What girl in her right mind would say “no” to attending an event solely dedicated to wine? Not this one, that is for certain. Oddly enough, neither is my sister-in-law Laura, so the two of us headed out for a ladies’ night with lots of wining and not so much dining.

This past weekend, Mount Washington Alpine Resort hosted its 11th Annual Alpine Wine Festival at the gorgeously inviting Raven Lodge. Nearly two dozen wineries were represented with more bottles of fine wines than I had the time – or capacity – to sample.

The Comox Valley’s own Natural Pastures Cheese Company was on hand, offering tastes of their many varieties of soft and hard cheeses. When I inquired about whether any of the products in their range contained rennet, the head cheese-maker told me that none contain rennet simply because, as he put it, “to do so in cheese-making is a barbaric practice.” One more reason to love them…

I am both a self-professed pinot noir “snob” and nine times out of ten will always buy a BC-produced wine. Not only did the wine festival provide me with the opportunity to try wines from various regions around the globe, it also expanded my palate into a number of varietals. Though that said, the brand new pinot noir from Two Oceans, out of South Africa, gets my vote for best wine at the festival.

I have never, ever found a shiraz that I enjoyed, but did find the 2007 Three Winds Syrah to be incredibly delicious. You may find it interesting to know that shiraz and syrah are essentially the same wine and developed from the same grape but that syrah originated in France, whereas Australians and South Africans prefer to refer to their wines as a shiraz.

After hearing much raving about Vancouver Island’s Sea Cider from both John and Rebecca, I believe the hype! Nothing beats the crisp and refreshing taste of local apples combined with belly-warming sensations.

No wine festival would be complete without a selection of ports and dessert wines. While there were a few offerings vying for our favour, both Laura and I agreed that the 2008 Framboise from Elephant Island Orchard Wines was the hands-down favourite for us. Sweet raspberries dancing with 16% alcohol makes for quite the party in one’s mouth.

While I’d be hard-pressed to choose a wine I didn’t enjoy, some noteworthy highlights for me include:

  • Barefoot Wine & Bubbly‘s Merlot
  • Beringer of California’s 2007 White Zinfandel
  • River’s Bend Winery‘s 2006 Black Horse
  • Chase & Warren Estate Winery‘s 2007 Merlot (un-oaked)
  • What may impress you the most about all of the wines featured at the festival is that every bottle sampled is a completely affordable wine. None were over $30 and most were priced well under $20. Whoever said you had to spend a lot to enjoy a fine night in clearly hasn’t tried the right wines.

    It goes without saying that I’ll be lining up for next year’s festival. In the meantime, it’s hard to believe that it’s only a matter of a few short months before the snow starts falling once again.

    For now, check out Mount Washington online for a full list of summer events still to come – including how you can purchase an early bird winter season pass and win some great prizes. The mountain is also on Twitter, so be sure to follow them.

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    1. That was quite the wine induced chatter on the way home…glad you two enjoyed yourselves!

    2. Ah hah! She found herself a lovely Syrah! Glad to hear it :)

      That is a lovely picture of you and Laura!

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