Have a wonderful weekend!
What is Spadefoot Toad you ask? Aside from being a round amphibian creature with short legs and protruding eyes…it’s one of my favourite red wine!
Keeping it in the family; Ezra Cipes (second generation) is extremely proud to present these wines, made in partnership with grape grower Ron Firman at his idyllic Spadefoot Toad Vineyard in Oliver, BC, along with the legendary Canadian artist and activist Robert Bateman, who has drafted an original illustration specially for the labels. Ten percent of the proceeds from each bottle sold supports the Bateman Foundation’s work to nurture the next generation of conservationists.
Spadefoot wines are made entirely from organic grapes grown lovingly at Ron Firman’s Spadefoot Toad Vineyard in Oliver, BC. Ron tends his small acreage as if it were a garden, carefully applying compost to each individual vine and creating habitat for the at-risk Great Basin Spadefoot Toads to breed for natural pest control.
Ron grows pristine grapes that give concentrated, age-worthy wines that truly reflect the care he takes in his vineyard. Each single-vineyard bottling is a special expression of the south facing slope on which his vines are cultivated.
If you are searching for the perfect wines to enjoy over cool autumn evenings or to stow away in your cellar for future sipping, look no further! These three distinct bottlings are exploding with flavour and intensity that will only deepen with time.
2016 Spadefoot Toad Syrah
Bold, dark and smooth with notes of blackberry, soft leather, ripe raspberry and black pepper. Forty-seven months of neutral oak aging brings a whisper of vanilla and spice. Firm, gripping tannins and bright acidity buttress the concentrated fruit flavours, providing excellent structure for long term cellaring.
2017 Spadefoot Toad Sangiovese
2017 was a true vin de garde vintage here in the Okanagan. This unique take on a classic Tuscan variety is seductive and velvety, with a juicy core of candied cherry and fresh blueberry notes and whispers of tomato leaf, vanilla cola and baking spices. Exceptional fruit concentration balanced with vibrant freshness!
2018 Spadefoot Toad Sangiovese
Succulent and finessed. A clean, classic vintage with a long and steady growing season resulted in this elegant, medium-bodied Sangiovese. Red and blue fruits dominate the nose, carry through the palate, and are deepened by heady notes of clove and potting soil. Intense and full of soul… perfect for the changing seasons.uan etched, branded wine decanter to show off these wines at their very best.
To date this has been one of my favourites
How convenient and nice of the Vancouver International Film Festival to let us stream most of the 2021 movies, documentaries, short films + animations from the comfort of home. But what was really wonderful after such a long hiatus, was to be able to view these amazing films in person “in-cinema.” Seems like a long time.
VIFF could not have been more excited to roll out the red carpet this year with Special Presentations that were a cause for celebration. The scope of work that was showcased was simply phenomenal, featuring auteurs like Terence Davies and Kenneth Branagh; stars such as Tilda Swinton and Benedict Cumberbatch; and a spectrum of stories ranging from intimate human dramas to towering historic narratives.
Special Presentations included one world premiere, one Canadian premiere, and the latest addition to the VIFF lineup: The Power of the Dog by Jane Campion, which focuses on the charismatic rancher Phil Burbank who inspires fear and awe in those around him until his brother brings home a new wife and her son, tormenting them until he finds himself exposed to the possibility of love; starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee. Additional highlights included the world premiere of The Sanctity of Space by Renan Ozturk and Freddie Wilkinson, which follows the directors as they traverse Denali National Park and uncover the story of pioneering photographer and cartographer Bradford Washburn; the Canadian premiere of Red Rocket by Sean Baker (The Florida Project), a luminous, seriocomic fable about America’s underclass through the eyes of a washed-up porn star in Texas; and Memoria by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the director’s first film in English starring Tilda Swinton as an expat orchid grower in Colombia with a strange malady.
The only animation I screened was Lamya’s Poem, the animated feature whose voice cast includes Mena Massoud (Aladdin), Millie Davis (Wonder) and Faran Tahir (Iron Man).
The film charts the story of a 12-year-old Syrian refugee who is given a book of poetry of classic 13th-century Persian poet, Rumi. As the perils of her journey mount, the book becomes a magical gateway. It was amazingly well executed.
I followed that with Disney blockbuster “Cruella” featuring the two “Emma’s” – Stone and Thompson – both outstanding if you haven’t already seen it. Reminded me of “The Devil Wears Prada.” This was not part of the VIFF lineup; but it made me ponder the notion of having watched an excellent animation that was based on a real person with historical fact followed by a movie acted out by real people that was based on animated fiction.
We hope you join us next year. In the meantime you might be able to catch “best of the fest” at https://viff.org/Online/default.asp
The wine is always good no matter what month you decide to visit, but come October and over the Fall/Winter in general it’s much easier to book accommodation as the wineries are less busy with everyone back to work and back to school. So may I suggest a not so little gem of a place to stay…Summerhill Pyramid Winery Guest House (shown in photos on this page). Not only is it amazingly spacious with a view to die for, but the winery + bistro is adjacent to the guest house. A hop, skip and a roll home away.
That’s what I’m talking about!
For booking availability please contact:
In the meantime…
WINE events | VANCOUVER BC
Inclusive and approachable evenings centered around a love of wine.
“We run a weekly wine bar on Wednesday’s at Dock Lunch, a wine focused supper club series in unexpected locations throughout the city, as well as bespoke private and corporate events.
These events are about sharing our combined mix of influences of good wine and food in unpretentious, approachable environments.
OU – EST
On this first day of October I’m attending my very first Zoom wedding, and hopefully my last. Well I’m not really attending – rather watching from my computer. Yup, you read that right! And to be fair; it is a very tiny gathering. still no excuse! One of my best friends is re-marrying her ex-husband. Throughout their divorce of many years and other relationships, they’ve remained each others’ best friend – which only proves that friendship and respect are key ingredients for a successful partnership. The good thing is I don’t have to dress up although I might put on some makeup. I think all eyes will be on the couple exchanging vows…but just in case. Can you believe I actually said “the good thing is that I don’t have to dress up?”
Today also marks the first day that VIFF (Vancouver International Film Festival) begins.
VIFF celebrates its 40th edition from October 1-11, 2021 with a kaleidoscopic collection of Canadian work, East Asian cinema, powerful documentaries, narrative cinema from some of the world’s leading lights, elevated genre fare, and much more. Big screen or small, VIFF is excited to share the 2021 program with film fans in Vancouver and across the country. Explore the full program at viff.org and on VIFF Connect starting today.
I also want to introduce my exclusive local gift packages.
Something new although I’ve been thinking about doing this for a long time and always enjoyed putting gift baskets together for special occasions. Two options filled with small lot, carefully chosen wine/cheese/chocolate delights. A few of my favourite things packaged up to please for all kinds of celebrations. Many of you don’t reside here in Vancouver, let alone Canada, but maybe you know someone who lives here and is looking to gift something unique. Certain companies have gifted their clients and also special customers of some organizations have purchased these but hey; they also make a perfect wedding, anniversary or holiday present. Have a peek and let me know what you think…
Available on my Shop page:
Have an excellent weekend!
Try to contain yourself as you have a browse through some luxury lifestyle homes for those who like to think “outside the box” for price souring housing solutions.
These home are made from shipping containers. That’s right. Some ranging from small “tiny house” structures featuring a single container to larger, more ambitious projects that combine numerous containers that result in opulent luxury homes. These shipping container spaces offer something for every budget and lifestyle.
I just spent a little time in a winery built out of two shipping containers with windows cut out large enough to have a view of the vineyard. I couldn’t believe it!
Every time I see a container now I envision what the inside would look like if I wanted to make it into a home. The way things are going you just may see them becoming more mainstream.
The SMALL LOT FIVE- little hidden gems; BIG on taste.
vinAmité Cellars: Hiding in plain sight
“vin-ah-mee-tay” – meaning: harmony, friendship, meeting of minds of family and friends.
The word “vin” in French means wine
The word “Amite” is an old fashioned word going back to Medieval times,
Meaning friendship and balance in life.
Here we sampled a few whites with names like “Chanson d’amour” which alone was enough to make us want to buy a bottle or two. Followed by a single red varietal Petit Verdot and a few blends with charming names like “Compass” and “Hidden Corner.”
We were tipped off to make sure to order the charcuterie cone (yes; it’s a cone, not a board.) And it was Fab!
This hand-crafted family estate vineyard makes small quantity wines with character and taste that are true to each grape varietal and honor the history of the wine and the winemakers’ special touch.
The vineyard is well over two decades old, yet each wine is carefully crafted to the tastes of modern life. The wines are enjoyable and easy drinking. With $15 tasting fee you get a crystal Riedel wine glass – lightly inscribed with their name on the glass. Very classy.
The 10 acre property located adjacent to the first green of the Fairview Mountain Golf Course was purchased by Bill Eggert in 1989. After development of the water system the vineyard was started in 1993.
I can’t remember what Margeaux bought but I ended up with a bottle called Bucket O’ Blood – a white wine it is not. It wasn’t open for tasting however a table of six ordered a full bottle and raved about how good it was. They said every time they go to the winery they order the same bottle. Sold!
We skipped straight to the Second Chapter. This is certainly a unique winery that produces no more than 4,000 cases featuring truly local wines inside a funky building made out of two 40 x 8 sea cans.
Apparently it’s a trend. Guess you can refer to it as a cannery. I’ll blog more on the home can craze separately because I was fascinated by them and have been checking out some amazing examples – you wouldn’t even know what they were…if you didn’t already know what they are. But getting back to wine…
Our firecracker pourer Dianne Gibson @diannegibsongirl entertained us with stories and she happens to also design amazing corsets and costumes. She was a riot. The wine was good but it would have been a totally different experience had she not been there. Let’s just say she made it better. I would go back just to see her again. Ok; let’s not forget who I am – to also drink wine.
River Stone is a small, family owned and operated winery located on a small knoll in the middle of the valley, just south of the well-recognized McIntyre Bluff and just north of Oliver.
The day we arrived they were in the middle of a private tasting on their gorgeous outdoor garden setting.
Here’s the Thing Winery:
I saved the best for last; literally.
See the idyllic farmhouse in the distance? That’s the winery. It may be yellow in color (even though in this photo it looks to be white) but the entire site is truly ‘green’. You won’t see any wires running to their buildings because they’re 100% off the grid!
The place wasn’t even open when we arrived on the drive out. They were in the midst of getting set up and their computer was down so we went for a walk for half an hour then came back to be first in line. Margeaux already left for her drive back to Castlegar so I did a mid morning round on my own. Don’t worry; my boyfriend was the designated driver.
Let me be clear that as a rule I never drink wine before noon. Normally not even before 5:00 pm. 5:01 is when I start. What a surprise. Fabulous wines. I bought one of each and called Margeaux to tell her she missed a good tasting. Margeaux; having FOMO (fear of missing out – I didn’t even know what the letters meant until just recently so don’t feel bad), ended up ordering a case with the four bottles I sampled.
We have our wine map for next time. Only 40 more to go!
My friend and I experienced two exceptional wine country dining experiences.
The Sonora Room Restaurant at Burrowing Owl Winery is where Margeaux and I had dinner on the first of our two night stay in Oliver, B.C. That was after wine sampling next door at the winery, and before finishing off our special bottle from the restaurant’s wine library. The library holds exclusive wines with a list changed regularly that are no longer publicly available for sale. And of course, they go along to compliment the menu. They have a very talented culinary team.
From their website:
“The philosophy… is to embrace the
privilege and the opportunity to
showcase many of the local producers
with their array of local organic
produce, fresh, seasonal fruits and
artisan breads and cheeses.”
Instead of dessert we decided to go back to our luxury B+B “uncorked” and polish off the leftover wine with a cheese assortment and “Hooray” decadent chocolate truffles (the ones that are included in my gift packages – but more on this later). Yes we indulged!
The views from Burrowing Owl – fyi you can book a room there too.
The second night we chose Miradoro at Tinhorn Creek Winery on the advice of the maître d’ from the Sonora Room at Burrowing Owl. There are many fine places to dine in Oliver but these two restaurants were highly recommended and we also wanted to do wine tasting at their wineries before dinner so it was perfect.
At Miradoro the locally sourced market cuisine menu has a Mediterranean influence, drawing inspiration from countries like Italy, Spain and Portugal – countries that know a thing or two about food and wine pairing.
When it comes to modern, local and sustainable cuisine, Chef Jeff Van Geest (check him out; he’s amazing) is one of British Columbia’s most celebrated chefs.
Not only were the wines superb but the panoramic views from the valley below were to die for! Both restaurants have amazing outdoor seating however it was a bit chilly both nights so we decided to dine inside.
Both restaurants including their adjoining wineries require reservations. We were very lucky the first night especially because we got in due to a cancellation – the room was booked a few weeks in advance. And this is in September!
Next I’ll blog about the small lot wineries. So many wines; so little time!
Next time we’re going here on the advice of a winery owner and others:
Come eat, drink and relax at Popolo Cafe! We’re located inside a beautifully renovated church. Choose from a variety of unique sitting areas and enjoy fresh homemade pasta dishes and more with a glass of local wine, beer, or an espresso beverage.
A sampling of creative Chinese, Korean and Japanese delicacies put together by chef Yan Cowan of Lucky Dragon Catering, who is considering to franchise. And lucky us; we were invited which was an unexpected but welcome surprise considering I had booked a reservation at the bistro for myself, my boyfriend and my next door neighbour who happened to be in Kelowna at the same time.
It was a feast for hungry eyes!
Yan (the caterer who prepared all this food) Chris (her commercial realtor friend) and Stephen (proprietor of Summerhill Pyramid Winery – the best all organic winery ever).
Although the Summerhill Bistro is always excellent, it’s not every day that you get to be part of a most yummy experiment.
The foodie in me will always appreciate times like this. Friends old and new make it all that much more worthwhile.
Look forward to our next meal visit.