Photo: Backyard Vineyards winemaker James Cambridge
Now that the Okanagan wineries are a winter highway away from Vancouver
, it is useful to remind wine tourists that a dozen wineries are just beyond the Port Mann Bridge
One of these wineries, Backyard Vineyards in Langley, makes the point
of its accessibility in its very name.
Except for the fruit wineries, all of wineries in Vancouver
’s “backyard” make wines both with Okanagan or
Similkameen fruit and with grapes from Fraser Valley
This blog reviews six wines from Backyard Vineyards and
three from Singletree Winery in Abbotsford, which opened earlier year.
A recent blog looked at the current releases from Township 7
Vineyards & Winery. Township 7 operates a winery near Penticton
but also another (its original winery) in Langley Township
A future blog will deal with Chaberton Estate Winery
(formerly known as Domaine de Chaberton). Established in 1991, Chaberton was
the first grape winery in the Fraser
and now is by far
the largest. It attracts visitors not just with its wines but also with a
popular French bistro which offers lunch and dinner during the latter days of
the week and on weekends.
I will list all the other valley wineries after these
Backyard Vineyards, which opened in 2002 as Glenugie
Vineyards, changed names and ownership in 2008. The wines became worth a visit
after the winery hired James Cambridge, a seasoned winemaker, in 2013.
started his career in oenology 15 years ago,” the winery said when announcing
his hiring. “He studied at Niagara
, completing a
fully integrated Oenology/Viticulture Program and graduated at the top of his
class. Cambridge has since gone on to work for some of Canada’s most respected
wineries including Henry of Pelham, Creekside Estate Winery, Summerhill Pyramid
Winery, Le Vieux Pin, LaStella Estate Winery, and Fort Berens Estate Winery.”
Here are notes on the wines.
Riesling 2014 ($20.25). This wine, which has won three gold medals, begins
with citrus aromas mingled with herbal notes. On the palate, there are flavours
of ripe grapefruit, with a hint of green apple. The wine has a good mid-palate
weight. It is balanced to finish dry. 88.
Gewürztraminer 2014 ($20.25). The wine begins with floral aromas lightly
spiced with a hint of ginger. It has flavours of lychee and honeydew melon with
a hint of grapefruit on the finish. 88.
Merlot 2013 ($21.98). The wine begins with aromas of blueberry and black
currant jam. Soft on the palate, the wine has flavours of cassis and plum, with
a hint of cedar and spice on the finish. 88.
Cabernet Franc 2013
($21.98). The wine begins with aromas of blackberry,
raspberry and black currant. The palate is generous, with flavours of black
cherry and black currant, mingled with hints of dark chocolate and
espresso. The wine has a lingering,
spicy finish. 91.
Gossip 2012 ($19.98). Gossip is a blend of 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25%
Merlot, 25% Syrah and 22% Cabernet Franc. The wine begins with aromas of
cassis, plum, vanilla and oak. I can’t do better than winemaker James
Cambridge’s tasting notes: “Ripe raspberry, black cherry, cocoa, black forest
cake, white pepper, black olive and mint.” 9o.
Porch Wine NV
($24.25 for 500 ml). The word, Port,
is off limits to wineries not in Portugal
, which leads to inventive
naming of fortified wines made elsewhere. I am still chuckling at this winery’s
pun for its fortified (19% alcohol) red. This is a reasonably full-bodied wine
with aromas of vanilla and figs. On the palate, there are flavours of black
cherry, figs and chocolate with a finish recalling spicy fruit cake. 89.
Singletree is operated by Garnet Etsell with his son,
Andrew (above). The Etsell family also happens to be one of major turkey growers in the
The turkey business is on a 67-acre property that the
Etsells bought in 2001. This land has been farmed since the 1870s. “It has been
a dairy farm, a vegetable farm, a soft fruit operation, a turkey operation and
now a vineyard,” Garnet said. “We have the remnants of the old orchard.”
They began planting vines in 2010. They now grow about 10
acres of grapes and they lease a 1.5-acre Siegerrebe vineyard near the Abbotsford International Airport
Except for a few experimental rows of Pinot Noir, the Singletree vineyard is
planted entirely in white varieties: Siegerrebe, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, a
small block of Grüner Veltliner and a large block of Sauvignon Blanc.
With Andrew as the understudy, the winemaking is handled by
another seasoned vintner, Matt Dumayne, the chief winemaker for Okanagan Crush
The winery’s name has an agricultural root. A singletree is
part of a working horse’s harvest that is positioned at the animal’s shoulders
and anchors straps used in pulling a buggy or a plough.
Here are notes on the wines:
Siegerrebe 2014 ($19.04 for 395 cases). This early ripening white grape is
well suited to cool coastal vineyards. This wine is an example of how showy and
tropical this varietal can be, with aromas of grapefruit, raisins and spice
that leap from the glass. Juicy on the palate, it is refreshing and lingering,
with bright, but well-balanced, acidity. 90.
Farmhand White 2014 ($17.30 for 95 cases). This is a blend 77% Pinot Gris
and 23% Sauvignon Blanc; both are grown in the estate vineyard. The wine was
barrel-fermented. It begins with intriguing aromas of butterscotch and
tangerine, leading to citrus flavours. It is light and refreshing, with 11.8%
alcohol and with a crisp dry finish. 88.
Pinot Noir 2014 ($21.65 for 169 cases). Light and charming in style, the
wine begins with aromas of cherry and toasty oak. On the palate, there are
flavours of cherry and raspberry, with spice on the finish. The texture is
typically silken, as one expects from this variety. 88.
3033 – 232nd
Street, Langley, BC
Toll Free: 1.866.233.9463
Blackwood Lane Vineyards & Winery
25180 8th Ave,
Campbell’s Gold Honey Farm & Meadery
2595 Lefeuvre Road
1064 216 St, Langley,
BC V2Z 1R3
Langley, B.C. V1M 3M6
BC, V4W 1C3
28450 King Road,
Columbia, V4X 1B1
5094 Mt Lehman
Township 7 Vineyards
21152 16th Ave,
(at 212th St),