Sunday, October 31, 2010

Alexis de Portneuf Fine Cheese makers Presents “The Young Chefs Competition” Oct. 5, 2010

Okanagan college "Culinary Arts School" has long since had the reputation of putting on great events. Having heard this on many occasions we decided this would be our first.  I can say unequivocally that Alexis de Portneuf  and  “The Young Chefs" did not disappoint.  

The event featured six "Young Chefs" and three "Apprentice Chefs".  Each item created by these chefs was required to contain one of Alexis de Portneuf's cheeses.  Each winery and there prospective chef were to pair two of their wines with that particular menu item.   Although this may be a cheesy statement (pun intended), there were no losers.  All of the chefs and wineries put on a memorable event that made all attendees the real winners.

That being said here are the award winners.

Top "Young Chef" (as judged by a group of qualified Chefs from the Okanagan Chefs Association) receiving a prize of $750 courtesy of Alexis de Portneuf.
BRENT PILLION of Manteo Resort-Wild Apple Restaurant, Kelowna
Menu: Almond & Saint Raymond Brie, Chicken, Blackberry and Bleubry Cheese.
Winery: Tantalus Vineyards
Wine Pairings: 2008 Pinot Noir & 2009 Riesling

 The top "Apprentice Chef" (Judged as well by the Okanagan Chefs Association) receiving a prize of $500 from the Okanagan Chefs Association.
 Apprentice Team #1
Menu: Candy Apple Creme Brule.
Winery: Cedar Creek Estate Winery
Wine Pairings: Platinum Reserve Chardonnay 2008 & Ehrenfelser 2009.

The Consumer Choice award (as chosen by all those attending) receiving a prize of $250 and bragging rights
RYAN PENNINGTON of Local Lounge & Grill, Summerland.
Menu: Bleubry Cheesecake, Onion Confit Pinwheels, Pear Squash Coulis, Toasted Walnut Streusel, Peppercorn Cherry Wine Reduction.
Winery: 8th Generation Vineyard
Wine Pairing: 2009 Chardonnay Frizzante & 2009 Pinot Gris

The other worthy competitors:

Tiffany Anderson of Grapevine Restaurant teamed with Arrow Leaf Cellars

A happy participant enjoying the cuisine served by Apprentice Chefs team #3 partnered with Noble Ridge Winery

Jon Garratt of Delta Grand Okanagan Resort, Kelowna teamed with Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery

Apprentice Chefs team #2 partnered with Howling Bluff Estate Winery

Katelyn Boutilier of RauDz Regional Table, Kelowna paired with Tinhorn Creek Estate Winery

Nicole Binette of Grapevine Restaurant paired with Gray Monk Estate winery
 I expect to enjoy every event (and invariably do) but this event in particular significantly exceeded what I had hoped for.  The competition was fun, the food and wine was varied and delicious, and the different attitudes of the young chefs and their respective wineries was jubilant.

If you happened to have attended this event please comment back and let me know your thoughts on the experience.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Chamber Music Oct. 3, 2010

   For those who love classical music (which we do), this early afternoon event was a real pleasure.  Chamber Music Kelowna with the partnership of Calona Vineyards and Gray Monk Estate Winery,  featured the season opening concert, with Anton Kuerti and the Jacques Thibaud Trio as a part of the Fall Okanagan Wine Festival. Amazing Artists, Marvellous Music & Wonderful Wine – the perfect pairing. Anton Kuerti is one of Canada’s most celebrated and accomplished pianists and one of today’s most recorded artists, including all of the Beethoven Concertos and Sonatas. Joining Mr. Kuerti, was the Jacques Thibaud String Trio considered by many to be the pre-eminent string trio in the world.
We kicked off the event with a glass (or two) of wine supplied by the collaborating vineyards.  Sadly the purveyors of the  aforementioned nectar had closed up shop before the intermission and left us high and dry (literally and figuratively).  Not to worry though, we were amply intoxicated by the melodious movements of Mozart, Francaix, Schubert, and Schumann performed masterfully by Kuerti and the Trio.

Although the wine was not the focus of this "Wine festival" event, we were extremely pleased with the concert. The "Chamber Music Kelowna Society" will find it's way into our itinerary for future Wine Festivals to come.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Okanagan Wine Festival 2010 Oct. 1.

 For those who don't know about it or have yet to participate in it, the Okanagan wine festival is a food and wine lovers utopia.  This takes place in British Columbia's "Okanagan valley", one of the worlds smallest wine areas (just over 7400 planted acres).  From October 1st - 10th there are over 150 events celebrating the valley's wine culture. The events include wine tasting, wine education, gourmet food, art, wine makers dinners, wine tours, vineyard experiences and a few others that I'm sure I've forgotten to mention.  I can truly say that I get more excited about this event than any holiday.  Although it would be great to take in every event it would be an impossibility due to the amount of events, time, travel and the inability of my stomach and liver to digest and process that much food and wine.  However we were able to take in an array of diverse events throughout the ten days.

Oct. 1st
 After a traditional cappuccino and an early lunch we headed to our favorite local sparkling wine producer Blue Mountain Winery.  The family run vineyard has a traditional story book feel to it and all of the characters perfectly fitted, they even named different plots of land after family members. Whether it is truly "story book" or not I can't be sure but check out their web site, read through it and comment back to me on your opinions.  Better yet, go to the vineyard itself and meet the people (make an appointment first as they are always very busy).
We then spent the next 3 hours traveling from winery to winery sampling a multitude of  varietals, enjoying art displays and the overall remarkable weather.
Tangled Vines wine tasting
  The first winery of this group was the unpretentious Tangled Vines Winery.  Here is an exert from their website   “…made by three guys and a girl,” the ownership group are partners Craig McKenzie “makes the wine”, John Hill “sells the wine”, Maxine Hill “talks about the wine”, and brother Clark McKenzie.  The branding of Tangled Vines is fun-spirited and full of double entendres, making every bottle of Tangled Vines an experience.  This reflects the proprietor’s belief that wine is a lifestyle choice, a fun lifestyle choice.
Tangled vines art display
 Just across the street (literally) we visited the small, award winning Wild Goose Winery.  Take note of their 2007 wines, an exceptional year for this vineyard followed by a handful of well deserved awards.
Wild Goose Winery
 Making our way out of the "Okanagan Falls" area we headed to Naramata via Penticton.  Although this area is dubbed the "Napa of the north" it certainly has it's own flavor.  I for one hope the label doesn't stick, (nothing against Napa/Sonoma, I very much love the area) I simply feel that the area has it's own merits and quite frankly isn't a northern version of Napa, it's...well, Naramata.

 Sorry for the little rant.  Carrying on, we stopped in at Blasted Church Winery.  More on this winery in a later blog (Oct. 9th).
Blasted church.  Didn't I say it was an exceptional day?
wine tasting at Blasted Church

As the sun set we made our way to our final wine destination, the Naramata Heritage Inn. When you walk in, the place smells old, the way it should.  I can't help but feel like I am breathing  in history when I step into the lobby. The Inn itself has always been an epicenter for wine events at this time of year and October 2010 was no exception. This year was the wine makers dinner: "Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars-Pinots and Truffles".    Oddly at this point in time I have a line from a "Kinks" song "and now we're back where we started" running through my head.  

dinner menu (if you hadn't already guessed)
   This was Ian and Jane Mavety's first wine makers event (as I understand it).  Now that the kids have become proficient at running the day to day operations of the vineyard they finally have the chance to go out on the town.  Although Ian is not a professional speaker, his "down to earth" presentation throughout the dinner was captivating.  His speech and mannerisms resonated with honest integrity and a respect for his "terrior".  I couldn't help but think that this was a man who will live and die on his vineyard and be completely happy and at peace in doing so.  

Ian and Jane (seated)
   The dinner itself was exceptional and chef  Thomas Render performed his usual (and sometimes unusual) magic with the food and wine pairings. 
 Although there were many events to choose from on this day we were extremely excited to participate in this one.  One of our favorite wineries at one of our favorite venues, perfect weather and great company. I love this time of year.  

  Please check out the links to the wineries and feel free to comment on this blog.  Also,  check back soon as I will be chronicling (that's a real word) the rest of our "wine festival" experience.
Blog you later.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Feast of Fields

Dustin and Mona
okanagan spirits
Harkers organics
Waterfront restaurant
  The tops of the white tents and their colorful banners could be seen over the rows of fruit trees. At first glance one might have thought they had traveled back in time to medieval days. There were no knights, jousting matches or castles, however there were troubadours, wine and plenty of food to sample. This was in fact the second annual "Okanagan Feast of Fields".

burrowing owl
Okanagan wine soap
 Unfortunately Mona and I were unable to attend last years event so with friend and fellow wine consumer (Dustin) in tow the three of us headed off to the affair. It was a short  journey from Kelowna to Brock farm in beautiful Okanagan Falls and certainly worth the $85 per person entry fee. We strolled for hours from one tent to the next sampling food with the suggested wine pairings (sometimes more than once).  All totaled there were 25 of the valley's top chefs teamed with local farmers and wineries (and one brewery). In addition there were artisans, musicians and educational participants.   

 As a self proclaimed foodie and lover of all things that come off a wine rack, I cannot express how enjoyable this sophisticated yet unpretentious event was. Abundant yet not overwhelming, subtle yet with flair and a whole lot of other sayings that sound somewhat contradictory and yet suitable in this case. 
Farmfolk/city folk
Bogner's restaurant
Joy road catering

Chris and Mona
 At the risk of sounding like a weatherman, it was cloudy with sunny periods. Enough sun to feel comfortable in short sleeves mixed with the appropriate amount of transient clouds to keep my head from turning tomato red. The children were well behaved as were the adults. The music was more than acceptable and very well suited to the rustic environment. The food and wine were of the highest quality and the surroundings idyllic. This was certainly no "rock concert/adrenaline rush" event but the experience left me in a state of pleasant euphoria, could have been the wine.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Wine rack grape vine

Welcome to "Wine Rack Grape Vine" 

Our goal here at "Wine Rack Grape Vine" is to educate, inform and hopefully amuse while discussing wine, wine regions, wineries, food and wine, wine products, wine education and anything else that we feel is remotely entertaining (possibly controversial) and relevant to the wine industry.

The "we" that I speak of is ChrisandMona. No, that is not a grammatical error; anyone who has been with someone for any length of time will understand why this is. After a period (20 years in our case), you tend to morph into a single entity. This became very apparent to us when our friends' children continually addressed us individually as ChrisandMona. That is not to say we do not have our own identities but for the sake of this blog I will go back and forth between "I" and "we" and usually mean it as the same thing. The main reason for this is our wine history and education is the same. Believe me when I say though, our opinions, preferences, and overall take on each wine experience can vary greatly.

We have both completed the "wine fundamentals level 1" through the "International Sommelier Guild" followed by the first two levels with the "Wine and spirit education trust" (WSET). More importantly, we have been able to put our education to task in places like Tuscany, Napa/Sonoma, Oregon, and the Okanagan Valley, to name a few of our favorites. My former position in the sports industry allowed us the fortunate luxury of fine dining (and of course fine wine) combined with extensive travel. Having recently retired from that industry I am happy to pursue the things that I am truly passionate about - wine and all aspects of the wine industry are at the top of the list.
At the risk of sounding redundant, I am Chris and my wife is Mona. We live in the beautiful Okanagan valley (Kelowna BC Canada) in the heart of wine country. For those of you who are not familiar with our area I hope to entice you with in-depth information about the wineries, wines and evolving culture from a local’s perspective. Having been to many established wine areas (and loved every one of them) I hope that this brings a level of credibility to our opinions and we very much look forward to all future feed back. We do have some education and a lot of experience but are far from going pro on the wine scene; I hope you find value in what we have to say.

Please remember, "Friends don't let friends drink and dine.....alone"

Chris and Mona