I consider our guest this evening the godfather of Canadian wine writing, such is both the quality and the quantity of his work. Beginning with regular wine columns in the Financial Post and the Vancouver Sun in 1974, he published his first book, The World of Canadian Wines, in 1984 and has since written fourteen books on Canada’s and British Columbia’s wines and wine culture.
And he joins me live now from Vancouver: Welcome to the Sunday Sipper Club John Schreiner!
Note: YouTube has the audio and video out of sync. So either close your eyes and listen, or you can watch it on Facebook here.
Want to know when we go live with our next guest?
Click on “Get Reminder” on the page below:
Click on “Get Notified” at the link above to know when we go live.
Watch previous episodes of the Sunday Sipper Club (SSC) and to find out who’s coming up next.
“Since all the wines noted in the book are cellar-worthy, I often asked winemakers how long they thought their wines would age. The iconic wine at Nk’Mip Cellars is Mer’r’iym, which means marriage. How long will it age, I asked winemaker Randy Picton. He said: “About as long as a marriage – seven years.”
“Another icon I was pleased to include was Hourglass, the Bordeaux blend at Black Widow. Dick Lancaster, the owner-winemaker, and I once belonged to the same home winemaking club. He got a lot better and I stopped making wine.”
“At Fairview Cellars, the icon is Iconoclast, which sells for $100. During the research for this book, I talked owner/winemaker Bill Eggert out of declassifying his 2010 vintage. The vintage was not as strong as 2008 and 2009 – but I reminded Bill that the big houses in Bordeaux do not declassify weaker vintages. Collectors understand vintage variations.”
Tell us about the first wine you remember tasting?
“A sauternes. I was hugely surprised to find it was sealed with a cork. I had no corkscrew but – on a Sunday afternoon in Regina, I managed to buy one. The design was so bad that I shoved the cork into the wine. Then my friend and I enjoyed it with spaghetti and meat sauce.”
Tell us about the exact moment when you realized that you wanted to write about wine? Where were you? What triggered the thought?
“I wanted to write as soon as I could read. I wrote about anything and everything, eventually getting a job with a daily newspaper in Regina. I became interested in wine after we moved to Toronto in 1961, when I joined Financial Post. There was a Brights wine store near our apartment and I took to visiting it and chatting with the staff. Even if the wines were not very good, the topic seized my interest. I eventually started writing regularly about wine about 1974, after we moved to Vancouver, starting with a wine column in Vancouver Magazine.”
Aside from better quality of wines and more wineries, what have been the biggest changes in the BC wine industry in the last five years?
“The biggest change has been the huge improvement in viticulture – trained vineyard managers, winemakers spending time in the field, fundamental research by the scientists at the Summerland Research Station.”
What was the most surprising insight you discovered while writing this book?
“I was surprised at how many world-class wines there are today in B.C.”
What’s the most interesting thing that someone has said about your book?
“A couple of wineries wondered why they were not in the book. I had to explain that, contrary to the sub-title the publisher gave the book, my focus was on wines to collect and cellar. One excellent winery was then making whites with a three-year life span. Had I anticipated the sub-title, I would have included that winery.”
What are your top three predictions for the BC wine industry in the next 5-10 years?
“Consolidation will continue (Peller bought three wineries and Arterra bought one in the past year).”
“Wineries will produce more and more pricey wines.”
“Pinot Noir will emerge as BC’s leading red, competing with Merlot and Syrah.”
What are the possible threats to the BC wine industry?
“Import wines inevitably will get access to grocery stores and could displace wines from small producers. Unless direct to consumer shipments are allowed, BC wineries will have a difficult time reaching consumers in Ontario and Quebec. When # 1 happens, BC needs better access to markets across Canada.”
What defines an icon wine?
“An icon wine is a highly collectible wine, because of its quality, perhaps its relative scarcity, and its cult following. Collectors build verticals of these wines and follow their evolution in the cellar.”
“I would not suggest every wine in the book has achieved iconic status. I also wanted to include wines with a significant following, like the Robin Ridge Gamay. Fans like the wine a lot but I doubt many go to the length of building verticals.”
What advice would you give to your 30-year-old self?
“Take a wine course and accelerate my knowledge. Not sure if there even were wine courses available to consumers when I was 30, but it would have helped.”
What’s the best piece of wine advice you’ve ever received?
“Wine is meant to be enjoyed, not worshipped.”
What is the worst advice people get about wine, other than the usual, such as needing to be an expert to appreciate wine or, there’s a perfect pairing for every wine and dish?
“So many consumers are unable to recognize wines that are corked. Sometimes true even of servers and owners.”
What’s the most useful wine gadget you’ve come across? How did you discover it?
“A decanter. I have had decanters most of my tasting life. I was even given one with my name engraved on it. I can’t recall what that award was.”
If you could share a bottle of wine with any person anywhere in the world, living or dead, who would that be? What would you ask them? (Let’s exclude relatives from this please so that viewers can identify the person you pick.)
“I would like to share Champagne with Winston Churchill. I have long been interested in his career, warts and all, and I have always been astonished at his capacity. I doubt I could keep up.”
Please give our viewers one wine tip that they can try this week to increase their wine savvy. This can be something simple, such as order two wines by the glass in a restaurant at the same time and try them side by side. Any little ninja trick to help them improve their wine knowledge or tasting/pairing skills.
“Do not serve red wines at ambient room temperature unless you like lukewarm soup. Wines tasted fresher after 20 minutes in the fridge.”
Where can people buy your book?
It is available at major Okanagan wineries (Poplar Grove, Quails’ Gate, Mission Hill, Burrowing Owl and others) and can be ordered on line from Indigo.
Winner of a Gourmand World Cookbook Award for best New World Wine book in English Canada. Finalist for the best New World Wine Book in the world.
“BC wine fans love John Schreiner. He’s always been there for us. With the explosive growth of BC wines, he has paved the way for our all-important next step: how to choose and cellar the best of those wines, the icons.” ―Terry David Mulligan, host of the “Tasting Room Radio” program on Roundhouse Radio
A gorgeous gift-worthy collection of tasting notes and collector’s information on British Columbia’s highest-calibre wines, written by Canada’s most authoritative and prolific wine writer.
British Columbia now has such an array of high-calibre winemakers that John Schreiner has compiled a book showcasing the icon wines from BC’s best wineries. An icon wine is the very best wine that a producer can make, and the prestige of an icon wine cascades across a winery’s entire portfolio.
For each wine profiled, readers will learn the behind-the-scenes story of the winery and winemaker, as well as the history, provenance, and inspiration behind each wine. The most recent vintage is listed, along with detailed tasting notes for as many vintages as are available, information on number of cases produced, percentages of varietals in the case of blends, and even the clone number of particular varietals.
The essential guide for any collector of BC wine, this book is also the culmination of research that illuminates John Schreiner’s passion and unique contribution to BC’s wine region.
Wineries and Icon Wines
Arrowleaf Cellars • Solstice Reserve
Averill Creek Vineyard • Pinot Noir
Baillie-Grohman Estate Winery • Pinot Noir
Bartier Bros. • The Goal
Black Hills Estate Winery • Nota Bene
Black Sage Vineyard • Cabernet Sauvignon
Black Widow Winery • Hourglass
Blasted Church Vineyards • Nothing Sacred
Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars • The Reserves
Bonamici Cellars • Belviaggio
Burrowing Owl Estate Winery • Meritage
Cassini Cellars • The Godfather
C.C. Jentsch Cellars • The Chase, Syrah
CedarCreek Estate Winery • Platinum Block 2 Pinot Noir, Platinum Block 4 Pinot Noir
CheckMate Artisanal Winery • Chardonnays and Merlots
Church & State Wines • Quintessential
Clos du Soleil Winery • Signature
Coolshanagh Vineyard • Chardonnay
Corcelettes Estate Winery • Menhir
Covert Farms Family Estate • Amicitia Red
Culmina Family Estate Winery • Hypothesis
Daydreamer Wines • Marcus Ansems Shiraz
Deep Roots Winery • Syrah
Desert Hills Estate Winery • Mirage
Dirty Laundry Vineyard • Bordello
Eau Vivre Winery • Pinot Noir
8th Generation Vineyard • Riesling Selection
Elephant Island Orchard Wines • Naysayer
Ex Nihilo Vineyards • Pinot Noir
Fairview Cellars • Iconoclast
50th Parallel Estate • Pinot Noirs
Fort Berens Estate Winery • Meritage
Foxtrot Vineyards • Pinot Noir
Garry Oaks Winery • Pinot Noir
Gold Hill Winery • Meritage Family Reserve
Gray Monk Estate Winery • Odyssey Meritage
Hester Creek Estate Winery • The Judge
Hillside Winery • Mosaic
Howling Bluff Estate Winery • Summa Quies Pinot Noir
Inniskillin Okanagan • Dark Horse Vineyard Meritage
Intersection Winery • Alluvia
Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Winery • SunRock Red Meritage
JoieFarm • En Famille Reserve Pinot Noir
Kanazawa Wines • Ronin
Kettle Valley Winery • Old Main Red
Krāzē Legz Vineyard and Winery • Skaha Vineyard Reserve Impulsion
La Frenz Winery • Grand Total Reserve
Lake Breeze Vineyards • Tempest
Lariana Cellars • Numbered series
LaStella • Fortissimo
Laughing Stock Vineyards • Portfolio
Le Vieux Pin • Équinoxe Syrah
Liquidity Wines • Pinot Noir
Little Engine Wines • Gold Chardonnay, Gold Pinot Noir
Marichel Vineyard • Estate Syrah
Maverick Estate Winery • Rubeus
Meyer Family Vineyards • Micro Cuvée Pinot Noir, Micro Cuvée Chardonnay
Mission Hill Family Estate • Oculus
Moon Curser Vineyards • Dead of Night
Nagging Doubt Winery • The Pull
Nichol Vineyard • Syrah
Nk’Mip Cellars • Mer’r’iym
Noble Ridge Vineyards • King’s Ransom
Okanagan Crush Pad Winery • Haywire Pinot Noir
Orofino Winery • Beleza
Osoyoos Larose Winery • Le Grand Vin
Painted Rock Estate Winery • Red Icon
Pentâge Winery • Pentâge Blend
Perseus Winery • Invictus
Poplar Grove Winery • The Legacy
Privato Vineyard and Winery • Pinot Noir
Quails’ Gate Winery • Stewart Family Reserve Pinot Noir
Quinta Ferreira Estate Winery • Obra-Prima
Red Rooster Winery • Golden Egg
River Stone Estate Winery • Corner Stone
Road 13 Vineyards • 5th Element
Robin Ridge Winery • Gamay
Sage Hills Vineyard • Pinot Noir
Sandhill Wines • Sandhill Small Lots One
Seven Stones Winery • The Legend
Silkscarf Winery • Ensemble
Sperling Vineyards • Old Vines Riesling
SpierHead Winery • Pinot Noir Cuvée
Stag’s Hollow Winery • Renaissance Merlot
Steller’s Jay • Steller’s Jay Brut
Stoneboat Vineyards • Rock Opera Pinotage Reserve, Solo Pinotage Reserve, Pinotage
Summerhill Pyramid Winery • Cipes sparkling wines
Synchromesh Wines • Storm Haven Vineyard Riesling
Tantalus Vineyards • Old Vines Riesling
Tightrope Winery • Pinot Noir
Time Estate Winery • McWatters Collection Meritage
Tinhorn Creek Vineyards • Oldfield Series 2Bench Red
Township 7 Vineyards • Reserve 7
Unsworth Vineyards • Symphony
Upper Bench Winery & Creamery • Estate Merlot
Vanessa Vineyard • Meritage
Van Westen Vineyards • V, Voluptuous
Venturi-Schulze Vineyards • Pinot Noir
Wild Goose Vineyards • Stoney Slope Riesling
Young & Wyse Collection • Black Sheep
John Schreiner is a prolific and seasoned wine writer. Beginning with regular wine columns in the Financial Post and the Vancouver Sun in 1974, he published his first book, The World of Canadian Wines, in 1984 and has since written fourteen books on Canada’s and British Columbia’s wines and wine culture. He is a celebrated member of both national and regional wine communities across Canada, and has judged in wine competitions in North America and abroad. He lives in Vancouver, where he maintains his own expansive wine collection.
Natalie: All right, well, when you think of an icon wine, what comes to mind? Is it price? Is it scarcity? Is it seller worthiness, quality or some combination of all of those? And especially when we think about BC wines, what are their icon wines, the ones that stand head and shoulders above the rest? Well, tonight’s guest is going to reveal exactly what that’s all about and he’s got a new book on that topic. I’m Natalie MacLean, editor of Canada’s largest wine review site @nataliemaclean.com. And we gather here on the Sunday Sipper club every Sunday at 6:00 PM Eastern. That’s Toronto, New York time, 3:00 PM NBC to talk to the most interesting people in the world of wine. Now before I introduce my guest to fully tonight in the comments, I’d love to know where you’re logging in from. I always get a kick out of this. The way different, , were brought together from different parts of the world.
Natalie: All right, so I consider our guest tonight the godfather of Canadian wine writers such as the quality and quantity of his work, beginning with regular wine columns in the financial post and the Vancouver sun. I’m sorry, the Vancouver magazine in 1974 he published his first book, the Canadian, the world of Canadian wines in 1984 and has since gone on to re write 14 more books on Canadian and British Columbia wines and wine culture. And he joins me live now from Vancouver. Welcome to the Sunday sipper club. John Schreiner. Hello
Natalie: So John, while I figured this out, maybe you can tell me about the first wine you remember tasting
John: well, it, , it’s a vivid memory. , years ago in, , when I was living in Regina, I had a friend, , who had the, the , apartment next door, the room next door. And he liked to play baseball every Sunday afternoon and I didn’t. So I said, okay, I’ll make dinner and I’ll get a bottle of wine. And I did. And lo and behold, when I get around to opening the bottle of wine, I discover it’s got a cork in it. Now. It happened to be a bottle of French. So turn we didn’t have a cork screw and we, we went around, , in, in the neighborhood that afternoon to find a corkscrew, found one. It was very badly designed. Ended up shoving the cork into the wine and then we haven’t with spaghetti and meat sauce that tells you a high and a long way to go. But that was the first, , a first model of wine with a cork. And I may have had a few things before that with , , with screw caps. But we didn’t drink much. I didn’t drink any wine at all before I, , left university. I don’t know why not, but I didn’t know. It just wasn’t part of the culture that I grew up in.
Natalie: John, you can also tell us a little bit about what got you into wine writing now. I know you were a business reporter, but what, what prompted the shift to, to wine writing?
John: Well, , I, I’ve always wanted to write a full stop as soon as I, as soon as I learned to read, I wanted to write, so I would have written about anything, dogs, whatever, , that, , that caught my fancy him and I went on to become a journalist and that was my full time day job for a over 40 years with, , the daily newspaper and then with a financial post. But I got interested in wine, , gradually as a, as a consumer. , we moved to, , to Toronto when I joined the financial post in the 1961. And I happened to have an apartment just down the block from a bright swine store. , now I’m not going to say the lines were all that good and that, that period, but, , I enjoyed going in there. I enjoyed looking into labels. I enjoy talking to the staff. , and it just fired my curiosity. , and, but you know, for, for about 10 years, that was basically it. , , buying a bottle of wine on a, on a, on a Sunday and finishing the other half on a Monday type of thing. , and it just, it just my interest just built and built and built until when we moved to Vancouver and I started joining wine societies and we went to California. , yeah, I mean I was my then I was full, fully seduced.
Natalie: All right, well I’m sure that was a great story. John, about, you know, aside from, you know, better quality of wine and more wineries in BC, what have been the biggest changes you’ve seen in the, in the BC wine industry? And again, I’ll keep adjusting my settings here and just raise your hand when you’re done.
John: Well, I’ve been a, as you can see, I’ve been following the BC wine industry since the mid seventies, and , I said on than one occasion. And I was a friend of British Columbia wines when they have no friends. , the, , the, the, the, the industry has, , has improved dramatically, but particularly in the last 10 years. And the reason for that is that the, the quality of viniculture has just grown enormously. There are, , now professionally trained viniculture listen, vineyard managers, , throughout the industry. , there, there didn’t use to be the, you know, the end of the, the great growers were, were Apple growers who had switched to grapes and , and they didn’t have the, the detailed knowledge that the viniculture is have no, and he begin to taste it in the wines. , I can think of one wine, right going to get to, as a matter of fact, a one, they hired a bit of culture list within two years there was a noticeable improvement in the line and they give another winery where they hired a, a wine maker who started spending time in the vineyard with the growers. Again, a noticeable improvement in the color of the line. So, you know, fundamentally we’ve got, we’ve got a great terroir here. We’ve got good grapes. , we just needed to get the skill set together.
Natalie: Okay. Thank you. Very gracious. All right. , and have, I was also wondering, , you know, what was the most surprising insight that you discovered, , while writing this book? And also, what’s the most interesting thing someone has said about the book?
John:I guess the, , the, the surprise, well, it wasn’t so much surprising. I was kind of expecting it, but the, the major insight was from how many wines that, that I could find that I thought were either icons or on the route of becoming iconic. Now this, there’s well over a hundred wines in the book, and they’re by no means all of them icons yet. , but, , but you can see the progression in quality, , in my icon. I, I mean, , not just, not just an expensive line, but a wine that’s, that’s good enough to be collected and cellared. , and, , and that was what I was trying to do with the book was to encourage people to, , to identify wines that they could collect and seller. , that was, that was the, that was the insight. Okay.
Natalie:Wines have been,, have certainly come a long way in the last 10 years, , in BC. What do you think is, will be up next in the wine growing area?
John:This is a question from a,, participant.
Natalie: This is a question from a participant.
Natalie: Yes, it is.
John:Excellent. Well, where do we go to her? And there’s so many, , things that, , that that are going on. , one of them is the development of the sub appellations, which means that the , the wineries are now drilling down.
Natalie: one of them is the development of media sub appellations, which means that the, , , the wineries are now really now.
Natalie: Oh wow. Are you, are you still in search of that yourself Yeah. It’s still a fairly young industry, but, and yet, you know, you’ve, you’ve felt propelled to write this book, so it must sort of signal at least to you, a coming of age with, , the icon wise, being able to name icon wines,
John: about the quality of that that’s now being produced. , I would not have even thought of doing a book like this 10 years ago.
John: you know, just steady, a steady and in some cases, exponential progress. , and understanding, I mean I as a line writer also came to the understanding of what we’ve had here very slowly. , and alone we all went and I started writing about lions in the 70s, , and reading the California magazine because there weren’t any, , locally, I think maybe there was maybe a night cause he, , no, the articles are all about the wine makers. The wine makers were the stars. And it really wasn’t until the, the nineties week we saw this fundamental shift. The winemakers are still very, very important, but it’s the people who grow the grapes that are, they aren’t the stars. So we, we’ve, we’ve, I’ve, you know, I’ve seen this, , seen this developing, , and I think my books have changed, , over the years. I’ve more, , more focus on, on the growers or, or, or sufficient focus on the grower. It’s a recognize that, , that the line is made in the vineyard before it’s made in the winery.
Natalie: absolutely. Okay. And, , now what do you, if you are putting on your prognostication hat, what do you see as sort of the three big trends that are going to happen in the BC wine industry in the next five to 10 years?
John: well, the to the identification of the, of, , how can I put it, the flagship grape varieties, , we’ll never have, we’re not New Zealand. We won’t have a single variety that everybody, , , goes on a boat because the, , the Valley is too, , is too complex. You know, you can grow a fabulous Seraw in the South and you can go a terrific peanut alarm in the North. And these are, but both are both gone to earn their own reputation. , British Tamia has very high quality peanut alarm though. , it didn’t, , didn’t 10 years ago with a few exceptions, but a, no. Everybody with a winery, Norris of, , of North of Oliver is growing, you know, an alar pretty well. I exaggerate somewhat, but it’s almost a, a that much. And the, and, and, and, you know, it’s a difficult grape to, , to do well, but those who are really well are doing exceptionally well. , there’s the Martins lane winery, which shows owned by anthropy Von mantle. , they’ve, they’re peanuts are, , they’re priced between a hundred, $150 a bottle, which, , seems, , seems aggressive, but the quality is there.
Natalie: Wow, that’s fantastic.
John: And Amelia, so, you know, we’ll, we’ll identify, , a handful of, of, of varieties that we can hang our hat on. But then there, there all the others. The other, the other thing that, , that sets Bridgestone B apart is the, , diversity of Indians of, of, of grape varieties. You know, we have, , goers with Albania. We have growers with two Rigo NASA now we’ve brought in Dell CEFO they’re all small. And, , and I know some of my wine writing colleagues think this confuses the issue. , I don’t think it confuses the consumer as a consumer can figure out that if he wants to drink an RNA, he’ll go to MacArthur and buy that RMAs. And if he doesn’t want to drink an RNAC can go somewhere else and buy a penal block, we would go break the up law through a peanut bleak. You know, breeze is a, , there’s so much of it that it’s in danger of, , of becoming boring, , having a boring image. It’s a very good, very, very good wines here. But, , , no, we had to, we came up on, , at least a hundred grapevines.
Natalie: Wow. I didn’t realize that kind of diversity. Wow. I mean,
John: eight or eight or 10 of them make most of the line but, but the other ones, I mean I I every once in awhile, , Jackson, , Dawn Dawn tricks and , they’ve got a, they’re one of the four or five wineries, not with Gruner felony. You’re going to event lender is absolute, didn’t die for delicious. Wow. Would not want to see, see them discouraged from making Gruner Veltliner and only the other people.
Natalie: That is amazing. Okay. Maybe tell me a little bit about this, this wine and why it merited mentioned in your book.
John: Vanessa is a, , , fairly new winery. I think this 2013 was possibly the first vintage. Their vineyard is a extraordinarily rocking vineyard in the, some milk in the belly. Similkameen parallels the Oakenoggen Valley, but it’s, it’s quite a different terroir, , than the Okanagan. ,
Natalie: for those who are not familiar where it is, it parallels, but is it to the East to the West, like maybe situated even more?
John: It’s to the West too, too. When you’re driving from here to the Oakenoggen, , you can drive through the Seville communion if you choose to go the, the Southern highway, which, , which I usually do because I think it’s the prettier way to go. And, , and it’s, , yeah, I know it’s about, it’s about 24 kilometers or so, a vineyard in that Valley, but, , there are quite, quite superior vineyards there. And Vanessa is a vineyard. It’s about 70 or 80 acres. , it was so the soil is so full of rocks that they kept breaking machinery polymerizing the rocks and when you’re digging holes to get posted, the tougher ones. And so, you know, [inaudible] grapes, if good grapes need to struggle, they really struggle there.
Natalie: I’ll bet. And that would be good for drainage too, wouldn’t it? In terms of making them suffer even more. Yeah.
John: On the, on the side of the Hill. So it’s, , , drainage is not, , it’s so dry in the, in the Okanagan Similkameen Grandage is much issue Airdrie the GIBS, , the, the, , the air, there’s a big change in, in the temperature, , from night and day and the sun milk and Anan. And when it gets, , in the frost season, in the spring and in the fall, , when it gets snippy of the, the air drain down the kill side from the mountain down into the river Valley, the vineyards are, are sort of on benches that are maybe a hundred to 150 meters above the river for the most part. Some are on Lord doubt and the, the air movement down in the, , downloads hillsides moves the frost note. So you’ve, you don’t have a great deal of frost problem in the smoking because of that. Unless the vineyard is down low. If it’s a flat vineyard where there’s no air movement, you know, , Vanessa’s got a great, a great vocation. There’s also, , there’s also wind every afternoon that breeds it through the Valley. So there’s little disease issue there. , tasks. The farms in the smoke of the Valley are organic because it’s easy to be organic there.
John: this winery is owned by a, by, , a couple of partners. One is a real estate developer that silver, his partner is a retired investment dealer. , they , have had their wines made for the last a number of years by the winemaker at red rooster. , , what do I, what am I mind? Draw a blank there. There, there are, there are a hundred people out there. It’ll come. And any event they’ve hired a, , now, , no, Harold.
Natalie: That’s okay. There’s a lot of names, John. I’m sure
John: it’s a, the winemaker who wants, who wants a, the Epsilon Alliance when he retired. , can’t really think of his name. I don’t mean this. This is a, is a, is is a very fine wine maker. Can any Howard Howard how our OU our soon
Natalie: Oh, well Howard soon. Yes. Okay. Yeah, I should have known that. And then was the other name you were looking for was a yes. Now we’ve got everybody saying Howard soon. Kathy Malone, were you looking for that name as well?
John: Okay. A Catholic Malone is next door at hillside. Karen. Karen Gillis has many, , the, the, the Vanessa because Vanessa has got a relationship with the Peller boop. And that the pillar group buys most of the fruit from that vineyard. Vanessa is still only producing a four or 5,000 cases a year. They could be a lot bigger there. We’re edging into it. As the market develops, they only opened the tasting room last summer, so it’s, it’s taken a while to get there. , and dimensionally they’ll, they’ll, they’ll have a, , a winery, , and, and the wines, the vineyard is all in rep in red rides,
Natalie: so they don’t make any white wines.
John: It all mechanical. They’ve got some beyond [inaudible] to blend in with sir off. But they have a vineyard is all red. And their view is that it would be a waste of that terrible art to go whites there and again, disagree with, I think, , I think the, you know, you want to, if it, if they want to have whites off, have to go somewhere else.
Natalie: Yeah. Why not do what you do. Well,
John: yeah. And they’ve, now they’ve gotten to release a range of, of lines that now released, , a Cabernet facility on a mirror low Asser raw and, and the merited that’s currently in release I think is 2014. There is a also a rosé. , but no, they don’t have, they haven’t done, I don’t think of the onion. They might be tempted to eventually, but they, I, the whole purpose of it, the Anya was to blend with the Seraph. Sure. Absolutely. I think the only thing that, that I would criticize them for is calling this wine. Meritage. Really? Why? Well, because there are so many Meritage now in the Mark, right. If I own the winery either given to the proprietary name what some of the other icon and that you couldn’t remember now, but that’s on the other hand is a, is a, a, is a, is a singular name for a winery. So that should, that should make sure that the consumer remembers that.
Natalie: As in where’s Vanessa? We need her.
John: Vanessa is one of the owner’s daughters. Gotcha. Lovely. A lovely, a lovely name. And, and does not going to be any, , any argument over, over blends.
Natalie: Now I’m sure people would love to know how you taste wine, John. And there you go. Right on cue. , but what are you looking for? What do you see in the, or what do you get from this wine? , we won’t keep this, we won’t make this too technical, but I’m sure people would love to know your approach to tasting wine.
John: I’m pretty, , I’m pretty straight forward. I mean, the first thing I do obviously is in fact when I opened this bottle, first thing I did, the first thing I do, yes, let’s do sniff the corner. I sniff courts. That’s an early warning as to whether or not we have a court, why bottom of the court smells like an old root cellar. Then the cautious about tasting wine. If the cork smells fresh and clean, then there’s usually no problem. I mean, that’s just a precautionary thing that I do routinely. It’s not been made look a bit. , but no, it’s, it’s , it’s served me well into the glass and, , , sometimes you have a bigger glass than I do. I’ve got some bigger glasses and all my, , like this is a good enough size, a big pour, enough in sort of a bit. , put my nose in and see, I can smell. , and you know, a wine. I mean, I, you know, I, I couldn’t look at it, but I mean, it’s a, it’s a red wine. So whether it’s red or, or not deep red, , doesn’t mean much to me. I get fussy about the color of Rose AIDS. , I’m not very happy with the current fashion to rosés that aren’t, are absurdly pale. That’s the only time when I, I get, I get really annoyed about color. This is,
Natalie: why does that bother you? The observably pale,
John: Cause I think a Rose should also present itself well in the glass, not, not to have this up. Certainly pay a wine. Yeah. They usually smell and taste good, but they don’t look appealing. I mean, Hey, you miss part of the, , of, of the sell of wine in my view. Yeah. Anyway, I know I’m a, I’m my, , I’m on the other minority of people who, , who say, Oh, that’s provocative. This is, this isn’t rosy. So I, you know, I’ll see what I can smell them. You know, you get this one, it was, , five years, , or six years of, of model age is a, is is breaking Liddy well now it’s got Mark fruit flutes on the nose, a little bit of, , old vanilla and the,
Natalie: yeah, I get that too. John. This lovely, it’s so integrated. I mean, it just doesn’t even need to canting. I mean, you could, but it’s just so together. Yeah,
John: it’s a, you know, it is, , it’s, it’s drinking a drink. Well, it’s still, they’re still from that. , I would put that wine to away for another five years without being taught concern.
Natalie: And that’s the purpose of your book too, right? To really get at the seller worthy wines. It’s not just about badge wines. It’s about what’s going to last in the seller. Right.
John: Well, the, , I, and I put in, , I think in all cases how long I thought the wine could be cellared for. The interesting thing is that, , my numbers were usually a bit more aggressive, I E. longer than, than the whiners were recommended. , the funniest comment on that was, , was from Randy picked him the winemaker at that incomplete, , they have a wine called Miriam.
Natalie: I’ve got it here it is
John: and Miriam means marriage in the, , in the language of the, of the, of the indigenous band that, that, that , developed that winery. Yes. And I said to, I said to Randy, you know, how, how long will his age, how long will it last? And this didn’t always happen. Not as long as the good marriage. Seven years I think I put, I’ve had when I was tasting with a couple of weeks ago and we were tasting the current release with the Miriam and , he concedes if, yeah, Miriam is at least good for 10 years, if not longer. And I forgotten how many I put in the book. How many years a Randy’s been married too, so.
Natalie: Oh really? That’s great. Nice touch.
John: Considerably more than the seven year.
Natalie: Yeah. Actually, I’ve just onto tasting that cause I know you don’t have all the wines that I have here to taste. So I want to hear his stories and I’ll do the heavy lifting with the tasting. But I’m onto this wine now and, , it’s what, what else can you tell us about the, , how do you pronounce again? Nick? Gamete.
John: Inconvenient. Incomplete
Natalie: Okay. What, what, what’s the backstory there?
John: It’s a, , it’s an Indian band, which, , , has and they, they have this enormous, , reserve, I don’t know, 30,000 or 40,000 acres in the, in the South Okanagan and it was for years, you know, like, like many Indian bands, they were given desert and yes, it’s desperate and it was sagebrush. , and, , they allowed, , brights as it was in the day in 1980 to build a building, , lease it for a winery, which is now the huge, , winery there. Our Tierra has North of all over. It’s enormous, a place. , and that was very controversial at the time of some of the members in the indigenous community thought that the a, it didn’t just batch it up, nothing to do with the production of alcohol because their alcohol problems. , the chief at the time said, no, we’re going to go ahead and do it because this will create good jobs.
John: And in his successor, read it and story to me. Yes, it has created good jobs or people who have retired now from that working at that winery. Secondly, they would all land, , when the Dawn trains was developing, , Vencore, , he leased something like 1200 acres from the band, which was, , a lot cheaper than buying 1200 acres if he could have found 1200 acres. And that’s developed some of the best vineyard land in the South. Oakenoggen. And that was the foundation that launched Vencore and , and launched a, , a lot of, , four or five split, four or five wineries, including, , incubate now. So they had a winery on their land, they had grapes and , but they were applying 10 years or 15 years ago for a casino license and they’ve done an awful lot of homework on it. And fortunately for us winery, there’s a casino license was rejected. The bad side. What we’ve done all of this work, what else can we do? And the idea of a winery came a lot. So they invite on the women 50, 50 joint venture with , w w what was the in cards now our Tara the, you know, they, that they manage the marketing. It’s still a gamble
Natalie: though. They didn’t get the casino but it was still [inaudible].
John: It’s just seeing those all over the Oakland. They did another casino, but there’s a [inaudible] and they make spectacularly fine lines. It’s a, it’s a lovely winery and a Soyuz. The lines are outstanding. , mere a Miriam is their flagship red. They’ve just introduced a white Miriam is their flagship white and they’re gradually moving the entire portfolio up into reserve quality range. It’s a very, very good line, very well run. And Randy has mentored in the 10 years he’s, or 15 years he’s been there, he’s mentored to first nations, , seller people. One is now a winemaker who did all of the white wines last year. And the other is a, is a the lead seller bet. And he’s, he’s very proud that he’s, and the band is that they’ve been able to create, cause they’ve got businesses of all sorts, but they’ve been able to create top quality jobs in the Winelands for their people as well as all the other jobs
Natalie: and a related wine in a sense in that it’s also run by an indigenous group is a Soyus LA Rose.
John: So there’s really no, it’s now owned by a, , by, by a French wine group. We’ll tie it up. [inaudible] started as a joint venture again, , between VIN Corp and the soils and the Rose drinks a day decided that, , you know, how are we going to advance the wine industry in British Columbia? You would advance it by bringing in brains from people who’ve been doing it for hundreds and thousands of years. And so you did a, talked a group tie on and do a joint venture. , they’ve, , they’ve been making the wine from the back end of the, , of the big Winer. They’re, they’re moving out next year into their own why they’ve got a fabulous vineyard. , and they’re putting their winery up there and the tasting them again, they make only red wine and it’s only, only the LA Brava is, is a Bordeaux blend. , and they actually have, and that one has the, , the varieties on the, on the front label. And, , they, , they’ve been, it’s, it’s been, it’s a F it’s a very good wine to seller. I’ve, , I bought it, , every year, I think since it came out with the, you know, I’ve done verticals of, of, of 10 vintages and I’m sure that, , that I could have done in verticals a 50. I don’t think I take it beyond 15, but those earlier ones were from the young vines. And so they don’t have the, , the depth that the current ones have.
Natalie: Absolutely. John, you dedicated your book to, , the wine maker for Oculus mission Hills Oculus, which I have here. And it’s a magnificent wine. I mean, it’s just stunning. Why did you decide to dedicate your book to John signs?
John: he had, , just retired and John’s a very, , modest gun or not. , a lot of wine makers are, are, are, you know, type a personalities. John sprain the guy. Very professional, very competent. , and , and I’ve admired him for years and, and I wanted to, I included Oculus of course, because it was one of the first iconic wines in British Columbia. The first vintage was 1997.
Natalie: Right. There’s your dedication to him. Yes.
John: The first one we need to get to 1997. And, , if you go back and read the notes, cause I’ve got each vintage described in, read the blend and you leave the, the, the treatment and you can see this constant improvement. But then the first level was probably, , , Murillo Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet fall. And it was a number of years before they got, had access to, , and Malbec and, , , and the particular DOE, , the new SIBO has changed considerably. The, , , they, they didn’t do any asserting tables until about 2005. And so there’s been one improvement on the other. It’s, it’s, it’s built on the quality of that line. , and, , the first, , I think I may still have a bottle of either 97 or 98 at home. I doubt very much. , it’s, it’s held up, but I’ve certainly tasted, , Oculuses at 15 years. I’ve have, now that I’ve got the structure to go the distance. It’s a, it’s a very now very well made, , life, , with, , with a quite a, a beautiful bottle. , it’s an expensive wine. It’s not easy to, to get it signed by about $150 a bottle now, but in all wines have that quality. It, it can go toe to toe. I think with the, a was classified gross.
Natalie: Absolutely. The best of Bordeaux. And you know, what surprised me, John, is them, that they sent me the 2013 vintage and it’s drinking. Well, it’s not like it’s a tannic monster at all. It’s just, it’s got a velvet texture and it’s all there. I, I can tell it’ll go the distance in the cellar and, you know, it’ll get better and better. But I was surprised just how well it’s drinking right now.
John: Yeah, it’s a, it’s, it’s, they’ve, they’ve, they’ve the manage the tannins now. Very well. I mean, the early years there they were, there were some wines of the, whether Oculus or somebody else, attendants went a little on the rough side. , that was used to be my criticism of the sliders and the roads and the, , the tannins were, were a little too firm. And it, you know, you couldn’t approach that line until it was five or six years of age. , they say the same thing about a above a five Bordeaux, , that they’re not much fun when they’re young usually. But, , at the time and management has become much more sophisticated now. And so, , , and on how you, how long you keep on the vine, how you age and how you treated it. It’s much more sophisticated.
Natalie: Yeah, it’s beautiful. Is it named after Oculus as in I like, was there something in the winery that lets the light in or something like that?
John: , you know, there’s a, , there’s a, , there’s a device, , in the, that lets the light into the wine into part of the line cellar. That’s, that’s an Oculus. So that’s the one inspired to the name
Natalie: that is amazing. And then a related winery in that I think it’s owned by the same group would be, , checkmate. I think this is another Anthony Von Mendel production. , and , they’ve named all of their wines after various chess pieces. So this is the silent Bishop Murlow. They’ve got Queens attack. I don’t know the chess game that well, but it came in a little chess set kind of box. It was kind of fun. But, , what’s the backstory here?
John: And they, they only make Merlo and churn it and they’re there. Again, they’re expensive wines. , the wine maker is a, is an Australian who initially trained as a lawyer before he switched to in July and a very meticulous, , wine maker. , the Chardonnays are give or take $100. The mirror Lowe’s, I think are about $85. Very sophisticated lines. , Anthony had bought a winery about 10 years ago, , down on the golden mile that had been, , operated by the Comray family and the Conrad family had, , and operated this Comrie and then it’s antelope rich. , not, not a particularly distinguished, , , wine producers, but the, it was a good site. , Anthony, the, the winery had closed and that to be bought it not for the site particularly, but he bought it for the vineyard next door, which produced the Chardan day with which mission Hill won the Avery trophy in 1994. The, the trophy that put mission Hill and British Columbia on the world map. And Anthony finally was able to get his hands on that, had to make a sub supremacy. And so the whole, he hired Phil. , my God, he read the refurbish the, the winery, , and the, they, , Chardonnays that are, , that are meant to take on the best of burden.
Natalie: Oh yeah, they definitely do. I had tasted one earlier
John: and the, and the, and the mellow mellow is the most widely read and the Okanogan and mellow is sometimes disappointed me because I thought the wineries were some winders were over producing it. , there’s no, there’s no problem with this one. It’s this Tencent, the production. Yes. Air fleet control.
Natalie: Hmm. Wow, that’s fantastic. , John, you had mentioned, , the Hester Creek, the judge, , as being a real standout as well. , when we had talked earlier, what’s, what’s the, the special backstory about this one?
John: Well, first of all, , , it has to create the, , the Creek was named after, , a fellow, the judge who, , in, in the 18th or the 19th century, , I had a big ranch in the Okanogan and his daughter was Hester and the Creek was named Hester. , eventually the winery, but got to the name Hester. , it’s a, it’s changed owners, , two or three times. The current owner, , is a businessman from Prince George who was given, he his team, all the tools. It’s the vineyard is a fantastic piece of vineyard. Fantastic terroir. He’s, and it was, some of it was planted as far back as 1968. He’s given these current team all the tools in economics approach wine, including, , including, , fermenters that, that, , Ghana made maybe fermenters from Italy that treat the line very gently. It’s rotation. They usually, the, the gas is from, from it. They pump them back through the line and break the cap gently. And as a result, all across the range, it has to Creek. There’s a softness to the tenants. You could, I could pick out a Heskey Creek line blind, just extra. And, and the judge has got that, , that lovely sort of velvety chocolate. The texture. Yeah.
Natalie: And almost like a mature Bordeaux. I mean, it’s definitely BC signature, but I found up all of these wines. They’re blockbuster powerhouses in a good way. But this one was the most subtle, more like, it just reminded me of a mature Bordeaux. ,
John: no, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t age this one much beyond 10 years. No, it’s so good. Now. I know it’s hard to resist. No. Only charging $45 for it. Wow. Yeah. I mean, it’s a great tale or a Hawaiian. It’s fabulous.
Natalie: Yeah, absolutely. All right. I’m going to mention a few more quickly now, but the godfather, if you have a few,
John: that’s the, that’s the, that’s $100 in line with the lax. , Adrian Cassini, , who owns a bit to see any winery, , is, , loves to make B red wines. Just a personality like that. I said, wine makers, , personalities, , agar and Adrian is, is, is, has a powerful presence. And he makes these, his wines all with great intensity. , the godfather is a little, have had two or three years, , Oak aging. , and, and, you know, it’s, it’s, the blend is rich. , , it’s, , it’s just, you know, I mean, it’s a, it’s a, it just makes a statement in the glass.
Natalie: It does. Absolutely. And, , I’ll just mention these, John, they’re in your book. I mean, I just can’t get through all of these because there’s so, so many, so good on, but painted rock, John Skinner, , I think one of the most gentlemanly wine makers in the business,
John: really, he’s named a block of sarong in his vineyard. The John Schriner block. When he told me that, I said that I’ll scatter my ashes there if I make it gave, gave her the name, because apparently when he was planning the vineyard, they had this block. It didn’t know what to plant the, and I was interviewing and I said, well, what do you think I should let John? And I don’t remember the answer, but apparently I said, have you thought of surah? Well, Sas are brilliant. They’re as our own.
Natalie: Yes, yes, absolutely. The Sarah’s magnificent. And you were telling me a little story about the wine maker for black widow hourglass
John: hourglass. Yes. Nick Lancaster. Dick is a, a big is a friend of mine my days years ago when I was an amateur winemaker and Dick was an amateur wine maker, very successful in the, in, in other areas of business. He has two or three business degrees. , he was, he was a much better winemaker than I was. So he went on to develop a winery and I would go on to stop making wine at home. But the world is better for both of us making that decision. Does a Vic does lovely, lovely wines. , not sure why you call that hourglass. , it may be because he’s got a [inaudible], he has actual black widow spiders and they are,
Natalie: one is called arachnophobia or phobia, I think another one of his wines. Yeah.
John: Yeah, he does. He plays, he does a big play on, on, on, on the spiders that you find in the open AGA. And I remember once riding that though they, the spiders don’t, , they’re, they’re not going to hurt you, Nixon. No, no, no, it’s not true. They’ll, you, you, you, you can get sick.
Natalie: Oh, okay. Then you have some wine.
John: Yes. It’s a desert. We’ve got rattlesnakes too.
Natalie: That’s true. Your desert technically, and I just wanted to give a shout out. Harry McWatters is here. I know one of your wa, one of his wines is in your book, the Americ, another Meritage find wine maker. Okay.
John: Now Harrington was the one who bought Meritage to BC, so he wouldn’t, you would disagree with him by saying you shouldn’t use American because there are too many of them. He’s had very good luck.
Natalie: Yes, absolutely. Someone was drinking Lorianna and I’m, I’m thinking it might be somebody from the winery, but I’ll just give a shout out to them. They have that numbered series, 11, 12, 13, 14.
John: They’re in the book for their, one of their, their number wines. , I also happen to think that is arguably the best to be on in British Columbia.
Natalie: Yes. Oh, I was going to also ask you, I didn’t take it out of the fridge, I forgot. But Ann Sperling’s, a old Riesling kind of proof that, , you don’t have to have a really expensive wine to be in this book icon. Doesn’t mean just really pricey. , so, and she, her, yeah,
John: Ian Tantalus, , have got, , blocks of 1978, , recent plats and , and Tantalus before em, well lands winery is relatively new. , had realized that there was something special with the Riesling made from those old vines and , and Jetsons Robinson, , you know, praising the tablet’s old black ans is, , as is fairly similar. I think, , she handles for my palette the asset better than tabula. So I find the tattle is a asset. This is a fit, bracing when the wine, it’s young, , and seems to have polished it a little, a little better, but either case and I put several instincts in it because if you’re going to have a white wine to age recently needs it.
Natalie: Yes. With the acidity, especially as the preserving factor. Oh, John, you know, we’re almost at the hour. , we could have like a three volume series of this chat. Really. I love hearing your stories. All our viewers are loving the stories and they’ve got so many questions I didn’t get to, but I want to ask you a question cause, , you, , if you could sit down and taste or share a bottle of wine with anyone living or dead, who would that be?
John: Oh, I’d have a bottle of champagne. Was a Winston Churchill. Oh no. First of all, he loved champagne. He would be more knowledgeable than I am. Secondly, , I have been at the Meyer, not of all things about Churchill, but of a lot of things about Churchill. I have read many, many books. , and, , including, there’s a fabulous one that came out a few years ago about a Churchill with a bottle of one of all, all places. I mean, he was, , he went to war in Afghanistan when he was in his early twenties, and then the borrower to develop a reputation as a hero so he could run for politics. , I mean, he took enormous risks and, , but I think, , I think, , you know, he, you might be, , he might be, the office would be very funny. , I think, , you know, there was Leslie, the famous live of here’s what was it, lady Astor and the house of commons, , said the, you know, Winston, you’re drunk, Kim, you said yes, but you’re ugly. And then the morning you will still be ugly.
Natalie: That’s great. That’s great. And Paul Roget, I think named one of their champagnes. Was it polar Jay who named it Winston Churchill? Or was it both?
John: One of them. I can’t remember.
Natalie: I can’t remember either. But yeah, the, Oh, you, you, , you’re quite fascinated by his mind. But, , I think you had mentioned you probably couldn’t keep up with his prodigious drinking
John: ahead and I couldn’t go. I had read him any number of logs. Is this, the best one I arrived about is at 10 years old by sir Roy Jenkins, who was a chancellor labor chancellor of the Exchequer in Britain. And his biography is outstanding. I read through these things, , enough full of booze that, that man conducted a war successfully.
Natalie: Wow. Maybe that’s what it takes. He had a great mind.
John: Certainly dull, dull, the, you know, the pain, the times. Yes, it’s
Natalie: true. No nerves of steel or just nerves soaked in something, not so much steel tanks. Anyway, John, I’m speaking of great minds and prodigious output and this has been wonderful. We’ve so enjoyed chatting with you tonight. People are still poor again and commenting. , but we’re coming up to the hour. So tell us, , where can folks buy your book? , online and in real life as they say,
John: in real life. , , some of the major wineries in the Okanogan carry it in their tasting room. , I, I’d like to say it was, it’s probably even in mosaic books in Colona. I’d like to say it’s another bookstores, but I’m afraid that the Canadian bookstores don’t really support Canadian wine books very well. It is online though. It is available Indigo and of Amazon. It is available on it, , and , in 70 money losing North Vancouver and you’d give me a call. I usually have a few in the basement that I’m happy to have to sell and, and sign for you.
Natalie: There you go. And do your blog is, is it called good grog, your blog.
John: if you, if you Google that you’ll find me, but it’s John Schrinerd.blogspot.ca
Natalie: and just Google your name and you’ll find we will find you.
John: Yeah. And a good good grog is my, actually my email address and I have quite the sense to use that as [inaudible] as my blog.
Natalie: Nope, no worries. We’ll find you. They’ll find you. This has been absolutely wonderful. So thank you so much for spending and happy father’s day. I should say. Your grandfather and your together with your family is afternoon. So and T to everybody else out there who’s a father, you know, a happy father’s day. But , so I’ll let you get back to your family and dinner plans and, and cheers to you. John. Thank you so much for joining us tonight. Okay, take care.