Somewhat less well known at the moment but certainly rivaling them in beauty and in the quality of the wines on offer is the Fraser Valley of British Columbia. As the world comes to British Columbia for the Winter Olympics in 2010, it is certain that this fabulous corner of the wine world will become very much better known.
Early in the week we toured four of the Fraser Valley wineries and can certainly vouch for the excellence of their welcome. The quality of the wines compares well with those found in the Okanagan Valley even though the climatic conditions are a little less favorable. The four we visited have quite distinctive appearances and certainly seemed to be appreciated by the other visitors we met from around the world.
The first on our tour was Township7 Vineyards and Winery From the website we learn:
The vines at Township 7/Langley were planted in the spring of 2000 and the winery opened for business in July of 2001. In the fall of 2003, a second vineyard property was purchased on the Naramata Bench in the Okanagan Valley. The Langley wine shop is housed in the beautiful south Langley countryside in a quaint building reminiscent, on the outside, of the many riding stables in the neighbourhood. Aside from the vineyards in Langley and on the Naramata Bench, grapes for their wines are grown in the Oliver area of British Columbia, a world-renowned location for growing grapes for the more full-bodied Merlots, Cabernet Sauvignons, Syrahs and Chardonnays that Township 7 produces.
Next we visited the Domaine de Chaberton Estates Winery. The website provides some fascinating history of this most impressive winery:
Domaine de Chaberton Estate Winery is the largest and oldest winery in the Fraser Valley. In 1975, Claude and Inge Violet, having sold their winery and vineyard in France decided to start afresh in the New World. The pioneer spirit was not new to the Violet blood line as Claude�s family had been in the wine business since 1644. After visiting California, Ontario and the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, Claude and Inge purchased the land where the present site of the Domaine de Chaberton and the Bacchus Bistro are located.
Claude quickly became known as the �Mad Frenchman� when word spread that he planned on planting wine grapes in the Fraser Valley. After doing much research, Claude had found that the property was located in a microclimate with weather conditions much like those that exists in northern France. Their wines have won numerous awards in wine competitions held throughout Canada, the United States and Europe. The 2003 Canoe Cove Shiraz was chosen by a select panel as one of only 11 B.C. wines to receive the Lieutenant Governor General’s 2006 Award of Excellence in British Columbia wines.
Lotusland Vineyards, the next stop on our wine tour, was a most charming contrast to the overwhelming magnificence of the Domaine. The winery provides a whole array of premium organic wines:
David and Liz Avery had a dream – to spend their days outdoors in the vineyard and to share the fruits of their labour of love. Nestled in the Fraser Valley surrounded by snow topped mountains and just 27 kilometers from the Pacific Ocean, Lotusland’s three and one half hectare vineyard offers not only spectacular views, but also the perfect coastal climate for growing some of the world’s finest wine grapes.
Their first vintage in 2000, was the result of a great deal of hard work and both David and wife Liz remain hands-on proprietors – from planting to bottling, they are actively involved in all aspects of production. Additional labour is provided by an international array of hands they affectionately call “WWOOFers”. The World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) program provides international travel and organic farming experience to men and women from around the globe. The Lotusland vineyard can change your world view, evoking the comment from one such visitor that she couldn’t believe how “big the sky was” here. Lotusland hosts up to five WWOOFers at a time and have had more than 40 people from Japan, Switzerland, and Germany, participate in the program.
The last stop of the afternoon was at the Fort Wine Company located just minutes from historic Fort Langley, the place where on November 19, 1858, the new colony�s governor, Sir James Douglas, read the official proclamation of the new province of British Columbia. We were in for a surprise:
The Fort Wine Co. is a premium fruit winery located in the picturesque Glen Valley. The winery has been recognized with numerous awards at major wine competitions for the fine quality, innovation and flavour of the pure fruit products. In fact, their wines have been competing with grape wines in some large competitions, and coming out on top. Fruit wines have arrived and are a delicious, fun and healthy alternative to the sea of grape wines available on the market. They are not snooty. They are not syrupy. They are for the young at heart and for those seeking something refreshingly different.
If you have a full day, then you can go from the mouth of the Fraser River right up to Chilliwack at the eastern end of the Fraser Valley. There is more information about the wineries tours on the Fraser Valley Wineries Association website. The other wineries that can be visited are:
- Westham Island Estate Winery
- A pastoral Agri Tourism designated Farm planting, picking and processing fruit into the fine home grown fruit wines sold at the winery.
- Sanduz Estate Winery
- offers a range of fruit and grape wines that awaken the palate, mind and passion within.
- Wellbrook Winery
- The Old Grainery Store at the Wellbrook Winery in Delta, British Columbia, takes you back into history.
- Pacific Breeze Winery
- producing the highest quality vinifera wines by exploring the differences that appellation and winemaking impart to a given varietal.
- River’s Bend Winery
- a recent addition to the growing sector of farm-based wineries located in Surrey, BC.
- Vista D’oro Farms Winery
- producing the highest quality infused fortified wines in British Columbia with old world passion
- St. Urban Winery Ltd.
- The owner and wine maker grew up in the vineyards of Slovakia and makes wines in the traditional European style. White wine grape varieties include Kerner and Siegerebbe, German Riesling hybrids. The signature red wine is from the Hungarian Turan grape variety.