Getting Sloshed in the Fraser Valley

The title is a falsehood. To my knowledge, none of us actually got drunk on our Canadian Craft wine tour, which is surprising given the generous pours we received during the day. But I should start at the beginning.

About a dozen of us gathered at Vancouver’s Canada Place where we were to meet our guide. Among us was Regina, her five children, and their significant others. Regina was celebrating her 60th birthday (the woman didn’t look a day past 40), so the party atmosphere was set right from the start, even without a drop of wine.

Our guide James was gregarious and warm-hearted, and one of those people who loves to learn about everything and anything. He’d been a medic for a year and a half before deciding he wasn’t cut out for that kind of work. He course corrected, took some sommelier classes, and now offers wine, craft beer, and distillery tours in the Vancouver area. You’d be hard pressed not to get caught up in his enthusiasm for life.

On the way to the wineries, we drove by several large greenhouses that were surrounded by a moat and some heavy duty fencing. The sign on the property read “Herbal Research”; my first glimpse of a medical marijuana farm.

imageTownship 7 was our first stop. It apparently has similar terroir to Champagne in France, and so is able to a make a sparkling wine that is in the Champagne style (soft bubbles) with grapes from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vines. They weren’t serving the bubbly when we were there, but we did have a chance to taste their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in their more pure forms, along with their Merlot and a Bordeaux blend called Reserve 7.

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Next stop: Back Yard. On tap was a rosé, Riesling, and a couple of reds, including a blend called Nosey Neighbour. We stayed there for a light lunch of charcuterie, crackers, cheese, etc. and for most of us, more wine. I abstained as I am a cheap drunk and was trying to pace myself.

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Last stop: Chaberton Estate Winery. It’s the grandpa of the group, having been operating for more than 25 years. Because we were running a bit behind schedule, the wine tasting felt rushed. We tried a Reisling and a Baccus, but after that things were a bit of a blur (and not only because of the amount of alcohol I had in me by that point).

We did, however, have time for a quick tour of the wine making operation. They had a little bistro on site that I would have liked to try, but that will have to wait for another time. The bistro grows its own herbs in re-purposed barrels from the wine operation. Given that, the plants apparently take on some of the flavours of the wines.

All in all, it was day well spent with some great people, enjoying one of life’s little pleasures.

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