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It was a real treat to be able to listen to an informative discussion of what makes BC a distinctive and important place to make wine. This morning's event, titled Our Land, Revealed: Opening Plenary, brought out the true leaders of BC's wine industry, such as Harry McWaters, Anthony Von Mandl, and winemaker Howard Soon among many others.
As BC wine devoutists, as you can imagine, Mike and I were in our element.
When we arrived (a bit late) Harry McWaters was charming the crowd with his accounts of "the early days" of BC wine. Harry's been in the biz for 41 years, and while he claims to be "retired" (having stepped down from running Sumac Ridge), he's still working as a consultant within the local industry. He described the less-than-stellar beginnings of Sumac Ridge Estate Winery's Stellar's Jay Brut, which now wins international awards and was recognized with a Lieutenant Governor's award last year. The 1991 Blanc de Noir is the oldest Sumac Ridge vintage they are still drinking "in quantities."
Howard Soon, esteemed winemaker for Sandhill, presented the 2008 King Family Vineyard Pinot Gris being offered for tasting. Howard shared the story of how the Pinot grapes were named "Pinot" (because of the shape the cluster of grapes makes looks like a pine cone, so the story goes). The Sandhill Pinot Gris has gained a great following locally and abroad for its fresh, lean and juicy palate, says Soon. Fresh is the typical style of BC white wine. He adds that terroir is going to play a big role in the future of wines in BC.