Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Chaberton Winery and its many friends

Photo: Chaberton winemaker Andrea Lee

When it opened in 1991 in Langley Township, Chaberton Estate Winery pioneered wine growing in the Fraser Valley.

It is still the largest winery in the valley, making crisp whites from its 40-acre vineyard and filling out its portfolio with wines made from Okanagan and Similkameen fruit. The reds current available at the wine shop, and reviewed here, are very well made.

Chaberton, which has an excellent bistro next to its wine shop, is popular with day-tripping wine lovers in Greater Vancouver area. Indeed, one can enjoy a great wine touring day excursion by including visits to several of Chaberton’s neighbours, such as Township 7 Vineyards and Backyard Vineyards.

It may surprise you to learn that there are 45 wineries between Westham Island and Chilliwack. That is about the same number as there are on the Naramata Bench. Everyone interested in BC wine has hard of the Naramata wineries because they promote themselves so effectively. A few years ago, they even sponsored a book about themselves.

The Fraser Valley wineries have an association with just five members. The other 40 just do their own thing. With some searching on the web, I found several lists of the wineries. The website,, lists 36 producers, with their addresses and phone numbers. The provincial government’s list of licensed wineries has them all on an Excel spreadsheet without phone numbers. Google Liquor Licensed Establishment Locations.

There are actually wine festivals in the region if you search around a bit on the web.

·       The three-year-old Harrison Uncorked Wine Festival this year is April 20 and 21, with a wine tasting ($50) on the afternoon of April 21. Okanagan wineries as well as Fraser Valley wineries are pouring there.

·       Garagiste North’s next tasting is scheduled for May 26 at the Vista D’Oro winery in Langley Township. The wineries that belong to this self-described “cool” group are all wineries producing less than 2,000 cases a year. Most are from the interior. But this festival should help elevate the profile of the Fraser Valley.

Some local tourist associations partially fill in the gap for those who might actually wish to tour the local wineries. Dr. Google took me to Tourism’s Langley’s list, for example. I reproduce it here.

Backyard Vineyards
Backyard Vineyards promotes big fun when creating their top-quality varietal, blended and bubbly wines that are made from 100% BC Grapes. The grapes are grown in their Langley vineyard and complemented with fruit from the Fraser Valley and South Okanagan. Since opening in 2009, they have been recognized for wines both locally and internationally, winning medals for reds, whites and bubble. They take pride in making exceptional wine at affordable prices as “It’s the neighborly thing to do”.
Open: 7 days a week
3033 232 St, Langley
Blackwood Lane Vineyards & Winery
The philosophy of Blackwood Lane Vineyards & Winery is summarized in the Company’s motto: “Bonus Vita et Bonus Amici” – Good Life and Good Friends.  Situated on 12.2 acres of the most beautiful and pristine land in the Fraser Valley, wine lovers quickly learn they do not have to travel far to acquire great wine.  The creation of Carlos Lee, grapes are secured from the Okanagan Valley and by utilizing only old fashioned techniques, the end result is uncompromising quality wines.
Open: Wednesday through Sunday
25180 – 8th Avenue, Langley
Chaberton Estate Winery and Bacchus Bistro
Experience the tranquil atmosphere and award-winning wines of Chaberton Estate Winery. The 55-acre property offers a unique micro-climate, receiving far less rain than its surrounding areas. Pack a lunch or picnic and visit the 3rd largest estate winery in BC, and the oldest in the Fraser Valley on a sunny day for a glass of wine in their licensed picnic area. Or enjoy authentic French bistro cuisine prepared with only the finest, freshest ingredients at the Zagat-rated Excellent Bacchus Bistro where reservations are highly recommended.
Open: 7 days a week
Bistro – Wednesday through Sunday
1064 – 216th Street, Langley
Winery: 604.530.1736    Bistro: 604.530.9694
Festina Lente Estate Winery
Did someone say Mead? This new winery to Langley produces beautiful mead or honey wines, passed down by three generations of winemakers. Located near Township 7 Winery, this hobby farm and winery is worth a stop. Being a honey wine, you think sweet but Festina Lente produces dry and crisp honey wines. Check out their beautiful tasting room and make sure to say hi to their lovable farm animals.
Hours: Friday through Sunday
21113 16th Avenue, Langley BC
The Fort Wine Co.
Located just outside of Fort Langley, the Fort Wine co. features beautiful Fraser Valley views, and cranberry bog tours during harvest season. Cranberry wine is a staple here while a variety of other fruit wines provide something to delight every palate. The friendly tasting room welcomes the public for impromptu wine tasting and is a unique spot for a small party or business get-together. Cheese platters and sangria’s are available on request and are enjoyed frequently during the summer months.
Hours:  Friday through Monday
26151 – 84th Avenue. Fort Langley, BC
Glass House Estate Winery
This family run vineyard and boutique winery gives you wines varieties from Rose to Ice Wine. Their wine protocol focuses on a minimalist approach, which showcase each varietals characteristics. The name Glass House pays homage to the families 60 years in the greenhouse industry, which started in the Netherlands all the way to North America. Enjoy their beautiful tasting room or venture outside to their beautiful picnic area surrounded by the vineyards.
Open: Thursday – Sunday
23449 0 Avenue
Langley, British Columbia V2Z 2X3
(604) 533-1212

Krause Berry Farms & Estate Winery
You can find the “Berry Best” strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries in the form of wine at Krause Berry Farm’s newly launched estate winery. Winemaker Sandra-Lee invites you to sit back and enjoy a bottle of berry wine or a Wine-a-Rita in their 130 seat capacity lounge where you can choose a spot indoors or out on the patio. The smells emanating from the kitchen are sure to convince you to order some nachos or a Panini or two as well.
Open: 7 days a week  – Closed January through till May
6179 – 248th St. Langley, BC V4W 1C3
Township 7 Vineyards & Winery
Tour the vineyard, taste a variety of wines. Enjoy the relaxing picnic area before buying a bottle to add to your personal wine cellar. Township 7’s award-winning and acclaimed handcrafted wines are produced in small lots from vineyards in Langley and the south Okanagan Valley. Open year round,  they offer cultural and culinary experiences including art shows, live music / theatre, charity fundraisers, wine seminars, community grape harvest / stomp, and winemaker dinners.
Open: 7 days a week
21152 – 16th Avenue, Langley
Vista D’oro Farms & Winery
The traditional techniques and old world values that are used in Vista D’oro artisanal preserves are also reflected in their wine making methods. The winery is dedicated to producing delicious hand-crafted wines made in small batches on their South Langley farm. Their flagship bottle is a fortified walnut wine and is truly a unique offering. The produce grown on Vista D’oro is used in every aspect of the operation, showcasing the superiority of local farm-fresh ingredients.
Open: Thursday through Sunday.
346 208th street. Langley, BC
If you venture into the valley, make it a priority to stop at Chaberton where winemaker Andrea Lee has impressed me with her wines. Here are notes of some of the reds you will find there.

 Chaberton Red 2016 ($12.50). The winery describes this very affordable wine as its “house blend” – 26.5% Merlot, 24.5% Gamay Noir, 21.1% Chancellor, 9.3% Zweigelt, 7.9% Baco Noir, 6.9% Dunkelfelder and 3.9% Marselan. The result is a soft, easy-drinking red with aromas and flavours of cherry and spice. The wine is also sold other packages including a four-litre bag in box. 89.

Chaberton Valley Cab 2015 ($16.95). This is a blend of 48% Cabernet Franc, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Malbec. It begins with brambly, red berry aromas, going on to spicy dark red fruit flavours with a hint of leather, black coffee and vanilla. 88.

Chaberton Reserve Cabernet Franc 2014 ($29.95 for 163 cases). This wine was made with grapes from the aptly named Happy Valley vineyard on Black Sage Road. It was aged for 22 months on French (70%) and American oak barrels. The wine has aromas and flavours of blackberry, black cherry and cedar, with savoury herbal notes. Half a bottle was reserved for tasting the following day. The wine had developed spectactularly, becoming rich and full with a mouthfilling sweet fruit. 92.

Chaberton Reserve Merlot 2014 ($22.95). This wine was aged 21 months in second-use oak barrels. It begins with aromas of cassis leading to flavours of black currant, black cherry, blueberry and spicy plum. Long ripe tannins give the wine a good texture and a concentrated weight. On the finish, there are hints of chocolate. 90

Chaberton Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec 2015 ($Sold Out). The winery made just 71 cases of this delicious red. It warns consumers that, because Malbec is rare in BC, it may be a while before it will have the fruit for another blend. Originally, the wine was intended as a component for the Meritage blend. However, Anthony Cheng, one of Chaberton’s owners, decided after tasting the blend (three barrels in new French oak) to bottle it on its own. Good call. The wine begins with aromas of cassis and black cherry with the typical floral note of the Malbec that makes up 45%  of the blend. On the palate, the red fruit flavours are rich, complex and long-lasting. 93.

Chaberton Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($N/A). Made with grapes from Black Sage Road and aged 24 months in French and American oak, this begins with classic aromas of cassis, dark red fruit, mint and vanilla. On the palate, there are flavours of black currant, black cherry, blackberry and vanilla. The wine benefits from decanting; it needs to breathe to open the layers of aroma and fruit. 91

Chaberton AC 35 2012 ($45.99 for 89 cases). The blend is 50% Cabernet Franc, 35% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. This label is one in a series of AC blends built around Merlot by Anthony Cheng, one of the owners of Chaberton. Dark in colour, this is a bold, ripe intense wine, with aromas and flavours of fig, cassis and spice mingled with toasted oak. The finish is lingering. 93.


At March 29, 2018 at 4:15 PM , Blogger We Love Wine said...

Make sure you try Chaberton's Bacchus


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