The Things I Do for You People!

Just a little video of me out and about doing my research. This past weekend I was tucked away at the cushy Serenata Guest House in Canada’s wine country (yes, we do have one, and stop laughing) teaching social media at EatDrinkTweet, a conference for wine pros and foodies, one of whom felt it his patriotic duty to buy me dinner, and who was I to argue? I like to encourage the spirit of hospitality as a matter of principle, as do all right-thinking people. Each evening, in fact, I encouraged it to the hilt, and was rewarded with some very painful mornings in consequence.

Thank god for the Cannery Brewing No Jail Pale Ale is all I can say; concocted in response to British Columbia’s draconian new laws, it’s a high-quality, low-alcohol craft option for people who like their beer hoppish rather than hoppy and medium-bodied. Some thoughtful elf had tucked a bottle into my swag bag, and god bless them for it. 3% alcohol makes a very satisfying hair of the dog pre-lunch. Sadly, the Powers That Be decided that this perfectly pleasant pale had to change its charming name, as “No jail” was “an implied warranty against arrest” or, like, whatever, so now it’s called No Justice Pale Ale.

No Jail Pale Ale

No Jail Pale Ale

A reminder, from the Beer Geek blog:

1.  Yellowtail wine is NOT actually made with any marsupials- specifically, not one Yellowtail kangaroo goes in to the vat.

2.  Baby Canadian champagne is not actually made by, nor does it contain any babies (Canadian or imported).  Actually, it’s not even champagne.

3.  Dr. Pepper is not a real doctor.

4.  Ranch dressing comes from a dressing factory, not a ranch.

Oh, NOW you tell me!

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6 thoughts on “The Things I Do for You People!

  1. I like “No Justice” better.

    I’m not laughing. I live on a vineyard in Canada’s original wine country, Niagara (yeah, you can stop laughing now) but Niagara and BC are no longer alone–Nova Scotia’s already figured out a few clone chardonnays and Quebec is coming right along (lots of wine making talent from there, and one of the most revered wine makers in world hails from Montreal). I think we do a lot of great wine here, comparable to the best wines in the world (and if you want to talk varietals, we do certain ones better in Canada than anywhere else in the world).

    I feel sure more than “patriotic duty” encouraged your dinner host to wine and dine you.

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  2. I had forgotten about Canada’s original wine country; in fact, I haven’t tried its wines since the eighties, when the big joke was that if you wanted a fine drinking experience, you had Bartles and Jaymes. I’ve never understood why the Niagara and Okanagan regions tore up so much good orchard to grow grapes instead of going straight into the production of premium fruit brandies, but then I do drink more pinot noir than Poire William.

    The Okanagan, being the northern tip of the Sonora Desert, isn’t that different from wine-growing regions in Oregon and Northern California. Quebec? I’ve been to Quebec. La BonHomme would make a lousy mascot for any wine but icewine, methinks.

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  3. Well, we tore up our orchards back then because of the Free Trade agreement. The grocery chains could suddenly buy cheap produce from Chile and California and they contracted to buy year round from the States–so fruit growers here (mostly family-owned small farms, like in BC I would think) were outpriced, and we all started plowing the orchards under. That was the start of the movement away from purchasing anything from local producers.

    Farmers were encouraged to plant vineyards with “grants”–if you put in some vitis vinifera vines you could be paid up to $4000 per acre to do it–a nice boost in the early 80’s, and a less desperate option than selling the farm outright, like every one of your neighbours would have been forced to do along with you, at the time. I suspect that same agreement affected BC as well as Niagara, and farmers there were similarly “encouraged”.

    Fortunately (and I say it in a way that means “no one even remotely imagined it at the time) the area of Niagara I’m in has the same limestone rich soil and climate as Burgundy (so we produce fantastic pinot noir and chardonnay–and many German winemakers have come to the area now to “study” the Rieslings grown here too). The area just northwest of me, Niagara on the Lake, has a climate like Bordeaux (and some of the wackiest soil imaginable, really…it’s complicated) and therefore produce some pretty good Merlot, Cab Franc, and Cab Sauvignon blends. Quebec is surprising, and don’t for one minute believe they can only produce icewine (icewine can be produced from any vitis vinifera grape, and those varieties can’t grow in all climates–they need a temperate summer season and a mild winter with a short-lived sub-zero period–if there is no long, warm, sunny summer, there is no icewine, believe me). They are exploring other grape varieties and so far the only “ice” product they’re making is ice cider–a Quebecois version of Calvados. Never underestimate Quebec’s taste and wine knowledge–after all, while the LCBO (the largest wine buyer in the world) has had to tap dance to sell most Canadians any wine from anywhere in the world, the SAO has been selling some of the very best vintages to their clientele for decades. Anyone selling Canadian wine in that province had better be making world quality stuff because the locals have been used to “damned good” for a long time.

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  4. I cut that a bit short (ha!) but if you can get the lovely Manolo to swing for an exploratory trip to Niagara for some wine journalism–or, hey, an Icewine article (the festival here comes at just the right boring, end-of-January time–wear a warm coat) I’d love to tour you around. I am sure I lack the sparkly male charms of your patriotic dinner date, but I know the good wineries from the not so good ones, and there are worse things to write about than wine…

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  5. Thanks for the (extremely thorough) update. I have an expert who’s walking me through the history of VQA and the wine industry in BC; so far the main differences I can see is that imports aren’t necessarily cheaper here, but there is much, MUCH history to cover.

    There are indeed worse things to write about than wine, and I may actually get back East sometime, as I’m related to the entire Ottawa Valley, and it’s a very nice road trip from there to Niagara. When I do, you can be sure I’ll ping you.

    I did ONCE see a small acreage of trees with bottles over ripening pears. I always wonder what happened to them; that field is condos now.

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  6. You’re always welcome around here. And boy, is that last sentence heartbreaking–mostly because I’ve seen it happen quite a lot, myself. Sigh. Still, I hope your research is a comfort–enjoy!

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