professionals a chance to compete for the coveted Puddifoot Award. Currently in its sixth year, competitors were required to rotate around 5 judging stations and speak for 3 minutes on topics related to technical and varietal distinctions, flight tasting and customer service. This year, the challenge winner was Jay Whiteley of Hawkswort

h Restaurant. The Wine Professional Challenge is sponsored by Puddifoot.


Vancouver’s top chefs vied for gold on Wednesday night at Fetzer Great Beginnings, Flavours of the City. Chefs from Bearfoot Bistro, One Hundred Nights at OPUS Hotel Vancouver, Cibo Trattoria, DiVino Wine Bar, Sandbar, Diva at the Met, Prestons, Terminal City Club, and Uli’s Restaurant all vied for top prize from a panel of judges that included the city’s top food and wine journalists. This year’s award for best food and wine pairing went to Diva at the Met Executive Sous Chef Jeff Kang.


The Quady Winery of Madera California hosted the 23rd Annual Quady Dessert Competition, inviting British Columbia’s top pastry chefs, cooks and students to complement their orange muscat dessert wine, Essensia. At stake was a Grand Prize trip for two to California, as well as Silver and Bronze Prizes and C

ertificates of Merit for the top 10 competitors. First Place went to Lisa Ip of the Four Seasons Hotel, Second Place and Top Student from the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts went to Maria Darquier, while Michael Gelinas of Thomas Haas Fine Chocolates & Patisserie took Third. Competitors were judged on taste, wine pairing with Essensia, technique, presentation, and practicality by a respected panel of pastry chefs, executive chefs, sommeliers and food and wine media.


Celebrating the best food and wine pairings in the business, restaurants in Metro Vancouver, Whistler, Vancouver Island, the Interior and Alberta have all been recognized for creating wine lists that complement their establishment’s unique menu and concept. Candidates submitted their wine and menu lists, and were then visited by judges who reviewed their programs. The top restaurants were awarded Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze, or commended with an Honourable Mention. The Wine List Awards are sponsored by Vancouver Magazine.


Blue Water Café + raw bar
West Restaurant

C Restaurant
Cioppino's Mediterranean Grill & Enoteca
Wine Room at Joey Bentall One
Au Petit Chavignol
Salt Tasting Room

Cactus Club Cafe
Provence Marinaside
The Observatory
The Salmon House
Zest Japanese Cuisine
ShuRaku Sake Bar & Bistro
Poor Italian Ristorante
Lift Bar Grill View
Yew Restaurant + Bar
Raincity Grill
Joe Fortes Seafood and Chop House

Honourable Mention
Goldfish Pacific Kitchen
Gramercy Grill
Joey Restaurants
Hart House Restaurant (Burnaby)


RimRock Cafe Whistler

Araxi Restaurant + Bar

Honourable Mention
Ric’s Grill


The Pacific Restaurant (Victoria)

Nautical Nellies Restaurant

Stage Small Plates Wine Bar (Victoria)
Veneto (Victoria)

Honourable Mention
The Landing West Coast Grill (Nanoose Bay)
The Marina Restaurant (Victoria)


La Bussola (Kelowna)

Honourable Mention
Emerald Lake Lodge (Field)
Local Lounge . Grille (Summerland)
The Restau

rant at Painted Boat (Madiera Park)
Whitetooth Mountain Bistro (Golden)



Divino Wine & Cheese Bistro (Calgary)
River Café (Calgary)
Vin Room (Calgary)


Cilantro (Calgary)

The Ranche Restaurant (Calgary)
Ric's Lounge and Grill (Calgary)

Honourable Mention
Taste (Calgary)
Ric's Grill S

teakhouse (Grande Prairie)


The Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, Canada’s premier wine show, runs from March 28th to April 3rd, 2011. The Playhouse Wine Festival is one of the biggest and oldest wine festival events in the world. In 2011, the theme region will be Spain and the global focus, Fortified Wine. The Festival features a week of special events including the Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction, wine seminars, wine minglers, winery dinners, and lunches and brunches at fine restaurants and hotels. The Playhouse Wine Festival is produced by the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival Society, which has three mandates: provide an informative, educational and entertaining wine experience for public and trade; be a premier marketing opportunity for the wine industry and Festival partners; and raise funds for the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company. Since its inception in 1979, 

the Festival has raised over $7.2 million to enable Western Canada’s leading theatre company to mount 223 productions and develop extensive community outreach and educational programs.

The Shore Club generously presents the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival.




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Laughing Stock Vineyards Spring News

Naramata Spring 2011

Naramata Bench
Spring Release Event

April 21, 2011 - 6:30 to 9:00pm
The Westin Bayshore Hotel, Vancouver.

What's better than a new wine release? A not yet released Barrel! This year Naramata Bench wine makers are bringing wines in barrels and their wine thief to treat guests to a preview of tastes from the Barrels of the Bench as well as new Spring releases and appetizing pairings from some of Vancouver's finest restaurants. We are super excited to have Cin Cin as our restaurant partner this year.

As well as tastes and treats at Spring Release you will also be able to place your bids on our auction of exclusive wines and the "Best of the Bench" 2011 collection.

Tickets are $89 and must be pre-purchased and this event sells out every year - so get your tickets now online or call 1-800-663-1900.


James Suckling Reviews. His
First-Ever Canadian Wine Tasting

While I think it's amusing that the former senior editor of Wine Spectator Magazine had never previously tasted Canadian wines, he did just that in Montreal recently and rated both Portfolio 2007 and Blind Trust 2008 as OUTSTANDING at 91 points each. During his time at Wine Spectator, James tasted an average of 4,000 wines annually with a primary focus on European wines. See his blog at


Stylish wine with tobacco and toasted oak and dried berries. Full and refined, with chocolate and subtle blackberry flavors. Pretty. Grows on you. Gets better and better in the glass. 91 points


Wow. This is fruit forward yet it's fresh and racy with lots of dark fruits and dark chocolate character. It's full bodied, with round and polished tannins and a long flavorful finish. Loads going on here. Hard not to drink it now, but it will come on even better in a year or two. 91 points

You can still purchase Portfolio 2007 through our library vertical, just until the end of the month.

Events & Happenings

March 29, 2011
Wine Law Conference, Vancouver.

March 31, 2011
Futures Offering Closing for Portfolio 2009.

April 21, 2011
Tasting room opens on Naramata Bench. 10 am - 5 pm daily.

April 21, 2011
Naramata Bench Spring Release Event, Vancouver.

Recent Newswire

Portfolio 2008, Wine of the Week, Anthony Gismondi, Vancouver Sun, March 4, 2011

Once upon a Grapevine - Women in Wine, FWE Gala 2011, February 21, 2011

Around BC, Entrepreneurial Success Stores, Small Business BC, February 2011

Portfolio, Best Rich Red Wines of 2011, Vancouver Magazine, December 1, 2010

Other Newswire

About LFNG

Located on the picturesque Naramata Bench, Laughing Stock Vineyards is a serious enterprise with a lighthearted attitude. And with a name like Laughing Stock, we wake up everyday with the motivation of not living up to our name.

Please visit our website at for more details.

Never invest in anything
that eats or needs repairing.

Billy Rose
Laughing Stock Vineyards 1548 Naramata Road Penticton BC V2A 8T7 250.493.8466




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Seven Stones Winery First Spring Release: Chardonnay 2009



Dear friends of Seven Stones,


We are now releasing our fabulous 2009 Chardonnay which was bottled last summer. The 2009 vintage is a bit softer and creamier than the 2008 vintage yet it retains the same vivid mouth-feel and delicate balance of citrus and tropical fruit flavors permeated with an earthy minerality that has become the signature of our Chardonnays.  The barrel fermentation gives this wine a luscious toasty and buttery finish.        

              Only 400 cases produced                     $ 24.99



 Upcoming Events:


April 30th,2011:

Opening of our tasting room  

7 days/ week to October 31st, 2011

  10:30am to 5:30pm

May 1st, 2011:

“Sip Sip Syrah” lunch at Seven Stones

Release of our 2009 Syrah (only 55 cases produced)  

Release of Pinot Rosé 2010

May 5th,2011

Winemaker’s dinner at Cabana Grille in  




More details to come on those events in the next newsletter…


We look forward to seeing you this season!



 Vivianne and George Hanson

 Seven Stones Winery





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Okanagan Wine Industry Night

Something very fun & enjoyable is coming together for anyone involved in the wine industry.

Winemakers  from across B.C. will be gathering to let down their hair, have fun & socialize at an exclusive industry event. They will be rubbing shoulders with Vineyard Managers, Cellarhands, Tasting Room staff, Proprietors and suppliers from around the province. The event is called “Industry Night” and it is shaping up to be a fun-filled night and a great networking event. The industry night comprises your choice of two different events:

•       6:30 pm Dueling Winemakers Dinner. A fun-filled, deluxe three-course dinner prepared by Chef Jeremy Luypen at Passatempo. Featuring the wines and the winemakers from several OK Valley Wineries. The tickets for this are only $49 each which includes all the food & the wine. This is a screaming hot deal!

•       9:30 pm. The After-party. Featuring the impassioned live music of the band “Double Magnum”, starring Dan Zepponi and Peter Glockner. Admission is FREE, however each person must bring one bottle of wine. (The wine you bring will be shared during the party).

Come out and join us for some fun, dancing and lots of laughs with your peers in the industry.

For tickets and further details, please call Jennifer at Spirit Ridge at (250)495






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