VanWineFest 2019

California Dreaming

The 41st Annual Vancouver International Wine Festival will run from February 23 through March 3, 2019 across numerous venues in Vancouver. More than 50 of the 160 wineries attending will be from California – next year's regional focus.

Sebastianis have been a force in the California wine industry since Samuele Sebastiani made his first 500 gallons of wine in 1904. Proving that dependable quality wine can be affordable, Smoking Loon Viognier $14.50 is a perennial favourite in Wine Enthusiast's 'Best Buy' category. Honeyed peach and apricot aromas and flavours ride a base of crisp apple and ripe pear.

California wines have a long history of participation in the Vancouver Wine Festival, in fact the first few years featured California wines exclusively. The wines of Robert Mondavi were featured in 1979, with Chateau St. Jean taking up the corkscrew in 1980.

Ravage Dark Red Blend $17.50 features a mounted knight in armour swinging a sword over his head on its label. 'Dark, Rich and Defiant' it is a sturdy blend of 52 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, 34 per cent Merlot and 11 per cent Petite Syrah – all blue and black berry fruit with dark chocolate, rich mocha, and vanilla notes.

Although the 41st Annual Vancouver International Wine Festival will run from February 23 through March 3, 2019, International Festival Tasting room in the Vancouver Trade & Convention Centre – the heart of the Festival - will be open February 28 to March 2. More than 750 wines will be poured there!

Originally specialists in site-specific Zinfandel, way back in 1976, Ravenswood's Vintners Blend line offers 'Unapologetic. Unfussy. Unwimpy' medium bodied wines, across the classic range of California varieties. There's nothing wimpy about Ravenswood Vintners Blend Chardonnay $18.00. Aromas of apple and pear, vanilla lead a fruity medley that veers through peach to tropical papaya and pineapple. Intriguing clove and caramel notes fill out the finish of this full bodied white.

Not just a wine swilling extravaganza, the VIWF has raised $9.2 million for the performing arts in Vancouver since 1979. Since September 2012, the festival has raised more than $1.2 million for Bard on the Beach Theatre Society.

Based in St. Helena, Layer Cake Wines enhances their California selection with wines from Australia, Italy, Spain and Argentina. Their California Sauvignon Blanc, however, is definitely not sourced from New Zealand.

Fermented in stainless steel, entirely unoaked, Layer Cake Sauvignon Blanc $21.99 blends grapes from the Alexander Valley with grapes from Lake County and Lodi. The result is a rich white built on a base of chalky lemon rind, fresh sliced peach and funky, floral ultra-ripe mango lingering into the last sip.

Acclaimed film director Francis Ford Coppola purchased Inglenook Vineyard and Winery in Rutherford, California in 1975 with the profits from his film The Godfather. Borrowing the historical term 'Claret' from the British wine trade, Francis Ford Coppola Diamond Collection Black Label Claret 2016 $29.99 is a blend of 75 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, 21 per cent Petit Verdot and 4 per cent Petit Sirah . A fully fruited red that marries black cherry and cassis with toasty oak, anise and cacao, this is Coppola's best selling wine.

Something of a legend in the California wine scene, Bob Blue is not only Director of Winemaking at Fetzer Vineyards but also widely acknowledged as a pioneer in the organic wine arena and Bonterra Vineyard’s founding winemaker, with deep roots in Mendocino.

1000 Stories 'Bourbon Barrel Aged' Zinfandel $30.00 is made from Zinfandel grown in Mendocino and Paso Robles. Blue starts the wines aging in French and American oak barrels before transferring it into bourbon barrels. Petite Sirah and Syrah add rich spicy, smoky notes to the jammy cherry and berry flavours. Bourbon barrels underline the vanilla and caramel notes that run through the wine from first sniff to final sip.

Interested in tasting a variety of fine California wines? Mark your calendar, now, and plan to attend the 41st Vancouver International Wine Festival February 23 through March 3, 2019.

Reach WineWise by emailing douglas_sloan@yahoo.com