Living Wine + Living Well

The Rio Theatre is alive and well. So is the Canadian “Living Wine” premiere I attended there last night with a delightful pre-show wine tasting. The VIP wine tasting experience highlighted a number of thoughtfully curated living, biodynamic, and organic wines from local producers and distributors. Plus a special glass of Else Wines’ ‘Muscat on Skins.’

You’ve got to hand it to the Rio.  This multidimensional independent theatre is a Vancouver classic!  It has it all. Although it was touch ‘n go for a while it’s now going stronger than ever. I just found out about the wine tasting/film combo by attending a movie there the week prior – Downton Abbey “A New Era” – which was fabulous.

Summerhill Selectiona few of my favourites shown here! Proprietor Stephen Cipes was instrumental in fighting for organic practices for wine making in the Okanagan, B.C.  A true pioneer.  It’s happening little by little.

There’s so many great things about the Rio.  For starters it’s conveniently located steps away from the Commercial Drive/Broadway Skytrain Station if you want to leave your car behind.  They show everything from Cult Classics to must-see feature films.  They have live entertainment including comedy and burlesque festivals, local musicians and fashion shows.  Also Live Satellite for Oscars, Grammys, UEFA Euro Soccer and other events.

They have the best concession in the city and they serve only real buttered popcorn – the absolute best!

 “LIVING WINE” the documentary must-see for wine enthusiasts:

This documentary merges sweeping wine country footage with insightful interviews with wine makers. Filmmaker Lori Miller showcases the dynamic natural wine movement that is transforming a growing number of Northern California vineyards.

The natural wine movement in the U.S. is about 25 years behind the organic food movement, and “Living Wine” follows innovative natural winemakers in Northern California who stay true to their disparate and unique artistic and ecological visions, while managing to save their businesses during the worst wildfire season on record.

As we start to learn about farming grapes naturally – no chemical inputs of any kind – our experts: Dr. Tim LaSalle (Center for Regenerative Agriculture) and Elizabeth Candelario (Mad Agriculture) explain that chemicals used to make ammunition for bombs during World War II became repurposed as synthetic fertilizer after the war, and that agriculture is a major cause of climate change as the tilling of soil causes carbon release and soil degradation, and the use of chemical inputs (fertilizers pesticides, and herbicides) contaminate our waterways. We later learn about the processes used to make conventional wine – lots of additives and manipulation of flavors in the production process.

The doc delves into farming techniques, philosophies, and spirituality.A must-see for wine enthusiasts.

More ABOUT the Rio:

Built in 1938, the Rio has been fully restored with a state of the art digital projector, surround sound, a huge stage for live events, and 420 comfortable seats (with adjustable arms in case you’re on a date).

In 2012, The Rio won a hard fought battle with the BC Liquor board, to change the liquor laws so that movie theatres could serve alcohol. Since the BC Liquor Laws were changed in 2012, The Rio has full bar service with a wide range of local Craft beer & cider, local organic wines, mixed drinks & cocktails, plus their signature artisan Grilled Cheese sandwiches!  Pretty amazing, right?

I mean…c’mon!

Local boy Ryan Reynolds helped save the Rio.  The actor was a vocal supporter of ongoing efforts to secure funding for the historic venue and stave off a bid from a potential new owner that could have seen the demise of the theatre.

He tweeted: The Rio Theatre in Vancouver is legendary. Spoiler Alert: I plan to be buried there. 

An Instagram message from Ryan Reynolds:

Photos: d. king

Living Wine Trailer:

Rio Calendar:

c’est si bon terra

I’m here to spread the good news that Bonterra Wines which are all completely organic, carbon neutral & bio-dynamic from California, are now available right here in Vancouver, B.C.

Photo: d. king (taken in my downstairs couryard)

Meaning “good earththis winery lives up to its name! At the recent California wine tasting held at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Vancouver, Bonterra had a booth which gave me an opportunity to sample more than just the few reds that I’d bought in the past when in California.  The wines of course are readily available in California but now we can buy several of the ones they produce in specialty stores like Marquis, Everything Wine and Liberty here in Vancouver as well as some of the government liquor stores. I believe the chardonnay is only available at LCB but if interested please check beforehand to make sure they have stock.

A sales rep for the company was nice enough to send over two whites (a sauvignon blanc priced at $26.98 + tax,  a chardonnay priced at $22.29 + tax and a rosé  priced at $27.98 + tax) to sample – both dynamic in more ways than one. I was waiting for an opportunity on a sunny day to crack open these bottles to share with a few discerning wine loving friends.  This happened just this past weekend…which brings me to this post and our combined review in the notes below.

Photo: Lisa King (taken on my upper deck) – Look at the beautiful colour in that bottle.

But first…let’s talk about the benefits of drinking organic vs regular non-organic wines.  One thing I can tell you for sure is that you’re not likely to get a next day hangover headache because there are “very little to no sulphites” and other crap in the wine.  Of course that’s related to not going too overboard with the drinking in the first place.  I’m talking 3 bottles shared with friends where next day we all woke up feeling normal – by that I mean rested and not the least bit foggy…just in case you think our normal is waking up with a hangover which sometimes is the case.

Organic Life Practices – (paragraph below taken from the website):

“We start by growing our fruit in certified-organic vineyards, so our grapes are verifiably grown without the use of harmful synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. A constellation of climate-smart farming practices further enhances our vineyards, bolsters soil health and vitality, and ultimately leads to pure and flavourful fruit. These practices include applying compost, planting cover crops, limiting tillage, and animal grazing for natural weed control and soil fertility enhancement. We conserve nearly 50% of our land in its natural state and cultivate spaces that enhance insect and wildlife throughout our vineyards.  This is the essential starting point for fruit with purity you can taste.”

Sustainable, bio-dynamic…all these words but what does it really mean?

Sustainable, from soil to sip.

Bonterra estate vineyards are all dual-certified organic and sustainable, with certifications coming from CCOF and California Certified Sustainable Winegrowers (CCSW), respectively. This dual certification is mirrored in the winery, which also carries CCSW certification. Both credentials involve third-party audits, with CCSW assessing over 100 winery practices relating to the natural environment, quality of grapes and wine, and social responsibility to employees and communities. This combination affirms their total commitment to doing what’s right in the vineyard, in the winery, among the communities, and for each of us to enjoy.

Looking for proof? Look to the label.

Their wines readily identify responsible practices with designations found on the packaging like “Made with Organic Grapes,” Organic CCOF Certified, and Demeter Certified Biodynamic®. These certifications mean that an outside governing board is certifying their practices and holding them accountable for purity and sustainable quality. So, when in search of something altogether better, be sure to seek out these indications on labels, to be sure you’re picking up a verifiably purer pour.

 Tasting Notes:

  • Sauvignon Blanc 13%, organic wine. Aromas of grapefruit and kiwi and lush flavours of honeydew.
  • Rosé 13%, organic wine. Dry and crisp acidity with notes of red berries.
  • Chardonnay 13.5%, organic wine. Predominantly made of Chardonnay, complete with a few bunches of Muscat de Roussanne and Viognier, which bring its uniqueness. It’s smooth and creamy with ripe tropical fruit, buttery mouthfull matched with vibrant acidity. Balanced and tasty with a lingering smoky and nutty finish.
    Photo: Lisa King

We were all in agreement that the cold Sauvignon was an elegant summer sipper while the Chardonnay was our favourite – to drink any time of the year.  I was pleasantly surprised that I liked the Rosé as much as I did (I always want to like them but it’s rare that I find a rosé I really enjoy).  We all genuinely loved this one as it had just the right balance of crisp to dryness but not overly dry.  

We all agreed that we’d purchase any of these wines.  As a matter of fact we’re making phone calls right now.

If you try any of these let me know what you think?

Did I mention they go great with food?